2010 Horizon Report: Museum Edition

The Edward and Betty Marcus Institute for Digital Education in the Arts has released 2010 Horizon Report: Museum Edition.

Here's an excerpt:

The highest ranked of those trends had significant agreement among the Advisory Board members, who considered them to be key drivers of museum technology adoptions for the period 2010 through 2014. They are listed here in the order in which the Advisory Board ranked them.

  • "Rich" media—images, videos, audio, augmented reality, and animations—are becoming increasingly valuable assets in digital interpretation. Museums understand the value in capturing high-quality media documentation related to their collections at every opportunity. Working more closely than ever with educators and researchers, museums are embracing opportunities for multimodal learning both online and in the galleries. High-quality media like images, videos, audio clips, augmented reality, and animations are no longer seen as afterthoughts in interpretation but increasingly as necessary components of an interpretive plan. This trend is beneficial to museum professionals and visitors alike as it encourages a deeper understanding of objects, ideas, and audiences.
  • Digitization and cataloguing projects will continue to require a significant share of museum resources. Museums are distinguished by the content they keep and interpret. There is an increasing understanding among museum professionals that visitors expect to be able to readily access accurate and interesting information, and especially high-quality media. This requires museums to plan strategically for the digitization and cataloging of collections. These projects frequently require hard choices in the allocation of money, personnel, and time, but are not likely to diminish in importance in the foreseeable future.
  • Increasingly, museum visitors (and staff) expect to be able to work, learn, study, and connect with their social networks in all places and at all times using whichever device they choose. Wireless network access, mobile networks, and personal portable networks have made it easy to remain connected almost anywhere. Museum audiences have become accustomed to easy access to the network in other parts of their lives, and grow increasingly impatient with places where it is not possible (or where it is prohibitively expensive) to be connected using the device of their choosing.
  • The abundance of resources and relationships offered by open content repositories and social networks is challenging us to revisit our roles as educators. Access to educational materials of all kinds has never been as easy or as open as it is today. The model of the museum curator or educator standing in front of an object interpreting meaning for a passive audience is no longer realistic in a world accustomed to instant access to virtually any kind of information. More important to today’s audiences is advice on how to find, interpret, and make their own connections with collections and ideas.

Guidelines for Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries and Museums Issued

The Institute of Museum and Library Services has released Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries and Museums guidelines.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

This new grant program will provide one-year grants of $10,000 to $25,000 for innovative projects that respond to the challenges and opportunities facing cultural heritage institutions in a rapidly changing information environment. The submission deadline is November 15, 2010.

Successful proposals will address problems, challenges, or needs of broad relevance to museums, libraries, or archives, will test innovative responses to these problems, and will make the findings of these tests widely and openly accessible. Grant funding may include all activities associated with planning, deploying, and evaluating the innovation, as long as the expenses are allowable under federal and IMLS guidelines. Examples of projects that might be funded by this program include, but are not limited to:

  • exploring the potential of highly original, experimental collaborations,
  • implementing new workflows or processes with potential for substantial cost savings,
  • testing new metrics or methods to measure the impact of promising tools or services,
  • rapid prototyping and testing of new types of software tools, or creating useful new ways to link separate software applications used in libraries, archives, or museums,
  • offering innovative new types of services or service options to museum, library, or archive visitors, or
  • enhancing institutions’ abilities to interact with audiences in new ways to promote learning or improve services, such as through the deployment of innovative crowd-sourcing techniques.

Sparks! Ignition Grant funds may not be used for:

  • evaluation of an existing program or service,
  • projects that are only for planning or research (as distinguished from experimentation),
  • projects that are limited to existing and traditional approaches to exhibitions, performances, or other types of public programs,
  • projects that involve mainly digitization, unless the applicant is proposing an innovative method for digitization,
  • activities that will produce only incremental improvements in operational or business processes,
  • support of conferences or professional meetings, or
  • acquisition of equipment in excess of 50 percent of the total funds requested from IMLS.

Creating a Digital Smithsonian: Digitization Strategic Plan

The Smithsonian has released Creating a Digital Smithsonian: Digitization Strategic Plan.

Here's an excerpt:

How long will digitization take? How much will it cost? Right now, we are not sure, and the plan’s number-one task is to determine timelines, cost parameters, and guidelines for setting priorities about what will be digitized when. While we will not digitize all of our collections, the price tag is still daunting, especially considering that many of our objects are three-dimensional and therefore more difficult to digitize. Added to the direct cost of digitization are the staff hours needed to find and research objects and data and the rights associated with them.

Regardless of the specific digitization strategies we pursue, the investment will be enormous. This accounts for a key goal in the digitization plan: securing additional financial and human capital. As noted, digitization is an ongoing process that will require ongoing resources. We have been digitizing, and will continue to do so as funds become available, but from now on we will work across the Institution from a single plan that outlines a comprehensive and systemic approach.

Omeka 1.2 Released

The Center for History and New Media at George Mason University has released Omeka 1.2.

Here's an excerpt from the download page

Omeka version 1.2 includes following features and plug-ins:

  • Four themes that are easy to adapt with simple CSS changes and theme configuration
  • Exhibit Builder plugin with 12 page layouts and 5 exhibit themes
  • Tagging for items and exhibits
  • RSS feeds for items
  • COinS plug-in making items readable by Zotero
  • SimplePages plugin for easily making static pages

Here's a brief description of Omeka from Omeka: Serious Web Publishing.

Omeka is a free, flexible, and open source web-publishing platform for the display of library, museum, archives, and scholarly collections and exhibitions. Its "five-minute setup" makes launching an online exhibition as easy as launching a blog. Omeka is designed with non-IT specialists in mind, allowing users to focus on content and interpretation rather than programming. It brings Web 2.0 technologies and approaches to academic and cultural websites to foster user interaction and participation. It makes top-shelf design easy with a simple and flexible templating system. Its robust open-source developer and user communities underwrite Omeka’s stability and sustainability.

Read more about it at "Configurable Themes in 1.2."

"Control of Museum Art Images: The Reach and Limits of Copyright and Licensing"

Melissa A. Brown and Kenneth D. Crews have self-archived "Control of Museum Art Images: The Reach and Limits of Copyright and Licensing" in SSRN.

Here's an excerpt:

Many museums and art libraries have digitized their collections of artworks. Digital imaging capabilities represent a significant development in the academic study of art, and they enhance the availability of art images to the public at large. The possible uses of these images are likewise broad. Many of these uses, however, are potentially defined by copyright law or by license agreements imposed by some museums and libraries that attempt to define allowable uses. Often, these terms and conditions will mean that an online image is not truly available for many purposes, including publication in the context of research or simple enjoyment. Not only do these terms and conditions restrict uses, they also have dubious legal standing after the Bridgeman case. This paper examines the legal premises behind claiming copyright in art images and the ability to impose license restrictions on their use.

This paper is one outcome of a study of museum licensing practices funded by The Samuel H. Kress Foundation. This paper is principally an introduction to the relevant law in the United States and a survey of examples of museum licenses. The project is in its early stages, with the expectation that later studies will expand on this introduction and provide greater analysis of the legal complications of copyright, the public domain, and the reach of license agreements as a means for controlling the use of artwork and potentially any other works, whether or not they fall within the scope of copyright protection.

"Smithsonian Team Flickr: A Library, Archives, and Museums Collaboration in Web 2.0 Space"

Martin Kalfatovic et al. have self-archived "Smithsonian Team Flickr: A Library, Archives, and Museums Collaboration in Web 2.0 Space" in Smithsonian Research Online.

Here's an excerpt:

The Flickr Commons was created as a forum for institutions to share their rich photographic collections with the emerging Web 2.0 audience of Flickr. The Smithsonian Institution was the fourth member of the Commons. The Smithsonian effort was a direct collaborative effort of the libraries, archives, museums, and information technology staff that generated new pathways for collaboration between these units. As the world's largest museum complex, these Smithsonian units serve as a microcosm for collaboration in the information age. The Flickr Commons project provided insights into how the knowledge, skills, and abilities of libraries, archives, and museums (LAM) can converge in the Web 2.0 environment to provide collection access to new, and in some cases, unknown of audiences. Simultaneously, by putting "LAM" content into an environment that allows for direct interaction by these audiences, the knowledge of the content for holding institutions is enriched. By exposing Smithsonian content within the Flickr environment, the Institution is learning what content is desired by the Web 2.0 world, how to bring crowd-sourcing into professionally curated collections, and how to bring diverse institutional skills together in a collaborative project.

Omeka Image Annotation Plugin 1.0 Beta

The Center for History and New Media, George Mason University has released the Image Annotation Plugin 1.0 beta for Omeka.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

Have you ever wanted to annotate your images on Omeka like you can on Flickr?

Now you can with the beta release of Omeka's Image Annotation plugin! Using an adaptation of Chris Woods' jQuery plugin, jquery-image-annotate, Omeka's new Image Annotation plugin allows users to add textual annotations to images. To add an image annotation, users select a region of the image and then attach a textual description.

President Obama Requests $265,556,000 for IMLS

President Obama has asked Congress for $265,556,000 for the Institute of Museum and Library Services' FY 2010 budget allocation, an increase of $1,453,000 over FY 2009.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

The President requested $213,240,000 for the nation’s 123,000 libraries. Of that amount, approximately 80 percent is distributed through the Grants to States program to the State Library Administrative Agencies (SLAAs) in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and freely associated state, according to a population-based formula. These grants help libraries meet the community needs, use technology to develop new service models and reach underserved populations. Library funding also supports:

  • National Leadership Grants to support creation of new tools, research, models, services, practices, or alliances to shape tomorrow’s libraries;
  • Native American and Native Hawaiian Library Services Grants to support improved access to library services for Native Americans, Alaska Native Villages, and Native Hawaiians; and the
  • Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian grants that build the professional capacity of libraries by improving staff knowledge and skills.

Controlling Access to and Use of Online Cultural Collections: A Survey of U.S. Archives, Libraries and Museums for IMLS

Kristin Eschenfelder has self-archived a draft of Controlling Access to and Use of Online Cultural Collections: A Survey of U.S. Archives, Libraries and Museums for IMLS in dLIST.

Here's an excerpt:

This report describes the results of an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) funded study to investigate the use of technological or policy tools to control patron access to or use of digital collections of cultural materials created by U.S. archives, libraries and museums. The technological and policy tools serve primarily to control copying or other reuses of digital materials. The study had the following goals: 1. Assess what technical and policy tools cultural institutions are employing to control access to and use of online digital collections. 2. Investigate motivations for controlling access to or use of collections (e.g., copyright, privacy, protecting traditional restrictions, income generation etc.). 3. Investigate discouragers to the implementation of access and use control systems (e.g., preference for open collections, lack of resources, institutional mission, etc.). 4. Gauge interest in implementing technical systems to control access to and use of collections. 5. Determine what types of assistance IMLS could provide. 6. Identify institutions with innovative controlled online collections for follow up case studies on policy, technical and managerial details.

Open Source Biological Specimen Database System for Museums: Specify 6 Released

Specify 6, an open source biological specimen database system for museums, has been released. (Thanks to Peter Scott’s Library Blog.)

Here's an excerpt from the project home page:

After more than twelve developer years of design and engineering and over two million USD of investment, the Specify Software Team is delighted to release today, April 10, 2009, Specify 6 for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux desktops.

Specify is a client-server database platform for museums and herbaria which processes specimen information for computerizing holdings, managing collection management transactions, and for mobilizing species occurrence data to the web. Specify is free and open source software licensed under the GNU GPL2. Downloadable installation packages for all three desktop flavors as well as Specify's Java source code are linked to this site. . . .

Non-profit U.S. research collections are eligible for our helpdesk and data conversion services thanks to our financial support from the U.S. National Science Foundation, Division of Biological Infrastructure. We look forward to working with you to increase the research impact of your institution's investment in biodiversity collection curation and specimen data management.

OCLC Research Releases Data Exchange Software for Museums

With support from a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, OCLC Research has released data exchange software for museums.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

COBOAT software is now available under a fee-free license for the purpose of publishing a CDWA Lite repository of collections information. It is a metadata publishing tool developed by Cognitive Applications Inc. (Cogapp) that transfers information between databases (such as collections management systems) and different formats. As configured for this project, COBOAT allows museums to extract standards-based records in the Categories for the Descriptions of Works of Art (CDWA) Lite XML data format out of Gallery Systems TMS, a leading collection management system in the museum industry. Configuration files allow COBOAT to be adjusted for extraction from different vendor-based or homegrown database systems, or locally divergent implementations of the same collections management systems.

OAICat Museum 1.0, an Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) data content provider supporting CDWA Lite XML, is also available. It allows museums to share the data extracted with COBOAT using OAI-PMH.

Digital Collections/Exhibitions Software: Omeka 1.0 Alpha Released

Omeka 1.0 alpha has been released.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

This version of Omeka includes:

  • New helper functions and updates current helper function;
  • Enhancements and fixes bugs throughout the admin panel;
  • An autocompleter to the tags field for items;
  • Filtering for the users list in the admin;
  • An upgrade notification to admin dashboard if you're version of Omeka is older than the latest stable release.
  • A "Remember Me" checkbox to the login.
  • A global view page and helpers for file metadata, which will allow you to edit file metadata and display it in public themes.

Exhibiting Public Value: Government Funding for Museums in the United States

The Institute of Museum and Library Services has released Exhibiting Public Value: Government Funding for Museums in the United States

Here's an excerpt:

As a proportion of total revenue, government support to U.S. museums ranged between 7% and 33% by museum type. However, when government administered museums are removed from the analysis, the highest proportion of public support drops to 24%. A great deal of variation lies beneath this simple estimate. Because museums of different types have widely varied operating budgets, equivalent proportions represent radically different public dollar investments. For example, while science and technology centers and history museums reported similar proportions of their operating support coming from government sources, 30% and 32% respectively, the public dollar investment is quite different. For science and technology centers in the survey, the median public support was $289,970. For history museums, the median support was $32,182.

Digital Collections/Exhibitions Software: Omeka 0.10b Released

The Center for History and New Media at George Mason University has released Omeka 0.10b.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

Omeka 0.10b incorporates many of the changes you asked for: an unqualified Dublin Core metadata schema and fully extensible element sets to accommodate interoperability with digital repository software and collections management systems; elegant reworkings of our theme API and plugin API to make add-on development more intuitive and more powerful; a new, even more user friendly look for the administrative interface; and a new and improved Exhibit Builder. While the changes are extensive and represent a next-to-last step forward toward a 1.0 release in early 2009, existing users of Omeka should have little trouble switching to 0.10b. New users should have even less trouble getting started. Meanwhile, visitors to Omeka.org will find a new look, a more intuitive information architecture, easily browsable themes and plugins directories, improved documentation and user support, and new ways to get involved in the Omeka community.

Digital Collections/Exhibitions Software: Omeka Package from OKAPI Released

The Open Knowledge and the Public Interest has created an Omeka package that "bundles together their custom theme, plugin modifications and additions to the 0.9.2 version."

Here's an excerpt from the Omeka announcement:

The Okapi theme enables Omeka users without expert web design skills to create polished multimedia exhibits and collections. The home page features a cinematic 980×500 pixel main image and up to four featured exhibits. Exhibit pages include new layouts for articles, themed collections and embedded multimedia. The bundled Multimedia Links plugin enables embedding of HTML code, flash video (flv), and many other formats supported by the included JWplayer. The theme displays accessible Flash-based typography and is W3C CSS and XHTML compliant.

Beyond the Silos of the LAMs: Collaboration Among Libraries, Archives and Museums

OCLC Programs and Research has published Beyond the Silos of the LAMs: Collaboration Among Libraries, Archives and Museums.

Here's an excerpt:

The project that forms the basis of this report began in 2007, when RLG Programs initiated work on the program, Library, Archive and Museum Collaboration. The goal of the program was threefold: to explore the nature of library, archive and museum (LAM) collaborations, to help LAMs collaborate on common services and thus yield greater productivity within their institutions, and to assist them in creating research environments better aligned with user expectations—or, to reference this report’s title, to move beyond the often-mentioned silos of LAM resources which divide content into piecemeal offerings.

At the heart of the program was a series of workshops designed to be both exploratory and outcome-oriented. Workshop participants were asked to identify motivations and obstacles in the collaborative process and plan new collaborative projects and programs that addressed needs at their own institutions.

Five RLG Programs partner sites were selected to participate in the workshops: the University of Edinburgh, Princeton University, the Smithsonian Institution, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Yale University.

Omeka 0.10 Alpha Released

The Center for History and New Media at George Mason University has released Omeka 0.10 Alpha. Omeka is used to provide access to digital collections and exhibitions (see the About page).

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

In this version we’ve updated to a powerful new data model based on an unqualified Dubin Core standard. We’ve also improved the theme and plugin APIs to work with that data model and make it easier for plugin and theme creators to work with Omeka.

OpenCollection Version 0.54-3 Released

OpenCollection version 0.54-3 has been released.

Here's an excerpt from the Overview page:

OpenCollection is a full-featured collections management and online access application for museums, archives and digital collections. It is designed to handle large, heterogeneous collections that have complex cataloguing requirements and require support for a variety of metadata standards and media formats. Unlike most other collections management applications, OpenCollection is completely web-based. All cataloging, search and administrative functions are accessed using common web-browser software, untying users from specific operating systems and making cataloguing by distributed teams and online access to collections information simple, efficient and inexpensive.

See the Features page for more details about this open source software.

Research Study: How Is Web 2.0 Viewed by Academics?

The Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery's Pre-Raphaelite digitization project has released a study (Pre-Raphaelite Resource Project: Audience Research Report) about the perceptions of academics of the usefulness of Web 2.0 capabilities.

Here's an excerpt from the "Executive Summary":

Our research indicated that there is some readiness among the education community for Web 2.0 technologies but only in the context of academia as a status-conscious, competitive environment. Whilst there are clear benefits to be achieved from providing teachers and students with the opportunity to share ideas in the context of stimulus artefacts, many hold reservations about 'giving away' their intellectual property. Providing different levels of publishing privileges will help cater for the varying acceptance within the audience base for sharing their ideas publicly.

Social networking features are perceived by both HE students and lecturers as primarily for pleasure rather than for work so must be used sparingly in a resource of this nature. For younger students, however, the boundaries between work and life are increasingly blurred and the ability to contact experts and to personalise or control the space would be welcomed.

Care must be taken with positioning for the resource to be truly useful as a research tool; students and lecturers need to know that it has been created for them and has scholarly merit. Their main concern is to access reliable, relevant content and information, but the ability to form connections between these resources is one way of adding value to the collection.

InterConnections: The IMLS National Study on the Use of Libraries, Museums and the Internet Published

The Institute of Museum and Library Services has published InterConnections: The IMLS National Study on the Use of Libraries, Museums and the Internet. The full conclusions gives you the major findings.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

IMLS sponsored this national study through a cooperative agreement with a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill research team led by José-Marie Griffiths and Donald W. King, recognized leaders in information research. Their findings are based on five surveys of 1,000 to 1,600 adults each that were conducted during 2006. The study found that:

  • Libraries and museums are the most trusted sources of online information among adults of all ages, education levels, races, and ethnicities. Libraries and museums rank higher in trustworthiness than all other information sources including government, commercial, and private Web sites. The study shows that the public trust of museums and libraries migrates to the online environment.
  • The explosive growth of information available in the “Information Age” actually whets Americans’ appetite for more information. People search for information in many places and since the use of one source leads to others, museums, public libraries, and the Internet complement each other in this information-rich environment.
  • The Internet is not replacing in-person visits to libraries and museums and may actually increase onsite use of libraries and museums. There is a positive relationship between Internet use and in-person visits to museums and public libraries.

Omeka 0.9.0 Released: Software for Digital Collections and Exhibits

Version 0.9.0 of Omeka has been released.

Here's an excerpt from the About page that describes Omeka:

Omeka is a web platform for publishing collections and exhibitions online. Designed for cultural institutions, enthusiasts, and educators, Omeka is easy to install and modify and facilitates community-building around collections and exhibits. It is designed with non-IT specialists in mind, allowing users to focus on content rather than programming.

Omeka will come loaded with the following features:

  • Dublin Core metadata structure and standards-based design that is fully accessible and interoperable
  • Professional-looking exhibit sites that showcase collections without hiring outside designers
  • Theme-switching for changing the look and feel of an exhibit in a few clicks
  • Plug-ins for geolocation, bi-lingual sites, and a host of other possibilities
  • Web 2.0 Technologies, including:
    • Tagging: Allow users to add keywords to items in a collection or exhibit
    • Blogging: Keep in touch with users through timely postings about collections and events
    • Syndicating: Update your users about your content with RSS feeds

Read more about it at "Introducing Omeka" and "New Tool for Online Collections."