Yesterday (Wednesday 23 May 2007) I gave a talk on “Building (and Sustaining) Impact for your Web Resource” at an ARLIS/UK & Ireland Study Day on “Dip’ping Your Toe In The Water: Digital Image Projects, Where To Begin And How Not To End“.
The ARLIS/UK & Ireland society is new to me. It is an educational charity which seeks to promote all aspects of the librarianship of the visual arts, including architecture and design. The aim of the study day was to provide advice for members who are involved in or planning digitisation projects.
Institutional Case Studies
The first two talks described case studies in use of (proprietary) software used to manage collections of digital images. It was particularly interesting to hear the case study from Birkbeck University, which described the approaches taken by the London Architecture Online (LAO) project which aims “to create a searchable, high quality collection of c.2000 digital images on architectural developments in London during the 17th and 18th centuries.” It struck me during the presentation (unfortunately the planned demonstration could not be given due to access restriction problems) that many institutions will probably be going down the route of multiple provision of repository services, such as departmental digitisation of key resources (as in this case) together with institutional learning repositories, eprints repositories, media repositories, perhaps provided by AV departments, etc, as well as the various national repositories, such as JORUM.
We have started to have discussion here at the University of Bath on the duplication of effort as well as the potential problems this can cause to the end user community, who will potentially have multiple repository services they may need to access. I don’t think the solution to this problem is for institutions to decide on a single application for all uses; rather there is a need to ensure that the various repository services which are deployed are interoperable, allowing, for example, for the metadata to be harvested by other services in order to allow a single (and possibly personalised) interface to be provided to multiple repository services.
This is also an opportunity for me to mention the JISC-funded RSP Project which has the remit to encourage the reuse of repository content, which will include support for institutions in exploiting interoperable services. UKOLN is one of the partners in this project, which is led by the University of Nottingham.
The Bigger Picture
The three other talks provided a bigger picture. Grant Young, TASI, in his talk on “Going Digital: Overcoming the Barriers to Digitisation” summarised the findings of a recent survey he had carried out on the barriers which the ARLIS community faced in digitisation work. The biggest barrier was copyright, followed by various resourcing challenges (finance, technical expertise, etc.). Grant also mentioned his involvement in discussions on future developments to the Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS) copyright licence.
After lunch I gave my talk on “Building (and Sustaining) Impact for your Web Resource“. I described (and demonstrated) how various Web 2.0 services could help to overcome barriers due to limited technical expertise an, in response to a query which had been raised in the morning session as to why users who may be willing to make use of Flickr, did not, in some cases, seem to be interested in making use of similar services provide in museums, I suggested that many users who have gained familiarity with the popular Web 2.0 social networking services, may not be interested in services which did not provide annotation and discussion services or the lonely ghettos which can be found in over-managed social networking services. I concluded by suggesting that the emphasis on users and trust which underpins much of the thinking on Web 2.0 is close to the hearts of the cultural heritage and educational sectors (“You mean that I can borrow resources for free and browse an art gallery with often unhindered viewing of priceless paintings, but you don’t trust me to leave a comment in your online visitors book” – to paraphrase a recent discussion on the topic of “Radical Trust”).
The final talk of the day was given by Mike Pringle (current) director of the AHDS Visual Arts service. Mike gave a talk entitled “From Analogue to Digital: the Slide into Total Immersion“. Mike’s talk complemented mine nicely, and, as I discovered in the panel session at the end of the day’s event, he endorsed the paper by Mike Ellis and myself which Mike presented at the Museums and the Web 2007 conference: “Web 2.0: How to Stop Thinking and Start Doing: Addressing Organisational Barriers“.
Next Steps For ARLIS
I found the ARLIS study day very enjoyable, not least for the willingness which I felt that the delegates and ARLIS committees members appeared to have for engaging with the Web 2.0 world. One of the committee members is already a del.ici.us user and several people expressed an interest in supporting an ARLIS blog :-) It would be great to see ARLIS follow the example set by the CILIP South East’s Hampshire and Isle of Wight sub-branch who recently set up a blog to implement the new CILIP’s president’s call for member organisations to “Encourag[e] member activism“.
Feel free to add a comment to this post when the service is available. And feedback for participants at the ARLIS Study Day is also welcomed.