In  a previous role on another JISC funded project (IncReASe) I attended an exchange of experience event for repository staff at the University of York. I thought it was a great opportunity to talk to staff at different institutions who were doing very similar work, to share any good practice and discuss those thorny issues we all face. I thought this format would be useful for LIFE-SHARE to bring together digitisation staff across the White Rose universities. We have held two events so far, one for staff digitising course readings using the CLA licence, and one for Special Collections and Archives staff.

The course readings event was held in Leeds in April. Leeds and Sheffield both have established services for delivering course readings online, but York are only in the pilot stage of their service. However, everyone had useful information to share, and were very generous with sharing their experiences. One area of particular interest was how you cope with a successful service. Demand for the digitisation of course readings is increasing year on year, and this creates a financial burden for the libraries offering this service.  We discussed options for handling this burden. They included whether libraries should limit the number of items per module that they would digitise, or whether departments should be charged for some or all of the items they request. This discussion has been particularly useful for our York case study, where we are looking at how to scale up from a pilot study to a full service offered to the whole university.

The Special Collections and Archives event was held last Friday in Sheffield. Staff from Special Collections at Leeds and Sheffield came, as well as staff from the Borthwick Institute at York, and the National Fairground Archive at Sheffield. Conservation proved a very popular topic of conversation. This highlighted the importance of the work we’re doing on the Leeds case study, looking at comparative costings for physical and digital preservation of monographs. We also talked about how archives can charge for the digitisation of their materials. We debated whether you could charge someone for creating an image and then make it freely available afterwards. This seems to hinge on what you are charging for, the process of digitisation or access to the actual image itself. Either way it was felt staff would feel uncomfortable about charging someone for the digitisation and then making it available for free to other people. Opportunities for sharing resources and providing some form of consortial service was also discussed and this provided some useful suggestions which we will take into the next stage of our project where we explore consortial models for White Rose digitisation services.

We are planning our next exchange of experience event for White Rose repositories staff in a few weeks to be held in York. I’m really looking forward to another round of interesting and fruitful discussions.

– Beccy