In the short span of a few years, we have witnessed enormous progress in our ability to provide access to multi-media documents in a distributed information environment. The revolution in the information access and dissemination resulting from digitization and networking is creating new opportunities on both the production and consumption side of information and knowledge. The changes bring with them the opportunity for individuals to create and publish multimedia documents and to share cultural heritage materials with a world-wide audience on a scale that has been heretofore universities precedented. Now diverse communities can be enabled to capture and share their culture in integrated media formats (text, image, animation, video, audio, hyperlinking, and computer codes). At the same time educational institutions can draw more heavily on primary sources available over the Internet to enrich learning and cultural appreciation. This paper describes an initiative, the Cultural Heritage Initiative for Community Outreach (CHICO), which is based at the University of Michigan School of Information (SI), and seeks to expand the reach of cultural heritage materials through the use of digital and collaboration technology.
Goals and Objectives
The larger goal of CHICO is to develop a model program to prepare information professionals and other knowledge workers who can play key roles in making cultural heritage materials accessible to a broad array of audiences.
The CHICO initiative is creating partnerships between SI, University of Michigan (UM) colleagues in the arts and humanities, and local museums and schools to develop pilot projects. These projects design, implement, and evaluate systems and services which utilize information and collaboration technology to increase and enhance accessibility to cultural heritage materials. The pilot programs provide cultural outreach services to the Michigan and larger communities, and help define models of future-oriented service for information professionals.
Drawing upon the existing curricular strengths at SI, CHICO also creates a knowledge base needed to prepare professionals in creating, sharing, and providing "anytime/ nyplace" access to cultural heritage materials.
The CHICO initiative is part of the UM School of Information's CRISTAL-ED Project - Coalition on Reinventing Education for the Information and Library Professionals of the 21st Century, which is supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
CHICO provides students with the opportunities to work with and test key information and collaboration technologies which can enhance and broaden access to cultural heritage materials. However, our emphasis is not only on the design and deployment of information access tools, but also on the development of services which publicize, facilitate, and enrich the use of these tools. In CHICO, students work with professionals in museums, libraries, archives and other cultural heritage repositories to help design services to bring the resources of museums to diverse sets of audiences.
CHICO will enable SI to play a leadership role in increasing the presence of cultural heritage materials in digital libraries. There is also an extraordinary opportunity to provide multicultural visibility in the content of networked and digital information, and to enable multicultural audiences to be users and creators of this material.
New opportunities for access and display of information The need for educating professionals in cultural outreach becomes apparent with the recent exponential developments in digital information technology and the wide-spread dissemination of "anytime/anyplace" information. With advances in the creation, dissemination, display and retrieval of networked and digital information, there is now enormous potential to increase the accessibility of cultural heritage information. Digital technologies make information independent of distance and time, and it is also possible for any one person or group of persons to have access to a large body of cultural heritage materials or ideas, to study them, combine them in new ways, and make their results available to anyone else.
Information networks are growing at a dazzling pace and providing world-wide customized access to image, sound, and video materials. Repositories of cultural heritage materials such as museums can offer tours accessible through the user's workstation. A student can have access to materials residing in museums across the world. An instructor can display three-dimensional views of a sculpture from the classroom. At a public library, senior citizens and youth groups can listen to and view dances from distant cultures, and see images of cultural artifacts from these areas.
New opportunities for creation and sharing of artistic works In addition to enhancing access to materials, emerging information technologies have the potential to change the way in which artists create and share their works. "Artists" can include both a recognized painter or sculptor, as well as a school child who has a story to tell and wants to share it with friends. Individuals can not only gain access to the work of others, but can also be authors, artists, and creators of materials themselves. Technologies provide interactive an d collaborative access allowing individuals to communicate and interact with another, and can facilitate and encourage cultural dialog; for example, through online discussions that encourage cross-cultural understanding.
With the vast array of multimedia materials available from multicultural so urces, and the potential to bring these resources to communities who have been under-served, the CHICO project enables SI to play a leadership role in providing multicultural dimensions to the content of networked and digital information, and in bringing the opportunity for multicultural audiences to be users and creators of this material.
New information technologies pose challenges and opportunities for those who hope for wider access to humanities and arts information. In making cultural resources and information broadly accessible, some interesting questions emerge: What will be the technical infrastructure, the content, the retrieval and browsing mechanisms needed to facilitate this access? How can this kind of accessibility affect the ways in which users interact with, share, learn from, and create cultural heritage materials? What will be the best vehicles and venues for this interaction to take place? Some of these questions are addressed in CHICO pilot projects.
Pilot projects in CHICO design, implement, and evaluate systems and services to increase access to cultural heritage materials. These pilot programs provide:
Projects in music and the arts provide middle and high school students with access to resources that will enhance the learning and creative experience. The projects incorporate visual images, sound, and video to enrich museum visits, classroom instruction, and independent research. By linking remote locations to primary repositories and changing the nature of local site visits through heightened interactivity, CHICO will redefine the cultural heritage experience for many within its community. Current projects are described below.
Music Heritage Network
In partnership with the UM School of Music and School of Art, CHICO is creating a digital collection of musical instruments from diverse cultures and times. The Music Heritage Network (MHN) is a resource which provides a virtual tour of the collection as well as an electronic Teachers' Forum.
The Music Heritage Network has as its nucleus the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments, an internationally known collection of over 2,0 musical instruments located at the University of Michigan School of Music. The collection had its origins in 1899 and is considered by museum professionals to be one of the top five musical instrument collections in North America. The Stearns Collection is open to the public, but as is typical of museums, is only able to make a portion of its collection available to the public on display. By creating a digital version of the collection, CHICO is providing access to a large number of instruments through image, sound, and video. In addition to viewing the instruments, visitors can also experience how the instruments sound, and see how they would be played in a performance.
The MHN project builds upon the Stearns collection and will be enriched by contributions from diverse musical and scholarly sources throughout the world. Plans are underway to involve local performance groups, and to include material from scholars who are expert in the instruments in the collection. The project is intended to introduce users to more than music; it is using musical instruments as an entry point to explore the larger cultural context of which the instruments are a part, and to look at such issues as music and identity, creative boundaries, and cultural border crossings.
The MHN seeks to encourage interest among a broad community of users in the role of musical instruments as an integral part of culture, to create a digital resource that is accessible in many contexts by diverse users, and to play a role in multicultural education and outreach using multimedia technologies.
The Web site will include information about specific musical instruments (including photographic images, sound, and video demonstrating performance technique), as well as cultural information about the context in which the instrument was used, historical information about its role in diverse communities and throughout time, and an interactive forum for sharing ideas with other users.
The instruments in the collection have significance beyond their purely musical value. Some instruments have artistic and spiritual importance, such as the Persian tanbur decorated with inlaid ivory, a Northwest Coast Native America rattle shaped like a killer whale, and the Indonesian gamelan, designed with attention to its organic unity.
Other instruments offer insight into the roots of contemporary musical instruments. For example, the orchestral timpani has links to Turkish jannisary bands, while the origins of the oboe can be found in the Middle Eastern zurna. Other instruments are related to the evolution of the various American cultures; for example, the precursors of the banjo, xylophone, and snare drums are found in the African-American community, and their roots can be traced to African instruments. Some instruments, like the the ramin, the bucla, and the moog synthesizer, shed light on the evolution of electronic music technologies and are related to broader cultural developments; for example, the development of the theramin in the Soviet Union was an outgrowth, in part, of Lenin 's philosophy of 'electrification' and modernization.
Instruments like the jazzitha and the Arthur Godfrey ukelele have figured in 20th century American popular culture, while the Gibson mandolins and guitars speak to the artistic excellence of instrument manufacturers in the United States. By drawing connections such as these between musical instruments and their broader cultural significance, the project speaks to a number of different cultures.
The MHN has broad participation from a number of units on the University of Michigan campus and other universities. Scholars in Latin American, Chicano literature and music studies are providing photographic, video and written material. A UM scholar in ethnomusicology is providing multimedia materials from his research collection, and will also provide production facilities such as a video editing suite. Another UM scholar in music education and music technology is providing expertise in the use of computers in music. Faculty and students from the School of Art and Design have assisted with the design of the Web pages.
UM Museum of Art
The University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) is another local cultural resource from which CHICO can draw. Together with UMMA staff, CHICO team members created an interactive online site, called the Interpretation Project, that allows visitors to part icipate in the ongoing critical interpretation of three of the Museum's 19th century paintings.
The glories of 16th and 18th century Venetian painting are brought to life in "Venetian Paintings and Related Works on Paper," an online exhibit scheduled to complement a showing of twelve paintings from the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation at theUniversity of Michigan Museum of Art from September 12, 1996 to January 12, 1997. The online exhibit will also feature a generous selection of period drawings and prints selected from the museum's own permanent collection as well as rare book and manuscript materials loaned from the University Library's Special Collections Division. Visitors will be treated to a unique recreation of an actual gallery experience and will have their understanding of the artwork augmented by several essays about the collect ion sources and Venetian art that will only be available at the website. Digital images and related contextual materials will be used by students in local K-12 schools to enhance art appreciation.
In this project, curators and docents from the UM Museum of Art are working with CHICO team members to develop the digital resource for the exhibit. The UMMA resource will be complemented by a site at the UM History of Art Department which will feature actual Venetian views, streetscapes, palaces, and squares which viewers can browse in multiple ways.
Kelsey Museum of Archaeology
The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, located on the UM campus, is another local collection whose mission includes outreach to diverse audiences. In partnership with the Kelsey Museum, CHICO is creating a digital exhibit to chronicle Francis Kelsey's near East Expedition of 1919-19. Visitors to the online exhibit can experience the stops made by Kelsey and his colleagues to points of interest across Europe and the Near East. The online resource will also include contextual materials which supplement the visual images, and will also be designed for use in K-12 classroom settings.
Middle and High School Partnerships
CHICO team members are working with teachers, media specialists, and students from selected high schools and middle schools in Ann Arbor to use resources developed from the Stearns, Kelsey and Museum of Art projects, supplemented by additional Web materi als, to provide primary resources in the arts and humanities for learning.
The CHICO team also provides assistance in using the Internet to facilitate sharing and communication among students with their peers at different sites. CHICO is helping students in local schools set up an electronic exchange, by taking advantage of free software, called The Chalkboard, which can facilitate a WWW Board to be used for remote collaboration. Students can set up cultural heritage Web pages which can be shared with students in other Web sites.
For example, one writing teacher is planning an assignment in which students will set up a webpage of "What my cultural history means to me". A threaded webpage set up at another school will allow students to respond to each others' work, and can include written as well as visual art creations. We hope that this opportunity of seeing their own multimedia work on the Internet will stimulate the students' creativity and allow them to share their work with faraway peers. For example, students from Ann Arbor area schools are establishing an electronic cultural exchange with students from a sister Kellogg project in the Pueblo community of Taos, New Mexico.
Ann Arbor District Library
Librarians from the Ann Arbor District Library (AADL) are working with CHICO team members to showcase CHICO materials and related resources in the arts and the humanities, and to coordinate these with related materials from the AADL humanities collections.
Tapping the myriad resources of the Ann Arbor District Library, the AADL Arts Information Gateway is an innovative service designed to provide local public library patrons with immediate access to web- based art collections, museum exhibitions, and community- based arts information resources. The resource will provide direct links to well known works of art and a variety of connections to sites featuring art resources in the local community. Links to the world outside will take patrons to renowned art, archaeology, and history museums; inside online museum galleries for special exhibitions; and to electronic journals, image collections; and artists' works in progress. In addition, patrons' access to the library's own rich holdings will be enhanced by online access to the library's art rental program, exhibits schedule, specialized bibliographies, image collections, and a host of information on local arts organizations. Developed with public librarians for the public library audience, the AADL Arts Information Gateway will provide a convenient first step for library patrons interested in exploring both the world around them and the wealth of art resources within the library.
Flint Public Library and Community Networking Initiative The Community Networking Initiative is an experimental Community and Civic Network in the Flint, Michigan area. This initiative is creating a need-centered digital community model based on emerging information technologies. The project provides libraries with connectivity to the Internet and will be utilized in CHICO to provide access to cultural heritage materials. The Flint Public Library is already positioned with a training center of twenty new workstations with access to the World Wide Web and a training program for librarians. The Library will be a site for public access, and will include materials from the Flint area, for example, drawing on their resources on blues music.
New Learning Models
CHICO is providing new models of learning that distribute the responsibility for education beyond the teachers and the boundaries of schools and that promote collaboration among people and resources in local communities. For example, museum visits can provide far more than "one-time" field trips for a short duration. With access to digital collections of local museums, students can develop background knowledge needed to understand the exhibits, and pursue their own inquiries over time. This provides an opportunity for students to develop and enhance their own understanding and appreciation of the art works, to ask and respond to questions in a collaborative setting, to create their own art and their own understanding and learning about art, and to present their accomplishments to others.
Our model provides students with remote access to museum exhibits so that students can view museum artifacts via digital connections like the World Wide Web. On-line connections can also provide students with access to museum staff to ask questions or correspond about projects. Use of these tools allows students to prepare for the visit beforehand by examining the collections, becoming familiar with the museum layout, and identifying exhibits of particular interest for their visit. Before and after the visit, students can examine art historically and conceptually, review images, compare and discuss information, and collect images and information in their own files and projects.
Project activities are integrated into the fabric of the community. Parents have an opportunity to experience the potential of the high technology tools now available for their children. The network of community organizations participating in this project reach a diverse spectrum of the local population, and provide public access to project resources and training at little to no cost for the user. For example, access to the Internet is available at the public library and at local museums.
Use of Collaboration Technology to Facilitate Creation and Sharing of
Present school curricula rely heavily upon publisher-supplied information sources. In our learning model, students themselves can become publishers in digital-library environments. Tools enable students to publish and share and disseminate products of their academic work with each other as well as with humanities specialists as well as peers; for example, through a gallery exhibit of artistic creations. Students and teachers can create project artifacts which can be published in the system, and become an integral part of its collections. We are providing computer-based tools that make it easy for student authors to publish their research findings and artistic creations and link their contributions to related works.
Other tools can also enable teachers to collaborate with their peers and exchange ideas on instructional strategy. For example, CUSee Me, and other tools can be used to communicate with learning partners in the local and external community - other students, teachers, artists. Through these contacts, students can locate information, and share data and creations. Our model can eventually also find and schedule appointments with human mentors who will use these same tools for collaboration. Teachers can also use these same tools in order to collaborate with fellow teachers and with teaching mentors.
Broadening the Learning Community
We are developing a model which will build a community of learners and an extended resource base and support network of mentors and domain specialists. Resource specialists include K-12 media specialists, public and academic librarians, museum curators,and archivists. Domain specialists include artists, and faculty from the arts and humanities. Mentors will include parents, community leaders, and members of the domain and resource specialist community. This network will help give a human face to subject content, provide role models for career planning, and personalized assistance in problem- solving. Mentoring relationships can distribute responsibility for teaching and augment schools by providing more experts in classrooms.
We are using collaboration technology to allow members of the community to communicate with each other in an anyplace-anytime mode. This will help students to interact with others interested in and involved in the subject content they are learning. It also helps provide mentors beyond the classroom, and will assist students to communicate with peers who are engaged in related project learning.
This paper has described an initiative which seeks to expand the reach of cultural heritage materials through the use of digital and collaboration technology. Through a partnership involving K-12 teachers and media specialists, museum curators and docents , librarians and archival specialists, staff from the University Press, and faculty from a variety of specialties in the humanities and information professions, the CHICO initiative has been able to launch pilot projects which identify and develop resources which can enhance the learning and appreciation of the arts, and extend learning far beyond the classroom, and which facilitate the exchange of ideas and creativity within and among individuals and groups.
Acknowledgements: The author wishes to acknowledge the contributions of Michelle Miller, M. Sam Cronk, and Bradley Taylor in the preparation of this paper.