The DiSCmap project : digitisation of special collections: mapping, assessment, prioritisation

Dobreva, Milena and Birrell, Duncan and Dunsire, Gordon and Griffiths, Jillian and Hartley, Richard and Menzies, Kathleen (2009) The DiSCmap project : digitisation of special collections: mapping, assessment, prioritisation. In: World Library and Information Congress: 75th IFLA General Conference and Council, 2009-08-23 - 2009-08-27.

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The paper presents the outcomes of DiSCmap, a JISC and RIN-funded project which aimed to study users' priorities for digitisation of special collections within the context of the higher education institutions in the UK. The project produced a 'long list' of 945 collections nominated for digitisation by intermediaries and end users and a user-driven prioritisation framework. Web surveys were used as a tool to gather data in combination with focus groups and telephone interviews with end users helped to get additional insights on their views in particular domains. The project developed an online forum and a group in Facebook in order to find to what extent the social networking technologies can be used to sustain a professional informal community but this did not prove to be successful. Over 1000 specialists took part in the different forms used to gather intermediaries and end users' nominations of collections for the "long list" and opinions about digitisation priorities. The long list of 945 special collections nominated for digitisation can be useful as an evidence of identified user interest; this list is not seen as a "snapshot" but as an outcome which needs to be sustained and further developed in the future. A user-driven framework for prioritizing digitisation was produced; it fits well with the current JISC digitisation strategy, providing a further level of detail on user priorities. The project also suggests a flexible approach for prioritizing collections for digitisation based on the use of the framework in combination with the long list of collections. The project did not make a representative study; the participation of intermediaries and end users was a matter of good will. Yet, special collections from 44% of the higher education institutions in the UK were nominated to the long list. The work on the project provided new insights and evidence on the user priorities in digitisation of special collections. It also suggests a user-driven digitisation prioritization framework which would be of benefit in future decision making.