Organizing communities of practice for shared standards for 3D data preservation

Lynn Cunningham (, University of California Berkeley, United States of America and Hannah Scates-Kettler (, University of Iowa

Scholars are producing and using 3D content more than ever due the advancement and availability of 3D technology. How is this 3D content and its metadata being captured, disseminated, and preserved? How is this digital scholarship being made available and discoverable for pedagogical and research purposes?

Although there is great interest in 3D applications in research, there is currently little available guidance regarding the preservation of digital objects and associated information in perpetuity. The preservation and sharing of research data is a necessary, invaluable responsibility of libraries, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions, and although standards and best practices have been developed for many kinds of digital data to ensure assets can be accessed and reused in perpetuity, the applicability of these standards to 3D data is limited.

Building off the discoveries made during the 2015/2016 NEH Advanced Challenges in Theory and Practice in 3D Modeling of Cultural Heritage Sites, this paper explores one of the main threads of discussion throughout the NEH Summer Institute: research longevity and publication. Underpinning the issue was concerns of the preservation of 3D data and their overall discoverability and (re)use beyond their creation.

This paper investigates the current state of existing standards and schemas for 3D data and explores what more needs to be done (and is being done) by practitioners, librarians and curators to ensure that this digital content is preserved and disseminated, enabling further humanistic inquiry and advancing scholarship of our shared cultural heritage.

In 2017 the Institute for Museum and Library Services received several proposals regarding the advancement of 3D research and support. Two of these grants were funded which are working in tandem to discuss issues related to 3D and virtual reality, and preservation and best practices for 3D data curation. This paper will focus on the developments regarding the latter IMLS grant - the Community Standards for 3D Data Preservation (CS3DP). According to the CS3DP grant proposal (Moore, 2017):

The project team surveyed an international community including individuals involved in digital curation and 3D data acquisition and research, primarily at universities and museums. Of 104 respondents 70% said that they did not use best practices or standards for preservation, documentation, and dissemination of 3D data. Of those not using standards/best practices, 69% said that they did not use them because they were unaware of such standards.

In order to respond to the lack of consensus around 3D data standards, the grant team will develop “a community-developed plan to move 3D preservation forward [and] recommendations for standards and best practices” for data creators and preservation specialists alike (Moore et. al., 2017). By the time of the 2018 DH conference, the CS3DP grant will have convened around 70 data creators and professionals to address the issues of 3D data preservation. This paper will report on initial findings and ongoing discussions and areas of work, as well as solicit feedback from the DH conference goers about other areas of concern, development and needs.

Appendix A

  1. Advanced Challenges in Theory and Practice in 3D Modeling of Cultural Heritage Sites. (accessed 27 April 2018).
  2. Alliez, P., Bergerot, L., Bernard, J.-F., Boust, C., Bruseker, G., Carboni, N., Chayani, M., et al. (2017). Digital 3D Objects in Art and Humanities: Challenges of Creation, Interoperability and Preservation. White Paper : A Result of the PARTHENOS Workshop Held in Bordeaux at Maison Des Sciences de l’Homme d’Aquitaine and at Archeovision Lab. (France), November 30th - December 2nd, 2016.
  3. Cook, M., Hall, N., Laherty, J. (2017).  Developing Library Strategy for 3D and Virtual Reality Collection Development and Reuse. IMLS grant proposal: (accessed 27 April 2018).
  4. D’Andrea, A. and Fernie, K., Addison, A. c., De Luca, L., Guidi, G. and Pescarin, S.(2013). CARARE 2.0: A metadata schema for 3D cultural objects. 2013 Digital Heritage International Congress (DigitalHeritage), vol. 2. pp. 137–43 doi:10.1109/DigitalHeritage.2013.6744745.
  5. Moore, J., Rountrey, A., Scates Kettler, H. (2017). Community Standards for 3D Data Preservation (CS3DP). IMLS grant proposal: (accessed 27 April 2018).
  6. Guidi, G., Micoli, L. L., Gonizzi, S., Navarro, P. R. and Russo, M. (2013). 3D digitizing a whole museum: A metadata centered workflow. 2013 Digital Heritage International Congress (DigitalHeritage), vol. 2. pp. 307–10 doi:10.1109/DigitalHeritage.2013.6744768.