Many museums and cultural institutions have moved into the "digital age" in the name of progress but in many cases it was in name only.
Our digital records are still largely guided by the old analogue paradigms but presented in a jazzy digital platform. The "old way" may have made sense on paper, but the transition to digital makes less sense. The movement towards a digital age in museum was a gradual evolution. What we need now is a revolution.
There is an echo of the end of CHIN's central collections management software as museums migrate from their interim in-house system to the next generation of collections management software. A number of institutions in the Greater Toronto Area have recently undergone a significant platform migration. The Art Gallery of Ontario and the McMichael Canadian Collection have switched over to The Museum System. The Ministry of Culture's archaeological services section has also adopted the same system but they did not go through an intermediary system. Other institutions are slowly migrating from platforms such as Microsoft Access and FoxPro.
A centralised approach is required to truly make the steps we have already taken. Most large museums centralise this function in their Registration department. The ROM is in a position to do this because there is staff who possess the museum and IM skills to carry this forward.
I firmly believe that the museum should work within the larger context as an "information provider" and look to the creating a system that will support the concept of "linked data" and the rise of the "semantic web". These concepts are gaining a foothold in the thinking of how information is collected, stored, shared and accessed. If we design a system with these inevitable goals in mind, it will put us in a better stead.