It’s likely that most people have heard of DAMS in the context of managing marketing assets rather than collections but at Queensland Museum it’s a key part of the Collections and Research Unit. The team at Queensland Museum recognised that online audiences have different needs and that there was a real importance to involving the end users perspective in digital asset collections.
At the MuseumNext Digital Summit 2022, Donna Miller from Queensland Museum discussed the ways in which DAMS has been deployed to allow better management of digital assets and create image portals tailored to the different groups engaging with the museum collections online.
DAMS as a digital collection tool
In the GLAM sector, there is a very strong case to use DAMS as a tool for curation, preservation and organisation for your valuable digital collection, according to Donna Miller. The metadata that is a critical part of using DAMS can also serve as a key tool for the dissemination of a digital asset collection.
By using a DAMS already configured to store and manage these assets, filtering with metadata to combine with the system, there is a provision created for more specific user experiences.
Donna says, “Although at Queensland our original DAMS was implemented 14 years ago, it’s evolved over time and most recently introduced two new image portals to run alongside the staff portal; a public imagine portal and a research portal.”
As Donna explains, all are operated from the pre-existing staff portal from one digital asset library collection. It is the metadata that directs assets from the single library to the correct portal or audience space and, in fact, it is metadata that is key to ensuring each portal has the right content for each audience.
This staff portal itself is very functional and detailed – often with multiple images of an object for research and preservation purposes. Staff essentially get to access a great deal of data that can be used across different campus locations. The public-facing portal is very streamlined and much more calibrated to use on personal devices.
Only 10% of the current staff assets feature on the public portal. This is partly because the public audiences have more specific needs as requests tend to be related to personal research or educational projects. Also, it’s important not to overwhelm the user with search results.
The team would prefer users to contact a member of the Queensland Museum to take their search further in instances where more information is required.
Supporting the research audience
Donna explains that the digital research portal is slightly more expansive collaborative project tool, which can be accessed by staff and external researchers. The content changes depend on current projects, but it is very much created for a niche and specialist audience.
The main difference is that the portal offers a greater number of linked resources, things that will be necessary to bring components together for the audience. This could include terms such as video or audio files, documents or additional research papers that may have been published about the item. There is also a 3D option to really help bring the item to life for a different type of user analysis. The research portal is much more of a one-stop shop for all aspects of a research project.
Tailoring audience connections is one of the key ways to ensure each portal relates to the audience needs. A digital collection has greater adaptability in this sense to help enhance the physical collection.
Short-term, the team are focused on creating more content, developing variety in that content and focusing on the end user needs. Longer-term, it is clear that DAMS is important to Queensland Museum to manage digital organisation, provenance, sharing, usability, history and distribution – all requirements for sustainability in the 21st century.
Donna Miller from Queensland Museum spoke at the MuseumNext Digital Summit 2022.
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