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CollectionSpace: Cultivating Shared Software Solutions Among Communities of Practice

Museum of the Moving Image, in partnership with University of California, Berkeley, Information Services and Technology Division and the Walker Art Center, will cultivate shared software solutions among diverse communities of practice within the museum field. To realize this goal, the project team, along with participants from these communities of practice, will significantly advance and extend the CollectionSpace (www.collectionspace.org) open source collections information management software application. Funding will also be used to create the infrastructure needed for each community of practice to implement, maintain, and sustain shared software solutions under the “community source” model.

CollectionSpace is designed from the ground up to be useful to an extremely wide array of collection types, from art to zoology. Its distribution under an open source license, and the ease with which the software can be customized and extended using standard web development techniques, means that extensions to and customization of the software’s functionality can occur within and by the community, without need for a commercial vendor. These community-designed extensions can be immediately shared with all other interested users.

The proposed project, “CollectionSpace: Cultivating Shared Software Solutions Among Communities of Practice,” will allow the project partners to implement CollectionSpace in five institutions representing distinct communities of practice – NAME THEM HERE -, and to shape and extend the software to suit the needs of these communities. Schema extensions, metadata standards and formats, user interface templates, and workflows developed by each institution will be gathered together and released as “themes,” for out-of-the-box implementation by future adopters. Museums with shared subjects and interests are likely to benefit from these customizations to CollectionSpace because of common interests in the use of specific data models and data content, structure, and value standards.

The institutions and themes are:

  • Museum of the Moving Image (historical artifacts and memorabilia);
  • Walker Art Center (contemporary art);
  • University of California, Berkeley, which will support three institutions:
  • Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology (anthropology);
  • History of Art Visual Resource Collection (visual resources);
  • University and Jepson Herbaria (biodiversity and life sciences).

The project team will use a robust set of methods and tools for community source software development and collaboration. Museum of the Moving Image will serve as the lead organization for this project. Decision-making will be a collaborative and coordinated process involving input from each partner, and ultimately, from the communities of practice. Each project partner will have an on-site project manager, responsible for institutional activities and reporting to the project director, based at Moving Image. Project evaluation will be conducted and dissemination will take place online, through webinars, mailing lists and blogs, and via conferences and events.

The project will result in increased efficiency and lower costs of migrating, managing, accessing and publishing information to today’s web-based information platforms. It also has the potential to change the way museums and other collecting institutions participate in the development, use, and governance of new technologies.

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