Ah, the Met. You have to love them, so much wonderful material available online, and free. Collections of immeasurable depth and wealth, an incredible professional staff–this is the pinnacle, right? And yet…
They have a weakness. It’s a weakness shared by many places, but it is a major one, for the online user. It’s the lack of subject headings or dates assigned to their Library’s Digital Collections. They use OCLC’s ContentDM which has a pleasant enough interface, and fields that, in the Met’s Costume Institute Fashion Plate Collection, include Thumbnail, Title, Subject, Description, and Date.
They’re only putting data in Thumbnail (see image; I love that dress), Title, and Description. Description is what I would call Credit Line, and contains the donor name.
Title is a trifle vague. The image above is “Women 1790-1799, Plate 009.” No date, no subjects. The date is October, 1791, right there in the image, but not searchable, not sortable.
Catalogers, I implore you: subject headings. If not subject headings, the date, please, when it is on the item. That makes the collections not only sortable, but searchable.
Enough with my lunch-too-late commentary! I’ve been immensely grateful to have a new digital plaything while waiting for the lunch room to clear, and this plate is delightful: April 1797, which was certainly blustery, if not cruel.
This weekend, I am off to the Farm for the Christmas Sale. Not such a pretty dress as these, but one I am pleased with nonetheless, and which (with wool petticoat, stockings, and cloak) should keep me warm–I do expect to be quite busy.