Brief Report | 18. November 2022

GLAM digital – Data skills for cultural heritage institutions

Four persons in a museum are wearing VR-Goggles and sit in front of a painting.

Four persons with virtual reality goggles

"Four persons in a museum are wearing VR-Goggles and sit in front of a painting" CC0 Creator: Lucrezia Carnelos

Event date: November 3–4, 2022

This year's forum of the Cultural Research Data Academy (CRDA) was held on the topic 'GLAM digital – data competencies for cultural heritage institutions'. It was the first forum of the NFDI4Culture consortium to explicitly address the broad and diverse group of so-called GLAM institutions (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums).

Over a total of two days in Marburg, the hybrid event focused on numerous topics related to the key words 'digital' and 'data literacy'. Representatives from a wide range of institutions were present, from university representatives to archivists and museum staff. The wide-ranging expertise of the speakers and the audience, present both in person and digitally, created interesting questions and lively discussions.

After a short welcome by the organizing team, the first day of the conference began with three parallel online workshops, which were organized and hosted by NFDI4Culture staff members from different Task Areas: In addition to a basic course on research data management by CRDA staff members Dr. Martin Albrecht-Hohmaier and Katharina Bergmann, tailored to the needs of the GLAM community, a workshop on 'FAIR roadmaps for cultural heritage institutions – and how data management plans can help you achieve them' was offered by Angela Kailus and Dr. Celia Krause (Task Area 2: Standards, data quality and curation). Prof. Dr. Ina Blümel and Dr. Lozana Rossenova (Task Area 1: Data capture and enrichment of digital cultural assets) held a workshop on 'Representation of three-dimensional objects using Kompakkt and Wikibase-based annotations'.

Following these workshops, the first day of the conference focused on the topic of education and training of existing and future GLAM staff in two panels under the theme "Training Data Competences". The panels, which were structured by ten-minute inputs from the speakers and following discussion, addressed both the training of data competences in higher education and (distance) training at higher education institutions, as well as the supervision and training of trainees.

The first of the two panels concentrated on career entry and further qualification. Eva Eick presented the funding programme of the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry of Culture and Science 'Forschungsvolontariat Kunstmuseen NRW'. Prof. Dr. Claudia Frick reported on the Master in Library and Information Science (MALIS) at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences and Prof. Dr. Susanne Freund gave an overview of the advanced education programmes in the field of archives at the Potsdam University of Applied Sciences. The following discussion between the speakers and the plenum focused mainly on three major topics: The basic digital education of students/young academics, which cannot be regarded as a prerequisite and often has to be worked out during their studies, the capacity limits in the (distance) advanced training courses that are in high demand, and the desire for qualitatively outstanding advanced training opportunities for staff members. Attention was also drawn to the problem that the content to be taught changes faster than curricula can be adapted, which poses further challenges for training institutions. In addition a desire was expressed from various sides for stronger networking between GLAM institutions and higher education institutions, which could take place via NFDI4Culture and in the framework of which cultural heritage institutions could open up portfolios for study programmes in which future GLAM staff could be trained.

The second panel of the day was labelled 'University and Education'. Mario Röhrle reported on the media and paper restoration courses at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart and how data competence is taught to students there. Dr. Irmgard Christa Becker, head of the Marburg School of Archives, provided a look at a classic archivist's education and the ways in which digital skills are taught. The discussion with the plenary and the digital audience once again underlined the aspect of the previous panels by unanimously calling for a stronger integration of training in digital methods and content into the curricula of undergraduate degree programmes. It also became clear that even at first glance very different subject areas are facing many similar problems and can benefit from cooperation and exchange of experience.

The first day closed with a round table discussion entitled 'Challenges of digital change in the GLAM sector'. Moderated by CRDA co-spokespersons Prof. Dr. Malte Hagener and Prof. Dr. Andreas Münzmay, Dr. Irmgard Christa Becker (Marburg School of Archives), Prof. Dr. Peter Bell (Philipps University Marburg) and Freya Schlingmann (Central Scientific Project Management museum4punkt0) discussed the topic. Followed by the observation that the digital transformation is taking place at different speeds in many GLAM fields, it was agreed that it is important not to neglect small and medium-sized institutions and to establish and expand alliances in order to be able to act together effectively and move forward. Another defining theme of the discussion was the point raised by Irmgard Becker about integrating management skills more strongly into training. With regard to professional life, Freya Schlingmann made a plea for teams with a diverse professional background, which should unite different areas of expertise. The resulting topic of interdisciplinary cooperation and the exchange of experiences then dominated the discussion with the plenary.

The second day of the conference was themed 'Applying Data Literacy' and included three panels, addressing partially very different sets of topics: The day began with the aspects of collecting and preservation, essential components of the work of every GLAM institution and also an area that is strongly affected by digitisation. Prof. Dr. Dorothee Haffner, Professor of Museology at the Berlin University of Applied Sciences, Martin Stricker from the Coordination Centre for Scientific University Collections in Germany, Dr. Birgitta Coers, Head of the documenta archiv and Dr. Frank Bär, Head of the Collection of Musical Instruments at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum presented their handling of collection data and individual as well as overarching challenges with these. The focus of the individual inputs moved between topics such as knowledge resources, digitisation strategies and standards, and specific challenges on a structural, personnel and technical level. Furthermore, these topics formed gateways to the subsequent discussion against the background of the different GLAM cultural heritage institutions, as well as working conditions in the individual disciplines. The special training needs for personnel and the limited training capacities of the individual universities were also discussed. The panel emphasised the importance of interdisciplinary cooperation, the need to establish diverse teams in the institutions, the relevance of networking opportunities and the wish for the NFDI4C consortium to offer similar formats to this forum in the future.

The fourth panel, entitled 'Using tools and services', was opened by Chiara Marchini, who presented the German Digital Library (DDB), emphasised the awareness of data quality and controlled vocabularies and gave an outlook on the DDBs relaunch. Frauke Rehder then presented the digiCult network and explained services such as interfaces. Dr. Elisabeth Böhm reported on the support offered by the eCulture project of the Saxony-Anhalt Museum Association, especially regarding advice for institutions and projects. Dr. Christian Bracht broadened the view to the topic of 'Open GLAM' and the free accessibility and re-usability of collection and research data. In addition to problematic image rights and licences, Bracht presented an 'Open Access Policy for Cultural Heritage Institutions'. In the followup discussion, special legal questions took up a large part, mainly relating to the re-use of photographs (of works of art) or also dealing with the still inconsistent fee and cost regulations for the acquisition of rights of use. Case studies were also used to explain concrete challenges faced by institutions and projects, as they exist for tools and services in the face of certain legal hurdles.

The event concluded with a panel on educational aspects and making collection data accessible. Katharina Ewald from the Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum and Anna Gnyp from the Landesmuseum Württemberg presented various projects at their institutions, their digital strategies in general and digital educational concepts. Theresa Stärk, head of the project 'Digitale Kunstvermittlung | ART 4.0', followed up with an example from university education in art education. Prof. Dr. Bernhard Thull from the Technical University of Darmstadt presented his work on the Digital Pina Bausch Archive and, as a computer scientist and software developer, was able to contribute an interesting, differentiated view of digital projects. After a short discussion about the relevance of persistent identifiers for collection data, the topic of teaching data literacy in-house and its relevance was raised. In addition, it was emphasised that it is important to document data handling well – in general as well as in projects – so that knowledge remains available for a long time and can be re-used, internally as well as in sharing with other institutions.

In summary, it can be said that the conference, which was broad in content, on the one hand highlighted existing problems and challenges, and on the other hand also presented initial approaches to solutions and revealed possible synergies and opportunities for cooperation. The CRDA and NFDI4Culture as a whole do not want to let the important discussions and possible cooperations between the institutions die down and are looking forward to becoming active as a coordinating and supporting networking element.


The presentation slides are available for download here: