The Archives of American Gardens is using social media via Facebook
and Twitter to promote public tagging in the Smithsonian’s Collections Search Center
As part of the American Archives Month celebration, the Archives of American Gardens is encouraging the public to ‘tag’ their online records in the Smithsonian’s Collections Search Center. A little over a year ago, the Smithsonian’s Collections Search Center quietly turned on the tagging feature for records of participating Smithsonian archives, libraries and museums and now the Archives of American Gardens is hoping to use American Archives Month to promote this feature. The Archives is reaching out to Facebook followers of Smithsonian Gardens, universities with library and information science programs as well as horticulture programs to to contribute descriptive terms, keywords, or short phrases, to an item’s record to enhance searching on its records. If a user describes an item in the same way that they would search for it, the presumption is that these new terms will help with the retrievability of the records. For each tag that is added, that item has another access point – another way for other users to discover that item.
Although public tagging is not perfect and many questions remain about how folksonomy might function in the museum, a summary in a 2009 report by the steve.museum project finds that, “Tags offer another layer that supplements and complements the documentation provided by professional museum cataloguers.” So while tagging is not meant to be a replacement for established cataloging methods, it may complement the catalog with a helpful element of user engagement and interaction.
Get Tagging! Visit the Archives of American Gardens Virtual Volunteer page to get started on tagging images.
Jessica Short, Intern
Archives of American Gardens