Public Service for Large-Scale Digital Collections

Constellation F: Monday, October 31, 3:30 – 5:00PM

Digital collections with large numbers of items (such as HathiTrust) or that cater to a broad audience (such as the proposed Digital Public Library of America) can attract large numbers of users. Many of those users have questions, encounter errors, or can suggest improvements as they use the collections.

Engaging effectively with these users can greatly improve the quality and experience of our digital library collections. Public service is also an important mission and “brand” of libraries, and distinguishes us from high-volume but low-interaction commercial digital offerings.

Libraries that provide access to large-scale digital collections face challenges in effectively soliciting user feedback, responding to the feedback in responsive and productive ways, and making the best use of limited resources in efficiently responding to it. They also need to adapt the skills and resources developed for walk-in desk service to online service to a global audience. Librarians with expertise in patron service and digital collection developers with technical expertise need to work together for best results.

This working session is dedicated to sharing problems and information on how to provide effective public service for large-scale digital collections. We will open with short presentations from people who have long experience providing online public service for such collections. Chris Powell and Jeremy York of Michigan will discuss the main challenges and techniques for public service for HathiTrust. John Mark Ockerbloom of Penn will describe how service on The Online Books Page has adapted to increasing feedback with limited resources. Leslie Johnston will also discuss digital collection public service at the Library of Congress. We intend to devote much of the time for open discussion of the best ways of managing public service with a variety of digital collections.

Session Resources

Session Leaders

John Mark Ockerbloom (University of Pennsylvania)

Jeremy York (University of Michigan)

Chris Powell (University of Michigan)

Leslie Johnston, Chief of Repository Development, Manager of Technical Architecture Initiatives for NDIIPP Library of Congress.

Skip to content