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.
Last Thursday and Friday, the Miller Center hosted the IMLS Summit Meeting in support of this project. We brought together a very interesting group of people with a variety of professional interests–digital humanities, documentary editing, history, library/information science, archives, and education. It was an exhausting but very stimulating and thought-inspiring two days. I am still working on processing the topics, the discussions, and the conclusions. I will be back to update this blog about some of the main points we focused on and some of our points of agreement as well as open questions.
The Summit Meeting, discussed in a previous post, is going to take place two weeks from tomorrow. We have been very busy getting ready for it. The meeting agenda is finalized, and I am going to send it out to participants early next week. I have been working with partners to get samples data from their collections in order to have some examples to discuss at the meeting. And I have been spending a lot of time on logistics and budget, ordering the food, figuring out accommodations, and coordinating the various people.
I am very excited about bringing together a group of people to spend two days thinking through and discussing various aspects of the project. It will be beneficial to get their various perspectives and tap into their vast stores of knowledge about archives, digitization, aggregation, and research approaches. I imagine that we will cover a lot of material but I am also prepared for having as many questions asked as answered. I do not expect that we will make final decisions on all points considered, and I anticipate finishing the meeting with many open issues. But I also hope that we will have grappled with many of the big questions around this project and leave excited and inspired by what it could become.
In May, we will be hosting the Summit Meeting for our IMLS-grant project. The Summit Meeting is one of the main parts of our grant, and it brings together a collection of people in the world of libraries, museums, government agencies, and digital humanities to think about our project, talk about a variety of issues, and help guide us down what we hope will be a successful path.
The Summit Meeting participants include archivists, documentary editors, professors in information sciences, and digital humanities gurus. I am still working on the final meeting agenda for our Summit Meeting but I envision this talent group of individuals helping us think through policies for our partners, digitization/preservation standards, technological recommendations, user interface suggestions, presidential collections knowledge, scholarly considerations, and much more.