ECK Workflow

A 5 step guide for sharing collections

Based on the Roadmap for sharing collections (1) published by Digitaal Erfgoed (DEN), we formulate here a possible workflow drawn from various implementations of ECK. If you are a cultural institution, this guide can help you share information about your collections with aggregators.

If your Collection Management System has integrated the Europeana Connection Kit -ECK (2), it should support all functionality requirements (3) for managing, selecting, preparing, validating and supplying collection data to aggregators. If your aggregator also supports the ECK, then you should be able to connect seamlessly and your data will be accepted and (re)used via this aggregator.

  • Manage
    As a heritage organisation, managing collections is one of your core missions, sharing digital collections brings some additional requirements. You want to keep track of which data is shared with whom. Also some registration about changes to the shared data is necessary because you probably want to keep the data at different platforms as synchronised as possible. In the framework of Europeana Inside ECK was created integrating these requirements in Collection Management Systems used all over Europe.
  • Select
    Unless you want to share all your collection data with one aggregator, you'll have to select parts of your collections in accordance with your objectives and the requirements set by the aggregator. Selection, again, is a task entailed in the daily routine of a collection curator. Selection involves choosing which part of the collections is to be shared, but it means as well which fields (pieces of information about each object). With most Collection Management Systems this workflow step is easily done.
  • Prepare
    Whatever route you take, your metadata should be transformed to fit the target. Assuming your final target is Europeana, there are usually more transformations needed: from your internal data model to the model your first aggregator is using and, eventually, to the data model of Europeana. Europeana requires the EDM (Europeana Data Model) (4) . The rules that define how a transformation takes place are called the mapping. In the mapping you want to make sure that your descriptions fit your own objectives (roadmap step 2) as well as the minimal requirements of the aggregator(s).

    The ECK includes a standard mapping via LIDO (5), the most popular exchange format for museums. As a result, transforming your selected data in the appropriate format can be done automatically with one mouse click. There is also a mapping available for MARC (6).

    According to good practice, data suppliers should indicate in the data if the content shared is under copyright and if yes, under which licence it is made available (both strategic desired as well as legally allowed). Creative Commons (7) is the most popular type of licences used and also prescribed by Europeana (8). Ideally, licensing is derived from the rights management administration within your collection system and mapped to the element containing the licensing information.
  • Validate
    Validation is a test to see if the transformation is correct and thus acceptable for the aggregator. As content provider you will probably also be interested to know if the transformation is optimal, e.g. that your data will be presented and usable in the context of a target like Europeana as you would expect. For this, some kind of preview is useful. Using the ECK validation and preview can be done upfront from within your application. The validation service of the ECK gives clear feedback and offers a preview of how metadata will be displayed in Europeana. This way, if needed, you can go back one step, make corrections and prepare records that failed validation, even before you export data from your system or your aggregator is involved.
  • Supply
    Once your dataset is proven to be correct you can hand data over to the aggregator. Depending on your CMS vendor, the ECK supports harvesting and /or data push. Data push is more secure, more stable and, most important, it is you who takes the initiative as opposed to harvesting where you have to wait for the aggregator to come and get your data. Data push can also support more and direct feedback about the transfer of the data and its subsequent status.

    This step also includes incremental supply. This means that only records that have been changed is transferred: new data, updated fields, deletions. At the moment, Europeana only supports non-incremental harvesting. Using the ECK, the advantages of data push only work for data supply to an ECK aggregator. The only way to update your set in Europeana is to re-supply all the data.

The result of this last step (supplying metadata) is a relationship with an external infrastructure that is supposed to be sustainable. As heritage organisation sharing collection data you remain responsible to keep it alive. Integrating ECK in your CMS provides you with the functionality that allows for this to happen. In return you should receive some added value, like better findability, bigger exposure, revenues from commercial reuse, enriched data or user generated data. The ECK already has features implemented to provide you with statistics about use and reuse of your data at other platforms.

The functional requirements for the ECK also cover two other scenarios (9) besides the basic one described above. An advanced scenario for providing data allows for sharing of richer data adapted to make better reuse and more added value possible. This scenario requires additional mapping functionality at the disposal of the user. Some vendors also integrated a visual user interface for mapping as part of the ECK.

The third scenario supported is the enriched data return. For this scenario the role of data source and target are reversed. User and machine generated data is made available by platforms like Europeana. The provider of the original content has a choice whether or not to pull this data back, validate and transform it into a format that fits their own data model. After making selections, this additional collection data can be accepted into the Collection Management Systems. This return scenario (10) was tested together with Europeana by some of the ECK compliant vendors. There are plans to further investigate how this scenario could work both technical as well as conceptual.

  1. Roadmap for sharing collections
  2. ECK Documentation and Download
  3. EU INSIDE Report on Functional requirements
  4. Europeana Professional - EDM
  5. What is LIDO? ICOM - CIDOC
  6. MARCxml Standard
  7. Creative Commons
  8. Europeana Professional - Available Rights Statements
  9. EU INSIDE Report on Use Cases
  10. Report on Content Re-ingestion on Europeana Pro Blog