News from this year's Web-Wise Conference is that the one pre-conference session (Business Planning for Digital Asset Management in Cultural Heritage Resources) really emphasized needs assessment. We are long past the days when a project should be done because it sounds like a good idea or is just an experiment. We must continually be asking if the project is needed. Will it do what we want? Does it support the goals of the institution? Is this what the our users need? And these questions must not just be asked at the beginning of the project, but throughout the project's life.
By the way, in 2001, IMLS published "A Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections" which states that there was no longer a need for demonstration projects. We had already demonstrated what digitization is and its benefits. Funding agencies also have shown that they do not want to fund demonstration projects or ordinary experiments. We have the knowledge, etc., to create very worthwhile projects. Let's use needs assessments to help us ensure that our projects fit the mission of our institutions and meet the requirements of our users.
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Thanks to Elizabeth Di Cataldo for sharing her notes from the conference.