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Opening of the Waseda University Cultural Resources Information Portal

Hiroki Yamamoto
Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Digital Archives Office

At Waseda University, since the 2007 academic year, the 3 institutions of the Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, the Aizu Museum and the Waseda University Archives have gathered together as part of the Cultural Affairs Division and have been conducting joint projects. One of these projects is the Waseda University Cultural Resources Information Portal, which was opened to the general public in March of this year. This portal enables the use of a unified interface to search the unique collections held by each of the 3 institutions. At the time that this article was written, there were a total of 19 types of databases in which unique information for each institution is recorded. The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum has 10 databases, the Aizu Museum possesses 8, and the Waseda University Archives has 1 database. To give an example, the Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum has opened databases ranging from a general database named the "Digital Archives Collection" to the "Ukiyoe (Japanese woodblock prints) Viewing System", the "Database for Censored Scripts from Kyushu Area during the Occupation" and the "Database with Records of Contemporary Theatre Performance". The Aizu Museum has opened databases such as the "Aizu Collection" (a database of items buried with the dead in ancient China), the "Modern Art Database" and the "Comprehensive Database of Oriental Art Works" (Tomioka Collection). Finally, the Waseda University Archives has opened the "Waseda University Photographic Database".

Surveying the cultural resources of Waseda

Waseda University Cultural Resources Information Portal Top Page

The Cultural Resources Information Portal was constructed as a part of the concept for the "Waseda University Shared Database of Cultural Resources" (hereafter referred to as the "Shared Database"). The Shared Database is considered as a resource that enables the development and utilization of an enormous amount of cultural assets. The concept of the Shared Database is that of a tool for promoting the creation of new value which uses cultural resources.

For example, the Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum possesses more than 500,000 materials in its collection. This number becomes enormous when other culturally-related institutions within the university are included. When attempting to utilize this vast store of knowledge, the question of determining which institution possesses the desired material is not an essential problem. Furthermore, there exists a great amount of material which has not yet had its cultural and academic value discovered. In addition to individual value, new value may be created by finding the relationships which exist between multiple materials. The Shared Database was developed amongst these issues.

Page displaying list of search results from the Waseda University Cultural Resources Information Portal

Until now, the informatization of cultural assets has been performed according to the individual policies of institutions which possess cultural assets. The goal of this project is to develop a shared system (the Shared Database of Cultural Resources) in order to create an environment for registration and disclosure of cultural assets based on standardized methods and form. Such an environment will enable efficient and flexible utilization of cultural resources information within the university. The Shared Database is on method for realizing informatization of collected materials, which is a goal of each institution. It is also possible for an institution to perform its own unique informatization in concurrence with the Shared Database. Furthermore, although the Shared Database project will make recommendations regarding the material and information to be registered and made available, each institution will make decisions regarding final selections.

Ultimately, we seek to create a system for the integrated surveying of cultural resources information within the university. However, in order to achieve gradual implementation, the project has been divided into 3 phases. Phase 1 is the construction of the Cultural resources information Portal, Phase 2 is the construction of a public platform, and Phase 3 is the construction of a system for the management and sharing of information regarding collected materials. It is estimated that 3 to 5 years will be needed for the entire project.

Current status and future development

Page giving detailed information on the system for browsing ukiyoe held in the collection of the Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum.

I will first discuss Phase 1, or the construction of a Cultural Resources Information Portal, which has already commenced. This portal is a page which enables cross-institutional searches for cultural resources information that is currently made available on the internet by each of the university institutions which possess cultural assets. Each institution has already undertaken informatization of materials, and transmission of a variety of information is already being performed through the websites of each institution. Based upon the use of information resources that have already been complied and made available by each institution, this phase of the project has prepared a unified interface that uses a single "window" (portal) as a starting point for enabling users to find the desired material information. By accessing this window, users can perform searches without worrying about the differences in search methods between each institution and database.

In regards to future development, we are first planning the execution of Phase 2, which entails the construction of a shared platform that will allow each institution to flexibly disclose culture resources information of the internet. This stage of the project will require examination of a conceptual model for material information, as well as implementation of a metadata standard. One option which is currently available is the implementation of the "Structured Model for Museum Object Information", a model which is proposed by the project team of the Tokyo National Museum.

The final stage of the project, Phase 3, calls for the construction of an information infrastructure that will provide integrated management of transmissions regarding management of collected materials and cultural resources information. This infrastructure will act as a system for the management and sharing of information regarding collected materials. Phases 1 and 2 manage the static attribute information of cultural resources, but Phase 3 is conceived as managing information for collected material that includes historical information such as exhibition, display and repair of material. Therefore, a system is being considered which is in a close relationship with the cultural resources information that has been accumulated and made available in Phases 1 and 2. A new concept which is different from the previous database constructions will be required in order to store information that is atypical and varied in form.

Page listing search results from the Ukiyoe Viewing System of the Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum.

Execution of the project described above will produce a variety of benefits. Firstly, the development of a shared information infrastructure should provide a transpicuous method that will make it easier to search for cultural resources which are hidden within the university. Furthermore, the adoption of a standardized data form will make it possible to advance data coordination both inside and outside of the university. Also, from the perspective of cost and revenue, the development and management of individual systems will become unnecessary, thus enabling reductions in procedures and costs in the university as a whole. In the future, revenue can be expected by supplying contents as part of the utilization of university cultural assets.

Towards information sharing and cooperation

This project has just begun. There are many uncertainties regarding whether realization of the final goal will be possible. In particular, in regards to the implementation of metadata sharing at museums, a number of definitions are being debated within the museum documentation field. Also, since changes occur every few months in information and communication technology, it is necessary to pay attention to current trends and respond flexibly in areas of the project which involve such technology. Furthermore, it is also necessary to execute the plan while remaining in constant contact with the university library, which is the principal institution in the collection and management of academic information within the university.

The transmission of academic information has rapidly advanced in recent years. Information which has been released on networks is beginning to move from the stage of accumulation to the stage of sharing and cooperation. In addition to its function of transmitting the cultural resources information of Waseda University, we expect that the Cultural Resources Information Portal we serve as the Waseda University Shared Database of Cultural Resources and will expand information partnerships both inside and outside the university.

We, the creators of the database, often have difficulty recognizing issues regarding the user-friendliness and functionality of the database. We hope to receive the opinions and desires of people who actually use the database.

*This article was created by making additions and alterations to an article listed in the 97th Edition of the Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum (issued by the Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum in October of 2007).

Waseda University Cultural Resources Information Portal

http://www.enpaku.waseda.ac.jp/db/cr/portal/

Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum Digital Archives Collection

http://www.enpaku.waseda.ac.jp/db/

Hiroki Yamamoto
Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Digital Archives Office

Born in Shizuoka Prefecture in 1970. Affiliated with the Digital Archives Office of the Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum. Supervises constructions and management of the database. His area of specialty is media information science and cultural management studies.