Cultural Heritage collections in Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAMs) provide the input for research in a range of disciplines. Online digital image sharing practices and policies established by leading institutions and professional bodies charged with providing care and access to cultural memory are well established, but serve to support accessibility and interpretability, and not specifically interoperability or reusability as data for the research process. This case study looks at how GLAM practices that support image sharing can be brought into closer alignment with the FAIR principles for research data to support a growing need for cultural heritage data. 

Several global image-sharing communities/platforms exist online and these communities provide large (but not very FAIR) datasets and crucial networks for coordination. The sharing of visual sources in particular has challenges around copyright, but also increasingly around what is being represented by the images and their associated metadata (i.e. surrogate vs original) as the sector undergoes a paradigm shift to consider its Collections as Data. The GLAMs have many well-established metadata standards and vocabularies, and persistent identifiers also exist, however compared to the output of the other research disciplines being examined as part of the WorldFAIR project, GLAMs specifically, and Humanities disciplines more generally, have comparatively less-developed data sharing cultures.

The Digital Repository of Ireland, a CTS-certified repository for arts, humanities and social sciences (AHSS) data, has played a leading role in aligning the work of the cultural heritage sector with FAIR (see the DRI’s position statement on FAIR and Open Science). Through this case study, the DRI will produce a mapping report of existing policies and practices that support image sharing across diverse collecting institutions, develop a set of broadly applicable recommendations for shifting these practices into closer alignment with FAIR, and implement the recommendations at the Repository. Establishing FAIR practices in the GLAM sector would have a very significant effect on the sharing of cultural heritage data, and on the research data management practices across the arts, humanities and social sciences disciplines, making this case study itself multidisciplinary and multisectoral. 


The Digital Repository of Ireland is a CoreTrustSeal-certified trustworthy digital repository for Ireland’s humanities, social sciences, and cultural heritage data. DRI contributes to the international development of FAIR policy and practice via policy based expert groups and committees (e.g. European Commission, EOSC, OECD, CODATA), as well as through research projects focused on its areas of expertise, including digital archiving and preservation, FAIR data management, digital cultural heritage, and digital humanities/digital social sciences. DRI is a long standing participant in the Research Data Alliance through its governance structures, as well as via participation in interest and working groups. Nationally, DRI is the coordinating organisation for Ireland’s National Open Research Forum (NORF), which is responsible for developing and overseeing the implementation of the National Action Plan on open research, as well as administering grants from the National Open Research Fund. Read more…

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Outline of current practices guiding online digital image sharing by institutions charged with providing care and access to cultural memory, in order to identify how these practices may be adapted to promote and support the FAIR principles for data sharing.

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