e-Content Stewardship program kick-off

One of my primary foci is a new program jointly undertaken by the libraries and ITS, known as e-Content Stewardship.  (For more background information, Mairead Martin set the scene.)  The program is largely the brain-child of Mairead (Sr. Director of Digital Library Technologies), Mike Furlough (Assistant Dean for Scholarly Communications), and Lisa German (Assistant Dean for Technical and Collections Services), but has doubtless been shaped by many others in the libraries and scholarly communication circles.

Yesterday the three of those folks got together with myself and Patricia Hswe, Digital Collections Curator, to orient us – it’s Patricia’s and my first week at Penn State – and also to set some direction for how the two of us might carve out an initial project.

Our first project is quite a clever idea (for which I take no credit, since it came from Mairead, Lisa, and the other Mike): we will review the digital library platforms currently being used by the libraries.  In so doing we will better orient ourselves for later efforts, so it’s beneficial to us, but it’s also beneficial to the libraries and ITS to have new and fresh eyes looking at how folks are using our systems.  I’m particularly interested in what APIs the platforms support and how we might get them interoperating, in addition to how the products themselves are evolving – is the software moribund or under active development?  What’s the support like?  What’s the user community like?

Interop is but one piece of the puzzle.  There’s also structure of collections, relationships between items, organization of information, and so forth.  We will also want to talk with users of the systems to suss out usage patterns, features liked and hated, quirks, and so forth.  Administrators and developers, too, of course.

I’m looking forward to making some headway on this review.  I have some suspicions about what we may conclude, but I’m keeping those to myself and trying to remain as objective as I can so as to give the platforms a fair shake.