When HEFCE underspends: a £22 million JISC digitisation project
JISC reviewed a list of extant proposals for content digitisation, but considered it important to consult the community and bring new bids to the table. 6 major projects were selected for Phase 1 - the largest digitisation activity in Europe - ranging from 18th century British parliamentary papers to British Library archival sound recordings. [Was it these chaps who had Charlotte Green in stitches last week?] The latter group set up a user panel to help decide which of the masses of recordings in the archive should be prioritised for digitisation.
Standards had to be agreed across all projects, and multimedia in particular presented a variety of obstacles. But from this, a JISC digitisation strategy is emerging. Lessons were learned:
- user consultation (do it - and get some experts in)
- procurement (technical and commercial issues)
- metadata (metadata, metadata - importance cannot be overstated - build it in from the outset)
- quality assurance and evaluation throughout the project
- impact assessment (an increasingly big deal - projects now need to build in licences and metrics from the start)
- project management - and capturing of lessons learned
- interface accessibility
- promotion of the finished service.
And now they're already preparing for Phase 3 (and here was I thinking Phase 3s are merely the product of an over-optimistic imagination). Work is underway to assess impact/usage of Phase 1 projects, which unfortunately did not have statistics built in from the outset so some qualitative indicators will need to be used. A gap analysis will be conducted to assess the community's needs, and the development of thematic portals will be investigated to make resources more comparable and usable (these could be extended to cover JISC collections, too). Future sustainability remains a big challenge - keeping digitised content accessible; migrating it to future formats and platforms; updating collections with new content. Ultimately, librarians may need to be prepared to subscribe to this content to ensure its preservation.