Towards a sustainable management model for CultURIze

In 2014, meemoo (formerly PACKED) started looking for a way to let collection managers manage persistent URIs themselves. After a few years of supporting the Resolver tool, in 2018 we developed CultURIze in collaboration with Open Summer of Code.

A second essential step for supporting small heritage organisations with persistent identification is to set up a sustainable management model for the tool.

Challenge

The importance of persistent URIs cannot be overestimated in the provision of sustainable online access to cultural heritage. A persistent URI (Uniform Resource Identifier) is a stable (unchangeable) URL in a simple and readable form, which makes records of images and metadata accessible in the long term. 

CultURIze is a tool and work process which you can use to easily create persistent URIs and identify objects sustainably on the web. It solves the problem of link rot, where non-persistent links are used and references to certain website addresses therefore become inactive.

Heritage organisations currently often depend on expensive, closed commercial solutions with a short lifespan or poorly supported open source tools to create persistent URIs for sustainably identifying objects on the web. We want a sustainable management model to enable both large and small organisations to take responsibility for managing and financing the necessary software.

In order to ensure that CultURIze is actually used in practice, it is therefore crucial to form a user community around the tool. This ensures that CultURIze does not depend on meemoo on the one hand, and on the other hand it’s an example and reference model for other initiatives in the sector.

Our role

In 2019, meemoo was awarded a project grant by the Flemish Government for an innovative partner project. We used this grant to develop a cooperative management model for CultURIze, to enable heritage organisations to contribute to its sustainable management.

Approach

We started the development in 2018 in collaboration with Open Summer of Code. By opting for open source, we want to make a cooperative management model possible.

Towards a cooperative management model

In 2019, we delved straight into field research to investigate various cooperative management models used for open source software – not just in the heritage sector but also in other fields. This was followed by a participatory exercise in which we started to design the management model together with various heritage organisations.

We ran a series of pilot projects to gain input about the management model and see how the CultURIze tool itself works:

  • VAi ran tests to implement the current version of the CultURIze tool before starting to use it. This gave us valuable feedback about the user-friendliness of the user guides, the installation procedure and the tool’s functions on one hand, and about bugs and additional features on the other;

  • VKC looked at the tool’s code and made proposals for bug fixes and additional features. They started using the tool in the next phase;

  • MoMu (Fashion Museum Antwerp) set up a pilot process and used the tool.

MuZEE (‘art museum by the sea for Belgian art’), artinflanders.be and FOMU (Photo Museum of Antwerp) also set up pilot processes, after which CultURIze and the management model were presented to experts in the field and heritage organisations’ system managers in workshops. ADVN (Archive for National Movements) will continue to use the app in 2020.

Next steps

The stable version of CultURize v1.0.2 is now ready. You can download it here. In 2020 we’re continuing to work on improving error messages, update notifications in the tool and unit tests. Then we want to set up more reference projects and undertake actions to actively involve heritage organisations in managing the tool set.

Over the next three years we will be considering funding and user participation while the tool is still being managed by meemoo.

Results

You can read the final report on the innovative partner project Developing a sustainable management mode and an active user community for the CultURIze open source project on CEST (only in Dutch).

We’re keeping managers and users informed via these Open Collective and GitHub pages:

Partners

The project is a collaboration between meemoo and Open Knowledge Belgium, VKC (the Flemish Art Collection) and VAi (the Flemish Architecture Institute).

Would you like to set up a reference project? Then please contact Alina Saenko.

Do you have a question?
Contact Alina Saenko
Expertise Officer & Account Manager