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Associate feature: Making museums digital

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Associate feature: Making museums digital

From Holyrood Connect’s Cloud Services in the Public Sector 2020 Conference

Moving centuries-old collections online could seem a mammoth task. But the University of Oxford’s Gardens, Libraries and Museums (GLAM), supported by CirrusHQ, is in the process of doing just that through cloud technology.

The first of these collections have been accessible online for just under a year. GLAM has taken a cloud-first approach, supported by self-described “cloud evangelists” on the team. The system runs using Amazon Web Services (AWS), Java and digital records of the detailed data already held by the university.

It operates efficiently and almost instantly for users (as proven with a live demonstration during the session) and it is most importantly flexible and easily scalable to allow other GLAM collections to make use of the new model. Indeed, the majority of issues the team at the university have faced in the last year have related to gaps and mismatches in the data.

Peter Jackson, a business architect with CirrusHQ, took attendees through how AWS functions behind the scenes, explaining too how the use of an API gateway provided some future proofing.

The system is a bespoke one for GLAM. Marcus Cheetham, the project manager at Oxford University, admitted his first choice would have been an off-the-shelf solution, but this was not possible. The procurement process revealed there was not anything which met the needs of GLAM’s project.

“It was a leap of faith because it was something quite new,” he said. “That’s why we wanted to do that pilot and just prove that what we are doing, it is a sensible move.”

Now, GLAM has successfully deployed cloud-solutions to create a full accessible, searchable online collection – which feels all the more important at a time when accessing these items physically is limited. Chair of the conference Jos Creese summed it up well when he said bringing a collection to life should be for everyone’s enjoyment and that becomes far easier in a digital landscape.

This piece was sponsored by CirrusHQ.

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