Identifying user requirements

In November 2013 the LoCloud technical team has produced a new report offering an analysis of the technical aspects of the LoCloud’s user requirements that have been collected through a series of workshops and surveys.

The report provides key information about users’ profiles, their needs and content. A number of user profiles have been defined, taking into account important characteristics such as the type of collections (e.g. archaeological collections, paintings, drawings, family libraries, maps etc.) and of digital content (image, movie, audio and multimedia content, textual digitised content, etc), expertise in IT, librarianship, information science, or cultural heritage documentation, awareness of metadata and content availability through Europeana.

As expected, LoCloud content providers hold very diverse types of content as well as a variety of metadata schemas used to describe this content. By the end of the project Europeana will gain a substantial number of varied and interesting collections. However, this also implies a number of challenges for the LoCloud team, such as the method of ingestion of metadata from primary collections into Europeana. In this connection, the team has already defined a set of workflows able to adapt to the type of content provider, services to be utilised and the ingestion point.

Read the full report: LoCloud Deliverable 1.5 User requirements analysis

Report on cloud computing technologies

Over the past months, a review of cloud computing technologies has been conducted by a working group consisting of The Danish Agency for Culture, Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed in the Netherlands, The Spanish Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte, Vilniaus Universitas in Lithuania, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen in Germany and Univerzita Komenskeho v Bratislave in Slovakia.

Findings of this analysis have been published in a report (first project deliverable), available from the LoCloud web site.

The document provides a state-of-the art of cloud computing with a specific focus on the uptake of cloud computing by small and medium-sized institutions in the European Union. It presents three situation reports from Spain, The Netherlands and Denmark, looking into existing cloud based collection management and digital library services and offering a description of the relation of LoCloud to the Europeana Cloud project.

Below is a summary of the main findings of the report.

  • Although there is interest and willingness to participate in cloud-based development amongst heritage institutions, there is also some reluctance mainly due to lack of knowledge and skills.
  • There are a number of Saas (Software as a service) providers providing services for the cultural sector. Some of the commercial vendors of collection management systems offer cloud based versions of their software, and in the library domain the OCLC offers a number of relevant services. However, none of these come with plug-in aggregation tools for Europeana.
  • The LoCloud community consists mainly of small and medium-sized institutions which lack financial and intellectual resources to create, purchase, regularly update and maintain software tools and services for digital heritage use. The scope of LoCloud is to create these required cloud-based micro-services and cloud computing tools in the area of metadata interoperability, content aggregation and harvesting, informational infrastructure, multilingual controlled vocabularies, historical place names, geo-location and metadata enrichment, usage of wikimedia applications and professional networking.

 

The first six months – progress

Since its start in March 2013, LoCloud has focused on a state-of-the-art analysis of the collections and metadata of content providers (those partners providing content to Europeana), has carried out an action plan survey amongst partners and gathered preliminary information on the geographic metadata of content provider and reviewed cloud computing technologies. The aim was to identify all needs and requirements necessary to inform future work.

Reviewing cloud computing technologies 

During the first months of the project a working group consisting of The Danish Agency for Culture, Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed in the Netherlands, The Spanish Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte, Vilniaus Universitas in Lithuania, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen in Germany and Univerzita Komenskeho v Bratislave in Slovakia  have carried out a review of cloud computing, aimed to monitor the state-of-the art of cloud computing and make an assessment of aspects of the cloud relevant to the needs of the project.

Read here the full article

LoCloud preliminary action planning

The LoCloud partners in each territory are expected to identify a planning group of institutions (e.g. key players in the cultural sector) with whom to collaborate throughout the project in order to identify new digitised content to include in Europeana via LoCloud.  To this purpose, action plans will be prepared by the country partners in order to identify the steps needed in each territory to implement the IaaS or SaaS solutions for the aggregation of digital collections.

A survey prepared by MDR Partners under WP1 has gathered preliminary data on local stakeholders, potential content providers, existing politics of aggregation, state of the art on the use of the ‘cloud’, training needs, etc. Main preliminary finding of this survey are:

  • while a few partners (having previously participated in other Europeana  projects) have already a network of stakeholders in place and know quite well the politics of aggregation in their countries, others are in the phase of establishing contacts with local institutions in order to create a planning group for future cooperation.
  • aggregation of digital content at the national level seems to develop quite slowly in most European countries and local aggregation is fragmentary. In this respect, the LoCloud aggregator could play an important role, providing a ‘default’ aggregation infrastructure to small local institutions, while, at the same time, being a potential stimulator of national aggregation.

A report on the state-of-the-art monitoring and situational analysis (Deliverable 1.1) will be produced soon and made available from the project web site.

LoCloud Content evaluation and planning survey

Another survey has recently been finalised by Athena RC, one of the project technical partners, targeted to the LoCloud partners who will be providing content to Europeana. The survey aims to collect detailed information on the content and metadata to be aggregated by LoCloud for inclusion in Europeana. The questionnaire looks at issues such as  collection management systems, online availability of collections, used metadata schemas, formats and completeness, supported languages, vocabularies/thesauri, geographical information, historical place names, metadata interoperability, copyrights, etc.

The outcomes of the survey will help to develop a metadata sourcing strategy and plan, feeding two user surveys which will be designed and carried out in the next requirements analysis phase. The results of the survey will be reported in the project deliverable 1.3 Content and Metadata Analysis which will be made accessible from the LoCloud web site by the end of September.

Metadata schema analysis

Some technical partners, with the involvement of project content providers, have started the work aimed to evaluate and appraise content and metadata among collections participating in LoCloud, including new content and already ingested content in the CARARE repository. A working team has been working to define the metadata schemas to be used in LoCloud as intermediaries to EDM, on the basis of the schemas used in prior projects, such as Europeana Local, Athena and CARARE. To this purpose, a survey has been carried out which identified the CARARE and LIDO metadata schemas as the schemas preferred by the majority of respondents. The schemas to be supported by LoCloud will be discussed at the upcoming content provider workshops (end of August-September) and a deliverable on the definition of metadata schemas will be published by the end of September (Deliverable 1.3 Content and Metadata Analysis).

Survey on geographical information metadata 

Spatial data in Europeana today are mainly useful for regional overviews and high-level navigation and becomes less useful when zooming in to municipality, city or community levels. Analysing a sample of Europeana content suggests that there are few cultural heritage collections which contain spatial metadata in the form of coordinates in gallery, museum, library and archive collections. Most spatial metadata are place names or names of current and historical administrative areas.

LoCloud will be developing geolocation enrichment tools which aim to use a combination of local place names data and spatial filtering mechanisms to improve the accuracy of the geocoding, whereby the spatial metadata will become useful for detailed navigation such as mobile, location-aware applications etc.

In particular, LoCloud will implement two services:

  1. Historic place names service which enables upload of local, geocoded spatial names data.
  2. Geolocation enrichment service which will allow the enrichment of metadata resources with coordinate data.

As a starting point, a short survey was carried out by the Slovenian Institute for Heritage Protection, focused on geographical information. The survey gathered from all LoCloud content providers information on the geographic coordinates and place names used in the metadata of their digital collections planned to be made available to Europeana.

House museums survey

A public survey for house-museums in Europe has been recently launched by LoCLoud. The survey, developed by Fondazione Ranieri di Sorbello, one of the project partners, aims to gather information from European house museums about their digitised collections.

LoCloud’s work on cloud  computing technologies  for Europeana, will focus on small and medium sized institutions, including house-museums.

House-museums’ collections (which currently are not represented in Europeana), are of diverse type and closely linked to the locality of the city, region or territory they are located in. They tell the story of people or places which have played an important role in the past. Bringing part of these collections (those available in digital format) into Europeana would make a very important contribution to the on-line availability of Europe’s cultural heritage.