Putting digital content at the heart of library strategy

Leeds University's digitisation programme discussed at ILI.

Digitisation at the core

At Internet Librarian International, Jodie Double and Beccy Shipman of the University of Leeds shared lessons learned as they moved through the two year development of a digital library programme which aims to put digitisation at the core of what the institution does.

The big change, according to Jodie, is that pre-2009 the institution was externally content rich but internally content poor, and the team was purely focused on infrastucture. Renamed as the digital content team, and moved into a central space in the library, the team had to work out how to move from being thought of as a file store to providing content services which manage all kinds of object types, including open access publications, video, data sets, images and more. 

The process has involved considerable outreach to faculty members - for example, getting them to champion treasures that are sitting in Special Collections and getting them involved in decisiding how to get the content 'out there' via digital means.

Beccy described the LIFE-SHARE project which looked at different types of digitisation. One of the successes of the project was the community of practitioners which developed - for example groups working on the digitisation of course materials are now working together and talking about how to achieve their aims.

It's a big challenge - as Jodie pointed out, "we're not uncommon in that we are asked to manage everything at the university that is digital." And, she notes, fortune can favour the brave. Sometimes things do need to change at large institutions, and you need to be forceful to bring change about - and ask for permission or apologise afterwards!

Image courtesy of fontplaydotcom via Flickr.