Planning for the future

I wished to address a few of the questions posed by our leaders this week. Both of them discussed the idea of the differences between academic and public libraries. I believe in a general sense the information provided is useful to all types of libraries. There is not, and I would argue should not, exist a perfect ideal that fits all programs and projects. However any library looking to create a digital library will benefit from thinking through questions on how and who will be responsible for the work, how will it be paid for, what items to digitize and how it fits into the library’s mission as a whole. I also whole hardly agree with evaluating how the collection will benefit end users. Libraries are not just about housing collections but we are service organizations. We must serve the needs of users in all we do.
I would also add that when starting a digital collection an important part of the plan is documentation. Thinking through all of the issues is vital and it is very important to document why particular decisions were made in the first place. Having that kind of information in the future can help to stay focused on the overall goal. As well as help with the continuance of the project. Librarians come and go, things will change so it is a good idea to have a record of what occurred in the past. It brings to mind the database design class I took last semester. We spent a lot of time learning how to recognize the mistakes of designers before us and fix what they did. Keeping a record of the planning process can certainly help.
Also in a previous class I came across the organization Lyrasis. They help member libraries with the digital & technical side of librarianship. On their website they provide a Getting Started Questionnaire for creating digital libraries. Reading the two chapters from NINCH this week the questionnaire came to mind more than once. With three pages of questions to consider it gives a more concrete footing of issues to cover at the beginning of a project. I think anyone able to answer all their questions will eventually have a well planned project.
http://www.lyrasis.org/Products-and-Services/LYRASIS-Digital-Content-Creation-and-Management/Digital-Toolbox/Getting-Started-with-Digital-Projects.aspx

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6 responses to “Planning for the future

  1. It is interesting that a.d.m.n. emphasized the importance of documentation. In my day job, I have frequently seen similar issues as what was described in this posting.

    In general, software developers are less willing to write documents. At best they write comments in the source codes. Usually those comments are meaningless unless one finishes reading the codes. Most design decisions were buried deep in the source codes. Team members come and go. A few years later, few people can tell exactly what the original design ideas were.

    Reading a.d.m.n.’s second paragraph makes me feel a little relieved. It looks like documentation issues are pervasive in different professional fields.

  2. Terrific insights, and terrific resource! Thanks for this contribution, a.d.m.n. In addition to your excellent point regarding documentation, project teams should plan to check in with each other at various points _during_ the project, to assess if adjustments to the project plan need to be made (and they invariably do), and a post-mortem to assess what went well and what did not once the project has been completed (and perhaps shifts into maintenance mode). Documentation is a critical and key component to these processes. In addition, hsikai’s point of people coming and going and institutional knowledge being lost that way is also so very important. As information professionals, can we raise the bar for documentation and knowledge retention in the projects we manage and work on?

  3. Great insights! I especially like your point about documenting the processes involved in the project. I think that it is important to keep a draft of the initial project plan and show how it has changed over time (either through comments in a word-file, or by saving actual new drafts). In projects I’ve been involved with, there is a tendency to save one version of the project charter (the one that ended up working). I think that it is important to show the evolution of the plan, especially as it helps inform your next project charter.

  4. I could not agree more with your point that there should not be a standard set of guidelines that all projects need to fit into. As we learned from this weeks material, all projects are different and require different steps and resources to make them work. The guidelines provided by NINCH are a great resource in that they get you thinking about what you will need to start your digital project and despite being focused on an academic institution, this information would still be applicable to any other library thinking about starting a digital project.

  5. mmmeyer3 I agree, documentation should be an ongoing process, not a one time event. Part of the planning process should include how a project is to be evaluated. In turn the evaluation should help the plan evolve over time as people or situations change.

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