04 December 2006

University of Minnesota Extension Digital Archives Project

Many land-grant universities are struggling with the potential loss of online-only Experiment Station and Extension publications, as there is no longer an established process by which electronic materials are transmitted to an archiving library.

Linda Eells, Head of the Entomology, Fisheries and Wildlife Library at University of Minnesota recently investigated issues surrounding the integration of these publications into local, regional, and national archival repositories. In the coming months, she hopes to complte a two-part report that will include both a vision, mission and process for the archiving of these documents but also recommendations for bridging Extension collections through the creation of a national/international digital agricultural library (For more information on this, see this presentation by Peter Young on the National Digital Library for Agriculture).

Some of the issues Linda identifies are
  • Stakeholder Buy-in: When identifying partners for collaboration, identify those with a strong existing relationship between extension and libraries staff, and with 100% support from the administrative levels of both;
  • Stakeholder identification: Clearly delineate the roles, responsibility, and value of all contributors, content owners, and possible participants;
  • Content identification: A detailed inventory of extension resources, full-text and bibliographic, is needed, including specific series titles, years covered, format, and current and/or archival location. This will require coordination at the national level, and the participation of both extension and library staff at each institution;
  • Users: Identification and characterization of the end-users and their search patterns will result in the provision of resources and services tailored to meet their needs;
  • Interoperability: is of paramount importance, among repositories within a region, with national initiatives such as the Digital Agricultural Library, AgNIC, eXtension, and with international initiatives;
  • Taxonomies: Different stakeholders will want to use different taxonomies, from tagging by the end-user, to category assignation by extension staff, to the addition of access (e.g. NAL terms) and preservation metadata by libraries. It is important to select a metadata schema that accommodates metadata enhancement at various points in the process and minimizes duplicate entry of data;
  • Flexibility: Different silos use different schema, and have different peer review or access requirements, etc. Local content providers and managers will only engage and contribute to a regional or national repository if they can retain control over processes that were developed to best meet local needs. Design a repository that adheres to national or international metadata standards yet is flexible enough to accommodate these local idiosyncrasies.

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