Record number of helpdesk requests answered in 2021

28 Apr 2022

Digital heritage processes are constantly evolving. And as a heritage institution, arts organisation or artist, they’re not always easy to navigate. Fortunately, you can always come to us with your questions and challenges. We have more and more helpdesk requests finding their way to our inbox every year. In 2021, we replied to 327 of them: a new record.

Advising on digital heritage processes is one of our core tasks. Organisations have been able to come to us with questions about a wide range of digital issues since 2011 (when we were still part of PACKED). Last year marked the tenth anniversary of this activity – the ideal moment to stop and reflect on what we’ve achieved.

327 helpdesk requests in 2021

The growth in the number of helpdesk requests since 2011

The number of helpdesk requests that we receive is increasing year on year. In 2021, we answered a record number of 327 requests. The year before there were 297. A good evolution, especially when you realise that we only had 20 requests when we first started in 2011.

Who made the helpdesk requests?

The distribution of helpdesk requests per type of organisation

These 327 requests came from 155 different askers. The vast majority – some 70% – work in the heritage sector. The arts sector follows with 8%. And third place is shared between research and education on one hand, and government organisations on the other, with each representing 6%. Specifically, the requests come mostly from museums (27%), heritage bodies (13%), archive institutions (12%), heritage service organisations (10%) and others (17%) from all across Flanders. Just under 4% of the requests came from our northern neighbours. It’s no great surprise that the distribution of types of organisations making the requests is more or less the same as in 2020.

The distribution of the helpdesk requests per province. The darker the colour, the more requests were made.

What are the questions about?

Just like every year, we covered a wide range of topics – from outsourcing to digital preservation and metadata. The distribution of the various subjects covered is much the same as last year’s, although with two big climbers: policy and strategy (in the lead with 87 requests), and digital collection registration (in second place with 58 requests). No wonder, given that we supervised 11 projects in the context of awarding grants to deal with the backlog of digital collection registrations in 2021. Topics such as digitisation (51), hardware and software (45) and knowledge-sharing (39) were also popular. Interestingly, there were fewer requests about accessibility (43) this year, even though it was the most common area for requests last year. We’re curious to see what 2022 will bring.

The issues raised in 2021

When do we receive requests?

In terms of timing, we mainly received a lot of requests in the spring of 2021. February and March were popular, but October also stands out – and it’s no coincidence that these are also the months when the sector was busy preparing grant applications for cultural heritage projects. There was also a peak in June, thanks to the announcement of a new call for grant applications for dealing with the backlog of digital collection registrations.. It was notably quieter in the second half of the year, also in comparison with the autumn of 2020.

The distribution of helpdesk requests received in 2021

Did you know than we’ve answered no fewer than 1889 helpdesk requests in the space of ten years? So we’ve already been able to help all kinds of organisations. Now onwards and upwards to 2000! See for yourselves how we did last year in this extensive report.

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