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
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.
IIC should be part of this leadership forum.
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.
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.
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/
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….
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.
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.
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 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.
“… 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?
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.
[Conservation departments are being pressured to increase production rather than to engage in research and study.]
that increase in production is expected without a commensurate increase in staffing headcount
[new, expanded alliances]
expanding relationships with allied professionals.
Is the goal here also to disseminate the significance of the various peer reviewed membership levels?
[including through K-12 programming]
[and the public, including through K-12 programming]
and the public of all ages, through K-12 programming and other means, and encourage…
This comment was meant for Paragraph 6
Why does C2C care get a special shout-out here?
I don’t have a specific problem with this paragraph, it just seems to single out this one resource when we have so many online resources that need ongoing improvement
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.
Agree with Sanchita….”voice for cultural heritage preservation”
I’d like to switch the order of sentences in this paragraph. The ideas in the second paragraph seem to be the most important, the broadest, so start there.
Like MHE’s idea of public service as continuing ed.
Good point, Sanchita. If we switched the sentences in paragraph 6 as I suggested, then it would be easier to make this all work. The sentence on “expert knowledge” etc could say something like AIC promotes. conservation professionals’ attainment of….(awkward, but…)
Then in this, parag 7, we could add in between sent 1 and 2 something about professional members??(W/out using specific membership terms??)
Good change, Peggy!
I thought “growing issue” when I first read it….force sounds like this is powering us (in a helpful way), but really it is challenging to (most of) us!
Please see also my note on this section in FAIC.
Yes, agree with Peggy . (Even if it may be painfully true seeming to some of us….)
Yes, incorporating MHE and Sanchita’s comments can make this stronger….
Yes, very good points, Sanchita. Good language for this.
I’ve put a few comments in, but overall think this is very good. Ambitious….but /and good.
Good luck to us all!
I agree that this issue seems out of context here, especially as I then expected the document to say that this was an issue that FAIC Board was asked to consider….
It certainly IS an important issue…where do we go with this concept?
Re-word a bit to acknowledge intense competition for entry into programs? This could be a place to connect the diversity issue?
This section (strategy) is particularly good. Clear and directed.
Yes to Jennifer’s comment — clarify leadership positions…this is rather vague as it stands.
Yes to Jennifer’s comment s– clarify leadership positions…this is rather vague as it stands.
Seconding Jennifer again!!1
Really? I would think these resources would be developed, in many cases, for the public
[ 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.
The candidate should have social media experience as well.
These are all good ideas
What about broadcasting certain sessions online, like the Natl Trust does?
Agree strongly w Suzanne
Agreed – development should be first and in short-term if possible
I agree with Jennifer — I do not agree w Deborah, as leadership can mean an very wide variety of things depending on context, an individual’s professional goals, etc.
do we know how we will measure that success? a conference’s success can be very difficult to judge
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!
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?
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
Should this date be changed?
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.
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.
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.
“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?
“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.
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”?
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 presume this is local users?
[practices] – communication practices?
it seems out of place to mention on this one issue – implies there were others (which there are) but why only this one highlighted?
i find the last sentence a bit awkward – maybe “provides” a decision making process? maybe just delete entirely?
personally, i would move this first sentence “The AIC Strategic Plan incorporates existing […]” to the start of paragraph 5, and then deleted the part about the annual status review, as it is a more operational note, than of consequence to the understanding of the plan itself?
consider changing “one” to “an endeavor”? otherwise, unclear whether it is agreeing with “a time” or an “endeavor”.
Delete “a” from … additional resources as possible to [a] strategic legislative advocacy […]
change “professional conservator” to “conservation professional” to broaden scope.
add “awareness”? … goal of garnering increased “awareness and” support in the private sector.
(same as with the AIC plan) it seems out of place to mention on this one issue – implies there were others (which there are) but why only this one highlighted?
wordsmithing, i know – perhaps “FAIC promotes advancement of expert knowledge of the materials and technologies of material culture and mastery of the strategies necessary for its conservation and preservation.”? reduces repetitive “the”s
i think it was peggy who brought this up at the beginning, but i think adding […]little support for funding the arts and humanities […]” is realistic and more applicable to the broader conservation field.
agreed, or if that isn’t desired, start with “The core of the Foundations missions is to “…
what about “leadership in cultural heritage institutions” – we’re not just working in museums, you know 😉
are we speaking specifically of leadership in our own institutions? or are we talking about leadership in other professional organizations as well (AAM, SAA, ALA etc) and other leadership opportunities? the strategies somewhat imply the former, but it seems like we should be supporting a broader “leadership”?
Would we want to broaden this to include something like curating existing electronic resources as well? seems like there’s a lot of good content already out there that we can point to?
perhaps finish with “and sustainability.”? i don’t meant that in a financial sense, i mean that in a sustainable web content sense.
maybe i’m missing something, but isn’t the MayDay Campaign affiliated with SAA? so should they be part of this goal? http://www2.archivists.org/initiatives/mayday-saving-our-archives
am i the only one who doesn’t know what the ‘contract fundraising council’ is?
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Should we mention why those specific topics are considered? We didn’t make them up…
This is not the proper place, but I have two unrelated thoughts about the Strategic Plan:
1. Do we consider the term historic preservation to be interchangeable with cultural heritage conservation? Is “cultural” interchangeable with “artistic and historic”?
2. There are a few observations throughout the SP about political leadership not supporting conservation with little expected funding for the arts (do we mean ONLY the arts) and a lack of awareness on the part of art managers about conservation, even in their own institutions. But at the same time, there is the observation that the general public is more aware of conservation today due to better publicity, etc. This strikes me as slightly contradictory since it is the arts institutions/art media groups that are pushing publicity about conservation. Are we unconsciously alluding to our fear/suspicion/truth that the fine arts are regarded somewhat suspiciously these days as elitist, while in a broader sense, art conservation is a politically safe subject?
The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) is the national membership organization which supports conservation professionals in the preservation of cultural heritage by…
I realize we are NOT supposed to word craft but there are too many -ings in this sentence…
We could say: a critical endeavor, which is…
AIC practices sustained and strategic management of our organization, reflecting our responsibilities to our membership, allied professions, partners, the public, and adhering to our cultural heritage preservation mission.
encourage instead of stress?
AIC promotes the preservation of cultural heritage as a means toward a deeper understanding of our shared humanity – the need to express ourselves through creative achievements in all disciplines. We honor these achievements by preserving them for future generations.
Thought: do we consider historic preservation to be interchangeable with cultural heritage conservation?
Also, I am bit bothered by describing achievements as creative. Are natural history collections creative?
This is unclear – shouldn’t we be the voice for the materials themselves and their conservation? We don’t specify what kind of public policy are we advocating; presumably one that hears that voice and supports our mission.
Do we differentiate between professional development and continued education? Can we encourage professional service as a form of continued education?
I think we mean specifically financial resources.
Some might argue that the economic recovery is no longer slow… It is certainly selective in its recovery.
do we mean a growing concern for conservators?
University-based degree-granting programs in conservation continue to be in demand and are responsive to emerging disciplines.
I question how strong the disconnect still is between program and apprentice-trained conservators.
decreasing support for funding the arts. Do we mean decreasing funding for conservation/historic preservation? Or perhaps decreasing support for the humanities? If we specify decreased funding for the arts, that leaves out non-art entities…
business, administration, and marketing…
delete “including some that maintain conservation departments”?
AIC members significantly influence rather than have a major influence… more declarative!
Continue to increase membership through pro-active retention efforts…
… as lone-term, dedicated members retire…
This is one of the most important “charges” to the Board in terms of strategic planning – do we need to provide any info on why this is needed?
Is a licensing agreement a form of this CERTIFICATION one will immediately ask!
What is meant by member-to-member communication? Do we mean insurance, health plans?
WOW – this Goal is very forceful and well-expressed. Not wishy washy
I think we need to be more specific about what we mean by sustainability. It sounds positive, but what are we specifically emphasizing? economic, environmental , emotional ?
AIC needs a robust financial base..
I’m not sure how we “collaborate” with FAIC on financial matters. Is strategize closer to what we do?
Perhaps this could be made clearer? I’m not sure what you mean by external and internal environment changes? Do we mean financial and political conditions? ?
FAIC envisions a world that recognizes the conservation profession as critical for the preservation of all cultural materials and increasing knowledge of our shared artistic and historic heritage.
Please see my comments on AIC Strategic Plan
Pls see my comments on the AIC Strategic Plan.
mission rather than agenda…
FAIC promotes the advancement of expert knowledge of the materials and technologies of material culture and the mastery of the strategies necessary for its conservation and preservation.
“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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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/
Continue to develop and devote resources to AIC’s own Wiki platform http://www.conservation-wiki.com/
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.
Although this has been stated in previous plans, I am not clear on what comprises the annual status review – is this part of the board report, or an additional, separate document? It would be beneficial to have a document stating how our perspective/situation has changed in the past 3 years.
Not sure what “critical endeavor means – to whom? are we talking about humanity here? endeavor supported by society, governments, and others? In light of recent destruction of world history, can we be more specific and urgent about this, in terms of how the threat against material culture threatens the history of humanity as a whole?
Little support for the arts, particularly research? Research is generally not considered an art. Needs clarification.
Not clear on what conservation training programs are in demand means. By whom?
Although I know this language has existed in previous strategic plan introductions, I’m not clear on whether this is just the usual annual status review presented at board meetings, or if it’s a stand-alone document which addresses the previous plan in relation to our current position. Could this be clarified?
Just curious about why the language from the previous strategic plan was dropped “…and the public-at-large whose tax dollars and contributions underwrite history, art, and cultural institutions.” I don’t find the change problematic, and brevity is the soul of wit, as they say, correct?
I was not clear on what “in demand” means – in demand- by/for whom?
I think perhaps we should note that this is a marked (positive) change from the previous strategic plan.
I don’t think there should be “…”s in this statement, implying that there is more language here. We should include all language.
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.
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…
Largely agree with Fletcher, but also feel that the scope of this document is far to broad for FAIC…
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
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.
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.
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, …
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.
@ 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.
Would it make more sense to arrange the activities we do in order of how we really do them–ie. begin with establishing standards, then fostering exchange, then providing educational opps and finally research and publication?
Since this should be our “aspiration” statement, I find that “envisioning” is too vague and passive. how about “seeks” or something similar? “appreciated” and “supported” seem less passionate than they might be. We also talk about encouraging knowledge and understanding, but we don’t say by whom. We also don’t mention newer ideas like the renewal and revival of cultural heritage, and support of people’s “life ways” through cultural heritage.
while we want “future generations” to have a stake in this, i think a stronger statement would be to say both current and future generations
I am not sure what “cultural materials preservation” is. Why not the preservation of cultural heritage? Also, the use of the word “enduring” is tricky because we have lots of kinds of works that are not meant to be enduring but still have some kind of trace that needs preservation.
do we need “expert” here? It might be helpful to also explain what we mean by “service to the field”–is it within the organization, etc.?
this section seems to contradict the previous section which suggests we promote “expert” knowledge. Then how can we welcome anyone to join in? I think there needs to be some acknowledgement of our different constituencies, otherwise, this section seems inconsistent with what has been said before.
I think there are a few key areas that need to be added here:
1.) Major international and national political and military conflicts that specifically target cultural heritage.
2.) Climate change and the concern over the the loss of both the natural and cultural heritage of humanity as a result. Need for closer links with nature conservation as possible avenue for collaboration
3.) Awareness of increasingly community-based and interdisciplinary nature of our work, and the need to have buy in from many different stakeholders.
4.) Notion of collections as “resources” that can be used and expended to fulfill other kinds of institutional (or other) goals. The importance of seeing use of collection as both an incredibly positive thing that keeps collections cultural relevant while also balancing this with potential damage/loss of collections.
I think this is always the case, so I’m not sure how relevant that is here.
But this is related to the institutions’ public missions of more exhibitions/collections on view. Can that be stated somewhere that museum collections are under increased pressure to be more public institutions with intensive public programs?
I think we need to include source communities and members of the public as well as many other stakeholders here. We need to have “buy in” from these other types of groups before we can make a conservation plan.
Could we not simply state that the membership is now over 50% in private practice first? I am not sure how intense the disparity between the program vs apprentice issue is any more, especially since the demographic of the organization has changed so significantly in recent years.
I’m not so sure about this since people are very aware of fieldwork now as well. Maybe not private conservation as much. Do we need to stay so museum-centric?
Might we broaden this from “long-term…retire” to “as the profession matures and changes, and as the needs of cultural heritage also change?
I think in general it would good to state that we would like the membership to take the lead on new ideas that need to be brought into the profession and the organization
I’m not sure what this means?
I find this confusing. Why not list goals by priority order rather than stating that these are not in priority order?
It would be helpful to clarify our focus. Are we interested in the “world’s” cultural heritage, or are we supporting North American conservators who are doing so? This seems to muddle our purpose a bit with FAIC unless we are more explicit about who we serve.
Are strategies listed in order of importance? if so, while this strategy is important, i don’t know if it is the first thing i would list. probably 6, 7, 8, and 9 are more fitting first?
I know we are not putting things in priority order, but if we were, this would be Goal II in my view.
could we better define what the “broader cultural community” is?
Should it be mentioned that this information would live on the AIC website, and that the website will also be further developed to help with these goals?
does the 4-10 years refer to online meetings?
Would this be a place to mention the need to share and report to the membership about our fiscal health on an annual basis, and as requested?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
I’m wondering why the ellipses were included here? Is this a quotation from the FAIC mission statement? If so it should be indicated as such.
This is a great idea. We need to preserve the collective institutional memory of AIC and make this easily accessible to all members. Up to this point this has been a laudable but entirely volunteer-based initiative, and as such it has not been able to be very thorough or wide-ranging.
Again, the purpose of the ellipses before the first quotation mark should be better indicated.
October 23, 2015 at 1:16 am
See in context
October 23, 2015 at 12:45 am
October 23, 2015 at 12:44 am
October 23, 2015 at 12:43 am
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October 22, 2015 at 7:23 pm
October 22, 2015 at 7:10 pm
October 22, 2015 at 7:05 pm
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