Quick, all you LAMs folk get your tooshies over to ViewShare! It’s a new, freshly launched (this week!) LC web platform that’s completely free to download. It was designed (by the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program – NDIIPP) for cultural heritage institutions to generate, curate, and customize their digital web content in new ways! This means that they can more easily design their content to fit different audiences and communities, and allow users to interact with digital data in more insightful and meaningful ways!

I’m so excited about this!

This semester I’ve been doing a number of projects with clients in the Southeast Michigan area. For one client in particular, the Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society (GWBHS), two other graduate students and myself have been assessing the preservation needs of the society. We handed them one deliverable in the form of a Preservation Needs Assessment Survey (looks something like this), which broke down the strengths and weaknesses of their information storage and exhibition environments, general housekeeping, artifact crowding, off-site exhibitions, long-term sustainability, digital preservation planning, cataloging and data management, and more. We looked at their budget, culture, and audiences and gave them a list of suggestions on how to improve their environment so as to extend the life-span of their collections. It was a super tedious process, but a great learning experience. I found that I really like helping non-profit, underfunded, and volunteer-based organizations, because their existence is based completely on the passions of a few people who love it enough to devote all of their extra energy to seeing historical documents and artifacts thrive :)

Anyways, to get to the point: now that we’ve given them a list of recommendations, we’re focusing on one aspect of that assessment survey and breaking it out into a fully-fledged procedural plan that will allow the institution to really get something started. For GWBHS we’re working on developing a procedure for Digital Preservation. So, I’m especially excited about ViewShare because it directly applies to an institution that I’ve been working closely with for a few months, and I can’t wait to tell them about it!

Sometimes new technologies can be intimidating and scary to non-profit, underfunded institutions, because they don’t have the time, expertise, or manpower to implement it. This is certainly true for GWBHS, but we’re hoping to get them some graduate student preservation interns to get the process going. Also ViewShare was designed for these types of institutions, so my hope is that the usability of it will be more intuitive to average users. I’m checking it out right now/drafting an email to GWBHS, so I’ll watch and report back with any major failures/breakthroughs I happen to stumble upon! :)