Tuesday, September 05, 2006

"Build your work around a key question."

In talking about writing books, Roy Peter Clark gives 50 tips. One of the tips is:
Build your work around a key question.
Could we say the same about digital collections? Is one way -- to ensure a collections importance and use -- to build the collection around a key question? Doing so would help in material selection, since every item would be related to that key question. It would help in marketing the collection, since you would be marketing it to people who need to figure out the answer to that question. And it would help users know why they should be using the collection.

Building a collection about a key question would do one more thing: it would ensure that the project was worth doing. In evaluating the potential project, consider:
  • Can you verbalize the question?
  • Do you understand who would be interested in the answer?
  • Do the materials help to explain the question in a way that will be useful to those seeking an answer?
  • Are these materials needed to help answer the question? (Or can the question be answered without these materials?)
I know that Clark was not thinking about digital collections when he wrote his list. I find it interesting, though, that at least one tip is useful in thinking about our projects.

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