At Cornell University Library, we are rich in digital collections. We have good workflows for identifying still and moving images that need to be digitized. We ensure that the groups of materials are discrete and that they are accompanied by sufficient metadata, then we digitize the materials, catalog them, and frequently build websites to promote the resulting images.
In Digital Consulting & Production Services (DCAPS), we know how to effectively create image collections within the library. What we have a lesser understanding of is how digital collections in our Digital Collections Portal are being used based on quantitative data (such as statistics on site use from Google Analytics and Piwik in combination with pop-up questionnaires) and qualitative data (such as focus groups and personal interviews), in combination with usability testing. Assessing how our digital collections are being used is one aspect of my DSPS Fellowship. From talking with members of the web team, it seems that assessment happens on a more ad hoc basis, and it would be good to have a systematic method of how to gauge the use of our collections on a regular basis.
Another component of this fellowship is examining how we promote our digital collections. We have incredible assets in the library that are of no use if patrons are unaware of them. It will be beneficial to have a general digital project promotion workflow. For instance, an excellent initiative has been entering information about collections into Wikipedia. If we can make a point of doing this for every new collection, we will have a wider user base for our images. We also highlight images from our digital collections on Instagram. I intend to create a checklist of how to spread the word about new collections after they are launched and on an ongoing basis as the second part of my fellowship.
Assessment and promotion are important phases of the digital curation lifecycle that are not specifically part of anyone’s role in DSPS and are crucial to the services we provide. Given the fact that DSPS recently created a digital curation unit, it is apparent that better serving the entire project lifecycle is a priority, and this fellowship will aid in improving these workflows.