Organisational change and sustainability


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Insights into how UCL, Imperial War Museums and the National Library of Wales are adjusting their policies and strategis as part of organisational change to support digital content and services.

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  • For major research universities and world-renowned cultural institutions, history may be measured in decades or even centuries. Two years, even two particularly challenging ones, are unlikely to make much difference to the longevity of a well-established institution. In the rapidly changing world of digital content and services, however, two years can seem like a lifetime. Facebook was started in a dorm room and grew to have over 30 million registered users just three years after launch. Wikipedia, which began as an experiment in developing an open-source online encyclopedia in 2001, two years later boasted 100,000 articles, and within the following year had doubled in size, reaching one million articles. On the other hand, MySpace, which ruled the social networking scene in 2006, two short years later was surpassed by Facebook and was already beginning its decline.Sarah Phillips, ‘A Brief History of Facebook’, The Guardian (25 July 2007),‘History of Wikipedia’,‘Myspace’,
  • For digital projects that exist within the higher education and cultural heritage sectors, the terrain may not be as volatile as it is in the commercial sector, but there are significant challenges nonetheless as new digital content projects develop, attempt to attract an audience and grow. After more than a decade of significant investment by universities and heritage organisations, as well as by the public and private funders who support digital resource development, project leaders still struggle with important and fundamental questions: What do digital resources require to be truly valuable to users? Which of these attributes are most valued, and what does it cost to support them? And finally, where do the resources – financial or non-financial – come from that will make them possible? Balancing the desire to achieve mission-based goals against the real-world need to pay salaries and other essential costs is a vital equation for those who wish to run successful digital enterprises in the not-for-profit sector.National Endowment for the Humanities (cut by $22 million, or a 13% reduction since 2010) and the Institute for Museum and Library Services (cut by $23.3 million, or a 9.6% reduction since 2011). Entire funding programmes have even been shuttered, including the National Science Digital Library (NSDL), a $16.5-million programme within the National Science Foundation. As funding streams dry up, the fate of projects, some of which have yet to find sure footing as ongoing resources, is uncertain at best. As one programme officer noted during a roundtable meeting that we conducted in 2011, looking forward, ‘there will be even more unsustainable projects than there are sustainable ones.’‘Termination, Reductions, and Savings: Budget of the U.S. Government, Fiscal Year 2012’,, p. 14.Michael Kelley, ‘Obama Proposes $20.3 Million Reduction in Library Funding’, Library Journal (14 February 2011),
  • The rapid growth and development of digital content offers enormous and ever-growing possibilities for all citizens in the UK. But for this country to realise the full potential of the web, and for each citizen to realise their own potential – in the workplace, in their places of learning, and in the home – the full range of digital content needs to be made available to all, quickly, easily and in a form appropriate to individuals’ needs.To build a common information environment where users of publicly funded content can gain best value from the investment that has been made by reducing the barriers that currently inhibit access, use and re-use of e-content.The SCA aims to work on behalf of the public sector holistically, from content creation to curation in health, education, museums, archives, research, public libraries in a spirit of collaboration and co-ordination. It aims to look at how this Vision can be realised through providing a set of principles and guidelines for best practice at a practitioner and policy-maker level.
  • A sustainability plan is a holistic strategic plan for how a project is going to be able to continue to grow, develop and find the resources – of all types – it will need to do this.Just squeaking by and covering budgeted costs is not enough in the long run. User expectations are shaped by experience on the commercial web and grow ever more demanding. A viable plan needs to address the value that the resource will offer to users – how people will use it, why they will want to use it – whether the value is to users who will pay money for access to the resource, to gallery or museum administrators who will agree to subsidise it, or to volunteer contributors who will offer their time and expertise. The ongoing success of the resource will depend on its ongoing value to its stakeholders.Just as there is no inherent value to a resource without a stakeholder who cares about it, there are different possible ways to conceive of this value. These conceptions may change over time, as user expectations grow and new technology and tools allow for new ways of engaging with content. Project leaders must stay in touch with their audiences and with other stakeholders to understand when their needs change and what the implications will be for the resource.
  • Organisational change and sustainability

    1. 1. The Strategic Content Alliance Museums on the Web:Organisational Transformation and Sustainability
    2. 2. Mission…If the UK is to realise the full potential of the web and everycitizen to realise their own potential - in the workplace, in theirplaces of learning and in the home - the full range of digitalcontent needs to be made available to all, quickly, easily and ina form appropriate to the users’ 04 December 2012 | Slide 2
    3. 3. Our supporters… 04 December 2012 | Slide 3
    4. 4. Our work… Inform Mindsets Influence Policy Agendas Develop Digital Strategy Enhance Skills With Tools Foster co-innovation… 04 December 2012 | Slide 4
    5. 5. Museums and Digital Sustainability… collaboration...convergence…competition 04 December 2012 | Slide 5
    6. 6. Our definition of sustainability is… the ability to generate or gain access to the resources— financial or otherwise—needed to protect and increase the value of the content or service for those who use it. Credit: 04 December 2012 | Slide 6
    7. 7. 04 December 2012 | Slide 7
    8. 8. Is sustainability a ‘buzz word’ of the moment… It’s not just about the money… It’s not just about ‘getting by’… It’s all about identifying the value … To a specific stakeholder or 04 December 2012 | Slide 8
    9. 9. Some basic – but critical—steps sustainable collections and services take Empower leadership to define the mission and take action Create a strong value proposition – audience, marketing and outreach Creatively manage costs Cultivate diverse sources of revenue Establish realistic goals and a system of 04 December 2012 | Slide 9
    10. 10. Nat Torkington ‘Libraries: Where it All Went Wrong’ (2011)If I ask you to talk about your collections, I know that you willglow as you describe the amazing treasures you have. Whenyou go for money for digitization projects, you talk up theincredible cultural value.But then if I look at the results of those digitization projects, Ifind the shittiest websites on the planet. It’s like a gallery spentall its money buying art and then just stuck the paintings insupermarket bags and leaned them against the wall.Source: 04 December 2012 | Slide 10
    11. 11. Most visited Museum websites FY 2011… 04 December 2012 | Slide 11
    12. 12. Most visited Museums FY 2011… 04 December 2012 | Slide 12
    13. 13. Online income generation? 04 December 2012 | Slide 13
    14. 14. Compared to… Total membership revenue was $623,826, up 58% on 2010-11 Donations generated $148,151, up 8.3% on budget ($136,800) 04 December 2012 | Slide 14
    15. 15. The study sought to understand the following: What the assumptions, expectations, and obligations are that govern support of digital resources from the point of view of project leaders as well as ―host‖ administrators and management; In what ways – and to what extent – institutions are supporting and enhancing the on-going value of the digital projects they and their staff/faculty create; And whether or not the current system is 04 December 2012 | Slide 15
    16. 16. Methodology: Deep Dives at the… Imperial War Museums National Library of UCL (7 interviews) Wales (11 interviews) (28 interviews) 04 December 2012 | Slide 16
    17. 17. Two very different types of 04 December 2012 | Slide 17
    18. 18. Observations of the Higher Education sector Decentralised activity undertaken by the library, IT, campus museums, digital humanities centres, and academics in pretty much every department No means to factor in long-term sustainability planning, despite otherwise very rigorous grant-review processes Discovery is difficult. Very rare to have a campus-wide aggregation or directory of content Strong emphasis on creation; little on outreach and impact What else could be done to draw together resources to support this activity and maximize its impact? 04 December 2012 | Slide 18
    19. 19. Observations of Museums, Libraries Mission aims already support fundamentals of collection development, preservation and access Moving towards central coordination of digital content creation and management Core technical infrastructure supporting preservation and access Emphasis on thinking about users … in person. More to do to assess needs of online users Is creating the online catalogue enough? What else could be done to encourage further use and re- use of digital content, post-creation? 04 December 2012 | Slide 19
    20. 20. Clarity concerning project aims/ 04 December 2012 | Slide 20
    21. 21. Maintenance vs. Growth Projects Some are closed-ended Fenlandia Montefiore Testimonials For these, sustainability may mean simply finding a safe and reliable deposit place. Others want or need to continue to develop CEELBAS Transcribe Bentham For these projects, no ―finishing point‖ exists; in order to retain their value, they require ongoing development or curation And this distinction of intention determines the sort of support the project will require going forwardSource: UCL 04 December 2012 | Slide 21
    22. 22. Some Recommendations… Many universities are starting to move towards creating either central sources for information, hosting, and discovery solutions for digital research content They are asking themselves: Where is the content being created on my campus today, and how much don‘t I even know about? What impact is it having today, and how could it be made more useful to the academy and beyond? What structures can support basic needs at scale? What expertise do we have on campus to support further growth for those project leaders whose work shows real promise? 04 December 2012 | Slide 22
    23. 23. Some recommendations… Many museums and libraries are beginning to further centralise core functions around creating and supporting digital content They are asking themselves: Which activities are best done centrally? What problems does this solve for us? What might we still need to do, ―beyond the catalogue‖? Specifically, how well do we understand how our online users benefit from our online content? 04 December 2012 | Slide 23
    24. 24. Organisational trends A degree of unified and centralised workflow to streamline production A move away from departmental to digital cross team work A recognition that ‗digital‘ will reach new global audiences A shift onto the social web and user engagement is critical Adoption of ‗dashboard‘ near and real time data analytics to support development, ‗impact‘ and gap analysis Appointment of digital curators and digital education officers A move towards API development Adopting new models of collaboration for WW1 centenary Realisation that ‗mobile‘ is where it is at… 04 December 2012 | Slide 24
    25. 25. Organisational trends… How organisational change means that some functions are best done in a manner that scales, such as the platform and digital workflow… Cloud based services. Open and linked data/metadata. OERs. MOOCs. ‗Freemium‘ online income (open content + value added services). Website ‗make-overs‘ based on user centric design. Working with technology companies and start-ups (near field communication etc.) How the importance of defining sustainability more broadly relates to impact and usage and not just preservation…. Crowdsourcing, social value and skills. Social web, outreach and marketing – it‘s global. Data driven analytics and data 04 December 2012 | Slide 25
    26. 26. Available now… Audience – building and engaging online communities Income – new revenue streams, new business models IPR – copyright, licencing and rights management Web optimisation – everything you wanted to know…. Freely available from: 04 December 2012 | Slide 26
    27. 27. Framework for Post-Grant Sustainability 1. Planning Define desired post-grant impact 2. goals for your project Work through these 04 December 2012 | Slide 27
    28. 28. Coming soon…. A Final report Toolkit: ‗Campus Survey‘ Tool ‗Health Check‘ Tool Briefing Paper: Guidance for PI‘s Video Interviews: Diane Lees, Andrew Green and Prof David PriceAvailable from January 2013….and Ithaka S&R will be taking a closer look atthe museum sector and the lessons learnt in Canada available later in 04 December 2012 | Slide 28
    29. 29. Thank you for listening and questions....‘ For further information please visit the Strategic Content Alliance at 04 December 2012 | Slide 29