Monday, June 05, 2006

Technology use by cultural heritage organizations

As we propose to institutions that they digitize materials, it is important to consider where those cultural heritage institutions are on the technology curve. A May 2006 article in Information Outlook quotes an IMLS study entitled "Status of Technology and Digitization" and notes that more cultural heritage institutions are using technology (p. 8).
  • 78% of small museums that completed the survey have a web site.
  • 85% of small museums have e-mail.
  • 70% of small public libraries have an online catalogue of library or other collections
  • Digitization among museums, public libraries, academic libraries, archives and state library administrative agencies is increasing.
  • 94% of the archives reported some digitization activities over the previous 12 months, as did 77% of state library administrative agencies, 60% of large public libraries, and 18.5% of small to medium public libraries.
Although many institutions are digitizing, many still have much more to do.
Lack of sufficient funding and staff time limit the ability of institutions in all groups to implement technologies. Almost two-thirds of museums, 31 percent of archives, half of large academic libraries, and a a majority of small public libraries say their technology is less than adequately funded. More than two-thirds of institutions among all the groups reported that they do not have enough skilled staff to accomplish their technology objectives.
It is very good news to see technology use on the rise. The bad news is that technology use is increasing and changing. Those that are behind the curve need to continue to challenge themselves to learn and understand new technologies, as they become available, and use those that are appropriate for their own situation. The rate of technology change is not going to slow down and wait for them.

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