February 9, 2009 by
Building Your Business Case for Your eLibrary: Preparing your content
Proper planning is essential in the preparation of content for your eLibrary initiative. While this can seem daunting due to the large volume of content you may need to manage, breaking your materials into workable units and dividing your tasks into small steps will help you to take control and effectively prepare for the launch of your eLibrary. Examine your existing content: Make a list of the type of resources you have and the formats they currently exist in. For example, you may have a combination of physical printed books, eBooks, print and digital magazines, self-produced documents in PDF format, and more. By making this list, you can see how many different formats and file types you may need to support. It is also important to consider non-print resources, such as audio books, eLearning materials, webinar content, and podcasts if these are part of your current collection. If your content is primarily available electronically, it’s important to look at how it’s presented, and what types of file formats it is in. If you have a mix or formats, it will be important to either choose a solution that can support this variety of file types, or to choose a common format that most files can be converted to easily, such as PDF. Respect Copyright: Today, there are large volumes of content already digitized and significant initiatives in place by groups such as Google to digitize millions of books. However, it is still highly unlikely that the authors and publishers of these works will allow the free distribution of their content over the web. Digital Rights Management (DRM) limits the ability for users to spread content without the expressed permission of the publisher or author. There may also be additional limitations on what may be done with digital materials based on the number of concurrent viewers able to access documents at one time or a cap placed on the number of licenses shared within an organization. If your list contains many resources that are currently in print format, you will need to contact the publisher to see if you can either obtain permission to digitize the assets for inclusion in an eLibrary, or if you will need to re-purchase the materials in a digital format. In the case of industry journals, it may be within your rights to make electronic copies of the journal articles available to your employees, but not permissible for you to make these same documents available to partners or customers. Convert Your Materials: If your content is primarily available in print format, it may be necessary to digitize it before building your eLibrary.If your print collection is large, don’t let the conversion process put your entire project on-hold. It may be possible to convert your print materials in batches and add them to your eLibrary. In the meantime, a hybrid solution may be available to include abstracts of the print documents in your search results and a reference to their physical locations. You could also evaluate your existing content and develop a conversion strategy prioritizing the most searched for materials at a higher level of importance than more obscure topics and publications. Once you have your complete list of all that exists within your collection, you will best see any existing trends that may help you in evaluating how best to proceed. Organize and Index Your Content: Once you’ve established the list of content, you’ll need to examine how this content is organized and indexed. With many eLibrary technologies, it is possible to index content in many different ways, including full-text indexing, Boolean or keyword search, as well as using either standard categorization such as Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress classification systems. You will need to decide which model works best for your organization, but keep in mind that the more search categories you make available, the more likely it will be that results will be retrieved.You will also need to also consider what indexing data you have access to from the documents. Are the documents already tagged with metadata, or do you need to account for adding in the right information to support your chosen indexing model? What’s Your Long Term Content Strategy?: The next step in this process is to evaluate your long-term content strategy. If your library is a living collection, it will have new additions on a regular basis. How will you ensure that any new items to your collection are added and indexed within your eLibrary? Who will be responsible for this task? It is also important at this stage to look at what other sorts of content may be added in the future. If you believe that in the future, you may need to add-in multimedia content (audio, video, eLearning, etc…) to your eLibrary, you will want to be sure that this is on your list of future content requirements. The efforts dedicated to the creation or rework of an existing corporate eLibrary are certain to guarantee benefits for any business or organization provided a comprehensive content strategy is in place in advance of the digitization of existing content. By taking the time to define and index your current materials as well to as give consideration to any future content that may be added, you will not only save time and costs, but have an eLibrary solution which meets your needs for years to come.