The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Folger Tooltips: Digital image database logins and media groups

Dear Fellow Collators:

Today’s post focuses once again on powerful but perhaps under-utilized features of our digital image databases.

Recent tips have dealt with saving static URLs to get back to previous searches or to individual images, and saving static URLs to get back to multiple images arrayed on a workspace. One thing has been true for these tips (and for that matter all previous digital image database tooltips): there are many ways to make good use of these resources without ever registering or logging in with a personal account.

But is it time to step up your game? There are good reasons to get yourself a free (and secure) username and password. Today I’ll start with just one of those reasons: once logged in you can create any number of public, private, or password-protected “media groups” of the images you are working with. In future tooltips we’ll cover importing to and exporting from media groups as well as making use of the public media groups created and generously shared by others. But for now let’s get registered and create a first group or two. 

Registering for a digital image database account

It takes just a minute at to get your account. Here’s how to do it: click through to the sign up page via the “Register”  button in the top right of the screen:

register for a free Folger digital image database account
“click to register” for a free Folger digital image database account

From there you’ll do the usual: pick a username and password, provide your name and email, click submit. You’ll get a friendly email confirmation, subject line “Welcome to the Folger Digital Image Collection.” OK?

OK, good to go!

Well, maybe. But if you’re like most of us, you will sooner or later need a password reset. Not to worry; getting a new password is as easy as forgetting where I put my keys. From the logon screen, click through the “Have you forgotten your password?” link and enter the email address you registered under:

request a new one if you forget your password
request a new one if you forget your password

Your first media group

On registration, each user gets a blandly-titled “My First Media Group.” Two things: this “My First” is both private (visible only to you), and set automatically as your “Active Media Group:”

"my first media group," after registration
“my first media group,” after registration

We’ll cover how to give your media group a new name, set it public or passworded, etc. But first, about “active media groups.”

Active media groups

A useful and short flash-based Luna tutorial on active media groups is well-worth reviewing. But let’s be Folger-centric about this too, and see how this works in our own digital image databases.

You may remember last time around discussing how to add images to  your workspace from the search / browse results thumbnail screen? That’s a feature available whether you are logged in or not. But now that you are logged in, you’ve got a newly-available option: by mousing over any thumbnail you now have the choice to add the image to a group of your choosing by clicking the “Add to my Active Media Group” icon in the upper right corner of the thumbnail.:

add to an "active media group" from the thumbnail screen
add to an “active media group” from the thumbnail screen


Media group properties

Let’s get meta for a minute, and edit the media group properties—you may eventually end up with lots of these so having a clear naming convention and/or organizational scheme could be useful in the long run. Here’s an example:

edit media group properties
edit media group properties

A couple of things worth noting:

  • I’ve got a couple of groups whose names start with the same phrase: “Book history images.” This makes sorting easier if / when you end up with multiple groups.
  • I’ve made this group public, meaning that anyone (whether logged in or not) can select Explore > Media Groups and see this group listed as one of the dozens of available Public Media Groups
  • It isn’t password-protected, so anyone can have a look. Although nobody except me can modify my own groups, the fact that I’ve made this public means that other registered users can copy this into their own groups and then make their own changes and modifications.
  • “My groups” is the only Folder choice, so that’s ok.
  • This is set as my active group. That way, any relevant images I run across in my searching or browsing can easily be dropped in.
  • And I’ve supplied some keywords as a kind of descriptive scope note. Fifty characters is a tough limit! But I made it work, I guess.

Suggested setup for working with with media groups

Picture research—particularly in databases like ours where we have been (and will likely always be) much faster at digitizing than at item-level image cataloging—will always involve moments of serendipity, of stumbling upon, of finding one thing while looking for something else. Such moments of zen can be usefully capitalized on if you’ve taken the time to register, log in, and set up one or more media groups relevant to your current interest. And of course, reviewed Erin Blake’s important guide to Finding images at the Folger!

If you’re like me, you’ll find that a lot of good work can in fact be done from searching or browsing  thumbnail screens while logged in and with an active media group of choice queued up. Here’s a suggested workflow for maximum efficiency when engaged in active picture research (or active “poking around,” which IMHO is under-rated):

  • Confirm that you are logged in and have queued up a relevant media group
  • Set your search / browse results screen to 250, which will minimize the next-next-nexting you’ll do to go from page to page (note that you can make this the default under your own login settings if desired):
show 250 thumbnails per page
show 250 thumbnails per page
  • Big-ify your thumbnail size so that without clicking through you can see more of what there is to see:
show large thumbnails
show large thumbnails
  • Browse away! And drop into your active media group anything and everything that seems at all possibly relevant or interesting.
  • Why? Because it can be much much easier to later on delete the actually-irrelevant from your media group than to later on track down that fascinating-but-only-vaguely-remembered image you ran across in a previous search.
Next time we’ll talk further about editing the contents of your media group, importing from flickr (e.g. esp. from the Folger Collection by Folger Readers group), exporting to keynote or powerpoint, and more. But for now, I hope this brief intro to logins and media groups might help you start stockpiling your own image banks for ongoing and future research purposes.

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