Getting an Earful: The Unexpected Services of a Digital Scholarship Unit

Notes: View the community notes Google doc for this session.

Session Type: Presentation

Slides: View the slides from this presentation here.

Session Description
Interest in digital scholarship has steadily increased at NYU over the past four years, with scholars looking to the Libraries for information, support, and partnership. During this time, the Libraries have taken an iterative, learn-as-we-go approach while simultaneously conducting in-depth research into user needs and service gaps. This resulted in a four-tiered service model which, in Fall 2013, was officially put into practice with the formation of the Libraries’ Digital Scholarship Services unit.

When we introduced the four-tiered service model at DLF, November 2011, we predicted that a key function of our unit would be to prioritize which projects get what type of service (standard, customized, etc.). What we didn’t anticipate was the extent to which we would become the nosey switchboard operators of our own organization, listening in on library departmental conversations about their service frustrations, and plugging them into complementary departments or initiatives to address these challenges systemically. These insights are helping us strategically rethink relationships, workflows, and protocols that undergird the organization’s work. To date, the departments most frequently connecting via this developing “party line” are special collections, subject specialists, Data Services, Digital Studio, and Digital Library Technology Services.

We will present case studies to illustrate how scholars’ project needs are revealing ways we can integrate diverse services across Libraries and IT, and how this vantage point provides a unique opportunity to address longstanding organizational issues.

We will engage the audience through discussion to learn how other institutions approach similar issues providing digital scholarship services. For example:

  • Implementing strategies for bringing together different parts of your organization that don’t usually work together
  • Performing outreach for complex services that involve more than one department, and forming partnerships to do this effectively
  • Collection development in relation to digital projects with scholars
  • Transitioning projects into services

Session Leaders
Zach Coble, New York University
Monica McCormick, New York University
Jennifer Vinopal, New York University


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