Spotlight on the Digital

Follow project updates for Spotlight on the Digital on this blog

Spotlight on the Digital phase one was an eight-month project (Jun 2013-Jan 2014) which Jisc ran in collaboration with RLUK (Research Libraries UK) and SCONUL (Society of College, National and University Libraries) as part of the Jisc co-design programme. This was a pilot programme including six projects that was set up to test new approaches to innovation with some of the Jisc key stakeholder organisations.

The project investigated the challenges of discovery of digitised collections and provided some practical solutions.

You can find the phase one final outputs on this blog.

Spotlight phase two commenced in September 2014, leveraging the outputs of the phase one report to provide practical solutions to institutions seeking to maximise their online resource discovery. Focusing on providing training and tools to librarians, information professionals, archivists and academics responsible for the creation and managements of digital collections, Spotlight aims to promote the discovery of institutions’ digital collections over time.

You can find an overview of phase two plans on this blog

The need for Spotlight emerged out of the concern that digitised collections are not as “discoverable” as they could be through the channels and devices most commonly accessed by users.

Treasure chest

This represents a missed opportunity for the institutions that have created such collections as it reduces their use, and the potential impact on research and teaching that we know digitised collections can have. Better discoverable digitised collections can also support institutions showcase their assets and increase their profile.

Discoverability is part of the whole challenge of ensuring digitised collections are sustained effectively over time, not a small endeavour. Given this project had a very tight timeframe in its initial phase, we had to be very focused in its aim to:

Identify practical solutions that will support Higher Education (HE) institutions enhance the discoverability of their digitised collections for the benefit of their key audiences, in particular researchers, teachers and students.

The solutions will be of two types:

  • Institutional solutions: these are solutions that can be implemented by individual institutions and are aimed at creators and managers of digitised resources within the HE sector, e.g. senior librarians and information professionals. They will be delivered through the “Make your digital resources easier to discover” guide (see output #1 below)
  • National solutions: these are solutions that could be implemented at national level in order to provide more coordinated support and services for institutions. They will be delivered through the “Discoverability national solutions shortlist” and “Discoverability Technical tools specifications” (see output #2 and #3 below)

Spotlight phase one aimed to deliver the following outputs:

1. Discoverability online guide: a decision-making tool which will support creators/managers of digitised resources in identifying the most appropriate discovery tactics to adopt according to the particular context of their collection/s, level of cost, effort and expected impact.

For example, the guide aims to contextualise the pros and cons of using a number of discovery tactics (e.g. Search Engine Optimisation techniques, library discovery services, social media channels…). The guide will also reference or link to examples of where these tactics have been successful and have made an impact.

Make your resources easier to discover is now available online.

2. Discoverability national solutions shortlist: a shortlist of possible solutions which if implemented could tackle the discoverability issues identified by this project at a national level. At this stage, the shortlist will be primarily aimed at Jisc and the project’s co-designers for consideration.

The final report Improving discoverability of digitised collections: above-campus and national solutions is now available to download.

3. Discoverability technical tools: these consist of specifications for several technical tools that could be developed in the future to support discovery solutions both at national and/or institutional level. The innovative, experienced, and tech-savvy HE institutions who accept the brief will be awarded small grants by Jisc (£5000 each) to develop the specifications.

4. Discoverability diagnosis: a web-based assessment, both human and machine-based, of the discoverability of a sample of between 150-200 collections that were digitised in the last 10-15 years. The aim of this output is to “take the pulse” of the current level of discoverability of digitised collections and identify broad patterns, barriers and key “pain points” for discoverability, which will then feed into the identification of appropriate solutions.

We expect the web-based assessment to produce a rich bank of evidence-based data which is likely to answer questions such as: how many collections are still available online? What % of collections performs adequately in relevant searches on the open web or through relevant aggregators? What % of collections displays editorial and technical currency?

The technical tool specifications and web assessment outcomes can both be found among the project final outputs blog.

Here are the blogs posts from phase one of the project:

Spotlight on the digital: how discoverable are your digitised collections?

Initial findings from survey of discoverability of digitised collections

Studies in discovery

Does social media increase discovery of digitised collections?

Top discovery channels in online user behaviour

Discovery of digitised Collections vs Items

What Wikimedia can do for digitised content?

Library directors’ views on digitisation

Discovering digital collections: above campus and national solutions

Spotlight workshop at DigiFest

Spotlight on the digital – final recommendations and outputs


Phase two aims to deliver the following outputs:

  1. National training package to support increased use and discovery of online digital resources to support research, teaching and learning
  • The pilot is being prototyped and tested with the input of several HEI’s who applied for Resource Discovery Scholarships. Read more about the resource discovery scholarships on the project blog post
  1. Research and develop tools to facilitate discoverability of online digital collections
  • The project is assessing the tool specification outcomes from phase one as well as researching developments in communities such as Europeana and DPLA to identify which tools discoverability avenue to pursue and prototype
  1. Optimise Jisc resource discovery services to increase visibility of digital collections
  • Archives Hub are in the process of adding records of themed digitised collections to their collection level descriptions including those produced from Jisc digitisation programmes listed on Jisc Content
  • The project is collaborating with Jisc Historical Texts to prototype and link records of digitised monographs from the Jisc-Wellcome UK Medical Heritage Library (UKMHL) digitisation project to Copac. Read more about the UKMHL on the blog
  1. Provide horizon scanning on rapidly changing technology and workflows in resource discovery
  • The project has convened an expert group who will meet several times across phase two to discuss trends in resource discovery and deliver up to three briefing papers on the subject

Follow the progress of phase two through the project blog or on twitter #JiscSpotlight2

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