I am going to tell you a story today. I am going to tell you the story of how we at the University of Kentucky Libraries have managed to create a digital program area that is quickly rising to national significance. I will tell you about things that worked and things that didn’t work and hopefully you will be able to take this information and use it to improve some aspect of your program. I am going to give you lots of advice today and intersperse the highs and lows of what we have done
Difference between project and program Put together with scotch tape and bobby pins
There was a group of explorers hiking in the amazon and it was hot – really hot – they were hiking for hours and things started looking familiar – the guide said to the person in the front – I have some bad news and some good news – The guy replied – well give me the bad news first. We are hopelessly lost Well what is the good news? We are sure making good time! We are hopelessly lost, but we are making good time! Try to avoid that scenario with good planning The bad news first No set formula – no recipe The good news is that everyone – me included – will try to give you Lots of advice
Where do you want to be? Harder than it seems. Particularly if you are trying to find a place where you can distinguish yourself. There are some principles that will – if followed – help aim you in the right direction.
What are your areas of strength? Where have you been successful in the past? Can you look at those things in a new way that will turn them into assets for building a program?
This follows from the previous point – can you itemize your resources? People? Programs? Equipment? Space? Good will?
Better to know from the get go what you need to overcome… Competing priorities from other units Staff not trained Already overcommitted for other things
just the right grant One thing can lead to another You need to be proactive about this
choose projects strategically Lots of excuses… We are too busy,
Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something Without focus this is easy to fall into
generate lots of ideas and pick from them you won’t always hit the mark but eventually you will raise the bar
This is in the nothing ventured nothing gained category Give yourself permission to fail
Opportunities can present themselves in many places On campus, with the local public library, with statewide groups, other institutions and the list goes on. You create opportunities by telling your story widely.
Ask the experts - get as many opinions as you can and you will begin to see consensus Money spent on consultants can be money well spent with the right person
I am not talking frenzied, but an aggressive pace with high expectations creates an atmosphere of high energy that is self perpetuating. A sluggish pace is also self perpetuating.
Pay attention and don’t repeat mistakes if you can help it Failures can be as important to long term success as anything else Hard lessons well learned
Turn one success into another Building a program is a process. Sometimes the steps are big and sometimes small
Personal thanks means a lot to people – Individual and group recognition means a lot too Take the time to mark and recognize the success of the group
In building a program cash is very important BUT There are many other ways to build infrastructure: Space, equipment, goodwill, and percentages of people’s time, can all lead to recognition that can have payoffs down the road.
Don’t just make stuff to make stuff Are you creating resources that will protect collections? That will help school children learn in new ways? That will connect alumni to the institution? That will help historians make a vital connection?
I will now go through these points again and give some specific examples
One step at a time.
We looked around to see what we had in our corner that we were able to use when building the program Fifty years ago a scholar, a library director, and a man from the Ky Press association came together to start microfilming KY newspapers. We were able to participate in the USNP and we are still filming KY newspapers. We have a premier oral history center and have 30 years of interviews There are some strong consortiums for KY academic libraries that help us to build relationships with our colleagues. We have been able to use this as we managed a statewide digital library. We play well with others.
Not everyone in our organization shares our view that special collections and digital libraries are the future of libraries. This is an opportunity to distinguish ourselves. Our librarians sometimes seem overwhelmed with the extras that are expected of them. We don’t give up activities we simply add more. REALLY hard to identify tasks and work to leave behind. But what can we do?????
1998 hired a “digital support librarian” same time as the state talking about statewide digital library . Beyond the Shelf story – 1000 books on Kentucky history funded by IMLS – built on Solinet Cooperative microfilming project When are you going to do newspapers???? NDNP opportunity came about
Choose projects that can gain you institutional support BOT minutes helped us refine our film-to-digital process Gain recognition
Scanning math tests for $ - bad idea
Brainstorm regularly BIG white board in front of us all the time Visible for us Visible for potential donors Visible for administration
BUT once you drive off the cliff you really limit your options nothing ventured nothing gained permission to fail – administration has to have this same view Fear of failure is paralyzing
Work on this. For every project Beyond the Shelf We are creating a collection of 1000 fully searchable books on Kentucky history using a microfilm to digital process. We want to demonstrate the viability of this process in a cost efficient way. NDNP We are working in partnership with the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities to create a searchable repository of the nation’s historic newspapers. Of the six initial awardees we are the only institution doing the work in-house. In the first round of the 20 year project we are working on Kentucky papers from 1900 to 1910.
Hired consultants to get some onsite advice Sent people to training with NEDCC, Cornell, etc School for Scanning
Good momentum Lots more ideas come forward Sitting at a table – we can build a better scanner Boosts confidence
Beyond the Shelf – film to digital books project….newspapers Become leader, hold workshop, underscore methodology,
Celebratory dinners Publicly acknowledge contributions – newsletters Look for ways to leverage successes for staff - give them opportunities Students – potlucks, mardi gras beadsm happy meals, chocolate
We aren’t meant to scan math tests…
Use success to drive infrastructure
Outcomes based evaluation Make the right things for the right reason at the right time if you can
Some images to show you…
Finding your niche
finding your niche
leveraging limited resources to build a digital program