Digitization and Sustainability

The process of digitizing collections from museums and libraries has become a significant feat that requires a lot of planning and funding. Reading through the Searching for Sustainability report provides a glimpse into a few institutions sustainability plan and how they have successfully kept their digital exhibits and collections in working order. The report reveals important key factors that could be used as a starting point when reviewing the sustainability of any online institutional website. I chose to look at a digital exhibit on The Newberry’s online digital resources, Approaching the Mexican Revolution: Books, Maps, Documents.

The website is pretty simple and hosts an array of interesting information on the Mexican Revolution, supplemented with photos. However, there are a few photos that just show the embedded link with no photo. It is quite possible that no staff of The Newberry has looked at this exhibit in a while and therefore is unaware of the broken link. The lack of dedicated staff towards online projects is an issue that is constantly brought up when dealing with digitizing efforts. Many institutions might not have staff who are well versed in computer programing and thus requires new hires that have the appropriate knowledge. This is extremely important because technology is constantly advancing and new platforms can quickly become outdated. It’s also important for a project to have some amount of support from the host institute. It is quite possible that the missing image has been overlooked because the online exhibit is not a high priority for The Newberry. If there was a dedicated staff team or member that regular checks the online exhibits and resources something like this might have been fixed already. However, lack of funding could easily stop this from occurring.

It is extremely important to have multiple venues of revenue for a digital project. It would be extremely risky to start a project that only has one source of funding, because it is quite possible that something could go wrong with that incoming money. Without funding, projects will seize to function and could diminish the quality of a site. The goals of digitizing collections revolves around the ideas of preserving materials for future generations and increasing the accessibility of sources for individuals. If a site is left as is and doesn’t have people actively checking to make sure it is up to date and in working order, the goals will not be fulfilled. This are just a few factors that need to be addressed when creating a sustainability plan for a digital project.

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