Rights Management and
The museum's curator explores the possibilities of outsourcing this work, but at first
glance the costs appear to be prohibitively high, and the technologies involved seem very
confusing. However, a friend and fellow curator has heard of open-source solutions to
such problems, and the curator decides to investigate this further. By employing a recent
IT graduate who has practical experience of PHP and HTML on a short-term freelance
basis, the museum's Web site undergoes a complete rebirth.
Working from home on a part-time basis, the graduate takes two months to construct
the online shop and link it to the museum's existing, modest Web site.The curator takes
digital photographs of the existing souvenirs that the museum shop sells, and uploads
these to a MySQL database via a PHP-driven submission form.The curator has initial
concerns about the shop's potential for scalability, but the programmer assures her that his
work has been well documented, and that it caters for a larger range of items than the
museum currently carries.The system can be expanded with relatively little difficulty.
The customer mailing details submitted may also (with the customer's permission) be
used to build a mailing list with special offers, and discounts.
The most difficult aspect of the process is likely to be the credit card verification and
payment collection procedures, which must be outsourced to a dedicated third party.The
curator and programmer together canvass potential suppliers, eventually selecting a pay-
ment gateway with a record of working with small companies. A merchant account is set
up with the museum's bank, and the payment system provider will then organise the
information and credit flow parameters. As business grows, the curator looks at new
opportunities. A local craftsman is employed to produce handmade souvenirs to be sold
online, thus further boosting the local economy.
A Digital Library Initial Questions
In a recent article, Howard Besser analyses the stages in the transition between experi-
mental, standalone digital collections and interoperable digital libraries.
librarian of a small university has read this article, and is keen to embrace the new digital
age, while at the same time being concerned about some of the issues that this may
entail.The librarian reflects that, rather than purchasing, the library now rents the majority
of its serials.This shift has reduced the expenses involved in maintaining the physical
objects, but leads to new questions with regard to preservation of the digital content.
How can this be ensured? How can possible losses be insured against? What impact will
this have on future costs?
The librarian remembers that she recently read that the US Library of Congress
receives over two million requests a day for digital files, and around two million requests
per year for physical items to be delivered to readers in its rooms.
With digital libraries
still in their infancy, how are they to cope with a growing demand for the supply of
distributed digital content, already more than 300 times more popular than physical
232 For some short case studies on real-life museum retailing initiatives, see The DigiCULT Report:Technological
Landscapes for Tomorrow's Cultural Economy, pp. 142-143,"Developing and Selling Products: eRetailing".
233 Howard Besser,"The Next Stage: Moving from Isolated Digital Collections to Interoperable Digital
Libraries", in FirstMonday, June 2002: http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue7_6/besser/index.html
235 Peter D. Kaufman (Innodata), NINCH Symposium, New York City, 8 April 2003. Report by Lorna Hughes,
New York University, available at http://www.ninch.org/forum/price.report.html
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