On 9 November 2012, the projects within the programme gathered together in Bristol with another JISC programme, Digging into Data, to learn more about approaches to sustainability. This has been a topic close to our hearts for some time now. We are very concerned to ensure that resources are kept available over the long-term. As Programme Managers we cannot demand that institutions keep their resource running, resourced and supported in terms of marketing and updates for years to come. We do ask projects to keep the finished resource live for five years after the end of the project, but this is not the same as ensuring the resource is actually fully supported over this period and beyond. Projects need a plan to make this a reality. This requires project leaders to think about funding for infrastructure, resourcing of maintenance tasks, business modelling, monitoring and a longer term marketing plan.
The sustainability session was lead by Nancy Maron and Rebecca Griffiths of Ithaka S+R, both of whom have had copious amounts of experience in advising projects from around the world on the development of effective sustainability plans.
The day started with some fairly straightforward presentations, but it was amazing to see the amount of discussion which ensued during each of the tasks. Obviously this was prompted by the trainers, but it indicates that sustainability is a burning topic for projects and institutions. How do we ensure that the content we have worked so hard to build is still there in five, ten or more years? What are the ways that we can develop income streams but at the same time keep our institution on side and interested? How can we ensure the resource is used and embedded in teaching, learning and research? These were some of the questions people were asking. Many answers came from the more experienced sustainers in the room and of course from the session leaders. People left the event still discussing ways forward and a number of projects blogged on the topic. Access to the aggregated blogs can be found here.