Helpdesk requests uncovered: what are they, who makes them and what are they about?

  • Report

We receive more and more helpdesk requests in our virtual letterbox every year. In 2020, we counted almost 300 requests for advice from over 150 different people and organisations. But who actually calls on our services, what requests do they make, and what do they think of us? We explain everything here.

What are helpdesk requests and how do we respond to them?

The experts at meemoo read our proposal and made some valuable suggestions. We can only recommend contacting them with any requests for advice.

- CEMPER - Centre for Music and Performing Arts Heritage

Providing advice about digital heritage processes is one of our core tasks. We gather knowledge about various aspects of digitisation, sustainable storage and digital management from our work and experiences in projects and consultancies. And we want to share this expertise with the sector, for example by providing training and responding to requests for information. But what are helpdesk requests, exactly? When our website, knowledge platforms and training can’t answer your questions, you can ask us for advice directly by sending a helpdesk request. Anyone working with digital heritage processes is more than welcome to contact us with their questions.

As a small organisation, we don’t have extensive digital expertise in-house, so the support and advice we received from meemoo was essential in ensuring the success of our large digitisation project.

- Mijn-Erfgoed and MijnMuseum

When someone makes a helpdesk request, we look for a solution together. We start by offering advice and references where possible, and sometimes set up a project – if we can also learn something from it ourselves and our work can benefit from this expertise. Occasionally, we also provide a paid more extensive service, as we did for two projects in 2020: Archiefbank 2.0 and 2.0.

A tale of interaction

Meemoo’s accessibility and wide range of knowledge was important to us. The staff are easy to reach and can quickly point you in the right direction depending on the expertise you need.

- Mijn-Erfgoed and MijnMuseum

Our helpdesk request service doesn’t operate in isolation; when you make a helpdesk request, the first thing we do is put you in touch with our team of experts. Depending on the help you need, we refer you to colleagues within our own or other meemoo teams, or other support organisations and specialist digitisation or ICT companies working within the heritage sector.

We’ve noticed a clear interaction between the helpdesk requests we receive and our training sessions – people who submit helpdesk requests are more likely to register for training. And vice versa, people who participate in our training sessions also appear more frequently in our inbox.

Finally, where possible, we refer to you to our CEST and TRACKS knowledge platforms or useful tools, such as:

And it doesn’t stop there. We’ve also noticed that the organisations we support share the knowledge they gain with the (voluntary) organisations they work with. So the circle is complete.

Some requests from 2020

The big picture

Now that the context is clear, we can look at the requests we received in 2020 in more detail. You can see a visual overview by scrolling down further, but here are the highlights first.

We received a record number of helpdesk requests last year: 297 to be exact, coming from no fewer than 156 different people and organisations. The lion’s share of these requests come from people working in museums, with the minority coming from broadcasters. In terms of geographic distribution, organisations from the Province of Antwerp lead the way – taking first place with one third of the requests – followed by East and West Flanders. The requests cover a wide range of topics, with the most popular ones being accessibility, digitisation, and hardware and software.

Helpdesk requests

There were plenty of questions and answers in 2020. Take a look behind the scenes here.

Digitisation and digital archiving remain popular topics. Amsab Institute for Social History contacted us to ask about archiving Facebook pages, ADVN (Archive for National Movements), Herentals City Archives and others asked about tools for capturing content from old digital media, and the Flanders Architecture Institute (VAi) wanted advice on digitising photo albums.

Lots of people wanted to find out more about copyrights and privacy, too: how do you clear rights? What do you do about restrictions on digital loans? And how do you deal with GDPR in archive management? In terms of policy and strategy, several organisations asked for advice about recruiting employees, and Leie Schelde heritage body had a question about drawing up a digitisation policy. The Gallo-Romeins Museum enquired about the vision and perspective for linked open data in the cultural heritage sector.

Topics such as metadata and digital collection registration raise a lot of issues, and your requests included questions about using COMETA, OpenRefine and LIDO, implementing persistent URIs, and mapping data from AdLib to LIDO. Finally, we also received a lot of enquiries about (re-)using content. Pajottenland heritage body had a question about using Wikipedia pages on their website, and the Jakob Smits Museum wanted advice about using images on Wikimedia Commons to provide access to collections and their educational service.

Three organisations share their experience

We’ve reached the final rung on the ladder: what’s the helpdesk request service like in practice? We asked Mijn-Erfgoed, MijnMuseum and CEMPER (links in Dutch) about their experiences with us. Mijn-Erfgoed and MijnMuseum work closely together, and joined each other in the conservation.

What requests did they make?

Providing advice is a broad and diverse service – and the helpdesk requests we receive range from very specific to much more general. CEMPER, for example, wanted feedback on a strategic proposal for the sustainable preservation of musical and performing arts heritage, and also asked questions relating to:

  • recruiting a digital applications assistant;

  • cloud storage for a music organisation;

  • web archiving and model agreements;

  • Belgian jazz discography on (link in Dutch);

  • digital repositories for performing arts.

Mijn-Erfgoed and MijnMuseum asked a range of questions on various subjects, including for advice and guidance on:

  • drawing up specifications;

  • quality control for digital files;

  • suitable collection registration systems;

  • reporting to the subsidy provider.

How did we help them?

Mijn-Erfgoed and MijnMuseum have always experienced our collaboration as flexible and accessible. ‘We’ve been supported by seven different members of meemoo’s team of experts over the year, sometimes intensively, sometimes as a one-off,’ says Filip Delarbre from MijnMuseum with Leen Roels from Mijn-Erfgoed. They were also enthusiastic about the excellent communication: ‘We made really useful contacts for our digitisation project through various channels – on the phone, by email and in online meetings.’ The two organisations quickly found their way to our training sessions and workshops, including our open cultural data bootcamp (link in Dutch).

And what about CEMPER? The digital aspect of heritage work is a specialist area that’s evolving quickly, and the people at CEMPER don’t always have enough time to stay fully up to date with all the latest developments and build up their in-depth knowledge. The expertise that meemoo offers through the helpdesk request service is therefore extremely valuable to them. ‘We know that meemoo has lots of knowledge and expertise in the digital aspects of heritage work, which is why asked them for feedback again, as we’ve often done in past. We received some valuable suggestions for our proposal from three people at meemoo,’ says Veerle Wallebroek from CEMPER.

Would they recommend the service?

We have lots of in-house knowledge, but we can’t always keep up, so meemoo’s input is often necessary and always useful. We can only recommended contacting meemoo to ask for advice.

- CEMPER - Centre for Music and Performing Arts Heritage

The final verdict? The people from CEMPER find meemoo’s advice very welcome, and their proposal is certainly much improved. Mijn-Erfgoed and MijnMuseum were enthusiastic, too:

The contacts we’ve had through the helpdesk requests have made it an instinctive reflex to contact meemoo when we have any digitisation questions or issues. We always refer to them with confidence.

Do you need advice or support on digital heritage? Don't hesitate to contact us.

Do you have a question?
Contact Rony Vissers
Manager Expertise
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