Newsletter of the Medical Library Group of Southern California and Arizona

Report on 2023 Digital Commons Conference

Posted on October 27, 2023 by Angela Murrell | No Comments

by Sue Espe BBA, MLIS, AHIP-D

The Digital Commons North American Conference 2023 held in Miami, Florida on October 9 – 10th was attended by repository administrators from varying institutions around the country. Attendees gathered together to listen to speakers, panelists and workshop facilitators who delved into future initiatives, passed on best practices, shared their challenges and imparted extensive experiences through storytelling.

It was especially heartening to find several senior executives and program managers in attendance from Digital Commons. They were keen to interact with the attendees to hear their remarks, suggestions and overall feedback. The mutually supportive working relationship between the Digital Commons staff, panelists and attendees was apparent. Many of them have collaborated on projects with each other throughout the years.

Opening remarks were presented by Saad Khan, Vice President Digital Commons. He introduced the keynote speaker, Judy Verses, President Academic and Government markets. Judy spoke with enthusiasm about future endeavors and objectives for the product.

The first panel, moderated by Ann Connolly, Director of Product, and included Todd Bruns, Lee Dotson and Paul Royster, who were referred to as the All-Stars because of their lengthy experience as administrators of Digital Commons, several from its inception. Their Panel was titled, Digital Commons IR All-Stars on the evolving IR landscape: Greatest challenges, key innovations and exciting future trends. To inspire and increase use of the repository, the panel suggested creating monthly dashboards, establishing momentum competition with download alerts, communicating “make Googling yourself fun” and developing shared faculty stories to easily retell. The panel navigated challenges, leveraged RSS feeds and the auto collection tool.

In later panels, key points discussed were related to product enhancements, including a more modern interface, updated platform, expanded user self-service capabilities, scrolling exhibits, and journal reporting tool. The speakers offered numerous best practices, such as recruiting student volunteers to assist with data manipulation because they are digital natives who are smart and are technologically savvy. One recently added new feature, the content inventory tool, was introduced by staff and it is found in the administrative panel of the Digital Commons repository. The tool allows for the download of all material in the repository for analytical review or revisions. Additional panel topics by Digital Commons staff with guests and several rounds of lightning talks enabled group discussion that further highlighted in-depth user stories, experiences and insights.

One particularly interesting story involved the archival material of Astronaut General Thomas Stafford, which was donated to the Digital Commons repository at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, SWOSU.  He is known for flying two Gemini rendezvous missions and commanding the Apollo 10 mission.  The university is located in the plains west of Oklahoma City in the small town where he was raised in Weatherford, Oklahoma.

The repository at our institution showcases the scholarly works of the numerous highly regarded, distinguished scientific researchers in our hospital who are prolific authors.  It reaches a large audience from around the world, who are interested in their scientific activities.  Supported in an academic healthcare environment, our repository could certainly be considered a special setting.  Being the sole administrator with intermediate knowledge of Digital Commons, it was very beneficial to learn from others in attendance.  Many of the attendees are also solo administrators and in the same predicament with limited staff, resources and time.  Learning from other administrators and interacting with this community at the conference provided me with much more insight into creative potential of the repository.

Sue Espe, BBA, MLIS, AHIP-D, is the Library Services Manager at CommonSpirit Health, Southwest & Midwest Division of Diginity Heath St. Joseph’s Hospital & Medical Center.


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