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ConservationSpace Phase II, Planning

At the end of November meeting of the participants of Conservation Space Phase II, Planning Phase, working groups were identified and populated to carry out the necessary tasks related to various aspects of the project.

ese working groups include: (1) Functional Requirements, (2) Technical Framework, (3) Storyboarding/Wireframing/Prototyping, (4) Licensing/Rights, and (5) Community Outreach.

 A diagram of the working groups listing their members and team leaders has been uploaded to this site.cons_space_working-groups1

Posted in Conservation Space Phase II, Conservation Space Working Groups.

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Conservation Space – Phase II

The second phase of the Mellon-funded Conservation Space initiative began with a meeting at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC in November of 2010.  Over the next few weeks, the participants in Phase II will be sharing their work thus far via this blog and through the Conservation Space website, which will be updated to include information related to Phase II. 

Please check this blog and the website to see where the project is headed, stay abreast of progress, and communicate with current project participants.

Christine McCarthy, Conservation Space II, Outreach Working Group

Posted in Conservation Space Phase II.

Revised Workflows

Conservation Community,

Revised workflow diagrams have been posted to the discussion of ConservationSpace. The new diagrams can be found as Version 2 at the very beginning of each activity that was modeled in the community design process we began last spring. They have also been added as the final page in the PDF package of documents for each activity.

In addition to incorporating you comments, these revised workflow diagrams have been moved one more step toward a design for software development by being recast in BPMN – Business Process Modeling Notation. You will still recognize them, but the BPMN adds a consistency that makes them more useful for software developers. Within each diagram you will also find the related documents, associated with that sequence of workflow. Most of these were mentioned in the New York and London community design meetings, but many are the result of emails and blog postings over the last several months.

Many conservators have asked during this review process why this design effort is based on process and workflow, with documents following along in a secondary capacity. The most important benefit of this process-centric approach over document-centric alternatives is that it renders explicit a large body of tacit knowledge about how different organizations produce the same document. This knowledge is relatively unimportant within any single institution; indeed, it may even seem banal once it is made explicit, precisely because it is so deeply embedded into the institution’s own practices. However, that knowledge becomes critical when one is trying to build software to serve multiple institutions, because it turns out that different institutions often proceed in very different ways to produce even identical documents. The failure to recognize this difference in tacit knowledge and practices is one of the chief reasons for the frequent failure of software built in one institution to thrive in another.

If you would like to know more about business process modeling and the use of BPM for software development, let me point you to two resources: For an easy online overview, search BPMN at Wikipedia in lots of languages. If this engenders a real fascination, go get BPM Basics for Dummies (yes it’s free!) in English, Spanish, Japanese, French and German online from a German company, Software AG .

What happens next? Comments and additional posts at are always welcome. At the same time, the core team will be wrapping up this design phase by December 2009, with a final report to accompany the design documents and with an exploration of avenues for application development. Everything will be posted at

Posted in Uncategorized.

General comment with regards to all the flows

I have now (finally!) taken the time to look at most of the work flows and am more than happy that they reflect the observations and spirit  of what was discussed.  That said and I suppose I felt this on the day, there is a risk that  we focus on differences or percieved differences in any one process when in fact in could be argued that the sequence of events are  in essence the same – I hope that systems people can see through the nature of conservators.


Jacqueline Ridge National Galleries of Scotland


Posted in Uncategorized.

RE: Comments on Workflows – General

In general, the workflows represent conservation and conservation-related workflows.  I would suggest as a next step, identifying the workflows and associated records that constitute the highest priority and have a direct relationship to the primary records of conservation that fall under standards of ethics and practice.    Also, once the workflows are vetted, it also seems a worthwhile exercise to map the linkages between various records across the workflows. 

I would also define critical or essential records for the first priority of design specification to be those that have the most direct relationship to object state (examinaton/treatment documentation) and impact on objects (analytical testing, exhibition-loan).  The workflows can be divided out or grouped into tiers for development, especially since records related to workflows such as donor cultivation, or outreach may fall outside of the scope of conservation documentation and fall under other records management policies, be subject to restrictions, and owned as institutional records by other entities.

The most critical functionality aside from long-term preservation and access to the records, for me and the work of the Yale Library conservators, would be to be able to take independent sets of documents generated through the different workflows and reassemble them as needed into various dossiers or record bundles.  – Christine McCarthy, Chief Conservator for Special Collections, Yale University Library

Posted in Uncategorized.

ConservationSpace Review

cropped-dsc_3875Welcome to review of the results of the two community design meetings that were held in New York and London in March and April 2009 for a conservation software application.

Workflow diagrams are presented here by work topics that were discussed and charted at these meetings.  There is only one workflow per topic to be reviewed.  But there may be two meeting diagrams and two meeting discussion summaries as background if the topic was discussed at both community design meetings.

The work topics are listed at the right.  Please leave comments on the individual work topic pages.

In addition, all of the documents for each topic can be downloaded in a single PDF file.

Posted in Uncategorized.

ConservationSpace is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License © Copyright 2009, Yale University. New Haven, Connecticut, USA.