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MCG  February 2012

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Subject:

Re: What really are the primary roles of ICT in Museums

From:

Mr Gerhard Bissels <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Museums Computer Group <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 11 Feb 2012 16:17:53 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (342 lines)

Dear Diana and All,

Thanks for the link to this well-written blog post, Diana! Garry explains that the cost of Open Source Software is perceived to be less predictable than that of proprietary software - and he is probably right. So let me explain why the cost of Open Source Software is - against this popular misperception - actually more predictable, than that of proprietary software:

1. Implementation of, and support for, Open Source Software can simply be bought from specialist 'vendors', just as with proprietary software - it's up to the institution which length of contract, and level of support they want to specify. The difference is that institutions have a choice of support provider, and they can even opt to take all, or part of the work, in-house, or delegate it to a consortium. The perception that 'Open Source' equals one-off projects, probably comes from the field of web design where an overhaul of a site tends to be specified periodically as and when funds allow. But for software that needs constant support - collections management and the like -, long-term contracts would probably be your first choice!
2. There will always be the 'core' systems which you use to manage records, and then the 'flashy' applications that sit on top, make use of the records, and communicate them to end users. Support for the collection management systems has to be steady, and its cost is predictable. Investment in applications for the communication with (virtual) visitors can be scaled up or down, as funds permit.
3. Open Source systems tend to be based on open standards, so they talk to each other and can be combined to build the set-up you want. While the vendor of proprietary software gives you licenses and support for your selected packages only, but will charge extra for anything you might need later, Open Source Software allows you to use any number of applications without additional cost. Whatever your systems team - be it in-house or an external consultancy - can do within their paid hours, that's yours!

Museums, libraries and archives currently are taking a fresh look at Open Source Software, as part of a drive to deliver a broader range of services, at lower overall cost. Using little consultancy firms like ours may help with the transition now - though in the medium and long term, I expect to see more collaboration through consortia and similar structures.

This has been an interesting debate, and, for me, it has taken place both at MCG, and at MLAG (Museum Librarians and Archivists Group). I'll summarise the debate on this platform for MLAG.

Best wishes!

Gerhard


On 10 Feb 2012, at 16:55, Diana Erskine wrote:

> Hi all,
> 
> Apologies for being late to the party on this - its been a most useful thread.
> 
> So interesting in fact that we've used it as the topic for our blog post today and I just wanted to share :-)
> 
> http://blog.readingroom.com/2012/02/10/do-commercial-and-enterprise-solutions-belong-in-the-museum/
> 
> Many thanks for all the interesting contributions!
> 
> Kindest regards,
> 
> Diana
> 
> 
> Diana Erskine | Project Manager | Reading Room Ltd
> T: 0161 274 0744 | W: www.readingroommanchester.com | A: Albion Mill (Block A), 12 - 18 Pollard Street, Manchester, M4 7AJ
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> MANCHESTER / LONDON / BRISBANE / CANBERRA / SYDNEY / SINGAPORE
> 
> Top Digital Agency in the NW: 2009 & 2008 The Drum New Year's Honours
> 
> 
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Museums Computer Group [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Mr Gerhard Bissels
> Sent: Thursday, February 09, 2012 2:56 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: What really are the primary roles of ICT in Museums
> 
> Dear Wendy, dear Michael, dear Nick,
> 
> thanks for your replies!
> 
> Nick, I'd first like to defend my preference of Open Source Software. At least in the library sector, over recent years, some of the major vendors of proprietary software have been bought up by competitors, or by private equity capital - often leading to the sudden withdrawal of support and development for popular packages. The lack of investment in development has frustrated both institutions and vendors' staff - so much so that the core European reps of one library system vendor all resigned a few years ago, and set up a new business - supporting Open Source alternatives now... When I had the Koha OSS LMS installed in my then NHS library, I was impressed how slick the package was - and how affordable it was to have additional modules coded to meet that library's needs.
> 
> Wendy, I agree with you that standards are of much greater importance than the actual systems. Open Source applications tend to be totally standards-compliant - while many proprietary packages are not, or only by means of 'conversion' modules.
> 
> Michael, you asked for a list of relevant OSS packages. In a museum context I'd look at these:
> Omeka (www.omeka.net) is a system for managing a collection of digital images, based on the Dublin Core standard. It was developed by George Mason University, released a year ago, and is currently in use at 1,500 organisations.
> Collective Access (www.collectiveaccess.org) looks like a viable alternative to me.
> For archival collections, Archon (www.archon.org) is popular; written by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
> For the Library Management System, Koha (www.koha-community.org) is well established worldwide - and has been around since 1999!
> For handling e-journal subscriptions and as a link resolver, the combination of CUFTS and GODOT (researcher.sfu.ca) from the Public Knowledge Project at Simon Fraser University would be adequate.
> For an e-repository, there is, to my knowledge, only Open Source Software around - DSpace (www.dspace.org) has numerous installations in the UK, too.
> For a search tool on top of all these, VuFind (vufind.org) from Villanova University is popular (e.g. LSE, Royal Holloway), but OpenBib (www.openbib.org) from Cologne University is considered the technically most advanced.
> For publishing an e-journal, the Open Journals System (OJS) from the Public Knowledge Project at Simon Fraser University (pkp.sfu.ca/?q=ojs) has all the features you might ever need, yet is very straightforward to use.
> For a Virtual Learning Environment, Moodle (moodle.org) is the popular OSS alternative - with over 70,000 installations and 60 million users!
> For authentication, Shibboleth (http://www.jisc.ac.uk/shibboleth, http://shibboleth.internet2.edu/), an OSS tool, is the successor to Athens and standard across HE in the UK.
> 
> On the libraries' side, SCONUL has some useful resources on its HELIBTECH Wiki (helibtech.com/Open+Source). I'm not aware of an equivalent in the world of museums and archives, though.
> 
> Finally, I ought to point out my commercial interest in OSS - I'm a member of Library Co-op, a group of library, archive and museum professionals who specialise in Open Source Software.
> 
> Best wishes
> 
> Gerhard
> 
> On 9 Feb 2012, at 10:14, Michael Guthrie wrote:
> 
>> Hi Gerhard,
>> 
>> An interesting post.
>> What are the various open source software solutions for the object and
>> library catalogues. Indeed for all that you mention, a list of available
>> software would be great.
>> Best,
>> Michael
>> 
>> On 9 February 2012 09:15, Mr Gerhard Bissels
>> <[log in to unmask]>wrote:
>> 
>>> Dear All,
>>> 
>>> when I gave a paper on Open Source Software to MLAG last September, the
>>> librarians and archivists told me there were three core systems which
>>> museums needed: object catalogue, library catalogue, archive catalogue. A
>>> Discovery Tool could be put on top to allow easy cross-searching of
>>> resources. Horizontally, an Electronic Resource Management System for
>>> access to e-journals and databases could be added; and also channels for
>>> publishing information - an e-repository, e-journal publishing software for
>>> a museum's newsletter and/or scholarly journal(s), even a Virtual Learning
>>> Environment to support any educational activities. Access to the lot would
>>> be managed through an authentication tool. As far as I can see this set-up
>>> would take care of all collection-related work, curatorial and educational.
>>> Or have I forgotten anything?
>>> 
>>> There are decent Open-Source applications available to put all this
>>> together, and tie it in with any other systems that may be required: no
>>> license fees, low cost. And, ideally, the whole set-up could be shared
>>> between institutions in a consortia set-up - which would not only reduce
>>> cost, but would also facilitate other shared activities, from joint
>>> subscriptions to interlending. MLAG has shown a keen interest. Does this
>>> look reasonable so far? The next step would then be the creation of a body
>>> that would run this bundle of services on behalf of participating
>>> institutions...
>>> 
>>> Best wishes
>>> 
>>> Gerhard
>>> 
>>> 
>>> On 9 Feb 2012, at 08:31, John Williams (NMC) wrote:
>>> 
>>>> Thanks for an interesting reply Kate !
>>>> 
>>>> Your comment about the shape and form of data is definitely important.
>>>> 
>>>> We, like many others I guess, have seen an explosion in the amount of
>>> data that we need to store. Much of that is multimedia and most of that is
>>> currently images. Now we're seeing a demand for 3D images and high
>>> definition video.  Add that to the existing information and it's no great
>>> surprise that we concluded we need to plan some form of information
>>> management system.
>>>> 
>>>> Our data is spread across many different platforms. Collection data in
>>> the Collections Management System, Email in the Exchange information store
>>> and Office documents across a variety of personal, shared and project
>>> drives few of which are properly indexed,
>>>> 
>>>> Managing that information is definitely becoming one of the major
>>> strategic strands for the next few years.
>>>> 
>>>> I'm also interested to explore how ICT can best collaborate in the
>>> development of innovative interpretation. Many's the MCG meeting where I've
>>> sat listening to other delegates bemoan the lack of support that they get
>>> from their ICT departments. Much of that is probably ICT's preoccupation
>>> with security but there still seems to be a disconnection between what the
>>> users want and what ICT can - or is allowed - to provide.
>>>> 
>>>> Regards,
>>>> 
>>>> John
>>>> 
>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>> From: Museums Computer Group [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of
>>> Kate Byrne
>>>> Sent: 08 February 2012 12:07
>>>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>>> Subject: Re: What' are really the primary roles of ICT in Museums
>>>> 
>>>> Interesting question John.
>>>> 
>>>> Actually I don't think the core roles have changed since the first bits
>>> became bytes:
>>>> 
>>>> 1. ICT collaborates with others (colleagues from other disciplines,
>>> volunteers, whoever) to produce systems to help carry out the
>>> organisation's mission. Emphasis on collaboration and mission rather than
>>> on what the technologies of the day happen to be.
>>>> 
>>>> 2. ICT keeps an eye on new technology/research that could be exploited
>>> for the organisation's gain in the future. Definitely not exclusive to the
>>> ICT team, but they may have a usefully different perspective. (For me, more
>>> natural language processing and semantic web stuff are the future.)
>>>> 
>>>> 3. The only one that is primarily ICT's responsibility: they keep in
>>> mind through all developments the shape and form of the data, in whatever
>>> medium, to ensure it is easy to access, manipulate, recombine etc, and
>>> safely preserved. Curiously, this is the one ICT sometimes seems to lose
>>> sight of.
>>>> 
>>>> I'm out of touch as I'm no longer an ICT manager in cultural heritage
>>> but I doubt these things have changed. I hope not anyway.
>>>> 
>>>> All best,
>>>> 
>>>> Kate
>>>> 
>>>> ****************************
>>>> 
>>>> YMWADIAD
>>>> Mae pob neges ebost a anfonir i neu gan Amgueddfa Cymru yn cael ei
>>>> sganio gan systemau diogelwch awtomatig er mwyn rheoli negeseuon
>>>> digymell a dileu cynnwys amhriodol neu beryglus. Cafodd y neges hon ei
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>>>> neges, a phob atodiad ynddi, yn rhydd o firysau cyn ei defnyddio gan
>>>> nad yw'r Amgueddfa'n derbyn cyfrifoldeb am unrhyw golled neu ddifrod o
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>>>> Nid yw'r Amgueddfa'n atebol am unrhyw wallau, llygredd neu esgeulustod
>>>> a allai godi wrth drosglwyddo'r neges hon, felly na ddibynnwch ar y
>>>> cynnwys heb geisio cadarnhad ysgrifenedig yn gyntaf.
>>>> 
>>>> DISCLAIMER
>>>> Email to and from Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales is scanned
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>>>> 
>>>> ****************************************************************
>>>>     website:  http://museumscomputergroup.org.uk/
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>>>> [un]subscribe:  http://museumscomputergroup.org.uk/email-list/
>>>> ****************************************************************
>>> 
>>> 
>>> Gerhard Bissels
>>> Consulting Librarian
>>> Tel. +44 (0)20 3432 0614
>>> [log in to unmask]
>>> library.coop
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> Library Co-op LLP
>>> Company registered in England and Wales no. OC366378
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> Get Skype and call me for free.
>>> 
>>> 
>>> 
>>> ****************************************************************
>>>     website:  http://museumscomputergroup.org.uk/
>>>     Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/ukmcg
>>>    Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/museumscomputergroup
>>> [un]subscribe:  http://museumscomputergroup.org.uk/email-list/
>>> ****************************************************************
>>> 
>> 
>> ****************************************************************
>>      website:  http://museumscomputergroup.org.uk/
>>      Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/ukmcg
>>     Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/museumscomputergroup
>> [un]subscribe:  http://museumscomputergroup.org.uk/email-list/
>> ****************************************************************
> 
> 
> Gerhard Bissels
> Consulting Librarian
> Tel. +44 (0)20 3432 0614
> [log in to unmask]
> library.coop
> 
> 
> 
> 
> Library Co-op LLP
> Company registered in England and Wales no. OC366378
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> Get Skype and call me for free.
> 
> 
> 
> ****************************************************************
>       website:  http://museumscomputergroup.org.uk/
>       Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/ukmcg
>      Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/museumscomputergroup
> [un]subscribe:  http://museumscomputergroup.org.uk/email-list/
> ****************************************************************
> 
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> 
> Company Registration No. 3280127 (England & Wales). Registered Office address: 65-66 Frith Street, London, W1D 3JR
> 
> ****************************************************************
>       website:  http://museumscomputergroup.org.uk/
>       Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/ukmcg
>      Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/museumscomputergroup
> [un]subscribe:  http://museumscomputergroup.org.uk/email-list/
> ****************************************************************


Gerhard Bissels
Consulting Librarian
Tel. +44 (0)20 3432 0614 
[log in to unmask]
library.coop




Library Co-op LLP
Company registered in England and Wales no. OC366378






 
Get Skype and call me for free.



****************************************************************
       website:  http://museumscomputergroup.org.uk/
       Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/ukmcg
      Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/museumscomputergroup
 [un]subscribe:  http://museumscomputergroup.org.uk/email-list/
****************************************************************

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