In the MHS blog, Jeff Brand said the following: “In the age of information that we live in today, doesn’t it make more sense to create photograph, art and artifact collections online? Although I realize that a fair amount of income is earned by restricting these collections to paying customers, I also think that it’s unfair that more things aren’t made available to researchers and the general public as well.”
My question is . . . What’s the rush to get our collections online? I fully understand that putting collections online will increase people’s access to them, but the push we are feeling from lovers of technology is overwhelming. Technology is moving so fast that forcing museums to muddle through this is not good for decision-making or the use of resources. Jeff indicates that he understands the challenges this causes for museums. Our challenges include not having enough staff, or enough IT expertise, or enough funding to accomplish this goal in the way people are demanding of us. Magnify this by the fact that within 3 years, whatever we do online will be obsolete and have to be upgraded. How do we go about the digitization of our collections in a smart way? Is there some way to provide museum staff with workshops on digitization? Better yet, are there some modular, open-source, preferably free tools we can gather together that will enable us to easily create photo galleries, online stores or the like on our websites? What sorts of things should we be digitizing? Shouldn’t the care of our physical resources come first?