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Stronger Together Digital Collections Collaboration Project

Stronger Together Image of Botanic gardens, art musuem and library

Overview

Stronger Together: Creating a Collections Data Governance and Digital Preservation Ecosystem is a four-year project, started in 2020, supported in part by a $380,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation. The project is a collaborative effort of Smith College Libraries, Smith College Museum of Art, the Botanic Garden of Smith College, Smith College Information Technology Services, the Art Department’s Imaging Center, and other campus partners.

The project’s purpose is to develop sustainable, collaborative governance and infrastructure in support of teaching, learning, research and stewardship for the partner collections. This will be achieved through three main activities:

Collections Data Governance

In 2020, we worked with consultants AVP to develop a collections data governance structure that has the authority to direct campus-wide initiatives relating to digital collections. The structure brings more connection to the ongoing operations of the departments, empowering staff to shape the work of the project and raise new ideas. It includes communication channels between levels of leadership, collections staff and ITS, as well as up to the cabinet for decisions that need high-level approval.

In 2021, we put this model into practice, establishing leadership groups, who in turn created working groups to focus on the remaining two Stronger Together initiatives.

Digital Preservation Program

  • Overview of Issues: Current digital preservation and data management practices vary across Smith’s departments, lack scalability, and expose the College to major financial risk due to the potential for loss of costly collections assets.
  • Project’s Vision: We are creating a shared, sustainable digital preservation program with a central service model. It will be easy for departments to preserve items in their digital collections, ensuring that they are available for research use for years to come.

Cross-Collection Search

  • Removing Barriers to Access: Collections are currently searchable through a range of separate portals, and users often require staff mediation to get useful results. Gaining access to the full range of Smith’s rare and unique collections can be a frustrating experience for researchers.
  • Main Goal: This project will bring these collections together under a single search interface. For the first time, students and faculty will be able to explore multiple unique Smith collections at the same time, enriching their research and giving more visibility to the diverse range of material held by the College.

Contact

For more information about this project please reach out to Adrienne Figus, Project Manager for Stronger Together at afigus@smith.edu.