UIUC Library Gateway


Digital Content Creation Team

UIUC Main Library


Team Charge

Creating digital content will be an integral part of the library's future. Digital content directly supports the teaching and research objectives of the University's faculty, staff, and students. Digital content we develop should not duplicate free, purchased, or licensed resources, and resources created by UIUC should be searchable alongside non-UIUC resources and meet the instructional and research needs of students and faculty.

Selecting and creating digital content on a large scale will eventually necessitate fundamental structural changes in library access services. Comparing our permanent, dedicated digital library staff to peer institutions (such as Cornell, Michigan, Virginia, Indiana, California, or Duke), we not only lack a sufficient number of programmers dedicated to DL development, but several key positions, including a metadata librarian, project specialists, and production supervisors do not currently exist. As the IT assessment report points out, the Systems Office spends much of its supporting the technical infrastructure and production systems that are critical to the Library's daily operations. Furthermore, the incumbent head of Digital Services and Development will begin his/her tenure with a skeleton crew. With isolated exceptions, library faculty have not pursued large-scale grants to digitize collections. Finally, the use of appropriate standards to create and manage on-line content has been spotty at best.

These challenges should not be minimized. On the other hand, many factors show that Illinois is well placed to undertake large-scale digital content creation. The library's collections include large caches of unique materials worthy of large-scale digitization. Many of these items are in the public domain. (Some of these collections could be targeted for revenue generation.) Faculty and staff have developed expertise in working with XML, OAI, and database technologies that undergird digital libraries. The skills necessary to work on DL projects also exist in the Systems Office. In addition, projects such as Teaching with Digital Content, Emblem Books, Slavic digital resources, and the Archives Database/EAD projects (this list is not intended to be exhaustive) have made some headway in providing DL services to our users. Work has recently been undertaken to identify and capture born digital materials for our collections. We host two revenue generating operations which use locally-developed content (IRIS and ABSEES). The basic level of hardware and software support for DL development appears sufficient and provides a good basis for investigating aggregated services via OAI, metasearch tools, or digital object management systems. The distributed, entrepreneurial model of grant seeking upon which the library relies has been successful in other areas (OAI, Mellon recon project) and should be applied to DL opportunities. An institutional repository is on the horizon.

Absent new permanent funding from the University or the State of Illinois, it will be necessary for a team of existing library faculty and staff to marshal these factors into a concrete course of action. While the DCCT will initially focus on developing policy, it will turn its attention after a few months to evaluating proposals, writing grants, and developing resources.

The Digital Content Creation Team will:

  • develop digitization and metadata standards (in consultation with the Access Strategies Team) for application to future DL projects and existing resources that lack appropriate metadata;
  • set priorities (in terms of selection, standards and funding) for the University's nascent digital library;
  • Assist librarians in implementing and seeking funding for digital content creation projects; and
  • Ensure that digital library content uses appropriate metadata standards.

The team could be the precursor of more permanent mechanism for digital library development, whether that involves an expanded DSD unit or the permanent reorientation of staff responsibilities toward collection digitization and service development. The team will be of limited duration, after which it will evaluate its activities and make recommendations for future IT directions.

Over the first four months of its existence, the team's specific activities will include:

  • Investigating the state of current DL activities in the library and identifying outstanding digitization requests;
  • Establishing library-wide guidelines for prioritizing content for digitization;
  • Establishing library-wide guidelines for the creating, managing, and preserving digital objects;
  • Investigating metadata requirements for digital objects vis-a-vis the institutional repository, OAI, and digital object management systems under consideration;
  • Recommending a framework for funding for medium-sized digitization projects; and
  • Publicizing potential funding sources for large-scale digital library technologies.

Over the following year, the team's specific activities will include:

  • Consulting with library and university faculty to identify possible digitization projects that support instruction and research;
  • Evaluating digitization proposals for implementation;
  • Ensuring that digital content we create is consistent with best practices;
  • Assisting in the nitty-gritty of implementing small-scale digital library projects which do not require outside funding;
  • Assisting librarians in writing grants to develop large-scale digital library resources;
  • Evaluating its effectiveness in facilitating digital content creation; and
  • Recommending more permanent mechanisms to facilitate digital content creation and to integrate digital library development into the Library's overall IT and access strategies

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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Updated on: 3.2.200g  CJP