What to Expect When You’re Digitizing: A Primer for the Solo Digital Librarianby Jane Monson
With creativity, flexibility, and a willingness to reach out for help, you can be well on your way to launching your digital collections within a year—even if you are a ‘lone wolf’ digital librarian. Starting a digitization program can be a daunting prospect for any library, whether it is of the large, well-funded variety or the small, shoestring-budget kind. The former may have the luxury of costly commercial software, dedicated programmers, and multiple librarians of various specializations, all of which can smooth the process. But what if these things are out of your reach? What if you are a “lone wolf” digital librarian—project manager, collection developer, metadata creator, and web designer, all rolled into one—with a limited budget to boot? You may fear you are doomed to spend years toiling away with little to show for yourself. However, with creativity, flexibility, and a willingness to reach out for help, you can be well on your way to launching your digital collections within a year—despite unforeseen roadblocks that you may encounter along the way.
My own experience as a new librarian has centered upon grappling with these issues. In graduate school, I had the opportunity to work in the digital services department of a library within a major academic research institution. There I received mentoring from a team of librarians experienced in digitization and was able to get my feet wet planning and executing projects for the school’s already-established digital library. This afforded me an excellent, if rather one-sided, view of the digital library world. Upon graduation, I accepted a position as digital projects librarian at Truman State University, a small public liberal arts university in Kirksville, Mo. I was tasked with kick-starting the library’s digitization efforts, beginning with the creation of an online repository of unique and rare materials from Special Collections. While well-prepared in theory, I slowly began to feel overwhelmed by the complexity of the task and unexpected obstacles that I encountered. As the project’s completion was pushed further into the future, it sometimes seemed as if it might never get off the ground.
One year later, the digital library is still under development. But significant progress has been made, and the light at the end of the tunnel is clearly visible. What seemed like major hurdles turned out to be surmountable and resulted in learning lessons that may be helpful for other librarians who find themselves in a similar position, whether or not they have previous experience with digitization.
Lesson 1: Accept Your Limitations -
Keep reading - this is a great article to discover what is really needed for digitization.