RIT to Create Web-Based System to Help Museums and Libraries Store and Share Data

RIT’s Image Permanence Institute will develop and test system; project funded by IMLS

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The Image Permanence Institute at Rochester Institute of Technology has received a $332,760 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to create a novel Web-based system that will enable collections staff in museums and libraries to efficiently move large volumes of environmental data directly to the Web for automated analysis and reporting.

Museums and libraries are unable to manage environments effectively and efficiently due to lack of staff time and in-house expertise, the difficulty of determining the degree of risk or benefit to collections and the challenge of organizing, maintaining and reporting on mountains of data.

The premise for the two-year research and development project called WebERA, or Web Environmental Risk Analysis, is that environmental risks can be managed and mitigated if they can be identified, quantified and then communicated to museum leadership and facilities managers. The idea of using the Web to store and share environmental data directly is new, but is firmly rooted in the environmental research and development conducted by RIT’s Image Permanence Institute over the past 13 years.

Project activities will include programming the WebERA web server application and working with a selected pilot group of 10 museums and five libraries to test the design and function of the WebERA system. Project results will be made available to the preservation community through conference presentations and a Web publication.

“The success of our collecting institutions over the long term will depend not only on how well they can market themselves, but also whether their collections are in good enough condition to attract the attention of visitors and scholars,” says James Reilly, director of RIT’s Image Permanence Institute. “Environment is the least costly way to ensure that competitive edge and to avoid the expense of preventable damage. WebERA is designed to overcome the obstacles that most often prevent museums and libraries from managing environments effectively and efficiently.”

About RIT

Rochester Institute of Technology is internationally recognized for academic leadership in computing, engineering, imaging technology, and fine and applied arts, in addition to unparalleled support services for students with hearing loss. More than 15,800 full- and part-time students are enrolled in RIT’s 340 career-oriented and professional programs, and its cooperative education program is one of the oldest and largest in the nation.

For nearly two decades, U.S. News & World Report has ranked RIT among the nation’s leading comprehensive universities. The Princeton Review features RIT in its 2007 Best 361 Colleges rankings and named the university one of America’s “Most Wired Campuses.” RIT is also featured in Barron’s Best Buys in Education.

About the Institute Of Museum And Library Services

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit http://www.imls.gov.