by Jim DelRosso, New York – Upstate Chapter, Academic Division
A digital repository is just an empty box; Amy Buckland said it, and it’s the truth. You can dress it up, debate issues of metadata and organization, but when it comes down to it your digital repository is just a container for digital objects. It’s just an empty box.
So is this:
What matters is what you do with it, what sparks the imagination of you and your peers and your patrons and what drives action. If the repository stays an empty box, communicated about only in terms obscure to your patrons and pitched to them as one more obligation in a life filled with obligations, they’ll treat it like just so much cardboard.
But when you show it to them as a means to preserve their legacy, share their work with audiences who will value it, and create the kinds of collections they wished existed, then you will inspire them. Together, you will do things that once you could not have imagined.
As we strive to be future ready, we must remember that unless we connect a new application or technology to our patrons’ lives, it will remain at best a shiny bauble, briefly smiled at and then discarded. We’ll jump from trademarked buzzword to trademarked buzzword, effecting no change beyond the apps list of our smartphone.
But if we know our patrons, and make sure they know us, and partner with them to use every resource at our disposal to make their library experiences better, we won’t just be ready for the future: we will create it.
Jim DelRosso is the Digital Projects Coordinator at the Catherwood Library at Cornell University. He has been a member of SLA for several years, and is the Communications & Social Media Chair for the SLA Academic Division. He blogs at The Nascent Librarian.