AM Posters 2009 START Conference Manager    

Repurposing Digital Objects: seven case studies across the publishing and information industry.

G Benoit, Peishan Tsai Bartley and Lisa Hussey

(Submission #30)


Abstract: International publishing firms and larger research libraries have accumulated countless digital objects, housed throughout the organization and rarely with metadata to facilitate retrieval. [A digital object here is any identifiable, organization-specific file (an image, chapter from a book, part of a published article, shoulder notes, chapter headings, etc.).] But as costs, competition, and consumer needs change, publishers and others look to “repurpose” digital objects by altering work flow or modifying enterprise-wide information systems. Seven case studies conducted in 2008 at four international publishing houses, two large university research libraries, and one museum suggest similarities of need and similar difficulties implementing changes. All cases use some kind of commercial content management system and have sought similar in-house solutions only to arrive at several roadblocks. This study identifies some roadblocks at the management, organizational knowledge, organizational communication, and technical levels. Attempts to integrate the candidate solutions magnified the key problems and brought out weaknesses, especially at the executive, middle-management and technical services levels. In all cases, a proof-of-concept technical solution was required that demonstrated support for capital investment , staff emotions, interoperability across heterogeneous data models, and current work flow. The executive level was especially interested in probabilistic automatic classification of digital objects and the need for finer-grain descriptive and administrative control over objects. Middle managers’ roles become important in the implementation process as they not only help staff with sensemaking as changes take place, they are also are more likely to be able to provide emotional support while the enhancements to the computer technology was unclear.

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