This is the LIFE-SHARE Project’s contribution to the Library Day in the Life Project running this week. It was set up by Bobbi Newman, and you can read about it here.

LIFE-SHARE is a JISC funded project investigating consortial strategies for digitisation, with a particular focus on digital preservation and curation – the acronym of the title stands for Lifecycle Strategies and Architecture for Regional E-content. The partner institutions form the White Rose University Consortium, and they are the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield, and York. You can visit LIFE-SHARE’s homepage to learn more about the project, and subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter to be kept updated with the outputs and findings of the Project.

Monday 26th July

Ned Potter, LIFE-SHARE Project Officer, Leeds (and Sheffield)

Each of the partner institutions in LIFE-SHARE are investigating different aspects of digitisation. For York, it’s on demand digitisation. For Leeds, it’s digitisation to support Collection Management. For Sheffield, it’s digitisation to support Special Collections – and Sheffield was where I was on Monday. We’ve just got to the stage where we’ve written up the Case Studies (they’ll be made available via the Outputs page of our website) and I was in Sheffield tying up a lot of loose-ends.

Firstly the Project Manager and the other Project Officer came over and I showed them all the equipment we’d purchased for the audio-visual digitisation suite, and examples of the videos and audio I’d digitised. Then we had a long meeting to discuss the internal and external versions of our case-study reports – but as lack an official LIFE-SHARE office in Sheffield the meeting took place in the student bar! I hasten to add, it was teas and mineral waters all round…

In the afternoon I created some metadata (Dublin Core) for the digital objects I’d not yet described and auto-generated some technical metadata using MediaInfo, a neat little open-source programme I’d recommend to anyone working with digital audio and visual files. I wrote a detailed list for Sheffield’s head of Special Collections as to exactly what I’d done, why I’d done it, and whereabouts it was stored – then had a brief meeting with her to explain it all in person (she was pleased, which is good!).

After that I had the glamorous task of clearing up all the packaging that was strewn around the room – we’d ordered loads of equipment (cassette tape players, time-code-corrector boxes, professional monitoring headphones etc) and I’d not wanted to throw away anything until we knew it all worked. As this was my last visit to Sheffield for a while, it was also the last chance to leave their room in a presentable state.

That done, I sent round a draft of a Digitisation Skills and Expertise survey LIFE-SHARE aims to conduct this summer, to find out what knowledge and experience people in the White Rose institutions have of digitisation. While some of this expertise is readily apparent, much of it can remain hidden until teased out by a survey such as this – experience of digital photography, for example, may not be something people use in their day-to-day library jobs but could be really useful for a digitisation project. Lots of good feedback and suggestions for the survey has come in by the time I’m writing this, so we think we’ll be creating a really valuable record with this excercise.

Wednesday 28th

Matthew Herring, LIFE-SHARE Project Officer, York
(and Digital Library Officer for York Digital Library (YODL) at the University of York)

Wake at 07:00. Grab some cornflakes and cycle 5 miles or so to the University by 08:15 (Oh, yes, not before getting dressed and all that!). Make a pot of tea while my PC decides whether it will start up or not. Check email and delete two thirds of them. I reply to an email about some guidelines I’ve been writing for cataloguing digitised photographs of the University campus and write another one about a trip to Manchester next Wednesday.

Most of the day is spent rewriting a report on two case studies I’ve done for the LIFE-SHARE project. They need to be presented as web pages, so I have to figure out how to put them in HTML without them looking too dull. At 12:00 I seek out one of the few campus canteens which isn’t closed for the vacation and buy a cheese, ham and sun-dried tomato baguette. I eat this at my desk, as we are all currently living in Portakabins while the library undergoes a refurb and the Portakabin has no staffroom. Luckily, I have two chairs at my desk and my colleagues have cottoned on that when I have my feet up on one of them I’m on break, so nobody disturbs me. Someone in the office is obsessed with swatting a fly and when they finally do whack it the entire Portakabin shakes with the impact. Later in the afternoon I manage to arrange a much-needed meeting with a colleague about the cataloguing of photos of the University. This takes the rest of the afternoon, although I only wanted it to take half an hour. My report is still unfinished. I cycle home. The end.

Thursday 29th

Beccy Shipman, LIFE-SHARE Project Manager

Today I’m at second day of the JISC Innovation Forum (JIF) , at Royal Holloway. First it’s off to breakfast at the Hub here on campus for a much needed fry up. The aim of JIF is to bring all the JISC funded projects and people together and help us explore ways we can be innovative, based on three streams: sustainability, project management and communication. There is also a  fourth stream, ‘thunderbolts and lightning’, which is an open mic session. The two days also present lots of opportunities to talk to other people on JISC projects and learn about the work they are doing.  I start today’s networking by catching up with people from the Look Here! and  CHICC projects, funded under the same JISC stream as LIFE-SHARE.

The first session of the day is a quick review of the previous day, including the closing panel session “The Impact of Open: transformational possibilities for education and research” – it was  really exciting to hear people talking so passionately about open data, open access, open education resources and the need for all these things to be accessible to all users. Next I’m off to the session on community and sustainability, where I get some useful ideas for our work on consortial digitisation services.

After lunch it’s time for the Dragon’s Den, where 3 people propose their big ideas for new models  for learning, research and libraries. This is a really fun session, which provokes lively debate about collaborative competition, pay as you go education, and intelligent online research companions. It ‘s David Prosser’s pitch for collaborative competition that’s most resonant for me and LIFE-SHARE. He suggests academic libraries should work much more collaboratively at a national level. Some of this is already being done with the negotiation of journal subscriptions, but more of this type of work is necessary. This then frees libraries up to develop their own unique selling points, the areas that they specialise in and which make them competitive. Unfortunately this idea doesn’t win with the rest of the auditorium or the panel, but I voted for it!

The afternoon draws to a close with a talk about leadership from Professor John Potter. He highlights the importance of attributes such as emotional intelligence and empathy. He also reiterates the message that we have heard a lot over the last two days, that in times of crisis  innovation is more important than ever. After a final wrap up session, I am left feeling inspired about LIFE-SHARE and the contribution we can make.

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