Digitization Victories and Challenges at the Library of Wales

While there is no one-size-fits-all plan for sustainability, many issues that exhibits and institutions face are similar in nature. The Library of Wales has some interesting digital exhibitions, including one focused on the architecture of Wales.

I’m actually impressed with this exhibit. Initially, I wasn’t. Visually, it’s kind of painful to look at- Times New Roman font, excessive blocks of text, not very interactive, BUT- in terms of sustainability, quite the success! All of the links still work and all of the photos are intact. The institution very clearly outline their goals:

The Library took an early decision to use some of its core funding from the Welsh Government for digitisation projects, and this has enabled the Library to build internal expertise in the entire digital workflow, including all aspects of digital capture, management and preservation. This approach has now placed digitisation – and the need to sustain digital resources – as central to delivering its institutional mission in several key areas including access and preservation. 

The Library of Wales details clearly where their funding comes from and what it’s being used for. It is imperative to outline funding from the very start and include future expenses. The failed BBC DMI project is a perfect example to illustrate the importance of financial mapping. Their failed digital media project totaled over £100m in losses.

The Library of Wales’ stakes aren’t quite this high. Their goals are basic, and perhaps a bit dated. One of the markers of sustainability mentioned in the report is long-term public benefit and financial support longevity. The Library of Wales is working to open up access to its collections by creating the Architecture of Wales exhibit. The report says this the is biggest reason institutions or people cite for digitization. The exhibit certainly does open up access. Check out the launch page script below:

The Architecture of Wales

Introduction to the Collection
Introduction to Viewing

The Collection:


The launch page is very detailed. It seemed curious to me that there was an “intro to the collection” and an “introduction to viewing”. For such a basic layout, I didn’t expect such attention to detail (wrongly judging a book by its cover). I was also shocked/delighted to see the copyright listed as 1999. This digital exhibit has been around since 1999 and all of the links still work!!! AMAZING. Hats off to the webmaster.

They very much take the users into consideration, and the only critique I have is that the exhibit could engage its users more. The design of the exhibit now includes a strong narrative, but it’s very limited. However, expanding would require a major overhaul of the sustainability plan. The Library of Wale would have to determine the best new media to use to jive with the targeted audience. They could consider branching off and develop different exhibits for different demographics. Currently, there’s only one method of presentation.

The staff must work deliberately and intentionally to replace the framework of the sustainability plan before any changes should be made. Due to the state of the current exhibit, I’m confident that they can implement changes well. After all, the exhibit I explored is seventeen years old! The age of the website shows within the layout and the presentation, but all of the information is still accessible. With the information available seventeen years later, someone is doing something right!

You can read this paper about The Library of Wales’ digitization efforts here, if you’re interested!




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