Collections Principle 8

Collections Principle 8: A good collection integrates into the workflows of staff and end users.

When digital collection building represents a significant new service for an organization, it presents an opportunity to review existing workflows, and possibly reallocate resources, responsibilities and tasks. In order to successfully add digital collections to an organization’s service suite, it is important to integrate digital collection building into staff workflows. When digital collection building is an established activity, it is useful to periodically review staff workflows for improvement. The operational staff performing these activities will generally be the best advisors as to how to make them more intuitive and less time consuming.

End users find information most useful when it integrates smoothly with their own patterns of work. A faculty member looking for research articles and a recreational genealogist building an electronic family tree will work in different places, at different times, and using different tools. However each will use a digital collection more comfortably if they can access it from the environment with which they are familiar.

In the emerging digital landscape, digital collection building is increasingly a collaboration with the end user. Some sites allow users to add keywords to the metadata (“social tagging”). Some allow them to contribute digital resources, such as personal stories or family photographs to a local history web portal or preprints or postprints to an academic institutional repository. Integrating with the user’s workflow enables the user to contribute without significant additional effort. An example might be the ability, in a collaboration space such as the Sakai learning management system, to simply “save to the repository” when the faculty author has completed his work. A local history portal might ask, at the end of a search on a topic, “Do you have any resources on this topic to share?” and provide a simple menu-driven process to upload digital resources.

Workflow examples for digital collection building:

End user workflow:


Last updated: 09/03/2008