Tara O'Leary | March 15, 2018
The University of Notre Dame has been awarded a $455,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create a Unified Preservation and Exhibition Platform — a software solution that will enable universities to access museum and library holdings through a single online portal.
University library and museum officials nationwide have long sought solutions that would enable their collections and artifacts to be easily discovered online.
However, museums and libraries have historically been independent gateways for faculty and students to engage with scholarly resources, research tools, historical information and cultural objects. Users can access the physical collections at different locations, but not all resources are available online. Collection management systems are optimized for each respective field, but they do not interact well with each other. Thus, scholars are unable to efficiently conduct expansive research across these university holdings.
The Snite Museum of Art and the Hesburgh Libraries — including Rare Books and Special Collections and University Archives — will use their expertise and extensive holdings to develop a new software platform to address this universal challenge. University officials believe the new platform will have a transformational effect on research, teaching and learning at Notre Dame and other institutions facing similar needs.
“Notre Dame is blessed with extraordinary library and art collections, including artifacts that have unique historic, cultural and religious significance,” said Thomas G. Burish, Charles and Jill Fischer Provost at Notre Dame. “We are grateful to the Mellon Foundation for providing us the means to share these collections more broadly with scholars as well as the public.”
In addition to enhanced discovery and access, the single-portal platform will reduce technological and administrative barriers that often hinder collaboration between libraries and museums.
The project will unite previously independent efforts to build digital infrastructures. Library developers will build on existing tools — including the institutional repository CurateND and the locally developed Digital Exhibits and Collections application — to create a new resource that meets the needs of both museums and libraries. An integrated system that aligns administrative and technological infrastructure will both reduce technology overhead and curatorial redundancies and increase resource discovery and research productivity.