Friday, November 20, 2015

Developing Best Practices in Digital Library Assessment: Year One Update

Developing Best Practices in Digital Library Assessment: Year One Update. Joyce Chapman, Jody DeRidder, Santi Thompson. D-Lib Magazine. November 2015.
     While research and cultural institutions have increased focus on online access to special collections in the past decade, methods for assessing digital libraries have yet to be standardized. Because of limited resources and increasing demands for online access, assessment has become increasingly important. Library staff do not know how to begin to assess the costs, impact, use, and usability of digital libraries. The Digital Library Federation Assessment Interest Group is working to develop best practices and guidelines in digital library assessment. The definition of a digital library used is "the collections of digitized or digitally born items that are stored, managed, serviced, and preserved by libraries or cultural heritage institutions, excluding the digital content purchased from publishers."

They are considering two basic questions:
  1.     What strategic information do we need to collect to make intelligent decisions?
  2.     How can we best collect, analyze, and share that information effectively?
There are no "standardized criteria for digital library evaluation. Several efforts that are devoted to developing digital library metrics have not produced, as yet, generalizable and accepted metrics, some of which may be used for evaluation. Thus, evaluators have chosen their own evaluation criteria as they went along. As a result, criteria for digital library evaluation fluctuate widely from effort to effort." Not much has changed in the last 10 years in the area in regards to digitized primary source materials and institutional repositories. "Development of best practices and guidelines requires a concerted engagement of the community to whom the outcome matters most: those who develop and support digital libraries". The article shares "what progress we have made to date, as well as to increase awareness of this issue and solicit participation in an evolving effort to develop viable solutions."

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