2.3 Getting the Ball Rolling: Who Should Participate?

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The general consensus among those who have created IP policy is that the policy should be developed and written by those professionals whom it will govern. Therefore, once a commitment to develop an IP policy has been made, the next step is to gather the appropriate group of professionals to help craft it. Someone will have to oversee and lead this selection process, as well as guide the group once it has been selected. Frequently a museum chooses a staff member whose interest and experience with IP issues makes them a natural choice for this role. It helps if this individual has project management experience, good interpersonal skills, and is well regarded by those in the institution. Since this can be a tall order for any one individual, an alternative is to select two people who together provide the full complement of skills to co-manage the process.

The professionals who most often comprise IP policy working groups include rights and reproductions staff, editors, educators, librarians, chief information officers or other IT staff, registrars, curators, publications and exhibition designers, collections managers, visual resource managers, directors/associate directors, public program/marketing officers, and legal counsel. Group size varies, depending upon staffing and organizational structures of different institutions, as well as group dynamics. Working groups need to have enough people to share the workload and to provide mixed perspectives. However, too many people can burden the process: large groups need more management, have more levels of bureaucracy, and often wind up splitting into informal smaller groups that are divisive in consensus-seeking activities.

Some institutions select a representative from each department to join a policy drafting committee. These individuals work together as a group and deliver feedback to and from the group and their respective departments. Smaller institutions may delegate one or two people to undertake the entire process, from initial research through policy development and implementation. In the end, the number of participants is less important than the number of perspectives represented: ideally, you want to ensure that the broadest range of IP interests in your museum are addressed. If one person can adequately represent the perspectives of numerous curatorial departments, there is no need to enlist individuals from each of those departments.

The University of North Carolina system (consisting of 16 campuses) put together a system-wide task force of 21 individuals, which proved cumbersome at times, but was necessary in order to be as inclusive as possible.Footnote 19 Museums, having less complex organizational structures than a state university system, are likely to involve less people in the process. The key is to find the right balance to adequately represent all viewpoints and carry out work without overburdening the process. You may have to depart from this ideal in certain situations. For example, it may be politically expedient to include someone in the working group who normally would not have been considered. Conversely, you may have to exclude a qualified person because the individual cannot commit his/her time and resources to the process.

The individuals who eventually are selected should formally constitute a "working group" (some organizations prefer to call them committees or task forces — the terms tend to be used interchangeably) that is authorized by the museum's administration to develop the policy. Official authorization is key: it gives the group credibility throughout the museum, it acknowledges the members' work as a legitimate component of their jobs, and it places a responsibility on the group to complete their assignment as professionally as possible. Even if only one or two people are selected to develop the policy, it is critical they be formally "appointed" by upper administration for the same reasons outlined above.

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