Unit 13: Most Important Concepts and Lessons Learned

Principles of a Good Digital Collection
In Unit one, we were introduced to the Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections, (2007) a document created initially by a “A Digital Library Forum convened by the IMLS and working in collaboration with participants from the NSF’s National Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education Digital Library program” (Cole, 2001). This document defines the “goodness” of a digital collection as it applies to three primary features of a digital collection, digital collections, digital objects, metadata and digital initiatives For instance, nine principles are applied to the idea of a good digital collection. One of the principles is that a good digital collection is created according to an explicit collection development policy. From a management perspective, the section on digital initiatives provides invaluable guidance for the management of a digital initiative program in any library or institution.

Two statements, in particular, from the Framework of guidance document helped me as I planned my digital collection. The first statement encouraged the use of strategic thinking while not “strictly and unquestioningly” following any particular path, and choosing from a wide array of tools and processes to support the “unique goals and needs of each collection” (pg. 3). The second statement emphasized integrating with the user’s own context which was particularly important in may situation as I needed to create a collection mainly of Physics, Astronomy and Engineering materials based on the research interests of the faculty and undergraduate students in the Physics Department where I work.

Data about Data
My first challenge this semester was to create a Dublin Core application profile for my collection. I consider the application profile a crucial piece of creating a digital collection. The Arizona Memory Project Digital Project Guidelines were very helpful as these guidelines contain a number of Dublin Core Application profiles. The Dublin Core Application Profile provided the foundation for the different Dublin Core elements that I wanted to include in my collection. For instance, many Physics papers and materials are held in repositories such as ArXiv or the INSPIRS high-energy Physics repository and others so I included a Repository element.

Creating controlled vocabularies and an ontology with the OWL editor were invaluable experiences and showed me how important it is to construct these items for a digital collection. It is not all about the repository software!

Repository Software
I installed and configured four different repository systems, (Drupal, DSpace, Eprints, and Omeka) and built a digital collection in each repository system. Installing the repositories using Linux reinforced my Linux skills. Each system had a different installation procedure and different features so the hands-on experience I gained from using the different systems will enable me to select different repository systems for different collection needs. Eprints has  a number of features which make it an ideal choice for a collection of research papers which can be self-archived. DSpace has integrated Dublin Core elements into its software. Omeka and Drupal hve more visually appealing features like different themes and styles and more suitable for museum and cultural collections.

Management Discussions
The management discussions in our online forum considered the wider environment and how librarians could “manage” the transition to the era of “big data” and the transition from a largely print and paper based culture in libraries to the new reality of digital databases and repositories. Wendy Lougee , for instance, argues that “Libraries have been too inward looking” to “fully grasp critical changes in the digital landscape “ (Bottecelli, 2013). Lougee is the university librarian at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities and writes mainly form a library director’s perspective.

Another interesting aspect of the management discussion was the focus on papers about how librarians are working with researchers in the digital humanities fields and scientific fields to manage data and repositories. I found this material very helpful as I could readily apply it to my project of building a digital collection which Physics researchers would be using. Michael Witt, for instance, described how Purdue developed data curation initiatives in a campus-wide context. In particular, Witt described the development  of an institutional, digital data repository (Purdue University Research Repository (PURR) ) and service with the support of the campus research office. According to Witt, “One of the main objectives of this (PURR working group) group was to build opportunities for librarians to engage researchers and participate actively in data curation into the design of PURR” (pg. 178). Witt’s article gave me ideas about how I could interact with the researchers in my department as I plan my collection.

Cole, Timothy. Creating a Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections. First Monday, [S.l.], may. 2002. ISSN 13960466. Available at: <http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/955/876>. Date accessed: 18 Nov. 2013. doi:10.5210/fm.v7i5.955.

Lougee, Wendy (2009)The Diffuse Library Revisited: Aligning the Library as Strategic Asset. Library Hi-Tech 27(4)

Witt, Michael (2012) “Co-designing, Co-developing, and Co-implementing an Institutional Data Repository Service,” Journal of Library Administration 52 (2)

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