Books Magazine

May No Longer Browse by Item Type

Posted on the 19 April 2018 by Hmcurator

Rewriting my shortcodes reminded me of something I have been meaning to do for a while. I have demoted “item type” from a custom taxonomy to a custom field. What this means to you is that the “Browse Collection By” tree in the left navigation bar no longer has entries for “Item Types”.

One of my reasons for doing this was to make the left navigation bar shorter. As I have added manufacturers, copyright dates and characters depicted, the screen display has become more lopsided. But the main reason I have done this goes back to when I was first designing the Harvey Mercheum website.

I spent a great deal of time and effort deciding what data elements I wanted to track for each exhibit, and thinking about how that information could be used. I made item type a taxonomy and placed it in the “Browse Collection By” tree because I thought visitors to the Harvey Mercheum website might find it useful. For example, a visitor who collects dolls could select the “Doll” item type and just see the doll exhibits.

The problem is that I failed to consider whether the data was intrinsic or extrinsic to the exhibit. Manufacturer and copyright date are either printed on the item or they are not. A character either appears on the item or does not. Those values are intrinsic to the item. I originally thought item type was intrinsic as well, obviously an item has a type. But actually naming the type is more difficult than I originally expected. For example, the Richie Rich Sunglasses are listed as type “Rack Toy” because I consider them to be part of my Larmai rack toy collection, but they are also type “Apparel”. The Casper the Friendly Ghost board game I made item type “Board Game”, but it could have been just “Game”, and been grouped with the Casper shooter marble.

I have mentioned before how I try to make the archive pages useful for the custom taxonomies. While I have been able to do so for the Manufacturers and Characters Depicted, I have not been able to for Copyrights and Item Types. I plan on keeping Copyright as a taxonomy, but the lack of useful information on the item type archive pages was another reason to remove the taxonomy.

Item type should still be listed in the table of interpretive information for each exhibit. If you notice any exhibits with a missing or incorrect item type, or have any questions or comments about this change, please leave a comment below, or use the Contact the Curator form.

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