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WG-C BEST PRACTICES Raccomendations

Curation and Management of Performing Arts Digital Assets
Best Practices Raccomendations


Multimedia technologies are paving the way for new opportunities to disseminate and exploit digital assets. Like many others, Performing Arts Institutions are currently facing new challenges that aim at extending the basic functions associated with the management of digital assets, in order to accumulate and preserve knowledge, to provide access to the society’s cultural artefacts, and to foster communications, education and scholarship.

To reach these ambitious goals, it is necessary to utilise all the developments deriving from new technologies, management procedures and standardisation processes.

This challenge can be addressed successfully if an organisation has these crucial elements in place:

a)      the right awareness about issues related to the curation of digital artefacts;
b)      sufficient knowledge about IT issues;
c)      the capability to engage the right expertise;
d)      adequate financial resources.


The work done by WG-C strives to address the issues on the management and curation of digital assets in the Performing Arts domain that have emerged during the activities of the ECLAP (European Collected Library of Artistic Performance) project (surveys, interviews, working group events, etc.).

It provides a number of Best Practices (BPs) in order to raise awareness and knowledge in the fields of IT management, digitisation, digital preservation, metadata and content reuse.

The BPs in this document are intended to support and stimulate Performing Arts institutions that wish to either set up or upgrade their systems by following specific recommendations and standards.

The whole report can be found at this link


Below we've summarised the Best Practices results divided into the following chapters:
1.     IT Management
2.     Digitisation
3.     Digital Preservation
4.     Metadata
5.     Reuse

IT Management


Expertise engagement  - Audience: CEO, Library Manager

BP: In order to obtain a serviceable and state of the market solution, the best practice is to look for in-house expertise first, while to implement an advanced and state of the art solution a mix of in-house and external professionals should be adopted.

IT investments Audience: CEO, Library Manager

BP: The institution should invest in IT solutions to achieve their mission because:
a)      it has a proven positive impact from the perspective of an organisation’s audience
b)      the level of awareness about the IT importance of organisation leadership is considered appropriate and mature
c)      such investments don’t take away resources form the organisation’s core mission.

Tools for content management Audience: data librarian, data manager, digital archivist, digital curation officer, digital resource officer

BP: The Institution should use Repository systems in the wide sense (integrated applications able to manage the digital content through a unique system (avoiding file-based or self-designed databases) to manage their digital content in terms of metadata, publication workflow, file formats, digital preservation, etc.).



Digitisation aims - Audience: CEO, library manager, data manager, digital curation officer

BP:The institution should conduct the digitisation campaign by engaging in-house staff. Also the material to be digitised should be prepared by internal staff.

Human resources for digitisation - Audience: CEO, library manager, data manager, digital curation officer

BP:According to MINERVA BPs the institution should take care of:
a)      Ensuring that sufficient in-house staff is available to carry out the project.
b)      Assigning staff to each task or work-package of the project plan.
c)      Identifying training requirements, including information technology training and education in the handling of delicate artefacts and documents.
d)      Carrying out, if possible, training by using the hardware and software solution which will be used during the project, before the project commences.
e)      Engaging a small core of skilled internal staff dedicated to the project, rather than a large group of ‘occasional’ – external staff.

Cost estimation for a digitisation programme - Audience: CEO, library manager, data manager, digital curation officer

BP:There is not a clearly identifiable rule about the budget needed to succeed in a digitisation campaign. However, it is clear that the budget has to be tailored to each institution according to the following elements:
a)      the total amount of funding available (size of institution),
b)      the type of objectto be digitised,
c)      the quality of the digitisation to be achieved,
d)      the target number of objects that the institution aims to digitise.

Working with third parties - Audience: CEO, library manager, data director

BP:There are several types of cooperation that can be established among institutions.
Performing Art institutions should establish equal partnerships with one another.
To be effective in establishing such relationships the institutions should explore the possibility of cooperation within national borders first.

Resource selection criteria Audience: library manager, data manager, digital curation officer, digital archivist, data librarian

BP:Institutions that aim to digitise their assets should define a selection policy according to the following criteria, ranked in importance:
1)      Resources that need preservation (Condition of the originals)
2)      Resources with historical/cultural value
3)      Resource that you want to increase access to.
The following criteria are defined in MINERVA BPs and extend the list:
·      Copyright and IPR
·      Availability of Existing digital version
·      Costs of digitisations
·      Preservation of delicate originals, by making digital versions available as an alternative
·      Project theme
·      Availability of existing digital versions
·      Appropriateness of the source material for online viewing


Digitisation campaign implementation and timescaleAudience: library manager, data director, data manager, digital curation officer

BP:Institutions should consider that the duration of a digitisation campaign should be at least 2 years and its systematic implementation is not a key requirement to its success.


Digitisation preparation - Audience: library manager, data director, data manager, digital curation officer

BP:An institution should follow a clear step-by-step workflow
a)      Hardware definition
b)      Software definition
c)      Environment

Digital Preservation


Digital Preservation model - Audience: data manager, digital curation officer, data librarian, digital archivist, digital resource officer

BP:Institutions should adopt the OAIS model (ISO 14721:2002) to organise their digital libraries. The model describes all entities and workflows needed for preserving digital repositories. Digital sustainability is only possible by integrating procedures at every stage, from when a file is ingested into a repository (Submission Information Package – SIP) to when it is accessed by a consumer Dissemination Information Package – DIP)

Building a digital preservation policy - Audience: data director, data manager, digital curation officer

BP:This BP is derived from well-defined practices established in LAM domains. In particular a DP policy has to take into account (mainly derived from JISC Digital Media – Establishing digital preservation policy):
a) Organisational goals, objectives and mission statements.
b) Coherence with other institutional policies, such as records management, IT or digitisation work.
c) Implementation details (timing, funding, in-house or outsourced, etc.).
d) Scope of preservation activities (What and How – IT solutions, lifecycle).
e)Roles and responsibilities. Who, ultimately will be responsible for digital preservation within an organisation?
f)Glossary: Anyone unfamiliar with digital preservation may require a detailed glossary.
g) Version Control: Date of policy. Its status and review date should also be included.

Digital preservation strategies - Audience: data manager, digital curation officer, data librarian, digital archivist, digital resource officer

BP: Institutions should define the digital preservation strategies according to the digitisation aims and should monitor digital assets regularly.
Each digital preservation strategy has to be tailored to an institution’s requirements.

Bitstream Preservation - Audience: data director, data manager, digital curation officer, data librarian, digital archivist, digital resource officer

BP:Institutions should take into account this checklist for bitstream preservation:
Multiple copies of each digital object (at least two, more are better but according to the budget available).
Multiple media storage types (at least two different types - Minerva BPs).
Different copies stored in geographically different locations (three is recommended).
Hardware (carriers included) and software maintenance after each new plan, re-evaluation and update of that plan every five to ten years (Minerva BPs).

Logical Preservation: File format requirements - Audience: data manager, digital curation officer, data librarian, digital archivist, digital resource office

BP: A recommendable file format should present the following features:
a)      Ubiquitous: The file format should be widespread, often used and well-known.
b)      Open standards:An acclaimed standard with available technical specifications.
c)      No patents:Formats without patented technology or licenses are preferred due to their sustainability in the long run.
d)      Metadata:The possibility of embedding unique identifiers and other metadata within the file.
e)      Multiple Support:There should be more than one type of software for visualising or rendering the file format.
f)       Uncompressed formats:For preservation of all data, the use of uncompressed file formats is preferred, in order to keep the best possible quality.
g)      Stable:No major or constant changes and also possible backwards compatibility with older versions.

File formats - Audience: data manager, digital curation officer, data librarian, digital archivist, digital resource officer

BP:The ideal solution is to preserve two versions of the same object: one compressed user copy and one uncompressed preservation copy (Digitising Contemporary Art - DCA project).
The file format has to be carefully selected according to the object type preservation requirements (text, audio, video, multimedia, ecc.) .

Below are examples of file formats suitable for long term preservation:

·  PDF/A: The Portable Document Format (PDF) is a well-known and well-used document format, PDF/A is an extended version used since 2005 for the digital preservation of documents that does not allow for embedding of audio, video and executable files, thus making it more appropriate for archival use. Open standard, widespread, metadata embedding, and platform independent.

·  SGML: Standard Generalized Markup Language is the formal basis of HTML and XML. Open standard, platform independent.

·  ASCII: American Standard Code for Information Interchange is a basic Open standard.
Open Document Format for Office Applications is an open, XML-based format for office files.
[5]: file can be lossless compressed or even uncompressed. It is the preferred image format for high quality photographs because, unlike the JPG format, it can be edited without loss of quality. Open standard, widespread, possibility for uncompressed content, metadata embedding, and platform independent.
[6]: is an extensible file format for the lossless, portable, well-compressed storage of raster images. Open standard, widespread, lossless content, metadata embedding.
· JPEG2000
[7]: The open source format is said to have a better and different compression algorithm, resulting in a lossless and no longer only lossy compression – although lossy compression is also still possible. Open standard, Lossless content, metadata embedding, and platform independent


·  FLAC[8]: Free Lossless Audio Codec is an open source, lossless audio format. Operating systems subsidise FLAC. Open source, no patents, lossless content, platform independent.
·  WAV:Wave form Audio File Format is an IBM and Microsoft audio file format that can contain uncompressed audio. WAV uses pulse code modulation, and is a standard according to the European Broadcasting Union. Widespread, open standard, possibility for uncompressed content, container.
·  BWF:Broadcast Wave File is an extended version of WAV that can embed metadata in the header and also contain uncompressed audio. It is also developed by the European Open standard, embedded metadata.



· MXF[9]: A container format for professional digital video and audio media, defined as a standard by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. Open standard, possibility for uncompressed data, embedded metadata, container.
· AVI:A container format developed by Microsoft. AVI containers can hold audio and video content with different bit-rates and frame-rates. Widespread, possibility for uncompressed data, embedded metadata, container.
· MOV:Multimedia format, made by Apple, originally for QuickTime frameworks. Widespread, possibility for uncompressed data, container.
· MJPEG2000
[10]: This video stream and container format consists of JPEG2000 images for every frame. The MJPEG2000 must be combined with an audio format within a container (for example MXF). Open standard, lossless images, platform independent, container.


Descriptive Metadata  - Audience: data manager, digital curation officer, data librarian, digital archivist, digital resource officer

BP:The performing arts institution should adopt a standard metadata schema. Such a schema can be extended with other fields coming from other standard metadata schema to enrich the capability of description of the schema. Two possibilities came out of the analysis:
a)      implementing a Dublin Core Application Profile (DCAP) metadata set at least to describe and catalogue their digital objects thanks to its cost effective implementation;
b)       implementing FRBRoo following the Europeana initiative.

Preservation Metadata - Audience: data manager, digital curation officer, data librarian, digital archivist, digital resource officer

BP: An institution should implement PREMIS (PREservation Metadata Implementation Strategies). PREMIS is a set of strategies and elements described and developed for encoding and storing Preservation metadata in a digital preservation system (NISO & OCLC/RLG), based on the OAIS model. PREMIS suggests having metadata embedded within the file, as well as in a database. For the schemas, they recommend using the metadata container standard METS (Metadata and Encoding Transmission Standard) for making a database together with the PREMIS schemas.

Persistent Identifiers - Audience: data manager, digital curation officer, data librarian, digital archivist, digital resource officer

BP: The institution should adopt a reliable Persistent Identifier for their Content and for Authors. The Persistent Identifier (PI) Criteria for Trusted PI include:
1.      Having at least one Registration Agency (RA).
2.      Having one Resolver accessible on the Internet.
3.      Uniqueness of the assigned PIs within the PI domain.
4.      Guaranteeing the persistence of the assigned PIs.
5.      Reliable resolution.
6.      Uncoupling the PIs from the resolver.

Extracting Metadata - Audience: data manager, digital curation officer, data librarian, digital archivist, digital resource officer

BP:A metadata database is built up of information extracted from files, plus additional information. If the metadata embedded in the files is not complete, the missing information has to be added to the schema. An institution should extract technical metadata via specific software tools as JHOVE and DROID.

Metadata Quality - Audience: data manager, digital curation officer, data librarian, digital archivist, digital resource officer

BP:Sometimes the Metadata Quality (MQ) of reference defined by a user community is not strictly aligned with official standards and guidelines, thus institutions should identify a specific quality profile to be more effective in assuring a proper level of MQ within their archive.
Then, in order to guarantee the high quality of metadata, institutions should take care on the following quality dimensions (Nesi, Bellini, ECLAP 2013):
·         Completeness: is related to the presence of uncompleted fields in a record, and can be generically defined as the degree to which values are available with respect to the standard quality profile defined. 
·         Accuracy: it has to address “right” or “wrong” value in a field (like file type, language, typos, and so on) with respect to the values expected by the quality profile

  • Consistency:  has to address the logical error. In a metadata record, the results of a missed Consistency control can affect several fields. Examples are: a resource results “published” before to be “created” (data fields), the MIME type declared is different respect to the real bitstream associated, the language of the document is different respect to value of the language filed in the metadata schema, the link to the digital objects is broken, and so forth.


Online publication - Audience: data manager, digital curation officer, data librarian, digital archivist, digital resource officer

BP: A Performing Arts institution should provide their catalogue in electronic form and on the website of the institution.
The institution should implement standard thesauri and category systems like the Dewey Decimal Classification and/or the Library of Congress Subject Headings.
Derived from the MINERVA BPs on online publications, the following recommendations for websites detail the same characteristics that web publishing has to take into account:
·         Websites should be easy to navigate – links to the front page or to a table of content should be available throughout.
·         Due attention should be paid to universal access (WCAG2.0) and to the utilisation of websites by the partially sighted and other disabled persons.
·         Web pages should be short enough to minimise the amount of scrolling necessary by the user.
·         Images should be small enough not to disrupt the browsing experience. Larger images should be linked to/from the web pages, with a note to the effect that the image is large and download may be slow.
·         The use of animations, pop-ups, pop-unders, Flash and similar technologies should be treated with care. It should be possible to bypass lengthy introductory animation sequences.
·         Websites should ideally be multilingual, with at least the host country language and one or two other languages (commonly including English, as the de facto online language standard) supported.
·         Links to external resources should be implemented with Persistent Identifier technologies and verified on a periodic basis, in order to minimise dead links and annoyances associated with them.


Open Standards - Audience: data manager, digital curation officer, data librarian, digital archivist, digital resource officer

BP:An institution should implement Open Standards for its content at any level like file format, metadata schema, etc. The use of Open Standards enables long term sustainability and maintainability of the system as a whole.

Linked Open Data  - Audience: data manager, digital curation officer, data librarian, digital archivist, digital resource officer

BP:An institution should Open its content to the user to enable its dissemination and reuse. To achieve this objective, a well-defined Best Practice (W3C) suggests the use of RDF-triple stores and SPARQL endpoints for enhancing the exploitation of Cultural Heritage contents.
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