Digital Humanities Abstracts

“Assessing, Digitizing, and Delivering Library Collections: Scoping Oxford's Resources”
Stuart Lee Centre for Humanities Computing

In 1998 the University of Oxford, funded by the A W Mellon foundation, initiated a scoping study into its digitization activities -- past, present, and future. The report aimed:
  • to document, analyse and evaluate Oxford's current digitization activities, as a basis for assessing the effectiveness of the various methodologies used;
  • to investigate the possibilities for building on the existing project-based work and for migrating it into viable services for library users;
  • to develop appropriate selection criteria for creating digital collections in the context of local, national, and international scholarly requirements for digital library products and services;
  • to make recommendations for further investment and activity within the Oxford libraries sector and potentially within the UK research libraries community.
This paper will outline the methodology used by the study and present its findings. In particular it will outline the following:
  • Survey of potential projects - The study formulated a series of questionnaires and interview sheets for use with existing digitization projects, and potential digitization projects. These, and the subsequent results, will be outlined.
  • Assessing projects - The paper will present some of the problems in assessing a collection for digitization using appropriate case studies from the colleges and libraries at Oxford.
  • Digitization, Metadata, and Access - The study performed a reasonably detailed analysis of activities (both within Oxford and outside of Oxford) related to the digitization process used, the metadata systems, and the access procedures. These will be outlined in the paper with appropriate references to further readings.
  • Workflows and Business Plans - The study was asked to produce a robust set of assessment criteria for digitization projects as well as a full business plan and model for an on-demand digitization service for the University. In addition it was asked to expand this to a digitization service that could manage project sized collections. Using the services of the Higher Education Digitization Service (UK) these have been produced and will be outlined in the talk.
Above all this paper seeks to outline the procedures adopted by the study and the recommendations Oxford has derived from it, with the hope that these will be of use to other institutions who are seeking to set up a digitization service, or to move their reprographics unit into the digital age. The study was conducted by Stuart D Lee, Head of the Centre for Humanities Computing, University of Oxford, and was overseen by a project steering group.