Tag Archives: online

Online Museum Working Group Introduction

Digital technologies mean a new definition for the word, “museum.” What makes a museum a museum if its entire collection in online? The following post discusses an initiative and conversation inspired by IMLS (Institue of Museum and Library Services)  and implemented by HCLE.  We are pleased to be a part of this work and hope you will join us. Read on to find out how to participate and follow the progress.



Online Museum Working Group


How do we distinguish between someone’s fly-by-night website that shows pictures of their favorite things and a serious ‘virtual’ or ‘online’ museum?

This question was recently posed by staff at the US Institute of Museum and Library Services (1). Current legislation (PUBLIC LAW 111 – 340 – MUSEUM AND LIBRARY SERVICES ACT OF 2010) includes the following wording: Section 273(1)(20 U.S.C. 9172(1)) is amended by inserting

includes museums that have tangible and digital collections and

after “Such term”.(2)”

This wording permits IMLS to address digital holdings but only in museums that also have a brick and mortar facility. True “virtual” or wholly online museums are not eligible for these funds.

Congress will reauthorize the Museum and Library Services Act in 2016. The purpose of this group is to recommend wording for the new bill that will enable IMLS to make grants to purely digital museums without opening up the application process to every blog site and online picture gallery.

You may participate in this effort at any of three levels.

  1. As a member of the public you may leave a comment on this blog.
  2. To join the working group, please send a message to workinggroupimls@hcle.org requesting membership and briefly outlining your expertise in this area.
  3. Once some progress has been made by the working group we will convene a smaller drafting committee to craft the wording we suggest for the upcoming legislation. Members of this committee will be chosen by the working group.

The draft legislation will be passed back to the working group for approval and/or revision. A final document will be offered to the correct Congressional Appropriation Committee for its consideration.

(1) personal communication via telephone with Liza Loop, Susan Hildreth, Christopher Reich, June 19, 2014

(2) URL http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-111publ340/content-detail.html accessed June 19, 2014

Some first thoughts by Liza Loop, June 19, 2014

Some types of web sites:

  • Simple, informally-formatted, picture collections (with captions but no interpretation)
  • Illustrated blog sites that include situational explanations, narrative or interpretation
  • Linked blog sites that include graphic images, narrative text and links (on or off site) to further information about an item
  • Cataloged picture galleries that include searchable catalogs with standardized metadata for each image
  • Virtual world sites that provide the visitor with a 3-dimensional, first person view of a simulated physical museum exhibit hall

…to be continued…