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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mystic Seaport's Image Archive

On Sept. 9, 2009, our very own Kelly announced the new Collections and Research Image Archive on Mystic's excellent News from the Collections blog. I gave it a few days before checking it out--I've found that rushing to a new site on announcement day makes for slow browsing!

I like the layout of the Image Archive very much. Right at the top of the page are phone & email contacts for assistance. I do wonder a little at the title; "Collections" and "Research" images? Don't all the images in the archive come from the collections, and isn't a "research image" any image that you're using for research? (But I split hairs.)

First I followed a suggested browse topic, choosing "Signs and posters." On the next screen, I like the link to switch to a gallery view very much--for casual browsing, this is great. I can't tell you much more about gallery view, however, because even though I'm on a rather high speed connection, only 25 thumbnails loaded, with what are apparently catalog numbers interspersed among the images like so:

2004.83.1 2004.83.10 2004.83.100 2004.83.101 2004.83.102 2004.83.103 2004.83.104 2004.83.105 2004.83.106 2004.83.107 2004.83.108 2004.83.109 2004.83.11 2004.83.110 2004.83.111 2004.83.112 2004.83.113 2004.83.114 2004.83.115 2004.83.116 2004.83.117 2004.83.118 2004.83.119 2004.83.12 2004.83.120 2004.83.13 2004.83.14 2004.83.15 2004.83.16 2004.83.17 2004.83.18 2004.83.19 2004.83.2 2004.83.20 2004.83.21 2004.83.22 2004.83.23 2004.83.24 2004.83.25 2004.83.26 2004.83.27 2004.83.28 2004.83.29 2004.83.30 2004.83.31

No amount of reloading would correct the problem (at least for me today with Firefox). I suspect that you wouldn't have this problem if you waited for the previous page (non-gallery view) with the columnar display to fully load, but who waits for pages to fully load when you're interested in clicking away?

I backed up to try another category--"Bicycles?!?" Yes--a maritime museum with images of bicycles! And much, much more. The images are all extremely well cataloged with extensive descriptions. The descriptions are so thorough, that you may wish to use the "find" feature in your browser to zero in on keywords for which you were searching or browsing.

The search interface is a bit tricky, however.
This search retrieved images: "charles w. morgan"
But this search retrieved nothing: charles AND morgan
And this search retrieved yet another image not seen in the first search: charles morgan
There's no "advanced search" or search help available that I could find, so play around with the searches.

Finally, if the Mystic Seaport logo on the upper link were actually a link to Mystic's homepage, that would be lovely--if the Image Archive were my entryway to their site, as it was today, I'd like their main page to be just a click away.


Kelly said...

Thanks for your well researched comments! It's always good to get feedback. I'll work on making some of your suggested changes while others are known problems with solutions a little beyond my present programming skills.


PS 'Bicycles' are my present, non-maritime hobby.

Heather said...

I have to admit, it was a pleasure checking out the site. It's fantastic.

And I love the intersection of maritime & bicycles! (Speaking as a bike commuter!)