JISC/CNI Conference "Transforming the User Experience" (Part 2 of 3)

August 4, 2008

Part 2 of 3:  Strategic Content

(Note this is Part 2 of a 3 part summary of the JISC/CNI Conference.)

The first presentation in the "Strategic Content Developments" session was by Stuart Dempster (program director at JISC).  He provided an overview of the work of the Strategic Content Alliance" in developing a UK Content Framework to reduce the technical, political and administrative barriers that inhibit the use of public sector electronic content."  The goal is to build a common information environment where users of publicly funded e-content can gain best value from the investment that has been made by reducing the barriers that currently inhibit access, use and re-use of online content.

Ricky Erway (program officer at OCLC) made a provocative presentation arguing the need to change the way we think about digitization of special collections.  Here are some of the highlights.

•    Why must we approach digitization from a preservation point of view?  Of course there are exceptions (e.g. brittle materials where we may in fact only get one chance), but in the main, our digitization should be in service to increased access.  So much of our digitizing time and effort is spent on deciding what to digitize.
•    We’ve already carefully chosen the materials; they are in our collections for good reasons. So we should stop being so selective, trying to guess what our users need.  Rather we should scale up digitization, to make more of these great collections usable.
•    Stop thinking about item-level description ... Think in collections and arrange and describe unique materials in subunits. Make something available, even if you think of it as unfinished.
•    When scanning for access, quantity is the goal.
•    Encourage our funders to support those programs that operationalize digitization, rather than build project-based portals.

Stay tuned for the next post, part 3 of 3, on “Scholarly Resources.”