tools; and effective policy setting can allow user subject experts to participate in
exposing collections. Libraries will need to more effectively use existing tools
and infrastructure and innovate new solutions where necessary. Greenberg
encouraged libraries to “write for Google” and “write for referral” to surface
collections in researchers’ pathways. Tracy Seneca offered a different twist,
reporting on a repurposable method of creating digital archives by harvesting
openly accessible Web sites. Speakers gave a wide variety of examples
demonstrating how repurposing the context of use provides meaning in a way
that is at the heart of the research enterprise. Anne Kenny discussed how special
collections can be used to build or enrich digital communities and how
passionate those communities become about the digital collaborative space.
Yet to enable this knowledge building, libraries must move away from one-off,
boutique, digital projects to solidify digital programs. As special collections face
the challenges of sustaining digital surrogates and born-digital materials,
permanent funding and infrastructure must be allocated to ensure that those
collections are accessible and authentic for the long run.
Digitization and digital curation are no longer specialized activities; they are
a part of the life-cycle management of special collections. The challenging but
critical tasks for success are the policy setting, infrastructure building, and
training. Speakers acknowledged that while this
work must take place in each library, this work will
not be successfully undertaken by libraries acting
alone. Throughout the forum, speakers provided
concrete examples of successful and innovative
collaborations within and across institutions and
between institutions and collections users. Kenney
advocated for collaborative strategies that bind
research libraries together as we work with
commercial partners on large-scale digitization of
special collections. Greenberg agreed that we must
work as a broader, online ecosystem. Waters called
for new and reliable ways to link collections across
institutional boundaries. Reflecting on the successes
of the MetaArchive Cooperative, Katherine Skinner
noted that we need to create durable associations of autonomous entities
collaborating to achieve common or compatible goals while maintaining
RLI 267
15
Moving Special Collections Forward in an Age of Discovery: Themes from the ARL-CNI Forum
(
C O N T I N U E D
)
DECEMBER 2009 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
Listen to Katherine Skinner on the need to engage
in strong collaborative networks to preserve and
expose the digital cultural record. [4 min.]
http://www.arl.org/bm~doc/rli-267-skinner.mp3
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