Title:Collections Cubed: Into the third dimension
Authors:Richard Urban
Publication:MW2016: Museums and the Web 2016

Recent advances in the technologies needed to digitize, publish, and print scientific and cultural heritage resources in three dimensions (3D) have placed them within reach of libraries, archives, and museums (LAM). Major collecting institutions are now exploring how 3D technologies can broaden access to their collections (Ioannides & Quak, 2014; Metallo & Rossi, 2011; Neely & Langer, 2013; Trendler & Street, 2014). Within the next five to ten years, it is expected that costs will decrease as quality increases, making these technologies even more broadly available (Basiliere et al., 2013; Johnson et al., 2015a, 2015b). As 3D digitization tools move from the research lab and into mainstream use, the LAM community is confronted with new challenges about how to best invest limited resources (Metallo & Rossi, 2011; Santos et al., 2014).

This paper presents the results of early research to identify and track the diffusion of 3D technologies into the scientific and cultural heritage sector. The paper will present the preliminary results from the Collections Cubed Survey conducted from August to October 2015. This survey suggests that while 3D technologies have reached an inflection point in terms of availability and accessibility, libraries, archives, and museums are just beginning to understand the opportunities they offer. As with the emergence of other new technologies, LAM professionals are working to meet the challenges presented by quickly evolving hardware and software, lack of best practices, and a shortage of trained staff. Yet the opportunities to document collections for research, exhibition, and outreach are driving the exploration of these new technologies.