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Digitisation is a priority for 86% of collections institutions

Manchester, UK, 14 March 2017 – Digitisation is a priority for 86% of collections institutions, but few are progressing quickly towards their digitisation goals, according to new research from Axiell, the leading provider of collections management software to archives, museums and libraries.

The study, carried out in collaboration with the Museum Computer Network, questioned more than 100 professionals working in collections institutions worldwide, including museums, archives and galleries. It reveals that 40% want to ultimately digitise their entire collection, while 69% aim to digitise over half. Only 16% said they will have met their digitisation goal within the next five years.

The full findings are presented in a new report: Digitising collections: Getting ahead with volunteers and crowdsourcing. It explores the digitisation strategies of today’s collection management organisations and the role of volunteers and crowdsourcing, and presents exclusive interviews with a range of institutions, including the Smithsonian Transcription Center and the Missouri Botanical Gardens.

The report highlights that 83% of institutions believe volunteers represent a significant opportunity to support digitisation efforts, with 70% currently leveraging volunteers to achieve their digitisation goals compared to only 24% who are hiring more staff. The primary area where volunteers are being used is data entry (81%), with 39% also using them for data cleaning. Only 6% of institutions ruled volunteers out as an option.

Crowdsourcing, while not yet commonplace, is also seen as an opportunity, with 60% of institutions considering or already doing this.

However, the study reveals notable challenges in using volunteers for data-led activities and introducing crowdsourcing initiatives. Issues cited include: investing time to train new/casual users on systems (75%); providing enough PCs with access to the collections management system (CMS) (47%); and volunteers only being able to access the CMS on site (48%).

The top challenges holding back crowdsourcing strategies, include: ensuring the accuracy of the data captured (75%); reconciling data from crowdsourcing portals into CMS solutions (63%), and enabling online access to the required materials (54%).

Adam Schatz, Managing Director, Archives, Libraries & Museums, Axiell Group, comments: “Institutions are focusing on digitisation to both validate and enhance their collection and make their materials more discoverable and accessible. However, our research shows there is a clear digitisation backlog so it is not surprising that institutions are striving to increase their capacity to meet their goals.

“The majority are already making use of volunteers to accelerate digitisation and, while crowdsourcing strategies are not as advanced, institutions understand the opportunity this offers. However, there are improvements that institutions can make to help expedite their progress. Volunteers require training on systems, which can only be accessed on a limited number of computers, while any crowdsourcing approach must guarantee the integrity of data.

“By working with systems that offer a web-based interface for remote, but controlled access, alongside an intuitive user experience, collections institutions can effectively leverage volunteers and crowdsourcing to super-charge their digitisation strategies.”


Axiell serves libraries, schools, archives, museums and authorities with technically advanced and innovative solutions developed in close cooperation with its customers in 55 countries globally. More than 3000 library organizations with thousands of branches use an Axiell library management system and Axiell Arena, a tool for the virtual library. The systems for archives, libraries and museums, are used by over 3400 cultural institutions over the world. In addition, more than 3000 schools use an Axiell system. The Axiell Group, headquartered in Lund, has more than 300 employees based out of 26 offices in Sweden, Abu Dhabi, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the UK and the USA. Together, we form one of the world’s largest companies in these sectors.

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