Published June 21, 2021 | Version v1
Presentation Open

"Broken for All": the case for persistent identifiers for digital cultural heritage resources (Open Repositories 2021 panel presentation)

  • 1. California Digital Library
  • 2. University of Southern California Libraries
  • 3. California Revealed
  • 4. Metropolitan New York Library Council
  • 5. Omeka


Cultural heritage institutions within the United States have made significant investments in building unique digital collections, broadly disseminating them on the web and through networks such as the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). The items within these collections are referenced and cited in a range of sources -- from Wikipedia and scholarly articles, to archival finding aids and classroom lesson plans. However, the application of persistent identifier schemes (e.g. DOI, ARK) for unique digital resources is relatively uncommon within the gallery, library, archive, and museum communities. Relatedly, many repositories and digital asset management systems (DAMS) widely used in these communities simply do not support persistent identifier schemes "out of the box." Hence, the URLs for the items are extremely fragile. If the collections are migrated to a different repository, the URLs can easily break -- impacting downstream networks, confounding researchers, and compounding the problem of link rot. This Open Repositories 2021 panel discusses the critical role of persistent identifiers in digital collections management and dissemination and some of the challenges in applying them. It features case studies demonstrating how commonly-available licensed and open-source repositories can be adapted to support them.

A recording of the panel presentation is available at



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