CMS in GLAM as PIMs and as DAMs

In the GLAM world, much of what we do is transferable to other sectors, such as business. This includes operating PIMs and DAMs. That’s because we use similar software, albeit for different purposes. The most clear example of this is the collection management system (CMS*), which resembles both a DAM and a PIM, depending on how the CMS is used.

The CMS is more PIM-like when it’s used as a museum registrar or collection of accession/catalog records. Each record is centered on a particular object (or sometimes group of objects), much like each PIM record centers on a particular product. In both cases, the systems serve as the single source of truth for their respective objects. They both corral information from multiple, sometimes siloed sources, and contain the most important facts about the objects. These “most important facts” are realized as metadata in both systems, and the fields selected as the most important make up the metadata schema. This metadata can include descriptions of size, color, shape, etc.; creator; location; restrictions; usage rights; history/provenance; unique identification numbers; and more. The purpose of the CMS as a museum registrar is to keep a record of the object that aids in its preservation, access, and long-term care. This isn’t very PIM-like, as PIMs are used to help sell and market products.

This is where the other use of a CMS comes in. CMSs are also used as ways to exhibit digital (representations of) museum objects. While online exhibition is about education and research, it also has a marketing component. (“See what our museum has! Come visit our museum in person!”). This resembles more the traditional purpose of a PIM, but even more so, a DAM, as it isn’t products that are being marketed, it’s the museum itself, using digital representations (the assets of the digital asset management system). In fact, larger museums may even use a DAM in addition to a CMS in order to be sure the “right” digital representation is used in the online exhibit. Small and medium-sized museums usually rely solely on the CMS to provide this single source of truth. They may join a consortium that pays for the CMS and provides the metadata schema and prescribes best practices for metadata provision. The metadata is similar to the list above.

I have used several different CMSs. While earning my Digital Information Management certificate during graduate school, I created collections/online exhibits (including metadata, of course) in the open source systems Omeka, DSpace, and Drupal. During my career, I have used ContentDM to create collections/online exhibits, namely the Bass Lantern Slide Project, and the Arizona Automobile Correspondence Collection.

*In other sectors, CMS stands for Content Management System.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *