This is completely true and to the point. Why can’t we bring this issue to the forefront perhaps at an AIC Meeting?!?!? “Connecting to Other Professions” or something related? I feel that many of the problems outlined in this report will slowly begin to resolve themselves once we deal with many of the issues stated in this paragraph.
I would strongly advise FAIC to consider providing more support for conservators who want to participate in conferences sponsored by our sister professions. I realize that FAIC does offer a small amount of additional funding for such things but if we are to truly branch out and become more “visible and accessible” as a field we must constantly be on the lookout for conference/workshop/lecture venues that target audiences beyond the conservation field.
Is the phrase “large, institutional digitization and technology infrastructure projects” correct? This should probably be “large, institutional digital and technology infrastructure projects.” Again, the two words are not interchangeable, and oddly enough, both potentially accurate in this context.
Also a good idea. Other potential groups to consider: Association of Research Libraries, iPres and DigiPres.
Is it possible to cite some statistics here? How many survey respondents expressed this concern? The second and third sentences are stated as if fact. Are there data to support these statements? They read as negative and very defensive, so if it’s possible to back them up, that would be good.
This is not the case for me, and it is also not true for multiple colleagues. Our experiences may be anomalous, so it possible to cite statistics? E.g., 463 survey respondents said that conservators are rarely included on senior administrative teams in their institutions.
This whole section is very defensive – as if conservators are victims of society and/or their institutions. Could some of these negative blanket statements be rephrased?
Again, I take issue with the blanket opening statement. How do we know this is true? Is there evidence?
Again, is it possible to substantiate? Conservators are coming off very badly in this assessment. In addition to having no power to influence decision-making, it now seems we are also ignorant and ill-informed. Really? I would seriously consider rewriting this section. It could be phrased in a much more proactive way.
Substantively – more involvement in allied organizations would be great, of course, and reading and publishing in peer-reviewed journals might help us out as well.
On the leadership point, there are good resources for leadership training all over the place. The AIC should not feel the need to be all things to all people, but a career center on the website could point people to leadership resources.
Although I really dislike the way the preceding section is phrased, I think the following recommendations are excellent.
In short term outreach efforts, we might also encourage conservators to – wait for it, you know it’s coming – publish. Other disciplines really do take that seriously.
Agree 100% with Suzanne Davis.
I’ve spent 23 years teaching my staff how to get to the front and centre of the museums in which I’ve worked
At the Australian National Maritime Museum, in Sydney, I worked with the Education officer to develop programs for high school students focused on preservation and materials science. These workshops ultimately became so popular that the conservators teaching them trained education assistants to run them. Other opportunities to open access to conservation activities for our visitors included: having a ship model conservator working in the ship model gallery (1994); constructing our new conservation lab (1999) with a glass wall for visitors to watch conservators at work.
I’ve delivered conservation talks at the Museums Australia conference; and talks co-authored with our Facilities Manager at conservation conferences.
Conservation leaders must set the example of working in cross-disciplinary environments, and must encourage and support their staff to do the same.
And one more point – there is no ‘leadership training’ in the curatorial or collection management sectors. Learn by watching colleagues and from mentors in other disciplines.
My sister is an environmental conservation specialist, I am an art conservation specialist – we regard ourselves as being at two ends of a single spectrum. Heritage sites and landscapes form the overlap.
Then conservators need to become effective communicators within their institutions, learn to present to a diverse audience (well beyond peers), and in general learn to (self)promote.
This whole sections is far to “woe is us”…
I would suggest the academic library community in general via Association of Research Libraries, but also ALA, and selective Library (iSchool) programs such as Simmons, UNC, University of Illinois, …
For that to work we need to agree on what we want (beyond everything…). AIC can help frame the discussion and provide talking points, but for much of this colleagues in the libraries where many work more direct and better informed conduits.
I agree with Suzanne, as someone who has worked in academic libraries publication and presentations and teaching are very important in hiring or promotion. These factors were also important when I worked for the federal government. Is there a way to cite statistics from the survey or categorize the respondents who made those assertions?
This paragraph doesn’t ring true, especially as large institutions create digital assets and recognizing the value of the investment, develop digital preservation protocols, everyone gets scooped into the “digital asset management” program.
I don’t identify with the statements in this paragraph- is there data from the survey???
Most conservators I know are very vocal advocates for their collections and the value of conservation. I know plenty of people who take leadership positions within the field and serve on committees at their institutions. So, what sort of leadership opportunities are being referenced?
The third sentence is a different issue although I take issue with it as well since so many conservators I know participate in “caring for your family treasures” events or open-house clinics at their institutions. Again, are the statements related to this subject based on the survey responses?
These are all good ideas
What about broadcasting certain sessions online, like the Natl Trust does?
“problems” has a negative connotation- perhaps “issues” as an alternate term.
How is the conservation community separate from the conservation profession that represents modernization? Perhaps wording can be clarified.
Unfortunately this can no longer be something that the field takes issue with when we have the ability to blog, access social media, create websites/webexhibits, and participate in other digital-based projects. By moving forward in the digital landscape we be default become increasingly more visible, both to our institutional colleagues as well as the general public. The membership should take this into consideration when discussing potential solutions for combatting our comparatively “low profile.”
This is by far one of the greatest issues that prevents the field from moving forward in a unified and productive manner. AIC will soon be forced to reckon with aspects relating to confidentiality vs. transparency, something that our sister fields have now begun to successfully tackle. In order to become more visible and viable as a profession, it is imperative that we function at reasonable pace within the digital landscape. A major problem that faces the membership is the hundreds of different policies regarding access and transparency that can be encountered in museums, universities, and other cultural institutions. Before we can successfully begin to “fight the good fight” at our home bases, AIC must first draft a policy that is approved by the membership regarding our role within the digital landscape.
I would just like to suggest to include a brief overview of the recommendations in the executive summary. The recommendations are extremely useful and are now somewhat buried in the report. A list in the appendix also feels a bit like an after thought. Why not put this in the executive summary!
I think that the term ‘digital skills’ needs to be much more clearly defined before we can say that conservators have somehow been left behind in acquiring them. Are we talking about basic software for reporting and documentation? Sharing platforms for group editing and projects? Web platforms for outreach? I can’t think of many colleagues who don’t use such tools already in their day-to-day work. Are we talking more advanced skills? Either way, this point needs clarification.
Conservators are characterized in a negative and passive light in this section and in the body of the report. If a rewrite is possible, language could highlight positive opportunities for growth instead of focusing on perceived negative attributes.
For example, here. What about, “Conservators have an unparalleled opportunity to capitalize on the recent, outward-looking direction in cultural heritage institutions and can increase their profile both within institutions and with the public. They can improve senior-administrators’ understanding of the role of conservation in institutions, in part by serving on leadership teams, and in part by understanding and advocating for the mission-critical nature of their work.” Or something more positive and proactive.
Throughout the report, conservators are characterized as ill-educated, under-skilled, and passive, waiting for departments to “give” them needed resources as handouts. It makes for a demoralizing read. I’d try to be more sensitive to the audience.
If the report MUST make blanket negative statements such as, “Senior administrators often do not recognize the value that conservation brings to their institutional mission…” then please support them with some kind of evidence. Because that statement is decidedly untrue where I work. Maybe survey respondents said this – if so, lead with that.
[practices] – communication practices?
Suggest ‘challenges / opportunities’ or ‘challenges and opportunities’ instead of ‘problems / issues / barriers.
Dot point 4 would then become “Their ideas on how the challenges can be met (or overcome) and the opportunities exploited.”
I agree 100% with the comment made by Suzanne Davis. Conservation managers must take responsibility for training themselves, their staff, and their student interns to see themselves as enablers and facilitators within the museum / gallery / heritage site context. We are not a bunch of shy teenage male and female wallflowers at a high school mixer waiting to be asked to dance .
Once conservators view themselves as enablers and facilitators (helping others to achieve preservation, exhibiton, and access goals for the collections and sites they manage) it is a short step to getting their colleagues to view them in this light. A good start is the phase ‘Yes – I can help you achieve that.’ rather than ‘No – you can’t do that.’
We are conservators – masters of lateral thinking – it is up to us to find safe ways of making things happen.
Suggest adding “share and anaylze” to “create, use and manage digital resources for their work.” Perhaps the authors felt that sharing is implied in use of digital resources and there are good arguments for keeping this initial bullet outline simple. But the great promise of digital information is digital research and multi-media sharing- quantification and imaging of damage, deterioration, fabrication and treatment data- which can help conservators understand both the rates of deterioration of heritage materials and the effectiveness of our preventive and treatment practices at actually slowing those rates.
Total agreement with Suzanne Davis. The profession will be as visible as it wants to be. All in field need to be advocates for themselves and their work in the workplace and elsewhere. AIC cannot do this for them.
What knowledge base? We are mixing together too many dissimilar resources. What is the digital sphere? This needs to be defined far better. Digital tools are just that tools, with each serving their own purposes. Social media, blogs, websites great for sharing broadly… Treatment databases something else, but who will determine what standards for those (fields, metadata, controlled vocabularies). Access to the literature another thing – look to academic library “institutional repositories, partner, advocate for open access…
??? The digital landscape waits for no one, and that ship has sailed. Policies for what can be shared and not largely determined by institutions that employ practitioners and copyrights that are too often signed away in publication agreements…
Major clarification needed, and much of what might be meant is already available via webinars offered by AIC, C2C, academic library organizations and others. There are also tools like Lynda.com for self-paced software training.
Back-end and foundational systems are now being built for conservators for documentation, preservation and research. More accurate to say that a suite of tools are emerging for digital conservation.
Gallery Systems – TMS Conservation Studio: http://www.gallerysystems.com/products-and-services/conservation-studio/
Conservation Space: http://www.conservationspace.org/
Fino-Radin, Ben. “Open-Sourcing MoMa’s Digital Vault.” Inside/Out A MoMA/MoMA PS1 Blog. May 13, 2015 http://www.moma.org/explore/inside_out/2015/05/13/open-sourcing-momas-digital-vault/
Conservators often have significant technical expertise in their traditional areas of practice, many having specialized knowledge of tools that have migrated to digital outputs such a x-rays, microscopes and multispectral imaging for example. Conservators have significant skills as well with digital imaging and 3D modelling and scanning techniques. A shift in building new types of skills that impact the entire museum industry, but particularly conservators, is perhaps the focus here with respect to computer coding, hardware and software. This means that conservation training must now actively include ongoing skills development in computer science, digital forensics, digital humanities and media studies.
The British Geological Survey is developing a data capture tool using a GIS platform to capture and store all condition and material information for the historic built environment. This tool will also have the capability of ‘linking’ previous information collected on any particular historic site (i.e. stone analysis, previous repairs, plans, elevations, photographs). We are doing this in collaboration with Historic Environment Scotland (previously Historic Scotland). If anyone is interested in speaking with me about this resource I’d be more than happy to tell you more. https://uk.linkedin.com/in/emilyanntracey
Unfortunately I would also have to add here that some conservators do not WANT their records to be digitized and accessible….even those at major institutions. This will hopefully change as younger conservators assume institutional positions but AIC should be forewarned of those that are adamant against assuming a transparent role for the good of the field.
I either don’t understand or don’t agree with the last sentence in this paragraph. If one is considering systems like TMS or MARC fields, then OK, that makes sense. As written though, it’s an over-generalization.
Access (capacity to share information) is not the same thing as preservation. The first sentence of this paragraph erroneously implies that. Perhaps the author was trying to transition to a discussion about LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) theory of digital preservation. If so, that should be a separate paragraph.
It can’t be assumed that conservators (of any age) are the one preventing digital access to records at large institutions. Often it is the administrators and legal department calling the shots on this.
I think many historians, archaeologists, and other professionals could rightly take issue with the final statement made in this paragraph. Do we need to claim exclusivity, or compete in terms of complexity? I would ditch the last sentence. The case is made well enough as is.
To me, this is the most salient point in this section, and maybe in the entire report. Focusing effort and attention here is hugely important.
Fantastic suggestion. One of the very earliest digitization efforts for museums (MESL) was led by the Getty and a consortium of library information specialists.
It seems like some of this work could be folded into the working group above – at least, they could investigate and make recommendations. ICOM-CC is big and spread out; many countries that ICOM serves are dissimilar in terms of IT architecture, needs, and issues; so it might be helpful to give ICOM (if we expect ICOM to want to take this on) a series of recommendations or findings – something to work from.
1. Conservation information could use Dublin Core metadata as a starting point.
2. The Axiell Group’s recent acquisition of many of the major collection management database systems (AdLib, MimsyXG; Emu) could ultimately be shaped to conservation’s advantage. It can be predicted with a fair degree of certainty that Axiell will not retain all these different platforms but will select the most useful features from different platforms to develop a new product. Conservators must be part of that development process.
At the Australian War Memorial, conservation records (both written and photographic) are regarded as archivable documents along with all other documents which tell the story of the institution itself.
Of course, the committment to keeping digital archives entails a year-by-year growth of IT budgets to cope with new software and data migration at the expense of all other sections of the organisation.
Again, what digital content are we talking about?
And on a very basic level specify terms that should be used in databases and spreadsheets, provided lists of controlled vocabularies that can be used. I would venture to guess that most conservators live in a very basic world of Word, Filemaker, Excel for much of their data… If structured right, this can be imported into more complex tools for sharing in union databases, but if only being kept locally, at least having structure and controlled vocab will make more useful. We must also be aware that one tool will not meet all needs…
A desktop can be connected to a shared, networked, drive for file storage AND backup. Others can access there as well. Work with your IT department.
Agreed, storage is NOT preservation. However, by agreeing to save in “standardized” formats we can reduce loss of data. Also, data must be migrated as formats change, forever… Libraries are working on this and developing best practices. Look to those. LOCKSS a great example of distributed, grass-roots (and beyond) digital preservation. AIC could coordinate a private LOCKSS network…
None of our issues broadly taken are unique on any level. Libraries are working on this, conservators often work in organizations connected to libraries… Work with your colleagues next door, down the hall, …
There’s an opportunity here to emphasize minimal requirements for embedded metadata as part of standardized workflows. Embedded metadata can provide key descriptive information that may be read and crosswalked between applications.
Digital Asset Management or DAM systems are key tools for managing, retrieving, sharing and storing assets and documentation for an entire institution, including conservation documentation, that work in concordance with a CMS and or other pan-institutional applications.
Collections Management, Digital Asset Management and Registrar professionals are also allies here as well.
Other organizations that could contribute include:
ARCS Association of Registrars and Collections Specialists http://www.arcsinfo.org/
Museum Computer Network http://mcn.edu/
Library of Congress: http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/
Agree strongly w Suzanne
I applaud the committee for their efforts to gather this data. The one thing I might add (which is extremely difficult to account for) relates to the “Inability to find Information Needed.” This hurdle truly depends on the user’s ability to navigate the available resources effectively. I have occasionally been able to locate information, for example, that my supervisor who is less “tech savy” was unable to find. In addition the “Out-of-Date Information” category may be attributed to a number of factors, the two main factors being: 1) the field’s slow response rate within the digital landscape (e.g. publishing digital conference proceedings, editorial processes involved with publications, etc.) 2) the fact that we do not move as quickly as our fellow scientific fields. The latter must be impressed upon as conservation is increasingly being pressured to act, publish, and feature itself as a “scientific-savy field” when in fact we do not have nearly the same amount of resources or research turn-rate as the scientific community.
“The most popular topics of search queries are suppliers, the deterioration of materials, the history/manufacture of objects, and conservation treatments.”
Conservation treatment case studies? Procedures?
Sorry, but is this chart at a lower resolution than the other?
The survey choice was “Treatment information,” which could cover either procedures or case studies.
Good points. And I think it gets to something we have identified with our own AIC and FAIC resources – if people can’t find it, it is as though it doesn’t exist. So making sure information is available AND findable are both necessary.
Seems to be. Will be fixed in final report.
What about publishing in peer-reviewed venues? That’s what most academic disciplines do, and most journals are accessible online. The work is then accessible, and it’s been reviewed. Encouraging peer-reviewed publication does not seem to be considered as an option in the survey or in this report. Plus, again, I find the idea that conservators cannot judge the “trustworthiness” of information, and need to have some external entity evaluate it for them, to be disturbing.
This is interesting because I know that my museum, The Kelsey Museum at University of Michigan, and several other academic museums, are about to start making all conservation information publicly available. I don’t know that we will change how we write in order to make info more publicly digestible, but the idea is that it will be available for interested allied scholars and members of the public.
AIC has its Wikis and other sites that see very little use…
Find a personal librarian to help with validating sources…
Again, two completely different audiences. Most of what we create not for public as primary audience, but aspects could be. Learn how to write and communicate with diverse audiences. Academia also struggling with this at times… https://chroniclevitae.com/news/1100-freelance-academics-as-public-intellectuals
We are at a moment in museums where digital as a skillset and cultural mindset must be core and distributed throughout the entire organization. If staff time and positions are lacking to address the needs of peers, researchers and the public through digital tools, internally or externally, then this is business and mission failure of an institution’s leadership that must be addressed as such. We are well into the 21st century. Any continued belief that digital initiatives can be delayed or differed fundamentally undermines the impact of conservation and museums as whole in a digital culture.
Really? I would think these resources would be developed, in many cases, for the public
Suzanne, most peer-reviewed journals are available online through academic library subscriptions which works for those who are in big institutions, but people in private practice or at small institutions don’t have the same level of access. Our peer-reviewed journal JAIC has a three year embargo on free access which is dictated by our contract with Maney, the publisher.
I think open-source/access will be a crucial investment for AIC to keep access to information on an even field. And I do think the Wiki gets quite a bit of use!
This is long overdue…leaders from the professional conservation training programs should have ALWAYS been involved with the ETC…I am confused as to why this had not been the case in previous years.
Conservation training programs are “unable” to expand their curricula or “unwilling” to change to their curricula?
I feel like this statement is a red herring. Yes, building digital skills and competencies is a career-long pursuit, but so are traditional conservation skills and competencies. Traditional approaches to training includes continuing education as laid out in our Code of Ethics. To say that digital skills require a different approach is untrue.
I might disagree with having representatives of the training programs serve on the task force. The role of the task force should be to identify needs and best practices for the field. Having program representatives might bias discussions towards “what is possible within current constraints and established programs” which should take place at a later point once needs have been independently established.
“competencies” not “competences”?
Good point. This paragraph is in the context of graduate training programs, so I think the intention was to say that you can’t just teach these skills once in the training program and expect that to suffice, but you are correct to say that is the case with many conservation skills. FAIC obviously has been working to fill continuing education needs for many years and could expand to digital needs as well.
My experience is that you learn what you need to learn to do your work. Do most conservators need to work with big data or write code? In medicine, the sciences, and the social sciences, individual researchers work with field-specific statisticians to produce and analyze data sets. This argument, that conservators need to know how to do things like code and manipulate huge data sets, is not compelling to me. We don’t like it when non-conservators attempt conservation, so why not pay a trained professional who specializes in the kind of work you need to have done? This is where defining basic required competencies would help. It’s still okay for conservators to specialize in conservation, right? We don’t need to also do stats. I hope.
This quotation confuses the issue somewhat.We have moved from the need for conservators to code and analyze big data, to the need for conservators to have accounts on multiple social media platforms. What is the argument with social media? We need social media in order to conduct day to day work, or that advertising and promotion of conservation is necessary to increase public support? If the latter, and report authors feel this is key, I’d highlight this in the visibility section instead.
I agree with Fletcher. Best practices and desired competencies should be defined based on what’s needed, not on what can be stuffed into the 2 years of course work most conservators have at the graduate level.
It would be interesting to know what is currently being taught in the programs, but I doubt conservation program faculty think about “digital competency” as a specific teaching objective. Plus, it’s not difficult to acquire digital facility outside a graduate conservation program. It’s much harder to pick up advanced courses in material science and conservation treatment once you’ve left school.
This is a good idea, but also seems like a Sisyphean task since technology evolves rapidly. Improving conservators’ access to ongoing training and the ability to acquire needed skills might be more important than identifying specific skills to acquire. Especially since the needed skills are likely to vary by individual. At a minimum, the defined competencies would need to be under continual review in order to effectively inform a continuing education agenda as outlined in paragraph 10.
@ Suzanne, you better be doing statistics. Those are the best way to document value to your institution…
Digital skills use will be determined by what is being done. Not everyone will need big data, but they should be able to create basic reports (and graphs) in Excel…
Blogging, writing in plain language, outreach to lay groups…
Tools getting easier and easier to use. Just need to take the time (even ones own) to practice.
Most of these skills can be acquired in high-school, college, … They are not unique to conservation. If not yet encountered, take an elective. Some of this may also be a generational issue. Work with younger colleagues, learn from them. Accept and embrace a fluid landscape.
I disagree. As a recent graduate, my program focused heavily on not just the basic digital skills used in conservation documentation but also on the broader issues touched on here. We discuss intellectual property and attend conferences on scholarship in digital humanities in related fields (art history, archaeology), working with colleagues across disciplines. We are a digitally engaged generation (of graduate students), with experience using digital assets, tools, and resources in our research. I think if you asked the last few graduating classes of conservators for their skill levels you’d find that emerging conservation professionals are digitally literate by any standards.
Consider an addition: Understanding of ethics of sharing images on social media; what is appropriate to share, and what is not.
This touches on an understanding of concepts of ownership and copyright, but also respect for cultural heritage and associated peoples. For example, a conservator should have the competency to understand whether or not they have permission to share an image of an object during treatment, or to understand if it is appropriate to post images of human remains (either in an archaeological context or in a museum) on social media.
Perhaps “How to evaluate publications for the desired purpose” rather than simply identifying which are “the best”?
I’m not sure I understand what is meant by “pace of change” as a competency. Can that be re-stated as a learning goal or statement of KSA?
[Archiving — What to keep, how to keep it]
this applies to both analogue and digital archiving
[Understanding of file storage]
for the long term
[What publications are best in the field]
This sounds like judgement – perhaps refer to peer reviewed publications
[and how and when to use them]
and how to actively participate in them
[Conservation is commonly treated as secondary in our institutions]
This sounds very negative and I also do not think it is necessarily true. Conservation has to be balanced with other activities in institutions and conservators are often not at the table when decisions are made. Perhaps this can be phrased more like: how can Conservators become more actively involved and claim their role as a key stakeholder in the preservation of collections.
What is meant by “Digitization of records”? Are we supposed to do retrospective scanning/OCR or some sort of digital converstion of conservation documentation of previous treatments in our lab?
Perhaps Outreach would be a better heading for this section? Since the competencies seem to be about reaching an audience beyond the lab or fellow conservators.
Right now the document isn’t trying to say that anyone should or must digitize historical records; it’s more an acknowledgment that digitization of new & historical records is often a priority, so members of the conservation profession should understand it well enough to represent our viewpoint in planning and execution of digitization projects.
Does Emergency communications refer to ICS terminology, structure, and forms? Recruiting and managing people for disaster salvage operations? Getting conservators involved in salvage procedures to avoid further damage to collections? Or communicating that a disaster has occurred to the media or other internal or external sources?
We desperately need some sort of “Leadership” or “Self-Promotion” initiative. I am aware that this has been discussed to some degree already amongst a handful of conservation colleagues in museum settings. However, if we were to proceed with such an initiative I would advise targeting conservators within the non-private sector first….one may accidentally attract those in private practice who are eager to promote themselves for monetary gain (which is fine but low-priority in light of the needs and goals of the field as a whole).
Again, I dislike the defensive and passive characterization of the conservator as a neglected victim who is waiting to be given various resources.
What about, “At a more local level, conservators working in cultural institutions report that they would like more time and funding to learn digital skills, attend conferences, and participate in collaborative efforts….”
Or, “Conservators also report that they would like resources to support their efforts to advocate for better IT, including both hardware and software.”
A compelling vision and mission statement for or from the AIC is a good thing! I would argue, however, that individual conservators would be much better served by understanding the vision and mission for their institutions. Conservation will not be perceived as “mission critical” in an organization unless it truly is mission critical, and if it is not, a statement from the AIC will not help the case in a substantive way. Conservators need to understand and support their organization’s primary mission, long-term vision, and short term goals in order to contribute effectively. Preservation simply for the sake of preservation is not usually a compelling goal.
One more comment here – although it’s not “vision” the AIC’s position on conservation in collecting institutions could be beefed up and made more specific. Multiple non-conservator colleagues (curators and museum directors) have told me that they looked to (or wanted to look to) this position statement for guidance when arguing for a new salary line, preservation activities like a condition survey, or similar support for conservation, and did not find it useful because it lacks both heft and specificity.
Absolutely. Great idea.
How about self-esteem training…? Just do it!
FAIC needs to identify achievable goals and work at those to develop credibility in this area. Members need to take initiative so that they can be implemented. Results need to be shared broadly using ALL appropriate media platforms.
Continue to develop and devote resources to AIC’s own Wiki platform http://www.conservation-wiki.com/
I could not agree more with this statement. Certainly we must strive to digitize and share our resources, but this is being carried out in a disjointed fashion. Before we bombard the world with all things technical (e.g. analytical information, treatment history, examination reports, etc.) it behooves us to make sure our audiences clearly understand what our profession does and represents. Unless a graduate art history student understands how to interpret a digital x-radiograph, then we are missing an important point while we are uploading hundreds of digital x-radiographs (aside from preservation purposes which of course is essential). We are gearing up to present ourselves as transparent and accessible (even though we do not yet agree as a field on these matters) to a world that is barely able to recognize our profession and interpret our work. Small efforts are being made to tackle this problem but more should be done if we are to solicit future funding and support for such large scale projects.
Not only is this true within our own field but some of our sister fields (e.g. museum studies) are repeating some of the digital endeavors that conservation has already accomplished. The key word here is “redundant.” This is partially due to the fact that we are a “low profile” field. I do not have a suggestion on how to tackle this problem but only mean to raise awareness of it. There are now several “mirror” sites for collections care, historic pigments, and other topics. What is interesting is that many of these duplicate sites are being funded by the same foundations/donors. This means that the present conservation online resources are not always being effectively used or introduced to members in our sister fields (e.g. art history, science). There is limited funding across the board for these types of initiatives and such redundancy stifles growth and collaboration within the humanities. Perhaps the appointed Leader within AIC who is meant to tackle these issues can establish an annual/semi-annual dialogue with major funders who continue to support the digital humanities. This individual can ask to act as an independent consultant or attend board meetings to represent the membership, but more importantly what the membership has already accomplished across the digital landscape.
Great idea! Please watch the phrase “coordinated digitization strategies” if “coordinated digital strategies” is the intention. Digitization implies imaging or reformatting of analog materials — which could happen, but much less frequently.
I don’t disagree with anything that is said here or in the paragraph above, but I wonder if other national professional organizations feel the need to ride herd on the issue. For instance, although archaeology is arguably an incredibly complex field that uses digital data like crazy, I don’t see the AIA or similar organizations trying to coordinate and drive efforts on this front. They are led, instead, by practitioners in the field. Are there existing models that AIC can look to when trying to design such an effort?
IIC should be part of this leadership forum.
The candidate should have social media experience as well.
“… CoOL ensures that they stay online even if their source sites should disappear.” That’s fantastic and good to hear. What about file migration? Does that happen with CoOL as well?
This sounds like a huge job. Can the AIC hire a term employee or project manager for this? If this project is undertaken by the new Digital Strategies Advocate, it seems unlikely that the individual will be able to get much else done.
Is it possible to tell readers what costs 80K? Is the primary cost in hosting? Or something else?
Should we seek corporate support for this – perhaps approach the Axiell Group to ask them to map the CoOL database into one of their collection management systems as a test case for their future development? That could have the added benefit of putting the needs of the conservation users of these systems at the forefront of Axiell’s development processes.
Volunteer writing and editing, combined with periodic fund-raising drives support Wikipedia….
Exactly….the fair use guidelines initiative has been instrumental in moving the fine arts/art history ahead. here are two major hurdles that I foresee in implementing these new guidelines (that must be established but will be challenging to establish): 1) Conservators may often be insecure or wary about sharing documents and information relating to treatment history. We only recently evolved from being a craft to being a profession so treatment methods and approaches have changed drastically. We must embrace the fact that we are constantly learning and striving to do what is best for collections. Until our profession is able to hold up this “mirror” so to speak, there will be no movement forward in establishing guidelines for digital projects. Unfortunately AIC will be forced make a decision on how and if it wants to tackle this insecurity. 2) There is currently no precedent on how technical data should be handled. Would an x-radiograph qualify under the fair use act? Is it cultural information or scientific? If a museum contracts a outside party to perform this service should they be entitled to full rights over the image? Many of these questions still need to be addressed within the field but I would begin by looking to larger institutions that have gone the “open-access” route (e.g. NGA, Getty, etc.), posting higher-resolution images of their collections for publication use at no cost. Institutions such as these should now help to pave the way towards promoting access to technical information, especially those funded by American taxpayers.
I think it’s important to distinguish between open access of metadata vs. open access to the data itself, perhaps in two separate paragraphs. Open access of metadata would be a great first step as it would be much easier to implement (legally, technically, economically, emotionally) than open access of the data. For serious researchers, knowing what data exists and where to find it represents a huge leap forward. Even better — single, consolidated points of entry to that metadata. This is the logical first step taken by most academic libraries, and where museums lag behind.
Federal funding agencies have also set metadata standards for digital products funded by their programs. This would be an easy place to start looking at data standards.
In the private sector, we will need to think about individual privacy rights and client confidentiality.
Conservators – and, indeed most internet users – must learn and adhere to copyright legislation. The National Archives of Australia offers good advice and guidance on copyright issues: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/information-management/re-using-public-sector-information/copyright-and-re-use/copyright-guidance/
Fair Use is limited, as it not an international standard. More emphasis should be placed on Creative Commons licensing of source assets, data and metadata. Models to follow here include the Internet Archive, Digital Public Library of America and Europeana.
I’d consider moving this up in the list – maybe to spot #1. Of the short term recs, this one seems most important for building capacity to broadly address the many issues outlined in this report.
I know that the AIC has to be strategic about hiring and underwriting new positions, but could this come sooner? In the short term? Seems like we’d need $ for projects undertaken by the advocate, and the two new positions could work in tandem. I might actually put this as the first hire, since we need development work on many fronts, and then follow it with the digital strategies advocate. Something to consider…
I’d advocate moving this to the mid-term and dovetailing it with the working group of conservators and information specialists.
Agreed – development should be first and in short-term if possible
The third and fourth sentences of this paragraph, and the first sentence of the one following, seem to infantilize conservators. Individuals who, in other sections of this report, are identified as professionals doing incredibly complex research. Are we truly unable to locate, filter, and evaluate digital content? If we can be assumed to have this skill with print media, should it not transfer? I don’t take issue with the desire to maximize access and effectiveness, but suggesting that conservators are unable to locate, use, and (especially) evaluate sources – that’s a bit insulting. Are there data to support these assertions? If so, could they be cited here?
Again, total agreement with Suzanne Davis, something that carries over to Paragraphs 4 and beyond.
The tools are different (and better), Google, i institutional and discipline-specific online repositories are growing, e-journals, …
This is basic information literacy.
Preservation of the digital also needs to be clarified. For much, academic libraries are taking care of published literature, but conservators will need to work with their host institutions and IT departments to ensure back-ups…
Please don’t try to reinvent wheel…
The breadth and depth of online resources is an opportunity rather than a challenge. More information about conservation practices is being shared as others have stated in digital publications, blogs and social media than could have been shared with the broad field in siloed peer to peer dialogues, print journals and conference proceedings. The infrastructure of the web and a movement towards openness is empowering and will help scale information sharing. This scenario is far from being insurmountable.
New constituencies HAVE emerged in comp sci/data science depts. It is in our best interest as a field to reach out to interested depts in educational institutions as they are best equipped with cutting edge technology and resources. Undergraduate/graduate students could hone their skills while contributing our field’s needs as a whole. HOWEVER, it is of the upmost importance that conservators (and whomever is chosen for this new leadership position and/or committee) remain involved and vigilant when such projects arise. Instances have already occurred where educational courses/projects are conducted that focus on the field of conservation without involving trained conservators, either at a consulting or teaching level. In order to avoid efforts that are ill-spent or mis-informed conservators must remain engaged and involved.
“specific” to the discipline
Sorry that last comment was meant to say that “unique” implies that there are no lessons that the discipline can take from other professions or solutions that can benefit other professions. Rather conservation has a specific set of characteristics, but outside solutions can be reordered to fit the needs of our field.
[ Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Conservation has a distinctive role in the cultural heritage community because it relies on a large network of allied professionals who contribute to its efforts.]
Not sure this is accurate — I think many segments of cultural heritage community rely on network of professionals, perhaps even most.
I think JSTOR access is now available to AIC members, and it is also possible to access scholarly and scientific journals through research libraries. Affiliation with the latter is possible through community or alumni membership. My point is that access is available without a significant pay wall, although a bit of work is required to obtain it. Perhaps the AIC website could direct conservators to these kinds of access points.
Print should not be a hindrence to access, and libraries happy to help with interlibrary loan… If in private practice, ask a colleague. The system works. However, AIC should encourage open access to information.
Open Access: A Model for Sharing Published Conservation Research. Written by Priscilla Anderson, Whitney Baker, Beth Doyle, and Peter Verheyen. AIC News, vol. 39, no. 3. May 1, 2014. pp. 1-6.
Access to literature via interlibrary loan shouldn’t be considered a given for all conservators. Not all institutional libraries participate and academic libraries may not confer that benefit on all card holders. Much depends on what the conservator is working on, what kind of resource they need to access, and the conservator’s circle of colleagues.
Please list my correct title and institution, and note the (slightly) changed title of our initiative:
Karen Trentelman, Senior Scientist, Data Integration for Science in Conservation (DISCO), Getty Conservation Institute
The same changes should be made for:
Catherine Patterson, Associate Scientist, Data Integration for Science in Conservation (DISCO), Getty Conservation Institute
Alison Dalgity, Senior Project Manager, Data Integration for Science in Conservation (DISCO), Getty Conservation Institute
Please list my full title:
Athanasios Velios, Reader in Digital Documentation, University of the Arts London and Webmaster, International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works
This paragraph seems out of place in this section, and perhaps a bit defensive (sorry Eric and Eryl). While it is certainly true that FAIC does not have the resources to tackle all of the recommendations on its own, putting this front and center displays…a weakness that shouldn’t be put at the start of the report. That is more of a concluding statement, once the readers have gotten on board with recommendations, then they are forced to confront the fact that FAIC can’t waive their magic wand to make everything happen.
Largely agree with Fletcher, but also feel that the scope of this document is far to broad for FAIC…
The Appraisal Foundation may have a model – they solicit opinions from internal and external groups as they revise their code of practices.
I presume this is local users?
Should this date be changed?
July 11, 2017 at 6:36 pm
See in context
July 3, 2017 at 4:19 pm
June 29, 2017 at 7:52 pm
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