Improving discovery of digitised collections


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Spotlight on the digital,, is a collaborative project between Jisc, RLUK and SCONUL. It sought to assess the discoverability problem in relation to digitised collections and identify practical solutions to improve their discoverability both at national/above campus level and locally at institutional level.

These slides describe a range of above campus or national “solutions” that have been identified by the project and that could support the discoverability of digitised collections.

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Improving discovery of digitised collections

  1. 1. Spotlight on the Digital Above campus and national solutions – Recommendations (DRAFT) The Spotlight on the Digital project was coordinated by Jisc in collaboration with codesigners RLUK and SCONUL as part of the Jisc Co-design programme. Spotlight sought to assess the discoverability problem in relation to digitised collections and identify practical solutions that would improve their discoverability both at national/above campus level and locally at institutional level. These slides describe a range of above campus or national “solutions” that could support the discoverability of digitised collections. The project is also producing separate advice and guidance on improving the discoverability of digitised collections aimed at institutions and their staff in charge of creating and curating digital content. Sero Consulting January 2014
  2. 2. Solution 1: Institutional capacity building Problem: Few institutions have the expertise and capacity to develop the skills and processes required in the digital asset lifecycle; however building institutional capacity may be preferable in terms of sustainability Use case: As a library director with a commitment to our digitised collections, I want to develop internal capacity in order to ensure ease and continuity of access … OR as a library stakeholder I want to ensure that future generations of librarians are prepared at library school to curate digital content Solution: Assist institutions to develop and embed skills across their teams relating to the requirements of discovery and access across their target audiences • Through a programme of facilitated ‘joint action’ projects, involving technical experts working with creators and curators in institutions to enhance services and in so doing to develop and embed skills • Supported by a more conventional training offer • Linked to library school curricula
  3. 3. Solution 2: Foresight group Problem: The discovery environment is not controlled by universities or the sector more broadly; change is driven by global and vendor developments Use case: As a creator / curator, I need to be aware of changes in web and vendor discovery environments in order to keep my content discoverable Solution: Establish a ‘Foresight’ or ‘Observatory’ Group that might collaborate virtually or meet perhaps 2 or 3 times annually in order to: • Track key technical and market trends in discovery and related areas • Be inclusive of the range of scenarios in the sector • Make recommendations to stakeholders and the community • Preemptively guide development of related practice, including training and tools (links to Solutions 1 and 3) Partners may include such as the British Library Lab, Digital Curation Centre, institutions such as Cambridge, Sheffield and Southampton, AIM25 (King’s College), Wikimedia Commons – taking care not to lose focus by drawing in all stakeholders.
  4. 4. Solution 3: Software tools Problem: Managing the digital asset lifecycle can involve frequent and repetitive actions over large numbers of file and web pages Use case: As a creator/curator of large and diverse resources, I need to be able to maintain content and to review its web presence and impact as efficiently as possible in order to keep all my content in a highly discoverable position Solution: Source and/or develop open source tools and services for local and above campus use, working internationally where possible, for example for • Rehabilitating assets that are ‘orphaned’ ( i.e. no longer being looked after) • Describing and surfacing items level content on the web • Linking to authoritative identifiers (e.g. places, names, subject headings) • Measuring impact, through usage data and building on existing resources (e.g. TIDSR toolkit) May involve working with systems vendors (eg Adlib, Calm), with OS products such as ePrints and Fedora, and with expert developers (e.g. BL Labs, Cottage Labs, K-Int) as well as with sector partners)
  5. 5. Solution 4: Content promotion Problem: The focus of creators and curators and the efforts of institutional PR teams are often restricted to the development and launch of digitised collections and it is difficult to sustain ongoing effort through such as PR and social media; there are also challenges in working with Wikipedia’s editorial expectations and adopting optimal strategies with other web scale amplifiers. Use case: As an interested party (researcher, creator, curator, institution, investor), I want assets to be promoted over the long term in order to stand out from the ordinary and to build their scholarly reach, research impact, teaching value and reputational value … OR I want to use high impact web services like Wikipedia to create powerful links for audiences who will be interested in my content. Solution: Advocacy and promotion of collections and their distinctive parts through a range of channels • Press Releases at key moments (e.g. launch, nth page impression, etc) • Social media campaigns and persistence • Positioning through events • Visibility at popular destinations (e.g. Flickr, Wikipedia) • Selective Dissemination / awareness ‘push’ services
  6. 6. Solution 5: Content licensing Problem: Licensing of digitised content, rights clearance and associated relationship management can demand experience and effort unavailable from the creators or curators; orphaned collections also present difficulties, perhaps exacerbated since they were originally digitised Use case: As a creator/curator, I want to be sure that my digitised content is licensed as openly and permissively as possible in order to maximize freedom for reuse and to enable the unexpected … OR I want to ensure rights are appropriately cleared in order to ensure positive relationships with associated rights owners and benefactors … OR I want academics to be aware of essential practice Solution: Undertaking open licensing of collections, especially those orphaned or currently unwanted, including • CC licensing for content and metadata • Rights clearance where required • Ongoing fit with prevalent licensing models – such as Wikimedia Commons
  7. 7. Solution 6: Reliable reference service Problem: Websites can cease to be discoverable by humans and/or by machines for a variety of reasons, many of which are capable of remedy given a timely response, which may not be forthcoming from the creators or curators Use case: As an interested party (researcher, creator, curator, institution, investor, I want mechanisms in place in order to check the health of digital assets, to ensure they do not disappear unnoticed and are consistently visible to web scale discovery mechanisms over the long term … OR I want the lead curator to be alerted of any detrimental changes Solution: Validating that digitised content is discoverable by machines and therefore by humans • Establish a ‘collections’ reference list (aka ‘directory’/‘registry’), building on the 2013 Jisc web assessment work • Ensure resources can be found via search engines, citation and social media • Generate confidence through regularised automated checking of URLs and other key features of registered content • Build reputation as a place to discover well curated collections • Alert lead parties • Contribute to community awareness of good practice
  8. 8. Solution 7: Aggregation role Problem: Some creators and curators lack the skills and mechanisms to safeguard content and to make it discoverable; others are looking for supplementary channels to promote their content more widely; meanwhile aggregators may not be making opportunities clear to those responsible for digitised content Use case: As a creator / curator, I want to maximise the reach of my resources whilst minimizing the effort in so doing in order to balance efficiency and effectiveness … OR I want to use external services in order to overcome my lack of web presence … OR I want to find a good home for resources I am not resourced to curate and to protect them against technical or organisational change Solution: Proactively mobilise trusted aggregators to play a wider and more proactive role, especially adopting digitised collections. • Review the role that might be played by current aggregations National – e.g. Archives Hub, Copac, Culture Grid, MediaHub, VADS International – e.g. Europeana, Hathi Trust, Internet Archive, Vendors • Assess any requirement for a new aggregation service for collections that have no existing aggregator interest • Ensure that digitization projects are covered by the UK Web Archive and consider the value of setting up UKWA Special Collections