In preparation for the opening of the Indiana University Libraries’ Scholars’ Commons, staff from Collection Development & Scholarly Communication, Library Technologies, Reference Services, and Arts & Humanities will engage in an extended, hands-on learning project known as Research Now: Cross Training for Digital Scholarship.  Our project team will develop a digital archive tentatively called The History of the Indiana University Libraries, which is conceived as a comprehensive, multimedia, and perpetual digital archive documenting the earliest days of the Indiana University (IU) Libraries through present times. The archive will serve as an engaged learning opportunity for first-year, front line Scholars’ Commons staff as we retool our skills and knowledge in preparation for the opening of the Scholars’ Commons.


The project aims to:

  1. consolidate two parallel web sites that cover the history of the IU Libraries by migrating the existing content into services such as Archives OnlineImage Collections Online, and other services for long-term digital preservation and access
  2. digitize and describe existing content (35 mm slides, photographs, manuscripts, newspaper clippings and other ephemeral materials and objects) held by Lou Malcomb, Head of Social Sciences, Gov Docs and GeoSciences
  3. cross-reference existing digital content about the libraries’ history from related resources and repositories
  4. identify, digitize, and describe additional materials in existing repositories across campus
  5. create and compile original primary and secondary source contextual information by way of oral histories, essays, timelines and chronologies, biographical sketches, bibliographies, and other related information

Above all, this is a learning project for frontline Scholars’ Commons staff with three broad goals:

  1. to understand the multi-faceted dimensions, iterations and phases involved in designing and developing a curated digital archive
  2. to contribute to this project as researchers
  3. to cultivate ad-hoc learning strategies

In addition, the training component that will be developed alongside this project will extend beyond the immediate project team to include partners (across the libraries and campus) who will be participating in the Scholars’ Commons.


A project of this scope will ensure exposure and experience-building across all service areas offered by the Scholars’ Commons:

  • Research Practices/Traditional Research
  • Scholarly Communication & Publishing Services
  • Copyright & Intellectual Property
  • Data Analysis & Visualization
  • Metadata
  • Data Management
  • Digitization Services
  • Geospatial Services

The first-year frontline Scholars’ Commons staff will strive to gain a comprehensive overview of methods, techniques and tools leveraged for digital scholarship and how those methods, techniques and tools map onto broader research practices in order to cultivate a vibrant research community on the first floor of the East tower.  As a point of reference, the following levels of services have been defined for the Scholars’ Commons:

  • Level 1
    • Provide general reference and directional help
    • Coordinate referral
  • Level 2
    • Initial consultation
    • In depth, subject focused reference and research consultation
    • Basic training (concepts, methods, tools, software)
  • Level 3
    • On-going, in-depth consultation
    • Advanced training


The criteria for success are as follows:

  • The project team will gain core experience with and basic knowledge of concepts, issues, tools, and technologies associated with most, if not all, the main Scholars’ Commons service areas
  • The project team will cultivate their own research interests in the context of this project in order to effectively partner in future digital scholarship projects
  • The project team will master strategies for ad-hoc learning
  • The project team or some subset should emerge from this experience ready to advance training with the next round of Scholars’ Commons staff


The project team should produce the following:

  • WordPress blog for publicly tracking the project and what we are learning along the way
  • Inventory of items for Lou Malcomb’s collection
  • Project plan including high-level functional requirements and plans for assessment
  • Copyright assessment and report
  • Digitization of items for ingest into our digital object repository
  • Original cataloging/description of items following appropriate metadata standards
  • A thematic, curated web site with original research and contributions of primary and secondary contextual information
  • Comprehensive project documentation


  • Project team will dedicate 2-4 hours/week over the course of 12-18 months starting November 2013; 2 hours weekly or bi-weekly sessions consisting of seminars followed by hands-on workshops, and 2 hours of individual or sub-team work on the project
  • Project team will create individual web-hosting/server accounts (provided by UITS) or have group access to such an account for experimenting with software installations and configurations
  • Partners will lead and/or participate in the training sessions accordingly and provide lightweight consultation to project team for the duration of the project
  • Project team needs full access to the tools and technologies required for this project including the wiki, JIRA, library servers, SVN, services platforms and workflows, etc.
  • The IU Libraries assumes responsibility for the digital archive and the blog documenting the project through the project’s completion in 12-18 months time (phase 1).  At that point, the Libraries will assess the project, including relevant documentation, to determine ongoing sustainability of this project.
  • We will strive to follow a “train the trainer” curriculum
  • We can screw up and it’ll be ok because it’s a learning project by us, for us!


Project members will make every effort to keep in regular contact by email or other electronic means including:

See Research Now: Team Members and Communication Protocols for more information.


Project members will make every effort to attend training sessions, workshops, and meetings as arranged. If unable to attend, they will communicate this to the project leads as soon as possible.  Project members will jointly establish and attempt to meet milestones and deadlines set for this project.  Our goal is not to launch with a comprehensive or “finished” web site, but instead to visit every step in the digital research process.


When referring to individual contributions, a team member can speak of that contribution as his or hers. When referring to the whole project, team members should always credit the team. We encourage everyone to share with the team when they make public mentions of the project.

When the project is completed, the team will work together to promote the process and project.


This project scope statement is in part influenced by The Developing Librarian Project Charter, an initiative of the Columbia University Libraries.