INLS 740: Environmental Scanning

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A digital library project is a large undertaking, but breaks down into identifiable processes and tasks. Hence, the project working groups in this course (though the scope of the working groups here are somewhat artificial, designed for pedagogical effectiveness rather than realism). Within the large scope that is the DL project, sub-groups

Each working group has its own particular scope of work within that

We will use several applications during the course of this semester; probably Greenstone, Omeka, and CONTENTdm. There are several more applications that are popular for building digital libraries and other digital library-like things (e.g., institutional repositories, museum collections, etc.): DSpace, Fedora, eprints, CollectiveAccess, CollectionSpace, to name only some of the most popular.

Ideally, before selecting an application in which to build your digital library, you would thoroughly evaluate all candidates. But we all know that's not the way it usually happens. Given this need, it's a little surprising that there aren't more published evaluations of digital library applications: the two that I know about are this and this. I suspect that many libraries have performed such evaluations for their own purposes, but have not made the reports publicly available.

For this assignment, working groups will conduct continuous environmental scanning

For this assignment, each working group will keep tabs on the latest developments in their particular area. Throughout the semester, each group should monitor a range of sources of information relevant to their scope of work: check websites, blogs, and news announcements; monitor user and developer forums; subscribe to listservs, RSS feeds, and Twitter accounts; etc. This information should, naturally, inform each working group's work. For this assignment, however, groups will digest this information and provide the class with news about their area at least three times during the semester. More would be fine, of course, if there is especially interesting news to report. These reports should be made as brief posts to the Discussion fora in Sakai.

A good example of an environmental scan in a library context is the Pattern Recognition report by OCLC. Your group's environmental scan need not be this formalized, and your report should not be this long. But this report provides a good example of the methodology used in environmental scanning.

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