Title:The Little Search Engine That Could: How an Online Database Is Paving the Way for Enhanced Access to Research Collections
Authors:Frannie Blondheim, Janine Andrews, Jim Whittome, Pauline Rennick, Victor Gratnicki
Publication:MW2004: Museums and the Web 2004

Scholarly researchers bring a unique set of expectations to bear upon the building of databases in a university museum environment. Their investigations on species distributions, biodiversity and climate change, to name a few, require analysis of large sets of data. The creation of on-line interfaces to collections databases, complete with sophisticated Web-based tools, will empower researchers to convert raw data into new scientific knowledge. The University of Alberta Museums has developed an innovative Web interface to one of its museum databases, providing researchers tools to facilitate, the generation of not only entomological specimen data held in the database, but also dynamically generated seasonal histograms, the ability to plot search results on a map, and the presentation of knowledge summaries of entomological species. This paper discusses how the University of Alberta Museums, in conjunction with other departments on campus, develops this type of enhanced Web interface to collections databases. This initiative will be explained within the context of the University of Alberta Museums' unique decentralized administrative model.