The reason Kingston University decided to go with the DCS, and in its first year too, was not so much that it offered to remove the need for annual reporting and renewals procedures, though that was a plus, but that it’s arrival coincided with plans to change our VLE from BlackBoard to Canvas by the start of the 2017/18 academic year.
Since its beginnings our Digitisation Service had used BlackBoard’s secure eReserves area to store digitised extracts that academics then uploaded to their corresponding module area; albeit by a slow, and at times immensely frustrating, linking process. With no equivalent to the eReserves in Canvas, the secure storage of the DCS sounded like an ideal alternative.
At the same time, our subject librarians were making steady progress working with academics to create their reading lists in Leganto, where links to digitised content could be added quickly and easily to item records.
Following a busy Summer in 2016, the DCS was ready for the start of term. Extracts previously stored in the eReserves were now in the DCS, with links accessible through Leganto. Naturally though, some academics continued to use BlackBoard for that final year, and when it came to reporting, the CLA indicated that they couldn’t accept mixed methods. If we wanted to automate our reporting, all digitised content had to be in the DCS. So, I had a choice to make; either report all of our digitised content using the CLA spreadsheet one last time, or make the most of automated reporting and add the BlackBoard extracts to the DCS retrospectively. I decided on the latter, anticipating that many of them would be used again in September, in which case, all I had to do then was send out the links!
Even as BlackBoard continued, the ease with which reading lists and extract links could be created in Leganto certainly led to an increase in digitisation requests. 2016/17 saw all faculties represented for the first time in a long time and this academic year has so far seen another rise in requests. While this is excellent news, it has led to a change of emphasis for our request process. As the digitisation team has never been more than three members and for several years now, just the one, the onus was always on the academics to provide the extract along with their request. With Leganto enabling academics to tag items for digitisation with virtually a single click however, subject teams, for the most part, now make the copy and the request after picking up the tag in Alma. For many this is additional work, but work that’s regarded as necessary for promoting Leganto and improving the students’ experience of reading lists.
The next stage of the request process is much as it’s always been; a Microsoft Word form and accompanying extract emailed to our digitisation notice board. The system works, but it was felt that perhaps it could be improved. So while the Alma digitisation request workflow has been under investigation for some time, the DCS Academic Request Form looks like swooping in and answering most all of our needs! The idea of having requests feed directly into the DCS is certainly appealing for me, and being able to embed the request form link wherever is most convenient would definitely be a benefit to the subject teams.
Possibly, like other DCS users though, my first thought was, can a PDF be attached to this? So, on his recent visit to Kingston we asked David Duffield. With concerns raised about security and compliance however, hope for the form started to waver until at the end of the meeting there was a light bulb moment (David’s, not ours) when he suggested using the Academic Request Form alongside our existing file-sharing system, Box. Upload the extract to Box, fill in the Academic Request Form and add the Box URL to the notes field. Done!
From a practical perspective, the DCS has relieved my annual reporting and renewals duties as promised. More importantly though, because it provided such an effective replacement for the eReserves, we’ve been able to continue developing the collaboration between the Digitisation Service and Leganto, which is having a positive outcome for academics and students alike. In realising that Box could be part of our request process too, the Academic Request Form looks like a promising alternative to all those Word documents and email attachments. Something the subject teams and I agree is another step in the right direction!
About the author
Within Library and Learning Services, my time is split between Archives and Special Collections, the Digitisation Service, and the helpdesk at Kingston School of Art but wherever I am, strangely there’s always a scanner nearby…
Outside of work (sort of) I’m currently on the home stretch of an MLitt in Archives and Records Management with the University of Dundee, during which I’ve experienced digitisation from the student side and I have to say, I rather like it!