Library 2.013: Greasing Squeaky Wheels: A User-Centered Approach to Collection Management, Technical Development, and Resource Allocation for a Digital Library

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  • [Becky]
  • L to R: Becky, Bianca, Jackie
  • [Becky] [poll: have you used BHL before?]
    Mission: work collaboratively to make biodiversity literature openly available to the world as part of a global biodiversity community
    Stats: >63,000 titles, >119,000 volumes, >41 million pages
    majority public domain literature, agreements to host approx. 300 in-copyright titles
    anyone can access and download for FREE!
  • [Becky]
  • [Becky]
    BHL is a consortium of 15 participating institutions throughout the United States and the United Kingdom...
    …each working to digitize our collections & serve them through the BHL website, our collective “virtual library branch”
    also a global project with partners in Australia, Brazil, China, Egypt, Europe, and sub-Saharan Africa
  • [Becky: wide global use; returning visits higher than new visits; &etc]
  • [Becky]
  • [Bianca] Largely as is but remember to highlight:
    Quick overview of the kinds of content & services we provide through our website…
    create your own PDF & full volume PDF download, JPEG 2000s, OCR text
    no full text search (yet) but use a taxonomic name finding algorithm on OCR text to surface scientific name strings embedded w/in texts
    provide APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) facilitate machine-to-machine communication, key feat. of BHL ⇒ leverages our content into new platforms, namely other related biodiversity websites such as EOL
  • [Bianca]
    BHL is committed to open access & open data
    Our content files and metadata are free to access, download, & reuse - even in-(c) works under a CC NC-SA-BY license
    We want to deconstruct the silo and deliver where users already are!
    Again, machine-to-machine services are critical to dynamically linking our content into other sites ⇒ if our user interface disappeared tomorrow our content would still be plugged into the websites that support biodiversity research
    Various social media platforms have allowed us to repackage scholarly literature for public consumption
    Finally, important to the BHL to involve our users in collection & technical development activities where we can
  • [Bianca]
    Focus of our collection is on legacy biodiversity literature, ie old books about plants and animals
    Graph composed of subject keywords adapted from LCSH to illustrate core and supporting literature
    Literature still relevant to the wide spectrum of fields concerned with biodiversity research
    Scope of collection has allowed us to carve out a special niche within the biodiversity research community and beyond...
  • [Bianca]
    Knowing our target audience helps us to determine what items to prioritize for digitization with limited scanning funding
    Primary BHL audiences consist of…
    Fully understanding our audience targets based on patron bases of home institutions but took years of analysis to understand its evolution in a virtual branch
  • [Bianca]
    the librarians and technologists that make up the BHL workforce are a widely distributed group across 15 institutions throughout the US and UK
    Staff volunteer their time outside of the responsibilities they have to their home institutions to support the BHL
    Working together from the ground up, we have employed strategies to try and maximize the output of our limited resources to manage over 41 million pages of digital content
  • [Bianca]
    BHL staff could not do what we do without…:
    the tools to collaborate and communicate effectively across our consortium of institutions and timezones (on a budget)
    nor could we manage daily operations w/out input from our users
    this allows us to direct the activities of our small, highly distributed workforce to resolve issues “just-in-time”
    one of the tools we do pay for, however, is our issue tracking system, which we will highlight in more detail later...
  • [Bianca]
    BHL receives user input from our users in a variety of ways and social media is one of them!
    we’ve learned from experience that different platforms serve different audience types eg more Techies on Twitter
    platforms used include: 1) flickr 2) FB 3) Blog 4) Pinterest 5) Twitter
    engagement of this kind helps us collect more qualitative and anecdotal feedback about our content and services...½ the story
  • [Bianca]
    ...the other ½ of the story is about collecting quantitative statistics on the kinds of issues users encounter in working with our content and services
    this kind of user feedback is KEY to the routine work of BHL staff
    rely on many eyes of the crowd to help us direct our curation activities and focus on actual problems that users encounter on an as needed basis
    users can send feedback from our website into ½ forms: general problem/comment or a request for scanning
    also helps patrons at our home institutions - brick & mortar component
  • [Bianca]
    feedback received via webforms from users comes directly into a backend issue tracking system
    We pay for a hosted system, Countersoft’s Gemini product, to manage all feedback received
    All BHL consortium institutions participate in the system
    Key to communicating level of granularity we need to correct issues with our website, metadata, images, data files, &etc - sometimes we’re addressing problems page-by-page!
    Excellent documentation tool
  • [Jackie]
  • [Jackie]
  • [Jackie]
  • [Becky]
  • [Becky]
    User profiles [= BHL and our users blog posts] Highlight our users - Blog posts that can inspire others, and increase the audience of our users’ work as well. Also included in our newsletter, and promoted via social media.
    Engagement statistics/interactions from quarterly report
    Connect and converse with users - newsletter, social media (facebook quiz, twitter hash tags, campaigns to coincide with ‘real world’ activities), conversations on social media and via email. Also, all feedback now gets a response, which often turns into a dialogue.
  •  User buy-in: word of mouth and personal relationships


  • 1. Greasing Squeaky Wheels A User-Centered Approach to Collection Management, Technical Development, and Resource Allocation for a Digital Library Rebecca Morin California Academy of Sciences Bianca Crowley Smithsonian Libraries Biodiversity Heritage Library Jacqueline Chapman Smithsonian Libraries Biodiversity Heritage Library
  • 2. Biodiversity Heritage Library [include screenshot of BHL homepage]
  • 3. Who Are You? A) Digital Librarian/Collection Manager B) Virtual Reference Librarian C) Project Manager D) MLIS (or similar) Student E) Other
  • 4. BHL Participating Institutions • Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University • American Museum of Natural History • California Academy of Sciences • Cornell University • Field Museum • Harvard University Botany Libraries • Ernst Mayr Library of the MCZ • Library of Congress • Marine Biological Laboratory and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution • Missouri Botanical Garden • Natural History Museum, London • New York Botanical Garden • Royal Botanic Garden, Kew • Smithsonian Institution • United States Geological Survey
  • 5. Where in the world are BHL users? June 2012 – May 2013 1,429,899 Visits 704,068 Unique Visitors 6,085,648 Pageviews
  • 6. Why Use BHL? Libraries Conservation International Biodiversity Hotspots
  • 7. BHL Website Overview • • • • • Teamed up with BHL partners in Australia to update user interface in March 2013 Search by title, author, article, subjects, and scientific names Various download options, even high resolution Taxonomic name finding algorithm Machine-to-machine services
  • 8. Core Project Principles • • • Open access Open data Deliver content where users are already working – – • Via other biodiversity websites & taxonomic resources Via social media Involve users in collection & technical development
  • 9. Defining Scope
  • 10. Who are our users? Who are you and what do you want from us? Today I’m a scientist looking for... Primary BHL Audience Types Scientists / Researchers Citizen Scientists / People interested in Biodiversity Artists / Art Historians Bibliophiles Librarians Taxonomists Techies Educators
  • 11. Distributed BHL Workforce = X15 XML
  • 12. Scanning locally, Coordinating virtually
  • 13. Mechanisms for User Input
  • 14. Mechanisms for User Input
  • 15. Backend Issue Tracking System
  • 16. Gemini Issue Breakdown
  • 17. Gemini Moderator Role Triage - Assign issues to appropriate resource(s) - Describe issues with appropriate component(s) - Resolve problems or enact requested changes if possible - Respond to user with issue status
  • 18. Gemini Moderator Role Support - Answer policy questions from assigned resources - Assist with coordination of collaborative fulfillment of requests and/or reassignment - Check on the status of issues with no recent activity
  • 19. Strengthening Communities
  • 20. User Engagement
  • 21. Diverse Users
  • 22. Thank You