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My Leicestershire Digital Archive: the project team's perspective
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My Leicestershire Digital Archive: the project team's perspective


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A presentation by Ed Kirkland and Laura Unwin of the University of Leicester Library at the My Leicestershire Digital Archive end of project workshop, 31 March 2011.

A presentation by Ed Kirkland and Laura Unwin of the University of Leicester Library at the My Leicestershire Digital Archive end of project workshop, 31 March 2011.

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  • 1. My Leicestershire Digital Archive – End of project event
  • 2.
    • In the beginning
    • A bid – looking at new ways of creating and collecting digital content together
    • The difference - digitisation has been done before but working with community partners to help them select and digitise material was a new approach
    • Two strands to the start-up:
        • Getting a handle on what we needed to do internally
        • Forming the initial working relationships with partners
  • 3.
    • Project set-up
    • Don’t underestimate the amount of time that a project set-up can take. Things we did:
      • get technical systems & standards in place
      • appoint staff
      • train staff
      • developing relationships
      • developing workflows
      • developing communication channels with project partners
  • 4.
    • Training
    • JISC digital media courses
    • Wonderful support from OCLC/CONTENTdm, both via the support channel and through the user community
    • Expert advice from Slavko Manojlovich who had worked on a similar project in Canada
    • JISC usability workshop
  • 5.
    • Metadata
    • Dublin Core
    • Controlled vocabulary:
      • Location: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
      • Shortened locations
      • Subject: Thesaurus for Graphic Materials
      • Themes
    • Descriptions
  • 6.
    • Working with partners
    • Key contact
    • Agreeing content & deadlines
    • Training & equipment
    • Support
    • Another way - Dennis Calow’s collections
  • 7.
    • Publicity
    • Hands on History at the Records Office
    • Posters/flyers
    • E-mail groups
    • Search engines
    • Local paper
    • Many other community websites that found us!
      • Citizen’s Eye
      • Leicester Talk
      • Leicestershire & Rutland Family History Society
  • 8.
    • What we learnt
    • Setting up a project is critical, and time consuming
    • We used metadata templates to allow flexibility and help community partners enter all the relevant details
      • They were able to enter metadata themselves with minimal input from staff
      • This is however a time consuming process
    • We developed workflows to manage some of the foibles of CONTENTdm – particularly the need to “hack” the DC templates with duplicate fields this was an extra burden on volunteers time.
  • 9.
    • What we learnt
    • Establishing the file formats for archive and delivery at the outset was important, we didn’t have to re-do things
        • Actually establishing file formats is time consuming!
    • Don’t re-invent the wheel. IPR, Metadata, File formats have all been done to death elsewhere. Pick and choose what you need.
    • Use staff you have by either seconding or paying part-time staff extra hours. Something we did to get pages renumbered, and thumbnails improved.
    • Respect volunteers’ time – our partners contributed hugely to the expertise and resources available within the project but any future project should be realistic about the level of commitment that volunteers can give.
  • 10.
    • What we learnt
    • Publicity and promotion takes sustained time and effort - We will need to find ways of continuing the publicity effort after the formal end of the project because, if not, we will not realise the full benefit to the University and to the local community of creating the Archive.
    • Community created content is about more than managing costs
    • The content added to the Archive by our community partners cost less in monetary terms because the project had the benefit of volunteers’ time. However, in creating a digital collection we would say that it is not a question of ‘professional’ or ‘volunteer’ time being better or cheaper than the other. The project benefited from both. The community partners contributed expertise and resources which were not available to the ‘professional’ partners and vice versa.
  • 11.
    • Conclusion
    • Above all digitisation takes time – and lots of it.
    • Developing working relationships also takes time.
    • This project has shown that a collaboration between a HEI and external partners can produce a high-quality resource for the community. What we have is far better than if it had only been created by the University, or if it had been solely created by community groups in disparate ventures.
    • Aggregating the work of community groups in this way should be a priority in future.
  • 12.
    • Our highlights
    • Personal challenge
    • Enjoyed working with community groups and building relationships
    • Finding little gems such as - Home Sweet Home