Day 5: Training is better together

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CC Duke University Archives. To see original image on Flickr, click image

Institutions which are geographically close to each other should work together to share training. Rather than institutions sending individual members of staff to training courses elsewhere in the country, it is more cost effective to pay for a trainer to come to a region and offer training to staff from several institutions in that region. This also increases the number of staff that it is possible to send on training: if travel costs are cheap, then more employees can be sent on the training. Even better is when one institution can offer training itself to others in the region: if you are developing a particular area of expertise, consider running training for other institutions.

The LIFE-SHARE project arranged a series of training events for library staff from across the White Rose Consortium, following this model. We have brought external trainers to Yorkshire to do training on digital image creation and EAD cataloguing. Ned Potter, LIFE-SHARE Project Officer, has created training materials on audio/visual digitisation for the consortium. Another good idea is to organise exchange of experience events. These events bring together staff from different institutions who are working in similar areas to discuss common issues. We have organised exchanges focusing on copyright, repositories, course reading digitisation and digitising archive/special collections material. With an informal atmosphere, these events can be an excellent opportunity to learn from each other.


Day 4: Digitisation is Worth the Wait

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Picture of a clock

Flickr CC image by Robbie 73

Many aspects of digitisation take a long time. If you’re starting a digitisation project or service in one month, you can’t always expect to actually begin digital capture until at least the month after.

This can be because your original materials need to be assessed by a Conservator – they will need to advise on how the objects should be digitised, place handling restrictions on them if necessary, and so on. This takes time and should be built in to the very earliest stages of the process – in some cases, the Convservator’s conclusions can influence the equipment you need to obtain. But the lessons learned can inform future projects.

Another thing  that takes time is obtaining permission to digitise. The process of identifying rights-holders in the first place, tracking down contact details, locating the individuals and organisations involved, and then sending them a document to sign and waiting for their response, takes a huge amount of active staff time and waiting around. However, as frustrating as this process can be, it can also act as a kind of advocacy for the project – the rights-holders can often be excited about material featuring them becoming more accessible in a digital format, and these rights-holders can then become champions of your project or service.


Day 3: Being trusted is easy, trusting is hard

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Trust your co-worker

CC image by JarkkoS - click to view original on Flickr

Collaboration has been a key part of LIFE-SHARE and perhaps the most vital element to the success of this is trust. All partners must be trustworthy to ensure they fulfil their role both during the project and as part of the wider outcomes afterwards. However, much harder than being trustworthy is being willing to trust others. This is especially true as closer collaboration ensues. The risks are higher and thus the need to rely on partners is much greater.

The White Rose Libraries already have a history of working collaboratively and so have an existing relationship of trust. The project has continued to build on this relationship by developing communication methods so that more staff are in regular contact sharing ideas and best practice. As is often the case with relationships, this continued regular contact and working to build stronger ties has helped the partners trust each other more.


Day 2: Models help you see more clearly

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Aeroplace model

CC image by AviatorDave - click to view original on Flickr

As part of various aspects of the project we have used a number of models to inform our work:

LIFE – digital lifecycle model and costings

Digital Curation Centre – curation lifecycle model

OCLC – Collboration Continuum

These have all been extremely useful in helping develop our thinking, and ensuring all aspects of the digital lifecycle are considered. We have also created our own models for the delivery of collaborative digitisation services in the areas of digitised course readings, digitisation and training.

Unfortunately these models can only go so far in shaping the work we do. It is vital that local, institutional and consortial factors are taken into consideration. It is also key to implement actions based on the work from the models. One of the most exciting outcomes of the LIFE-SHARE Project is the decision by the White Rose Library Directors to instigate a White Rose approach to digitisation.


Day 1: Tap your hidden potential

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A tap, flowing

CC image by .scribe - click to view original on Flickr

We discovered two areas of untapped potential in our libraries, over the course of this project. Firstly the potential for closer collaboration between disparate groups of digitisers, and secondly the potential for staff not currently working in digitisation-related roles to bring their expertise to the table. We did the following:

  1. An inventory of all digitisation activity happening across the White Rose Libraries – including who was doing what, and where their expertise lay
  2. A survey aimed at all library staff, to discover what experience they had in all areas of digitisation – whether they were currently using it at work or not

The result has been much closer cooperation and better communication between the libraries and within the libraries, and a mini-database of staff with untapped expertise across image editing, audio-visual digitisation and so on, just waiting to be dipped into as projects happen and services develop.

It doesn’t take long to find out what the hidden potential of your library is – it’s just a case of asking some questions – but what you learn can benefit your insitutition for ages.


Introducing: 10 days of takeaways

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Picture of a brown paper bag

Flickr CC image by Jeffrey Beall


The LIFE-SHARE Project is drawing to a close. We finish at the end of the month – although what we’ve learned will be taken on and developed by staff at the partner institutions of Leeds, Sheffield and York University libraries.

Much of what we’ve researched and produced is applicable to the wider community of libraries and archives. So, starting tomorrow, we’ll have 10 days of take-aways – leading up to our Collaboration Colloquium on the 29th. Brief summaries of key messages about digitisation and collaboration, blogged one at a time over 10 working days.

If you want to make sure you catch them all, you can subscribe via RSS!

Registration open and speakers announced for Digital Collaboration Colloquium


We are delighted to announce the programme for the Digital Collaboration Colloquium on Tuesday 29th March in Sheffield. The day is free to attend and registration is now open.

We have had a number of excellent proposals for Pecha Kucha sessions but there’s still time to get yours in if you haven’t already. The deadline for proposals is 14th February.


10.00 – 10.30 Registration
10.30 – 10.35 Welcome
10.35 – 11.05 Digitisation, collaboration and WHELF
Peter Keelan (WHELF / Cardiff University)
11.05 – 11.35 Virtual and Actual: collaborative digitisation at the Victoria and Albert Museum
Doug Dodds (Victoria & Albert Museum)
11.35 – 12.00 Tea and coffee
12.00 – 1.15 Pecha Kucha sessions
1.15 – 2.15 Lunch
2.15 – 3.15 Roundtable discussion
Doug Dodds (Victoria & Albert Museum)
Jodie Double (University of Leeds)
Martin Lewis (University of Sheffield)
Peter Keelan  (WHELF / Cardiff University)
Chair: Alastair Dunning (JISC)
3.30 – 4.00 Tea and coffee
4.00 – 4.30 Library seeks partner, must have GSOH… White Rose Libraries and the future of digitisation
Beccy Shipman, Ned Potter, Matthew Herring (LIFE-SHARE Project)
4.30 – 5.00 Summary and discussion – Alastair Dunning (JISC)


Halifax, University of Sheffield (

In order to register please email with the following information:

Job title
Access and dietary requirements
Any questions for the roundtable discussion

We look forward to seeing you in Sheffield for what should be a really interesting and thought provoking day.

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