The need to communicate the value of digital libraries and digitized content is a formidable challenge for practitioners. The roadblocks are many. The profession lacks agreed-upon standards, mechanisms for discovering user trends, and methods to translate typical metrics into outputs that appeal to stakeholders.
Assessing digital content use/reuse can be one helpful approach to developing stories of impact. An assessment can foster a deeper understanding of the ways that users engage with content and can generate metrics that practitioners can incorporate into reports to stakeholders.
The following table highlights important storytelling facets, including definitions and examples.
All encompassing individuals involved in telling a story
|What||The specific data points used to construct the story being told, done through data collection and analysis|
|When||The length of time and frequency needed to collect data and tell the story|
|Where||The context (e.g., institutional, cultural, or community) where the assessment took place.|
|How||The approach, format, or style used to articulate the story|
|Why||The purpose, intention, or ultimate goal for developing or distributing a story about impact|
Responding to the various storytelling facets will provide practitioners with the kinds of data and outputs available to craft narratives that can reach their intended audience(s). Practitioners using this model should note that not all facets may be of relevance to their specific needs.
With the storytelling facets collected, practitioners can craft narratives and share outputs in a variety of ways, depending on audience behavior and institutional goals. Several examples from real-world projects and scholarship highlight the diversity of impact reporting, from compiling meaningful anecdotes and analytics, and composing feature-length newsprint stories to conceptual frameworks for addressing needs of particular audiences, including users from underrepresented populations.
Aery, Sean. “The Elastic Ruler: Measuring Scholarly Use of Digital Collections. BITSTREAMS: Notes from the digital projects team“. Duke University Libraries (2015)
Europeana Foundation. “Europeana Reuse: Be Inspired”. Europeana Pro
“Your Story Matters.” Office for Scholarly Communication, Harvard University Library.
University Libraries. “Three Questions: Unique Collections at UNT Libraries”. University of North Texas.