A Look at the Missouri Digital Libraries Mentoring Program

Since June of 2020, three Missouri-based library organizations have partnered to assist twenty libraries in the early stages of their digitization programs:

  • Missouri Hub (MoHub), an unincorporated cooperative organization founded in 2013 to share content with DPLA, which now has 14 contributing partners;
  • MOBIUS, a 77-library consortium providing resource sharing, library systems management and many other services; and
  • the Missouri State Library, which administers grants in support of digitization efforts, among its many programs. 

MOBIUS generously sponsors MoHub’s membership in DPLA, but had not previously offered digitization related services to its members. MoHub, which seeks to help develop a local community of practice around digitization, helped MOBIUS prepare a grant proposal to support 20 MOBIUS libraries, many of whom were looking at starting digitization projects for the very first time.

The Missouri State Library awarded MOBIUS an LSTA grant with two components. The first was to offer and implement a digitization software platform, Innovative Interface’s Vital, for libraries that lacked one. The second component of the grant was a facilitated mentorship program where experienced MoHub digitizers could work one-on-one with staff at the MOBIUS libraries, many of whom fill multiple roles beyond managing a digitization program. Envisioned as a mixture of virtual and in-person mentoring, the program was quickly changed to all- virtual when it launched in June 2020.

With consultant Sean Ferguson of the Northeast Document Conservation Center,  MoHub and MOBIUS curated a series of four webinars addressing key steps to implement a digitization program: planning for digitization, equipment and software requirements, metadata, and collections care. Mentors and mentees watched the webinars independently and then discussed them, with structured questions and other supporting materials provided by Sean. Several workshop intensives provided members the opportunity to further discuss best practices, their experience as participants, and offer feedback. NEDCC contributed key experience in needs assessment and digitization best practices. The final two-part wrap-up workshop was held online in April 2021, designed to prepare members for next steps and their future digitization projects.