Due to resource constraints, no library is able to digitize everything. Please propose a scheme to determine the digitization priorities based on past retrieval patterns specific to your library’s user community. Or describe the inadequacy and deficiency found in common practice.
yiwenw’s “User Community” post helped me recall some of the issues discussed in my recent collection management course related to preservation. There are numerous rationales for libraries and specifically digital libraries to prioritize certain materials for preservation. Is it a rare, one of a kind item that is unavailable elsewhere? Is its condition deteriorating and therefore in immediate need of digitizing to insure some form of it will always remain available? And perhaps does the library have anything to gain by promoting and marketing these items as a resource that only they can offer?
I’m hesitant to leave these decisions solely based on data derived from past retrieval patterns though. I think their are some deficiencies in this practice, the foremost being the public can not be counted on to make the best decisions regarding prioritizing what a digital library should make available. They might make their decisions without a far-sighted, preservationist agenda in mind or perhaps they will not have any insight into what’s unique about a libraries available materials and make poor decisions as to what should be digitized first. I’ve heard about the glacial rate, limited funds, and bureaucracy surrounding these processes. Perhaps limiting the user’s input to a degree is something worth consideration? Shouldn’t we grant ourselves a professional practitioners who will devote years and months to these decisions a necessary authority to make appropriate decisions regarding priorities? It’s not necessarily a diss to the “user community” but rather a confidence in our insights and investment.