Lindsay Roberts

Connecting people with information

Maintenance of Digital Collections, or “I built this awesome digital library…Bye!”

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Now that I have read some of the introductory material in How to Build a Digital Library for LIS 4804: Digital Objects and Collections, I am really excited about all of the potential applications digital libraries could have—there are so many useful bits of information, audio recordings, videos, etc. that could be made available to the public. Particularly at the level of local communities, you could have a digital library of chamber of commerce meetings, or media snippets about your organization, or a digital library of kids’ performances at a particular elementary school. There are so many possible applications.

But this begs the question—who is going to take care of all of this? I can see a lot of useful applications that are separate from library contexts. It’s easy to imagine a motivated person setting up a digital library for a non-profit or school and then no one else knows how to update or maintain the system. This happens pretty regularly for websites—and we can all attest to how frustrating it is when you encounter an outdated “shell” of a website.

I have been brainstorming some possible uses for the digital library project we will create for LIS 4804. But a lot of the ideas I have for useful, practical projects mean we students would either have to continue to update the library for free, or teach someone how to maintain the digital library.

Here are the ideas for our final project that I have had so far:

Create a digital video library for the ASIS&T@DU recordings of TechBytes talks. The videos from TechBytes are currently posted on the club’s Portfolio page, but as more talks are recorded, it would help to have them better organized and preserved! Here’s what it looks like now: https://portfolio.du.edu/pc/editport?page=3&uid=23174

Create an online collection for DU’s Anthropology Museum. The museum website has a couple of little things online right now: http://www.du.edu/ahss/schools/anthropology/museum/onlineinfo.html but there is no comprehensive way to look at pictures of the holdings. I toured the museum’s back room a few months ago and they have some incredible fabric and ceramic pieces. It would probably be too much to try to post something for each item (they have thousands of artifacts), but I think it would be possible to build a digital collection of artifacts from a particular donor or field project.

Create a library for the DU Creative Commons Flikr stream. Take a look at it here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/uofdenver. These are photos submitted by study abroad students or taken by students in photography classes or working for University Communications. Almost all of the photos can be freely distributed and many campus organizations use them for their websites and social media sites. They are not very well organized, though!

Create a digital collection of some holdings from the Cable Center or the Lamont music library. Does the music library have video or audio of student performances?

It seems to me that for larger projects, like institutional repositories, automation would be essential to a successful digital library, especially as the project grows in popularity. For smaller digital libraries, there needs to be easy documentation for others to maintain, add, delete, and update the library. There might need to be several people with administrative privileges to be able to make changes and updates. But the system would need to be easy enough that a well-meaning “admin” doesn’t accidentally break it.

I am very curious to see what the Omeka experience is like. If a completed library could be as easy to update or maintain as Google Sites, or Weebly, it would be a huge step forward for small, understaffed organizations!

Let me know what you think!

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