One of the main objectives of the Scoping Study is to ascertain the current level of digitization activity within the University of Oxford, and the potential for future activities. In a sense Oxford is a rare case as its collections are dispersed throughout all of the libraries in the University (of which there are around 100, many of them autonomous), the museums, and the departments and institutions. Its holdings are extraordinary in the wealth of coverage. Yet at the same time many of the problems facing Oxford are universal; such as the background of numerous 'individual' projects based in departments and libraries with very little communication or sharing of expertise, and the lack of an overall cohesive policy when it comes to bidding for external grants to help with digitization.
The solutions and questionnaires used below by the Scoping Study will therefore be of use to many people. From the outset it should be noted that many of the questions forwarded are based on the work and experiences of others. In particular this study owes an enormous thanks to the UK's Higher Education Digitization Service for sharing its expertise and allowing us to re-use many of the questions posed in its Feasibility Study for the JIDI project; the RLG who have been in constant touch and have provided several important documents which have heavily influenced the composition of these questionnaires; and the Technical Advisory Service for Images (http://www.tasi.ac.uk/).
In collaboration with the project's steering group, and using previous documents from other committees within Oxford, a preliminary list of existing digitization projects was drawn up. In addition the University Research Grants department was approached to see if it knew of any projects that had received money over the last few years from external Research Councils to fund digitization.
A short questionnaire was then designed. This was circulated in print form to all of the named librarians, senior management, curators, and keepers of collections (including museums); the motivation here was to be inclusive rather than exclusive. In total 100 were sent out. In addition an on-line version was set up and widely advertised on internal lists to catch people that would not receive the printed version.
The aim of this questionnaire was threefold:
A cut-off date was noted for returning the questionnaire and by that time the project had received 75 replies (25 via the web form). This was extremely encouraging and was due in no small part (one assumes) to the fact that the printed questionnaire was accompanied by a letter from the Deputy Directory of Library Services, John Tuck, requesting a swift and accurate reply. The results of the questionnaire were:
All of the findings were entered into an access database.
The study initially began to concentrate on existing digitization projects identified in the above. People who had been involved in the projects were interviewed by Stuart Lee (each discussion lasted around one hour). The aim of this was to get fairly comprehensive details of the scope of the project, its management and funding, the practices and standards used, and so on. In particular the interview aimed to identify noticeable successes and failures of the project. In addition each interviewee was asked to identify their own personal requirements of any future digitization centre or initiative. The full questionnaire is available below:
Existing Projects Questionnaire
The study then began a series of interviews with all of the units who had noted that they were currently considering digitizing some of their collections, or had identified items of potential interest (this stage of the study is currently underway). Two issues became immediately apparent:
Each interviewee was asked questions relating to the actual collection (its format, size, etc.), copyright, support, and expected user needs. All the questions can be seen in the link to the form at the end of this section. Following on from this, in consultation with HEDS, it has been decided that the study will:
Questionnaire for Potential Projects
The study recognises the need to look at the whole issue of a digital library from the strategic level. A document is currently being drafted which will outline the infrastructural implications of such a centre/service, and in consultation with HEDS this will be presented at the end of the project. In addition, the study will talk to senior managers within the University. Some of the issues covered are noted below:
Institutional Level Questionnaire
Stuart D. Lee, March 1999