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published: March 2004
analytic scripts updated:  October 28, 2010

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Web Services and Museum Collaboration--an Investigation
Greg Jacobson, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, USA
Lawrence Swiader, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, USA

Professional Forum: Multi-Institutional Calendars

The most basic way to describe the term "Web services" is: a technology that allows for connections. Museums could use these connections to share information with each other freely and easily. Museums often have events like public programs that they would like to publicize or advertise. When placing information about events on their web site, museums usually create either static html pages or store the content in a database using proprietary structures. It is very difficult for other museums to use or repurpose this information. There are many cases where a museum hosting an event might want to have information about that event available on other museums' Web sites. In the past, this would require direct consultation with the Web designers of each museum, technical expertise, and an agreement on any political issues that might arise as a result of the display of information.

Web services potentially bypasses these limitations by providing an open, easily accessible method for querying a central database and directly integrating the results into a Web site. This allows a museum to share and advertise information like its events with other museums. In this paper we propose to build a Web service for the purpose of sharing event information amongst museums around the world.

The service will consist of the following:

1. A web based data entry tool that will allow museums to enter their events into a central system.

2. A tool that will allow museums to search and display event information from other museums. This tool will allow for easy integration into a museum's website while keeping color schemes, fonts, etc. the same by returning the information as a web service. It will also provide fine control over which events will be displayed from other museums.

3. A central location that will host the data for this framework

4. An authentication tool that allows museums to verify event information before making it visible to the other museums.

All source code for this project will be made available. If there is something that museum staff using these data would like to add or change in the system, the source can be downloaded and modified it to the needs of individula institutions. The data from the other museums will always be available regardless of any enhancements made to the system and it can be extended in many ways. In building this Web service system, we will study the issues that arise and document them in the paper. Those issue include the kind of data that needs to be made available, sercurity and the validation of data, and language (English or other).