Digitisation is a complex procedure, or rather a complex network of parallel procedures. The work of the LIFE-SHARE Project will be based on all aspects of the digital content lifecycle. The Project will adopt one of the current lifecycle models for digital content and use this to analyse current practices within institutions and across the consortium. Each of the partner libraries is engaged in digital content creation, for a variety of purposes, and there is a growing need to understand costs and benefits across the digital content lifecycle. The adoption of a lifecycle model will ensure that the LIFE-SHARE Project identifies costs and institutional/consortial strategies for all aspects of digital content curation and preservation. It is envisaged that LIFE-SHARE project work will further inform the work of the LIFE Project– by creating additional sets of lifecycle costing data.
The recent Ithaka report, ‘Sustainability and Revenue Models for Online Academic Resources’ identified compelling reasons to collaborate on digital content creation, curation and management – both within and across institutions. LIFE-SHARE, being a consortial project, is well-placed to explore both institutional and consortial strategies to support digitisation activities, and the wealth of expertise across the partner institutions will ensure that the project outcomes will capitalise on the pooling of experiences – for the benefit of the wider community.
One of the real strengths of the LIFE-SHARE Project is that it draws together a wide array of professional skills from across the consortium. Mirroring the growing need for interoperability in our digital delivery of services, and the recognition that silos of unconnected content are difficult to manage and access, by bringing together distributed staff and skills this project will help create a shared understanding and a shared pool of expertise which can only help enhance the consortium and its ability to deliver appropriate and viable services and to contribute to national initiatives.
Across the digital content lifecycle, required skills range from project management to the preparation of exacting technical specifications, and from assessing the needs of users to constructing media-specific metadata profiles. To add to this complexity, different skills are drawn upon within different contexts – digitisation of printed material within the day-to-day activities of an academic library is likely to be a very different to a special-funded and time-limited digitisation project. The status, nature and condition of materials may also call for highly bespoke digitisation skills. The 2007 JISC Digitisation Conference at Cardiff emphasised the need to describe the nature of these interdisciplinary skills along with current training provision. The LIFE-SHARE Project will directly address this need by working with project partner, JISC Digital Media, to assess the skills required for the creation, curation and preservation of digital content and match these requirements with current training provision available to the UK’s academic community.
The LIFE-SHARE Project will be delivered via a series of inter-related work-packages (WP), which will be tightly defined and which will provide a framework for project management and evaluation. Work-package deliverables have been designed to benefit the wider community as well as project partners. As an example, work-package 2 will create an invaluable resource for departments and projects that wish to perform an in-house skills audit before embarking on digitisation. Importantly, the work package will also act as a platform for those who have completed digitisation activities to share their experiences and to suggest knowledge and skills they would consider beneficial for others who are intending to embark on digitisation.
LIFE model http://eprints.ucl.ac.uk/4831/
DCC model http://www.dcc.ac.uk/docs/publications/DCCLifecycle.pdf