Impact assessment Projects 2003-2007 Teaching with primary sources

The Impact of Digitizing Special Collections on Teaching and Scholarship

A recent report from OCLC on The Impact of Digitizing Special Collections on Teaching and Scholarship. Reflections on a Symposium about Digitization and Humanities highlights the main recommendations that emerged from the symposium held in June 2008.

The symposium brought together both primary users of (digitised) primary sources as well as “custodians”, such as librarians, archivists, museum professionals and senior managers. Participants discussed, from their own particular view points, strategies to maximise the impact of digitisation of special collections on teaching and research.

The report calls for specific directions for libraries and archives to take in the near future:

work with faculty to understand current research methods and materials
go outside the library or archive to build collections and work with faculty
continue to build digital and material collections for both teaching and research.

Other important issues that emerged were:

licencing and third-party agreements: the need for common principles in negotiating licensing contracts in order to ultimately guarantee open access to content
Metrics: the need for more evidence of the impact of digitization and the acknowledgement that quantitative web stats on their own are just not enough.

On this last point: JISC is currently conducting an Impact study of the projects funded under Phase 1 of its Digitisation Programme. The project, carried out by the Oxford Internet Institute, will have as one of its key outcome the production of a Toolkit for the Impact of Digitised Resources, which will provide a framework for useful metrics to consider when assessing impact – see blog post on Measuring the impact of digitised resources.

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