Monthly Archives: June 2012

Major Themes from Summit Meeting (part 2)

In my last post, I only focused on one of the major themes from the Summit Meeting: “this project will focus on asset discovery and access for users, as well as communication and collaboration with partner organizations.” Digging a little bit deeper into part of that message, I would like to focus on the collaboration with partner organizations. Over the course of two days, we spent a lot of time discussing our partners–who they might be, how to reach out to them, how to communicate with them, what pieces of the project would be most relevant to them, and how to get them to trust the project and want to be part of it.

We talked a lot about policies that we should draft to help explain the project to our partners and clearly articulate their roles, responsibilities, and rights as related to the project. The policies are going to be varied; we will probably have a general policy laying out basic information about the project, a copyright policy, and a privacy policy. We also discussed what we called a service policy and/or ownership policy. These policies cover what services we can provide to our partners such as enhanced metadata and usage statistics for their items in the project. We need to also explain how we are going to use their metadata, get permission to add to their metadata and provide that data back to the partners, and the procedures for terminating the partnership or simply removing an item from a collection.

We also decided that the partner organizations would lead us in deciding which of their sub-collections would be most appropriate to include in the product. The product is focused on U.S. presidents but we have not narrowed the focus much more than that. We envision that eventually it will include materials on presidents throughout their lives, their families, their cabinet members, important advisers, and probably more. With this broad approach, we are likely to incorporate some items that are not directly relevant to the president. For example, the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, has a lot of material on the assassination of President John Kennedy but they also have a lot of items about the city of Dallas. Obviously the items on Dallas are less relevant to this project than those on Kennedy. However, we plan to leave the decision about what to include to the partners. Since they curated their collections, they will have a much deeper understanding about them. We will provide guidelines and have conversations with them about the most suitable collections, but we will not cherry-pick through their collections for specific items. We will rely on their expertise to decide what collections should be included.

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Major Themes from Summit Meeting

I have spent the last few weeks working on a summary document about the IMLS Summit Meeting that we held in mid-May. It was a great meeting with an overwhelming amount of ideas, considerations, future plans, and cautions all circling around the room over two days. I am not going to recount the entire summary document here but I would like to touch on some major themes that might not have been new or unexpected but stuck out clearly in my muddled brain after all of the talking stopped.

First, this project will focus on asset discovery and access for users, as well as communication and collaboration with partner organizations.  Although I had drafted a mission statement before the meeting, I feel that the previous sentence might become the new one. It includes the real heart of the project to me–discovery, access, and collaboration. These ideas are the goals of the whole project. There are obviously many, many specific details to work out in regards to the technology, the policies, the content, etc. but at its very basic core, this project is about (and I will say it again) discovery, access, and collaboration.

There was never a sense in the meeting sessions of territorial posturing or guarding of assets. There was only a clear sense that getting more information from more organizations to more people had a clear benefit for all of us, what we called in library science school, a “public good.” So much of this field is focused on the public good, but it is exciting and inspiring to be part of a project whose goals are so clearly focused on that.