The educational sessions of the Joint Annual Meeting of the Council of State Archivists and the Society of American Archivists concluded at the Hilton Riverside in New Orleans, Louisiana on Saturday, August 17, 2013. This session focused on taking collaboration between practitioners and stakeholders to the next level.
The panel comprised of:
- Lori A. Birrell, MA, Archivist, University of Rochester
- Robin L. Chandler, Associate University Librarian, University of California, Santa Cruz
- Janet M. Carleton, Digital Initiatives Coordinator, Ohio University Libraries
- Sheila A. McAlister, Associate Director, Digital Library of Georgia, University of Georgia
Taking Collaboration to the Next Level
"Collaboration" has become a central buzz word in archival studies and library science. The panelists offered three different models that surpass merely adding content to a website. This panel tackled issues for practitioners when collaborating with key stakeholders on digital projects. They discussed the challenges and successes in collaborations, assessment and evaluation undertaken to improve outcomes, lessons learned and future plans.
McAlister prefaced the session with two references:
- Jeff Rubin’s “Collaboration as a Means to Add Value in Digital Libraries” (pdf)
- Amy Friedlander’s “Working Together or Apart: Promoting the Next Generation of Digital Scholarship” (pdf)
“Archives, libraries, and museums are accustomed to working collaboratively to publish their digital collections. Often these collaborations are narrowly focused and geographically based,” she asserted. "Even larger institutional projects involve the same familiar partners and models. But now that we’ve mastered the basic processes of digitization and these familiar relationships, how do we take it to the next level?” asked McAlister. "According to Rubin, ‘there is a fork in the road. One way leads down a familiar street of discrete collections of material. The other road leads to a broadening of purpose, to new relationships which hold the promise of creating new value and experiences for the user.’”
Balancing Stakeholder Interests
Carleton commented on the managerial sensitivity required when digitizing projects with multiple stakeholders. George V. Voinovich, elected to more public offices than any other Ohioan, expressed an early interest in digitizing his collections. The project was designed to:
- expose requested items from Voinovich collections in single interface for study and research, and
- involve faculty in selection process to promote classroom use.
The project included three collections housed at Ohio University: George V. Voinovich Gubernatorial Collection 1991-1998; Senator George V. Voinovich Papers 1999-2011; and George V. Voinovich Campaigns Collection, and Records of the Mayor of the City of Cleveland, George V. Voinovich 1977-1989, housed at Western Reserve Historical Society.
The core project team includes representatives from the Cleveland State University’s College of Urban Affairs, the Center for Public History and the Digital Humanities as well as Ohio University’s University Libraries, the Voinovich Center and faculties. Current status? Four out of five collections are online. In fact, campaign materials are scheduled to be uploaded this week.
Bringing Collections to the Classroom
Birrell’s presentation focused on “connecting collections with curricula.” Dr. Tom Slaughter of the University of Rochester’s History Department began offering Hist 219: William Henry Seward and His Civil War in the fall of 2012. The course integrates the William Henry Seward Papers, creating a wonderful triangle of collaboration amongst the units at the University: the History Department, the Special Collections Department and the Digital Humanities Center.
Collaboration amongst the three parties was required while designing the course. Dr. Slaughter and staff wrestled with several questions: How do we balance access and security to this manuscript collection? How should library staff, space, money and equipment be allocated? The results have been a deeply enriching project for everyone:
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