Spotlight: A Self-Service Tool for Showcasing Digital Collections

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

Session Type: Presentation

Slides: View the slides from this presentation here.

Session Description
Like many institutions, Stanford University Libraries (SUL) have a rich and diverse collection of content in its digital repository. While this repository content is accessible through an integrated discovery environment, librarians, curators, and collection donors often want to showcase individual collections, and faculty, students, and researchers want to work with these collections in a more focused, feature-rich environment that supports their scholarly goals. Purpose-built digital library websites can satisfy these goals, but the time and development resources required to create them limits how often an institution can commit to producing them.

In this session, we’ll describe how SUL addressed this problem by developing a digital library product called Spotlight. Spotlight is a plug-in to Blacklight, an open source Ruby on Rails gem that provides a discovery interface for any Solr index. Combined with Blacklight, an institution can use Spotlight to establish a self-service environment in which librarians, curators, faculty, and others can easily create attractive, feature-rich websites that showcase digital library content of their choosing.

As we’ll demonstrate in this session, curators build a Spotlight exhibit completely through web-based forms, using an intuitive workflow of selection and indexing, arrangement, curation, and presentation. Spotlight-based exhibits can include multiple types of media and provide curators with a wide range of “widgets” with which to build pages composed of both digital objects and curatorial content.

Because we believe it has potential value to many institutions, we intentionally designed and developed Spotlight in an open and transparent way. As the project evolves, we’re especially interested in facilitating community contributions. We’ll conclude this session by describing the steps we’re taking to seek regular feedback from peers and stakeholders, generate interest among potential future development partners, and position Spotlight as an open source project that other institutions will adopt and help grow.

Session Leaders
Gary Geisler, Stanford University
Jessie Keck, Stanford University
Stuart Snydman, Stanford University


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