CDI project management

I haven’t discussed issues of project management on the blog, largely because I have been spending the majority of my time on programming, and web development. The first few months of work  were devoted to getting a backend in place and setting up workflow to get digitization and metadata work started, after that I moved on to creating the front-end for content delivery. Since the release I’ve been trying to catch up on a lot of back burner and partially complete back-end and front-end projects (MODS/METS editors, authority control, ect.). However, as the period of our initial grant runs out (grant is up at the end of the month) project management issues are becoming much more important, and I’m taking a break from the tech side to work on getting all our ducks in a row for continuing development.

Because so much of the CDI work happens on a distributed bases – content selection coming from Special Collections or the Collection Development Librarian, metadata from the cataloging department etc. – it is becoming increasingly important for me to have a handle on each part of the digitization process, not just the technical side. This includes knowing where the collection development policy is, having ideas about how we can keep content coming in to be digitized even before the collection development policy is completed, understanding what the metadata workflow looks like, and how to keep metadata work moving smoothly, knowing who can do what sorts of metadata work, and how to best utilize the skills of the people involved, and finally, keeping in mind the CDI’s profile in the University with an ear to the ground for any projects that we should be getting involved with.  

For example the library is starting to put into place a programmatic method for accepting and providing access to electronic theses and dissertations. Currently the discussion seems to be revolving around getting a D-space instance to house the project. This is a project I think the CDI could/should play a part in, even if it is only in an advisory capacity. Another example is the digitization of the University Trustees minutes, a project that is being pushed by the University CIO, which Special Collections has been consulting on, and I think the CDI could offer an excellent (and logical) solution to this project.  The trick is how to make sure that the CDI is thought of when these projects come up (which currently it isn’t) and how to make sure the CDI is positioned to take on projects like these. By which I mean that we are staffed appropriately, and that the technical infrastructure is in place so that such projects can be easily folded into the CDI framework.

The most urgent issue the CDI is currently facing is a lack of a collection development policy. The initial grant was fairly specific in its content mandate. We were digitizing congressional materials, which largely came from Special Collections: the Congressional Speeches, Portraits, Letters, and Diary collections.  Although we have a collection development committee, and a policy in the works, the lack of a working policy has led to an embarrassingly long lull in scanning.

The eventual plan is to have a process where collections can be submitted to the collection development team. Proposed collections will be evaluated for appropriateness, and feasibility. Projects will then enter a queue, and scanning and metadata work can happen in an orderly fashion. Currently all of our collection development rests in the hands of one overworked special collections librarian, and when he has other responsibilities the content stops coming in to be scanned.

As an immediate solution to this problem we will start scanning one of Special Collections large historical photo collections of the Burlington era. The collection is a high use collection, and free of rights issues. Because it is such a large collection I think we will use it as a “filler” to be scanned when there is down time, or a lull in other content creation.

My goal this week is to get scanning restarted on the Burlington photo’s, and then move on the working with the cataloging department to get more people involved in metadata creation. Hopefully I can also squeeze in some time to finish up the MODS XForm.


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