RLI 283 Metastatic Metadata 32 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC 2013 The size of the corpus made it difficult to imagine resolving the problem with available staffing in SCUA, but staff set it as a priority to revisit this nagging collection to emend the records, roust them into the 21st century, and fold them into the new repository. Building Digital Capacity At the intersection of opportunity and craven self-interest, the University Photos Project (UPP) was born. One member of the SCUA staff, Danielle Kovacs, noted the inherent synergy between the libraries’ larger goals and SCUA’s needs, and with Tom Sawyer intentions, the head of SCUA worked with the Digital Strategies Group (on which he serves) to promote the concept of appropriating labor from other library departments to whitewash SCUA’s digital fence. Although this plot might seem nefarious, it was fundamentally an exercise in biblio-mutualism. In return for the labor, SCUA would help demystify digital technologies for its peers and assist them in acquiring skills in three distinct areas: creating and interpreting digital content, working with the Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS), and gaining comfort in using XML-authoring software. In some ways, SCUA was well poised to help, not only because of its experience with digital projects, but because three members of its staff are adjunct instructors in a library science program. There were some fairly high-level complexities, of course. This was no simple exercise in applying MODS encoding. It was, in effect, original cataloging and, to do the job properly, it required participants to develop an understanding of visual materials cataloging and contemporary content standards, and to tap into a sometimes arcane fount of knowledge about the university and its history. From the outset, however, it was clear that the UPP would allow SCUA to chip away at a timely, even essential project while providing a test bed in which the library staff could confront the changing digital climate and hone their metadata skills. Organizational Integration After vetting the formal proposal through the Digital Strategies Group and ensuring that it aligned with the library’s current strategic plan, the proposal was approved by the Senior Management Group (consisting of library administration and department heads), and the UPP was launched as a one-year experiment in January 2012. SCUA began by evangelizing for the project at one of the libraries’ regular all-staff meetings, encouraging peers to enlist for a glorious term of enjoyable work with original materials and highlighting the benefits that would accrue not only to the university’s sesquicentennial and the library, but to their own professional development. Self-interest, SCUA said, would align with self-interest. Individuals who chose to participate consulted with their department heads and arranged for five hours of release time per week to devote to UPP. To defuse concerns over the impact of the project on the productivity of their home departments, the UPP calendar was limited to three 10-week sessions, corresponding roughly to the university’s spring, summer, and fall terms, although with the approval of their department head, volunteers were permitted to register for more than one session. To spread the impact of the project as broadly as possible, participants were solicited not only from the professional and paraprofessional ranks, but from other areas of the staff as well, including security and office staff.
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