Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Your project's background and history

During the semester, my students blogged about digitization programs that they found. They were asked to include specific information in their posts about each program. In some cases, they had to make assumptions, like who the audience was for a program. Yesterday, I spent time gathering information on several regional digitization programs for a presentation I'll be doing for the Board of Regents Committee on Cultural Education, and was surprised at the information that was not available for some programs.

I'd like to encourage you to share more information on your program's background and history. Somewhere on your site, talk about how the program began and when. Talk about the partners and funding sources. And talk about the guidelines or standards used. If possible, even talk about the lessons you have learned. If you have submitted any formal reports, consider placing them online for your constituents and others to read (e.g., New Jersey).


All of this information is useful to those who are learning about digitization. It helps them understand what others have done and how complex (or simple) a program can be. It also helps those who are planning a program, because it gives them some data points and ideas. And for those who are trying to convince stakeholders that such a program is worthwhile, it can provide information to help them make there case. If there is information that is sensitive (e.g., budget), then don't disclose that. In the case of your budget, you might find that you can tell us some things -- give us some useful hints about the cost -- without revealing the entire cost.

Finally, do as some programs have done and include press releases, articles and presentations on your web site. Surely you have some that you've done that could be shared. Don't worry if you think they're not professional enough, they will be just fine and useful to others.

Please -- don't hide your program's background and history. Let it shine...many people will thank you for it.

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C. Lampert said...

This is a great post. I am currently working on a study comparing factors that lead to successful digitization programs in academic libraries. It has been extremely difficult to find the kind of information you talk about and so many of us could benefit from other's experiences. Historical background can also put a project or program in context as a large-scale program or a grant-funded program.

I'm no expert, but I'm going to start today to work on sharing our local information in the hopes that someone can learn from it. Thank you!

Mal Booth said...

Most of the information you need about our programs can be found on SlideShare where I've left copies of all of the recent presentations that I've done on them for all of the reasons you outline in the post.

More of my musing about our programs (in a general sense) can be found on my blog at http://frommelbin.blogspot.com/ (it also ranges across a number of other not so unrelated issues).

I am about to start strongly pushing the barrow that cultural digitisation programs are always about both preservation and access and it they're not, they should be.

Jill Hurst-Wahl said...

Mal, thanks. You don't give the name of your project in you comment, but I see you work for the Australian War Memorial.

Mal Booth said...

The Lawrence blog you referenced is my exhibition blog. I am also responsible for a very large program that has now digitised about two million pages of Australia's war records. They are available on our main website largely through these two areas:
Unit war diaries - http://www.awm.gov.au/diaries/ and
Biographical databases - http://www.awm.gov.au/database/biographical.asp

All of the information and digitised files are freely available to anyone.
We also have about 260,000 digitised images that are also freely available via our Collections search on this page - http://www.awm.gov.au/database/biographical.asp