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OCLC releases software suite to help museums exchange data

Press Release: OCLC [May 22, 2009]

Copyright (c) 2009 OCLC

Abstract: OCLC Research has released a software suite to help museums exchange object descriptions and share data, the result of a cooperative effort made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to further develop infrastructure for museum data exchange.

DUBLIN, Ohio, USA, 22 May 2009—OCLC Research has released a software suite to help museums exchange object descriptions and share data, the result of a cooperative effort made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to further develop infrastructure for museum data exchange.

OCLC is using the Mellon grant to fund projects involving OCLC Research on behalf of the RLG Partnership and its art museum partners to build an information architecture and model behaviors that museums can use to routinely exchange data.

Museums participating in this effort have a common interest in being able to share information about collection items and digital images from their own institutions, with other art museums, and with content aggregators such as ARTstor or OCLC.

The software was released as part of the OCLC Research Museum Data Exchange Project, which supported museums from the RLG Partnership in defining requirements for tools, and created or contracted the creation of code.

"We have made every effort over the years to share information about our collections as widely as possible. The availability of these new tools promises to turn existing ad-hoc processes into a streamlined and standardized activity," said Doralynn Pines, Associate Director for Administration at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the five museums participating in this effort.

Museums that participated in this project by specifying and implementing these tools included: Harvard Art Museum; Metropolitan Museum of Art; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Princeton University Art Museum; and Yale University Art Gallery.

Museums now have access to COBOAT and OAICatMuseum 1.0 software. COBOAT is a metadata publishing tool developed by Cognitive Applications Inc. (Cogapp) that transfers information between databases (such as collections management systems) and different formats. As configured for this project, COBOAT allows museums to extract standards-based records in the Categories for the Descriptions of Works of Art (CDWA) Lite XML data format out of Gallery Systems TMS, the museum industry's leading collection management system. Configuration files allow COBOAT to be adjusted for extraction from different vendor-based or homegrown database systems, or locally divergent implementations of the same collections management system.

COBOAT software is now available on the OCLC Web site under a fee-free license for the purposes of publishing a CDWA Lite repository of collections information at

OAICatMuseum 1.0 is an Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) data content provider supporting CDWA Lite XML. It allows museums to share the data extracted with COBOAT using OAI-PMH. OAICatMuseum was developed by OCLC Research and is available under an open source license online at

"When we began work on the grant, all of the museums had already started thinking about how to implement better data sharing, and some even had prototypes," said project manager Günter Waibel, Program Officer, OCLC Research. "By making a joint investment of time and effort, we were able to come up with tools that benefit the wider community, rather than just an individual museum."

The next milestone for the Museum Data Exchange Project will be an analysis of data from nine museums harvested by OCLC Research to evaluate their records in the context of a large aggregation. Six of the nine museums contributing used COBOAT and OAICatMuseum 1.0 software tools. In addition to the five institutions involved in the software project, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, National Gallery of Canada and the Victoria & Albert Museum contributed to the 850,000 records in the research aggregation.

More information about the Museum Data Exchange Project can be found at

About OCLC

Founded in 1967 and headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, OCLC is a nonprofit library service and research organization that has provided computer-based cataloging, reference, resource sharing, eContent, preservation, library management and Web services to 71,000 libraries in 112 countries and territories. OCLC and its member libraries worldwide have created and maintain WorldCat, the world’s richest online resource for finding library materials. OCLC also incorporates one of the largest research enterprises in the world devoted exclusively to the challenges facing libraries in a rapidly changing information technology environment. OCLC Research supports the RLG Partnership—a global group of research libraries, archives, museums and other cultural memory institutions that work collaboratively to design the future and more effectively serve users of information and collections. More information about OCLC is at More information about OCLC Research is at

About Cognitive Applications (Cogapp)

Cogapp is an award-winning consultancy, design and production company working with online and interactive media. Founded in 1985, many of the company's original clients were early adopters in the museums sector. The high standards, long-term thinking and public service ethos of these museum clients has helped give Cogapp’s work a distinctive character. Now evolved over more than twenty years, this user-centered strategic approach has become increasingly sophisticated and versatile. Cogapp has offices in Brighton, England and an outpost in New York City. More information about Cogapp is available at

View Citation
Publication Year:2009
Type of Material:Press Release
Language English
Issue:May 22, 2009
Company: OCLC
Record Number:13997
Last Update:2012-12-29 14:06:47
Date Created:2009-06-06 08:32:53