CollectionSpace is an open-source, web-based software application for the description, management, and dissemination of museum collections information. The CollectionSpace project team is made up of museum professionals, software engineers, and interaction designers. back to top
In 2007, the Heritage Health Index, a study conducted by the Institute for Museum and Library Services and Heritage Preservation, reported that almost a third of historical societies, a quarter of museums, and twenty percent of archeological repositories have no catalog records at all. In addition, half of the collecting institutions in the United States have none of their collections available online. This information gap represents a lost opportunity for museums and points to a core community need.
Museums have been producing innovative, visitor-facing applications that take advantage of the latest technologies for years. Unfortunately, while many of these applications include information drawn from collections management systems, the collections management system itself is rarely improved as a result. CollectionSpace represents a paradigm shift in collections management technology, which will allow users to create a stable, authoritative, and flexible core of collections information from which interpretive materials and experiences - from printed catalogs and mobile gallery guides to research platforms - may be more effectively developed. back to top
CollectionSpace is directed and administered by Museum of the Moving Image. Project partners are the division of Information Services and Technology at the University of California, Berkeley and the Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technologies at the University of Cambridge. The Fluid Project at OCAD University designs and develops CollectionSpace's user interface. Funding for the project is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Early implementers of the software include Museum of the Moving Image, the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, the University and Jepson Herbaria, and the History of Art Visual Resources Collection, all at the University of California, Berkeley; Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the Statens Museums for Kunst (National Gallery, Denmark) in Copenhagen. See Who We Are for a complete list of project personnel. back to top
"The Community Source Model is a hybrid model that blends elements of directed development, in the classic sense of an organization employing staff and resources to work on a project, and the openness of traditional open-source projects like Apache. The resulting software is available under an Open Source Initiative (OSI) approved license. The code can be examined, changed, redistributed, sold, or incorporated into other products without fee. Anyone can make changes, and subject to quality review, those changes can be incorporated back into an open-source application for the benefit of all.
The distinguishing feature of the Community Source Model is that many of the investments of developers' time, design, and project governance come from institutional contributions by colleges, universities, and some commercial firms rather than from individuals. These contributions may be tendered as the first phase of a project, and then additional work may be contributed on an ongoing, voluntary basis by those institutions with a continuing interest in the project. The project often establishes a software framework and baseline functionality, and then the community develops additional features as needed over time."
The CollectionSpace project was initially funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in December 2007. Project activities in 2008 centered on planning and design. The team hosted a pair of community design workshops in March and May, and used the lessons learned to inform the development of the software's information architecture and user interface design. During 2009 and the first half of 2010, the first phase of software development took place and resulted eight releases issued that encompassed both the ongoing build-out of the system’s core infrastructure and a wide range of functionality. Version 1.0 of the software was released in October 2010.
A follow-up grant in 2010 supported the development and release of Version 2.0 of CollectionSpace in December 2011. A group of early adopters of the software received a National Leadership grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to support implementation and community building activities at five institutions. The grant continues in 2012 and results will be posted to the website, list-serves, and at workshops early in the year.
Phase III of CollectionSpace begins in January 2012. The key drivers for this phase of development are:
One of the goals of the CollectionSpace project is to develop a platform for a collections information system. Within that platform, we intend to deliver a set of modular solutions and services that match functional requirements for managing museum collections for a variety of domains.
Version 3.2 of the software, released in December 2012 focused on performance, usability, and aesthetics:
• autocomplete - providing more information up-front when selecting terms from authority lists (for people and organizations)
• the process to upload media assets
• calculating current location
• complex date handling
• caching issues were addressed that affect page load times and search results display
• user interface issues were addressed that affect pagination and navigation
Improved user interface design
• consistent application of style guide throughout all forms, pages, widgets, and element groups
Improved handling of error messages
• better messaging
• more consistent messaging
• better internal communications between user interface, application, and services layers
Version 2.0 of the software, released in December 2011 included:
Highlights of Features/Functionality
|Acquisition||Documenting and managing the addition of objects and associated information to the collections of the organization, including their potential accession to the permanent collections.|
|Cataloging||The compilation and maintenance of key information, formally identifying and describing objects.|
|Data Import/Export||CollectionSpace import functionality supports importing files in XML (Extensible Markup Language). Any relationships present in the data are preserved on import. In addition, CollectionSpace has been integrated with the Talend Open Studio for ETL (extract, transform, load) workflows.|
|Data Entry Templates||Provides the ability to create records from existing records or to pre-defined templates for specific data entry needs.|
|Loans In/Out||Managing and documenting the borrowing and lending of objects for which the organization is responsible for a specific period of time and for a specific purpose, whether exhibition/display, research, conservation, education, or photography/publication.|
|Location and Movement||Management and documentation of information concerning the current and past locations of all objects or groups of objects in the organization's care to ensure that the organization can locate any object at any time.|
|Media Handling||Provides the ability to upload a media file to the system or to link to a media file stored in an outside digital asset management system.|
|Object Entry/Exit||The management and documentation of the receipt of objects (and associated information) which are not currently part of the collections as well as the management and documentation of objects leaving the organization's premises.|
|Reports||Reports are defined and installed in the system via integration with LGPL (GNU Lesser General Public License) JasperReports. Custom reports may be created using JasperReport's iReport client application software. This software is downloadable for free from the JasperSoft website but is GPL (General Public License) licensed, and is therefore not included with a standard CollectionSpace installation.|
|Roles and Permissions||The management of system access, including read/write permissions for procedural, object, and organizational records.|
|Structured Dates||Provides a much greater degree of freedom when adding dates with beginning and end ranges and degrees of certainty. This enhanced date handling function provides the ability to tie objects to eras or periods rather than to specific dates. These dates are particularly useful for cataloging activities and the retrospective conversion of aging documentation.|
|Term Management||The documentation and management of information about persons, places, things, and other concepts related to the object or collection being described.|
Yes, all schema currently in-use, under consideration, and in-progress are available from the Functional Team Home section of the project wiki and in the user manual. CollectionSpace schema are based on SPECTRUM, the UK documentation standard, and informed by our early adopter’s needs. back to top
CollectionSpace is committed to the principles of user-centered design. Our environments are developed to match the needs of our users, and our software is accessible and usable. OCAD University is the lead in this initiative, allowing the project to take advantage of the ongoing work of the Fluid project, an international community working together to address the precarious values of usability, accessibility, internationalization, quality assurance and security within community source software projects. back to top
Installing CollectionSpace requires someone comfortable with a command line interface and package manager (for Linux and Mac installations), and who has some familiarity with editing text files.
Configuration, or changing the behavior and the look and feel of the system, can be accomplished by making changes on web-based Administration pages and by editing the text files (HTML templates, CSS stylesheets, configuration files, etc.) that control its behavior and appearance. Familiarity with HTML, CSS, command line interfaces, and editing text files is required.
There are several options for CollectionSpace support. The project team is working closely with the collections, information technology, and administrative departments of its early adopters, and will continue to do so for the life of the project. The team is also working with vendors, service providers, and independent developers who are interested in providing services and support to institutions interested in adopting CollectionSpace. Current implementers are using many different solutions to manage CollectionSpace, including in-house staff, developers hired for a specific period to install and configure the software, consultants to manage data mapping and gap analyses, and vendors who manage the entire process. For assistance locating a CollectionSpace service provider, or if you are interested in becoming one, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, we encourage you to post questions, engage in conversation, and learn from colleagues on the Talk list. The CollectionSpace Talk list is an email list that is specifically focused on the needs of implementers. We want to hear from you and help you with your installation, and we want to encourage anyone who has already implemented to join in the conversation as well to share their experience. At the core of the CollectionSpace philosophy is the community source model (see What is Community Source?) an approach that values community contribution and encourages community members to help one another. We encourage you to join the Talk list, post your questions, and join the conversation! back to top
The entire system is built to handle Unicode from the outset, ensuring that a full range of languages can be supported from the user interface all the way down to the database. Version 2.0 of the software supports an English User Interface, but any language can be used for museum information (metadata), and internationalization of many aspects is supported upon configuration. The system separates the labels and other language used to generate the UI into a separate resource, to facilitate translation. Further internationalization efforts will be a part of the 3.0 timeframe. Translation projects are an excellent opportunity for those who are not software developers to contribute to the community! back to top