Blogging Code4Lib PNW

Mark Dahl, Lewis & Clark:  Developing a Digital Initiatives Program at a Liberal Arts College

  • libraries/special collections transitioning from managing a local collection toward helping users navigate and contribute to global information network
  • less time buying, archiving, and providing gateway to resources (redundant across libraries) and more time in instruction, consultation, managing unique assets (unique activities at individual libraries)
  • thematic digital collections:  academic projects focused on a niche teaching/research area (NY Neighborhoods from Columbia University, accessCeramics image resource (Lewis & Clark), William Stafford archives, etc.)
  • different direction for libraries: moving from institutional collections, uniform practices, to non-standard practices & models, focused collections, consultative services
  • higher ed is seeing centers and institutes popping up around digital humanities projects:  UVa, Kenyon College, Columbia, Hamilton, Univ of Richmond
  • Lewis & Clark started with digitizing student theses, moved toward special collections & archives (ContentDM), visual resources, thematic projects closely related to research & curriculum on campus.  New challenges such as getting grants, hiring web developers, getting artists to contribute images to the database.
  • want to use the expertise from these projects to expand more widely to other projects on campus.  conversations with faculty revealed projects ranging from sciences (spiders) to history (oral histories) to many disciplines.
  • trends that emerged from these conversations:  interest in web mapping (showing historical points of interest on a map).  Traditional scholarly communication still very important, book publishing still more important than digital projects esp for pre-TP faculty.  Everyone wants web design help.  Scientists have have places to put data.  Scientists would like publicity for their work.
  • must choose how to prioritize projects; want to have high impact on student experience (tuition funds work) and faculty.
  • considering levels of service:  consultation only; assistance with discrete project; long-term collaborative effort for larger collection
  • i missed some points here…
  • potential pitfalls:  overloading staff, mission creep for library, unfair concentration of resources, sustainability of resources
  • upside is how wide the reach can be: visits to the site from all over the world; clear and direct benefits (as opposed to the “just in case” attitude of much library buying); increase library’s relevance; increase faculty support for library; directly advance academic mission; heighten institutional profile; highly gratifying; creative work = more cool projects


Question of Identity, Deborah Horrell, 1979
AccessCeramics project

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