One aim of the proposed framework for change is to help everyone involved in sharing and using collections data to see how their work fits into the bigger picture. The scope of potential activity is huge, as is the number of potential stakeholders.

We think that some guiding principles will be needed to turn the framework into sustainable practice. These might be developed and agreed by the representative stakeholders advising the proposed museum data service. Existing guidance relevant here includes the FAIR principles for findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable data, and the over-arching values of the Digital Culture Charter.

Below we suggest some more specific principles. They are based on the hard-won experience of many data-sharing initiatives in the UK and elsewhere over recent decades.

Be helpful
  • Make life easier for museums, not harder.
  • Make state-of-the-art tools and services available to all museums, not just the big ones.
Be open
  • Encourage data to be licensed openly, but don’t insist on it.
  • Build core infrastructure with standards-based, open-source tools.
Be flexible
  • Accept data however museums want to supply it.
  • Take a modular approach, with core services kept as generic as possible.
Be sustainable
  • Unless it is intended to be ephemeral, don’t create digital content without a plan to preserve it long-term.
  • Keep core services to the minimum likely to be affordable over the long term.