How can heritage institutions work with their communities to build broader, more inclusive, and culturally relevant collections? Professor Andrea Copeland is co-editor for Participatory Heritage, a new volume of selected international case studies that addresses the question.
Copeland, associate professor in the Department of Library and Information Science at the Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI, worked with co-editor Henriette Roued-Cunliffe—assistant professor at the Royal School of Library and Information Science, University of Copenhagen, Denmark—to explore research that looks at new challenges for cultural heritage institutions that are brought about by social media as a platform for facilitating human organization.
“Participatory heritage could be thought of as a space in which individuals engage in cultural activities outside of formal institutions for the purpose of knowledge sharing and co-creating with others,” says Copeland. “The collaborations are ‘bottom-up’ in nature, as they emerge from connections among individuals rather than organizations.”
Copeland says increased engagement with heritage by local and family historians, craftspeople, artists, and others could expand the archival universe and create a more inclusive past. However, without links to formal heritage institutions, issues of scalability, as well as long-term and equitable access, arise. “Ideally, the participatory heritage space will evolve to include methods for community-based groups to partner with cultural institutions to the benefit of both,” Copeland says.
Participatory Heritage offers insights for heritage professionals on how to build links from community groups back to their institutions, using methods that are inclusive in their recognition of shared expertise. Managing copyright, ownership, orphan works, open data access to heritage representations and artifacts, crowdsourcing, and sustainable preservation are among the issues covered.
Professor Henriette Roued-Cunliffe teaches and researches heritage data and information, in particular how DIY culture is engaging with cultural heritage online and often outside of institutions.
Professor Copeland’s research focus is public libraries and their relationship with communities, with a current emphasis on connecting the cultural outputs of individuals and community groups to a sustainable preservation infrastructure.