Collection Space is another digital repository project supported by the Andrew Mellon Foundation, like JSTOR and ARTstor, but with very important differences. CollectionSpace emerged from scholarly institutional collaboration “with the common goal of developing and deploying an open-source, web-based software application for the description, management, and dissemination of museum collections information.” Which is to say – It’s an open-source software that will allow for museum collection management and dissemination but with many Web 2.0 twists. This is not your regular museum registrar database. CollectionSpace’s project team currently includes web-developers, designers, and architects from Cambridge, Museum for the Moving Image, UC Berkeley School of Information and the University of Toronto.
This venture was inspired by the large information gap that existed for 1/3 to 1/2 of collecting institutions in the U.S. (historical societies, archeological repositories, museums and others) having neither their collections online or in many cases even catalog records. CollectionSpace addresses these needs through working to develop open-source software solutions providing stable, authoritative but flexible collection architecture “from which interpretive materials and experiences – from printed catalogs to mobile gallery guides – may be efficiently developed, and that can serve as a cost-effective alternative to proprietary collections management systems for museums in need, regardless of size or scope.” Think perhaps ARTstor for museums owning, managing (and publicizing) their own rotating collections.
The project began as a series of collaborative workshops with museum, archival and library professionals followed by a two-year period of software development complete by beta-testing by the same communities that helped advise its design.
CollectionSpace Release 0.2, debuted October 6, 2009. This version allows storing “multiple record types with flexible schemas.” They have an extensive Project Wiki filled with a variety of documentation, handouts and powerpoint presentation.
Funding is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Program in Research in Information Technology which “supports the creation of “enterprise” administrative and infrastructural software by means of distributed, collaborative open-source development projects.”
It aims to support registrars, curators, educators, collections managers, and administrators. It seeks to change earlier system models which seem to be digital representations of paper models. CollectionSpace promises to bring processes like cataloging, loans, media handling, location tracking “into the Web 2.0+ era.” It seeks to move from “records-based navigation” to “action-based navigation.”