The website for “Laura Jernegan: Girl on a Whaleship” (http://www.girlonawhaleship.org/ , produced by Martha’s Vineyard Museum) is an educational online exhibition geared toward children and families. It features stories, interactive features, and a gallery/glossary of artifacts and terms.

The narratives are structured like chapter books. Each page of the narrative has its own web page (as opposed to a flowing eBook-like presentation). Hyper-linked phrases open an artifact image and record on the right-hand side, called up from the picture gallery and glossary portion of the site. However, it’s not clear that this will happen when you link on the hyperlink — when I first did so, I was expecting to jump to another article, Wiki-style.

The highlight of the website is the digitized version of the journal, which has a complete audio track and a “magic lens” that allows users to view the handwritten text as a font, increasing legibility. This also seems to indicate that the journal is machine-readable and therefore can be keyword-searched. I was able to find the XML files for a certain page of the journal via Google search (site:girlonawhalingship.org): http://www.girlonawhaleship.org/journal/transcripts.xml . (The XML file appears to be coded for display of the “magic lens” tool, rather than access, however. Fortunately, most of the content is fairly straightforward (being written by a girl between the ages of six and eight) and might not require any additional tagging (for example, of people names, dates, etc).)

Other interactive elements (which vary in their interactivity) continue to reference to the glossary and image galleries. By clicking on an interactive element, a pop-up window will open, referencing an item in the site’s “Dive Deeper” section (basically, the ‘reference’ desk for the site).

Each artifact has an image that can be zoomed-in on, accompanied by core cataloging: title, source, description, date, dimensions, and creator/publisher. The descriptions are very valuable, in that they interpret the image in plain language and link it back to the narratives presented on the site. While the cataloging is basic, it is consistent throughout the site. Since there are a wide range of various sources for the artifacts, (Martha’s Vineyard Museum, Library of Congress, New Bedford Free Public Library, and many more: http://www.girlonawhaleship.org/jernapp/credits.do ), it seems that this project was a successful result of metadata harvesting from a variety of records from different institutions. Since only a select set of elements are displayed, harvesting was perhaps very straightforward — especially if the contributing institutions used element standards like Dublin Core and content standards like CCO.

This site is not a library or repository, but benefits from the use of standards in the consistent cataloging of visual resources. The site works very well for its intended audience of schoolchildren, and supports exploratory learning by the vivid interpretation of documents and artifacts.

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