A Digital Library for Everyone: Designing for Collaboration and Innovation

Constellation B: Monday, October 31, 10:30AM – 12:00PM

From successful established regional portals like the Mountain West Digital Library to the ferment of activity around creating a Digital Public Library of America, digital libraries are growing larger in scale, and including a wider variety of partners and content. Many of us are engaged in “raising the big tent” to include not only libraries, but also museums, historical societies, archives, and government entities at all levels. Whether the goal is serving diverse audiences, improving access to diverse resources, or simply achieving sustainability in constrained economic times, the new directive is “Collaborate and innovate — or die.”

Designing for collaboration and innovation raises some intriguing questions, such as:

• When diverse memory institutions bring different perspectives, core needs, and even vocabularies to the table, how do we design collaborations for enthusiastic buy-in and commitment?

• When the target demographic is “everyone,” rather than a specific user group, how can we design services for the range of needs that they have?

• How do we not only maintain but actually improve the integrity and quality of digital resources and online services across many diverse memory institutions?

• What opportunities are emerging for the “big tent” portals/repositories to present and even construct knowledge that were not available when the content was institution- or domain-specific?

• Which aspects of management of digital resources should be distributed and which centralized? How do we maintain buy-in and appropriate governance while establishing efficient use of tools and processes?

• What, if anything, do we stand to lose by raising the big tent? In politics, the critics of big tent parties argue that they alienate the ideological base of the party and diminish participation. In collaboratively raising a big tent digital library, what do we lose and what do we gain?

To kick off the discussion, this team of public and academic librarians will present some of their experiences and suggestions for collaboration across diverse memory institutions. They will examine what is at stake for providers and audiences, and how to provide an environment for innovation for creating the big tent digital library. Then, they will open up discussion to collect the wisdom of the Forum’s participants by posing questions about selected topics.

Session Resources

Session Leaders

Sandra McIntyre is Program Director of the Mountain West Digital Library, a program of the Utah Academic Library Consortium. She manages a regional network of 60 libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions who collaborate to create shared access to over 350 digital collections about the Mountain West region via the search portal at http://mwdl.org. Previously she managed the Health Education Assets Library, a national portal of digitized health sciences education materials. She holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Swarthmore College and a master’s in education from Georgia State University.

Cheryl Walters is Head of Digital Initiatives at Utah State University Libraries. She has been active in regional collaboratives throughout her career, first as Interlibrary Loan Coordinator at University of Central Florida (1987-1995), then in Utah as Head of Cataloging (1999-2004) and in her present position (2004+), which includes serving as a regional hub manager for the Mountain West Digital Library Consortium. Born and raised in Baltimore, she graduated from University of South Florida with B.A. in History (1980) and M.L.I.S. (1987).

Nate Hill is a web librarian at San Jose Public Library, a blog manager for the Public Library Association, and one third of influx.us: a library UX consultancy. Before moving to a wood-heated cabin in the Santa Cruz mountains, Nate lived and worked in Brooklyn, NY for 12 years. He’s passionate about the delivery of great library service, digital or physical, urban or rural, public or academic.

Toby Greenwalt Toby Greenwalt is the Virtual Services Coordinator for Skokie (IL) Public Library. He oversees the organization’s web presence, and works to make the online experience more human. He blogs occasionally at theanalogdivide.com and tweets all too frequently as @theanalogdivide.

Michael Lascarides (New York Public Library)

Jefferson Bailey managed Brooklyn Public Library’s participation in the IMLS-funded Project CHART, a multi-institutional digital curation training and digitization initiative. He has also worked on digital projects for Frick Art Reference Library, Warner Music Group, The New York Times, and did archival work at NARA and NASA. He is current at the Library of Congress.

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