Title:Building Integrated Museum Information Systems: Practical Approaches to Data Organization and Access
Authors:Jim Blackaby, Beth Sandore
Publication:MW97: Museums and the Web 1997

Ever wish you could put your fingers on all of the information about a specific topic in a museum, regardless of whether it was drawn from the objects collection, exhibit catalogues, the library’s holdings, or the prints and slides collection? Or your interest might even extend beyond a single department. With computerization and public access projects, museums are increasingly called upon to provide information drawn from a great deal of heterogeneous material. This paper investigates fundamental approaches to constructing integrated museum information systems. A key element in the process of building these systems is the development of a thorough understanding of the data structures and formats within your organization. Also critical is the need to determine how data ought to be stored and shaped, and how a museum would like the data to be displayed, once it is retrieved. Practical examples are drawn from projects in which the authors have participated, including the Oregon Historical Society’s Collections Access Project, sponsored by the U. S. Dept. of Education, and the Museum Educational Site Licensing Project, sponsored by the Getty Information Institute, and The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. An overview is provided of current Web and database technology that supports integrated systems development, and consideration is given to the ways in which these technologies match existing information access systems.