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Question

Does my digital collection have a collection development policy?

Can users discover relevant information about the authenticity, integrity, and interpretation of the collection (this might include information about the scope, format, restrictions on access, and ownership)? Are the resources in my collection curated?

Is my collection widely available without any roadblocks for use?

Does my collection respect intellectual property rights?

Is there a way to look at usage data in my collection?

Is my collection interoperable? Does my collection integrate into user workflow?

Is my collection sustainable over time?

If "Maybe" then display A collection development policy is a written statement of your institution's intentions for building a collection. Your collection development policy should be agreed upon and documented before building a digital collection. This type of information might a straightforward description of the collection, information about the scope info about the people (and organization) responsible for making the collection, terms of use, software requirements, and any copyright concerns. Digital curation means that your resources are being actively managed during their entire existence. This includes managing data, archiving, and preservation. Is my collection on the web? Is my collection easy to use on different kinds of web browsers? Can people using assistive technologies (like screen readers) use my collection? If you answered yes to all these, your collection is widely available and doesnt have any roadblocks for use. Does your collection policy address your institutions copyright policy? Are you keeping track of the rights holders for submissions? Intellectual property rights also include rights and permissions granted to the collection developers and users of your collection If you have a way of keeping track of how many people viewed the items in your collection then you have usage data. Will a search engine (like the one that starts with G and rhymes with oogle) be able to index the metadata in your collection? Do users have access points to your collection in places where they normally navigate to? If administrators have bought into your collection and youve addressed long term planning issues like funding and maintenance (monitoring access points, cleaning up data, supporting hardware, etc.), then your collection is sustainable.

If "No" then display Collection development is tied to your institutions goals. Your digital collection should tie in with your institutions goals and mission, and your collection development policy should reflect that. There may be some exceptions, like digitization on demand, or institutional repositories, where the collection objects are primarily determined by users. Even these collections should follow principals for building collections when appropriate for the collection.

This type of information is important because it helps people discover the collection. It also helps users understand what they are looking at. Formal descriptions of collections (like those in catalogs, registries, and portals) also establish the authority of the collection. Consider putting this stuff in!

Resource management is important because it ensures that objects can be discovered, used, and reused long term. Over time, discovery tools and descriptions might change, so it is important to keep the data in your collection current. Digital formats change over time as well, so active management is needed to ensure access to your stuff.

People cant use your collection if they cant access it for whatever reason. You want people to use your collection, dont you? There are some well known digital collections, like Salman Rushdies emulated computer at Emory that violate this guideline.

Authors and creators may not want to contribute to your collection if you dont address intellectual property rights. Consider actively soliciting information about the creators of works in your collection if the rights holder is unknown. Rights management is risk management. People are less likely to sue if a rights policy statement is displayed with your collection. You can probably get more of that sweet, sweet grant money to support your collection if you have ways of demonstrating return on investment and evaluation. Usage data can provide this, but also consider other forms of assessment like focus groups, interviews, surveys, and case studies. Quit reading this and go here.

If your users dont have access points, consider having them make some a la social tagging or beefing up your social media profile.

Sustainability should be a concern from the beginning of the planning of the collection. If your collection isnt sustainable, bring this to the attention of the managers, administrators, and stakeholders so you can develop a plan to correct this issue.

Question

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If "No" then display

Can the things in your collection be used today and 50 years from now? Will you understand things in your collection if they are outside your collection?

The things in your collection should be in some kind of standardized format and accessible across browsers and platforms. Two sets of images should be created: a master set for preservation, and a set for access. Generally speaking, master images should be in TIFF or JPEG2000 (which offer lossless or minimal loss compression), while images for optimal viewing can be in JPEG or PDF (which can be accessed across browsers and systems). Text should be marked up with some kind of standardized XML schema. Master files of ANYTHING should be created in a format that isnt dependent on patents or proprietary formats or contain watermarks or encryption.

No. Certain formats are recommended because they can be pretty easily read by a machine or a human in a text editor. If this is the case, than if formats change in 50 years, you have a greater chance of migrating your stuff. When migrating your stuff, you want the migrated version to be as close to the original as possible. Encryption and watermarks can prevent this from happening. Formats that depend on patents or are proprietary are less likely to be successfully migrated because you dont have access to published standards about the format. Work on making the format and technical requirements obvious. Draft a statement that explaining how the stuff in your collection can be used (and reused).

Do the things in your collection have persistent, globally unique identifiers that can be mapped to their locations?

Can the things in your collection be authenticated?

The things in your collection should be portable and self-explanatory Identifiers are names assigned to individual things according to some kind of formal standard, system, or schema. Good identifiers will be unique to your collection at minimum. Identifiers need to be scalable and consistent. Identifiers can be made globally unique by adding a globally unique prefix, like an organization code. Authentication is determining that an item is in agreement with its documented origin, structure, history, and the item hasnt been changed in any unauthorized way. Authentication doesnt include the accuracy of the information in your object.

Do the things in your collection have metadata?

Metadata can be embedded within an object, or stored separately and linked to the item (although the Library of Congress recommends embedding metadata whenever possible for sustainability purposes. )

The purpose of an identifier is to uniquely identify an item in your collection, so even if the location of the item changes you can locate the item through the identifier. The origin of a thing can be recorded internally in the file header of the thing. Recording the change history in the metadata of the object can also help authentication. Also consider generating checksums for comparison at points in time. Metadata can be harvested, which increases the discoverability of your collection. Consider requiring creators and contributors to your collection to provide certain metadata elements when they submit to your collection. This will increase the amount of metadata available, and it might increase the accuracy of your metadata.

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Does your metadata conform to a community standard appropriate for your collection and users?

If you have a scientific data set, using the TEI schema (which was developed for humanities texts) to encode your metadata may not be appropriate. If your collection is of childrens drawings, medical subject headings are probably not good keywords.

Does your metadata support interoperability?

If a user can look at the metadata of an item outside of your collection and understand what that item is, your metadata supports interoperability.

Does your metadata have authority control and content standards?

If I am the author of multiple works in a collection, my name should appear the same every time in that metadata field. It shouldnt appear with three items as Meg Wilson and with one item as Margaret Bond Adkins Wilson.

Does your metadata include the terms and conditions for use of the item it describes? Does your metadata support long term management and preservation of the stuff in your collection?

Will a user understand how they can use (and reuse) an item by looking at the metadata? Does your collection have administrative, technical, preservation, and structural metadata to support managing resources, describing file formats, retaining files long term, relate digital files to each other (when applicable?) Does your metadata have metadata? Basically, is there a way to determine that metadata was created by your institution (and is accurate) through examining the metadata?

If "No" then display Check out Metadata Fundamentals for All Librarians, which has a list of metadata schemes for institutions. Think long and hard about the levels of description you want to have for a collection, series, and item. Develop an application profile that will determine the metadata scheme you use for each level of description, the required metadata elements, and any controlled vocabulary or other standards that will help discovery and access in your collection. If your metadata is harvested by an aggregator (like a search engine or a content portal), the user needs to be able to understand the item so he/she can evaluate whether or not is useful for his/her purposes. Interoperable metadata increases access. Using a standardized metadata scheme (like MODS, METS, or Dublin Core) can help interoperability by providing a template of the metadata elements you need and allowing systems that use that scheme to access your metadata. Developers can also build discovery services for your collection if the metadata is standardized. This might be the hardest requirement to enforce, especially with collections that allow users to create metadata. It might sound counterintuitive, but standards and authority control can increase discoverability of related items in a collection. If two items in a collection are described as cats and one is described as felines, then users who do a search for cats will only find two things. Granted, you can have a developer come up with some sort of solution that links felines to cats when someone does a search, but this can be more labor intensive and less reliable when you have to do this for all the metadata in the entire collection. This isnt to say that all user created metadata is bad, but generally speaking user created metadata should either serve as a supplement to metadata that is authority controlled, or be subject to some kind of authority control from an administrator/cataloger type. Some creators may want to put their works under a Creative Commons license; some may not. Your users have no way of knowing if they are free to reuse a work unless it says some were in the metadata. You may have one universal policy regarding rights and wont allow submission unless creators and contributors agree to that policy. Users who discover an item in your collection through a search engine might not bother to navigate to the page where you explain the rights policy. Rights metadata is usually expressed in XML. Consider looking at the California Digital Rights Management copyrightMD schema. Rights metadata is the only legally enforceable type of metadata, so its pretty important to have for risk management.

Can your metadata be authenticated?

Without these features, curators cant determine when a file was created, migrate a file to a new format, keep the file long term (over 10+ years), or link sequential files together (like the order of pages in a digital book). If your metadata cant be authenticated, then it cant be accredited to your institution, which means that someone savvy can claim it, and use it however they want. Do you want some content farm in Russia to hijack your metadata to sell Viagra?

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If "No" then display

Have you spent a significant amount of time planning initiatives for your digital collection?

Do you have enough people to achieve your collection initiatives?

Do your collection initiatives follow best practices for project management?

Are you going to evaluate your collection initiatives?

Do you know who your target audience is? Have you defined their requirements? Do you have a written project plan including your long and short term goals? Do you know the metadata requirements, digitization methods, and workflow of your collection? These people can come from your institutions staff, a contract with another company, or a partnership with another institution. They need to have the skills to implement your collection initiatives. Do you follow industry standard best practices? This includes a project planning stage, a project implementation stage, and a project review stage. Do you have some way of determining whether the workflow of your digital imitative or outcome is effective? Do you have defined benchmarks for making this determination?

Without planning, your collection wont have long term sustainability, which means that over time it wont be accessible (or useful) to users.

Either expand your budget and hire more people, or scale back your ambitions. Theres no point in spending money (and effort) on an initiative if you ultimately cant achieve your goals.

Get a new project manager. NISO also recommends reading this U.K. standard project methodology.

If you dont know whats not working, how will you improve? Surveys and transaction logs are good for measuring user input. Qualitative methods of evaluation (like focus groups and case studies) are good for determining the impact of your collection.

Do your stakeholders know the goals and outcomes of your Are you marketing collection? Do your users your collection know your collection initiatives? exists? Do you have a plan for maintaining the Do your initiatives resources to support take into account your collection and the entire lifespan of preserve the stuff in your your collection and collection for users over services? time?

Consider developing documentation to communicate to your stakeholders the goals and objectives of your collection. Consider using social media to reach your users, and figure out ways to increase your Google ranking (perhaps by reading these handy guides: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35769 http://www.googlerank.com/ranking/Ebook/intro.html

Your collection needs to be integrated into the workflow and use of your institution. Digital collections arent just one off projects. Without planning for the future, your collection isnt going to last.