Portals of Digital Cultural Heritage
November 26, 2015
IBA GroupJan SchumaThis year, IBA CZ has successfully delivered two projects that became another step forward in the area of portals. The projects were implemented for the government sector and included solutions to manage the objects of cultural heritage.Although library portals are our new skills, we are not first-timers in the area of digital cultural heritage. Since many years, we have gained a profound experience of working with records of digital cultural heritage, for example, during the project implemented for the Police of the Czech Republic. It was the portal of the artworks’ registry system and implied the processing of information about stolen and found objects of cultural value. So we had a good knowledge of cultural valuables and a deep knowledge of police systems. The extension to another specific area was just the next logical step.MotivationCurrently, only a few companies work in the area of library systems. The information systems they were deploying for quite a long time in all institutions, libraries, and museums are rather static and are viewed as legacy systems today. Considering our deep knowledge of portals and previous experience in similar systems we brought some fresh air into the world of library information systems. And we succeeded.SolutionIn a situation when we were providing proof of our experience in the sector, it was important to understand what the library systems are. Therefore, within the partnership with Masaryk University in Brno we worked with external experts to understand better the specific requirements and characteristics of these systems.In fact, every institution that owns a collection of books, museum showpieces or any other collection is trying to catalog them. But everyone is doing it in its own way. Figuratively, we can say that at first there was a clay tablet, then came a papyrus followed by a parchment, paper, and finally by a digitized information system.There is no need to say that the uniformity of data is at a “very low level”. Special purposed protocols and standards were supposed to improve the situation but they are past their prime.For now, nothing better is available yet. (Please forget about web services). In addition, the institutions want to exchange the information about their collections.As soon as we understood and learnt by experience what library systems were about, it was enough to cope with the existing implementations of these non-traditional technologies and to integrate the whole thing with the portal. It was not easy but thanks to the dedication of the whole team we came to a successful end.ResultsThe web portal of historical collections is currently running on the Liferay platform providing the search through 50 castle libraries and ten other large-scale library institutions.The portal of digitizing the cultural heritage literally displays the collection of books and collection of items from the Vysocina region.For example, the above mentioned project is called PSEUD and is based on the IBM WebSphere technology.These two projects were for all members of the team of a great benefit both from the technological and project point of view. We proved ourselves and demonstrated to our customers that we are able to work with the records practically about anything from books, paintings, sculptures, and clocks to weapons and jewelry.We were able to create and configure the portal so as to provide easy search not only for scholars and museum keepers but for police, ministry officials, and general public as well. And certainly, no one can get illegal access to the information belonging to others. In addition, we were able to integrate the portal with the databases of ministries, Interpol, the National Library, as well as the municipal museum “somewhere in the mountains.”If you are interested to obtain more information on the portals of digital cultural heritage, please contact Jan Schuma (email@example.com).