Project support from A to Z to deal with digital collection data backlog
In the autumn of 2021, the Flanders Department of Culture, Youth and Media launched its fourth round of grant applications for digital collection registrations. The aim is to deal with the backlog of digital collection registrations, and meemoo has been providing extensive support for participating organisations since 2020.
An evaluation of the previous regulations uncovered great demand for project support within the sector, in both the application and implementation phases. The organisation’s registration needs to be in line with their overarching digital vision, and the new and improved digital collection data needs to emphasise improving societal values, with the long-term embedding of results as a central theme. The fourth round is also paying lots of attention to implementing OSLO (Open Standards for Linking Organisations) for Cultural Heritage (link in Dutch) – an initiative set up by the Flemish Government to promote a uniform standard for exchanging information.
Meemoo was already part of the digital collection registration peer group and has now received a request from the Department to help organisations draw up grant applications and carry out approved projects. Our project supervision will run until the funding regulations finish at the end of 2023.
We’ve been helping organisations that want to submit a project to apply for a grant since 2020 – assisting with the third and fourth round of applications. This project supervision works as follows:
In a first phase, we organised pitch moments for each organisation to propose their project to us;
They were then able to use our suggestions and feedback to write up and further refine their applications. The deadline for submitting grant applications was in October both times (2020 for the third round, 2021 for the fourth). We closely followed up each supervised application, with at least three of our colleagues from the expertise team reading them;
The approved projects from rounds three and four were announced at the end of 2020 and start of 2022 respectively, with 11 projects approved in the third round and 16 in the fourth. We provide support for all aspects of the project from start to finish. This means that we help each organisation with their expectations and coordination, and also act as a sounding board, providing advice and referring to other institutions with specific in-house expertise in the sector where necessary.
What do the applications cover?
Third round: 11 approved projects (2020)
At the end of 2020, the Minister of Culture awarded grants to 11 organisations based on recommendations from the Department of Culture Youth and Media and an independent jury. These projects are being run by Amsab (Institute for Social History), ADVN (Archive for National Movements), Design Museum, Museum Hof van Busleyden, Industriemuseum (Museum of Industry), KMSKA (Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp), M Leuven, MoMu (Fashion Museum of Antwerp), Musea Brugge, Samenwerkingsverband Kunstmusea Antwerpen (Cooperation between the Art Museums of Antwerp, led by Museum Mayer van den Bergh) and VAi (Flanders Architecture Institute). A total of €648,000 was awarded in grants. Read more here (link in Dutch).
The collections in question range from photographic and audiovisual collections to prints and graphical collections, objects, building plans and furniture collections. The work in the projects revolves around:
drawing up, cleaning and enriching technical thesauri;
standardising iconographic descriptions;
implementing new structural work processes relating to donations, digitisation campaigns and clarifying rights;
image and face recognition;
reconciling linked open data sources;
the use of (Creative Commons) licences and rights statements (Rightsstatements.org).
The collection data will be enriched by exchanging image content using IIIF, deploying this through organisations’ own and overarching channels, making the data accessible via Wikimedia platforms, and providing datasets via open data portals and data hubs owned by municipal and Flanders authorities.
Collaboration and knowledge-sharing in and between projects was an important point of attention in supervising the application phase. We notice that various institutions that submitted applications are also partners within other applications.
Fourth round: 16 approved projects (2022)
In January 2022, 16 projects were awarded grants, worth a total of €1,764,500. The approved projects are being run by ADVN (Archive for National Movements), CAVA (Centre for Academic and Liberal Archives), CAG (Centre for Agricultural History), KOERS Museum of Cycle Racing), Musea Brugge, House of Alijn, AGB Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917, STAM (Ghent City Museum), Red Star Line Museum, Middelheim Museum, Mu.ZEE, Flanders Heritage Library, KADOC (Documentation and Research Centre on Religion, Culture and Society from KU Leuven), Zuidwest Heritage Agency, MuHKA (Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp) and Eperon d’Or (Industrial Heritage Site).
The focus of their collections is very wide-ranging, including shoe collections, personalia, periodicals, biographical heritage, Flemish incunabula, publications about, by and with artists, figure drawings and notebooks, works on paper, puppets, archaeological museum collections, cycling photographic prints, TV programme broadcasts, and whole and partial collections of various magazines.
Despite the diversity of collections in the project applications, some projects will use the same processes, making it possible to forge connections and allow sharing, which is beneficial for project outcomes. An overview of all processes in this round:
Implementation of Persistent Identifiers - PIDs (link in Dutch);
Registration and access to intangible cultural heritage;
Reconciling linked open data sources;
Use of licences and rights statements;
Documentation and capture of (transient) third-party knowledge and expertise;
Developing an IIIF service;
Text recognition and OCR (link in Dutch) optimisation;
Implementation of new structural work processes relating to rights;
Accessing geographic data.
The participating institutions have the intention to make their data and results available as openly and accessibly as possible. This will make it much easier to (re-)use them through various channels (such as their own and shared channels, Wikimedia platforms and CEST). The focus in this round is also on the OSLO standard for Cultural Heritage (link in Dutch). A number of projects will investigate the possibilities for applying this standard. Other institutions already have concrete plans to implement the standard in the execution of their project.
Just as in previous rounds, we’re promoting collaboration and knowledge-sharing. The institutions are also acting as each other’s partners in this fourth round, where there are similarities or overlaps in the project application.
The projects from rounds three and four will run until the end of 2023, with outcomes then being validated and published on various online collection platforms, and disseminated on CEST and in the entry books, among other places. The Digital Collection Data Backlog peer group will also continue to meet throughout the process. This peer group is organised in collaboration with FARO (Flemish Institution for Cultural Heritage) and the Flemish Department of Culture, Youth and Media.
To find out more about our project supervision for dealing with the backlog of digital collection registrations, watch the presentation: