Digitizing Small Museums (GLAMs) into Culture Commons by Local Communities (digGLAM) is short-term Aalto Media Factory (AMF) funded project at the Systems of Representation –  Media Lab of Aalto ARTS – Aalto University Helsinki Finland. This Project is an attempt to help digitize the collections of small GLAMs using an Open Source autonomous scanning Robot  initially developed by Project GadoJohn Hopkins University Baltimore (see the technology here: Gado2) and now currently under development in the Media Lab Helsinki along with the Department of Computer Science – Aalto University. Currently we are conducting an Open Industrial Competition to design the outer casing and a portable deployment unit.

The primary aim of digGLAM is to help small galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAMs) in Finland with a small staff and limited funds to digitize their collections with participation from their user communities. There are three elements to this: firstly, developing Thematic Open Days at the Museum that focus around relevant themes based around the Museum’s Collections. Secondly using Open Source softwares and robotic scanners to automate the processes, showcase the efforts of the Museum. Finally letting the Local Community of the Museum (Crowdsourcing) to help digitize and tag the thematic collections. The digitized material from these Theme Days will be directly fed into a Museum Archive connected to the National Archives that will be available under a Creative Commons License. The interface of this new Archive is currently also under development.

Currently, heritage is being digitized across the world and placed online in digital formats to reach a broader audience and make it accessible for all. Small heritage museums with limited manpower and funds also have a prime role to play in the cultural sector of cities and communities. In this context, it has become increasingly significant to place the cultural assets of small museums and their communities online for a wider outreach.

The digGLAM project has been developing the primary tool of Digitization: the digGLAM assistant: the autonomous scanning robot  since last spring of this year 2013. It is currently being tested with various media, a User Interface being developed, and abilities to automatically archive scanned material. The programming Codes and all source material will be made available on GitHub soon.

The next steps are the Theme Days  that are being developed with a Local Art Museum in the Helsinki-Espoo Region and an Outreach exhibition for Museum Day 2013 being planned. Based on some of the ideas expressed in a previous article: Crowdsourcing the Museum: A Digitization Strategy for Small Museums in Finland, this project hopes to achieve its objectives along the same lines..

More detailed information will be available as the Project gains further momentum. The Project runs through May 18 2014. Stay Tuned!

How this could help your Museum?….Contact Me for further information about digGLAM, and how the ideas of this Project could be applied to your Museum.