Case Study: Strategic Planning at the Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis (IISG)
The Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis (IISG) was established in 1935, and currently functions as an archive, library, and research institute working under the aegis of the Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen (KNAW). Originally founded to house the Netherlands Economic History Archive as well as to safeguard labour union materials threatened by the rising tides of war, the IISG now house extensive collections in the field of social and economic history and the documentation of social movements across the globe. IISG currently hold more than 3000 archival fonds or collections, including ''inter alia'' some 250,000 photographs and 120,000 posters, as well as a substantial library collection. With more than 180 employees, the IISG are one of the bigger institutions represented in HOPE and also coordinate the project. Needless to say, IISG hope to benefit from the range of opportunities presented by the HOPE project and are leading the development on the HOPE Shared Object Repository (SOR) shared storage system. They also maintain the HOPE PID Service.
IISG stand alone as the only HOPE partner to have developed a comprehensive information strategy. IISG's Information Policy Plan formulates the underlying principles and goals of computerization and digitization at the institute. It also sets out the framework for further development of the institution's information systems, a few of which are now due for replacement. To complement their plan, IISG performed a self-audit using the DRAMBORA Toolkit in order to assess risks, management issues, and preservation planning needs. Both the assessment and the plan have provided a considerable knowledge base for the organization.
As part of the plan, IISG propose to use standardized, generic technologies to ensure interoperability for broadly defined 'data sharing'; open standards and open ICT architectures are mentioned as relevant in this regard. They have also set an objective to conform to information standards and best practices in the sector and have restructured their operations by setting up a dedicated digital service unit as a central organ in the organization. The plan advocates integrated work flows, the coherent management of information assets, a wholesale presentation of collections online, seamless access to cultural heritage resources, the introduction of novel research tools, the enrichment of metadata through data mining tools and techniques, and finally the creation of an infrastructure suitable for long-term storage and access. The general aim is in line with IISG's vision to lead "research in the field of 'global labor and economic history'", which would be achieved by facilitating the analysis of large quantities of comparable historical data. IISG's ambitious strategy nicely underpins the networked research activities currently advocated by the scholars of digital humanities.
Without detailing related institutional policies, the plan likewise demonstrates that ICT planning is not a stand alone process. It is dependent on other policies and objectives: a clearly defined designated community; a research agenda—a crucial element in the mission of all social history archives—; and an integrated organizational framework. The plan also frames IISG's activities within a wider network of like-minded institutions. IISG already have strong ties with KNAW, but DANS, the SURF foundation, and DRIVER are also presented as important collaborative partners, as is IALHI, the network behind the HOPE project.
IISG are working to build a comprehensive infrastructure that is suitable for the long-term storage of and access to digital collections on their way to implementing a Trusted Digital Repository. The IISG Information Policy Plan sets a clear-cut agenda and provides a template that is readily exportable and adaptable for all social history institutions.