As pressure to increase audiences grows, museums are increasingly looking for ways to leverage the content and stories in their collections to enhance their brand and increase their profile. Sharing collections information online through platforms like Europeana and Wikipedia is a great way to unlock the potential in museum collections and put them to work.
Traditionally, museums have had to develop bespoke content and applications to meet the needs of each new audience. This can be expensive and laborious, and exposes the museum to the risk that their chosen platform may or may not help them achieve their objectives.
This is why the Collections Trust is championing ‘COPE’ (Create Once, Publish Everywhere), a new strategy which enables museums to develop rich media content, images and stories and share them for more easily across a range of different applications, both internal and audience-facing.
Introducing the Easy Connection Kit
The Easy Connection Kit (or ‘ECK’) is an important step towards enabling museums to unlock the power and potential of their collections. Put simply, it puts the control of who you share collections information with and under what conditions into your hands. The aim is to enable museums to take advantage of the opportunity of sharing collections information openly while managing their exposure to risk.
How it works
The ECK isn’t a separate platform or application. Instead, it provides the capability to share your collections with Europeana and other platforms from within your existing Collections Management System.
The ECK itself is made up of a suite of configurable web services which your CMS uses to structure, validate and submit the records you choose to the platform you want to share them with.
Each software provider has implemented the ECK functionality in the way that makes most sense for their user-based and technology. All of them support the same functionality of selection, data export, validation and submission, embedded right into your existing collections management workflow.
Why you should use the ECK
Museums all over the world are taking a new approach to delivering their public mission by opening up their collections for discovery and use online. The ECK can’t write your Digital Strategy for you or define what license you should use, but it removes a layer of technological barriers and costs once you have made your decision.
Key benefits of using the ECK include:
- Reaching new audiences through Europeana and other 3rd party platforms.
- Demonstrating your commitment to public access to your collections.
- Providing the impetus to review and improve the quality of your documentation.
- Opening up new partnerships and opportunities with creative industries.
- Enhanced use of your information by colleagues in your own and other museums.
- Supporting the advocacy case for investment in digitisation and online development.
ECK functionality is supported by most of the major Collections Management System providers. It is being rolled out in different ways at different times, so the best way to get started is to speak with your vendor and find out when and how they are incorporating the ECK into their software releases.
Using the ECK itself is simple, and your vendor will talk you through the process of mapping your existing collections information onto the appropriate format.
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