Title: Gathering Lost Things and Connecting Lone Researchers: SobekCM and Digital Humanities Collaborations with the Librarians and Scholars Authors: Mark V. Sullivan University of Florida Laurie N. Taylor University of Florida Abstract: In our presentation, we will provide a brief overview of the SobekCM Digital Repository Management System which was developed with librarians, scholars, application engineers, and a richly diverse user community with many others and their need represented. The presentation will cover the importance of user communities for software development to ensure that software meets technical, operational, functional or system design, non functional or system quality or system architecture, community, and collaborativ e requirements such that users can see beyond the software to define their needs, instead of being subjected to software where tec hnology is a limiting factor that dictates policy decisions. In the presentation, we focus on specific examples of collaborati ve Digital Humanities projects with scholars that have been enabled by the SobekCM software and that, in turn, have helped to drive and define development for SobekCM. collector of lost things. SobekCM was born of collaborative projects, including the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC, www.dloc.com n ame thus also serves to reference its ability to gather to gether and connect collections mate rials, and communities While not explicitly defined as Digital Humanities projects from the start, the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) and Ephemeral Cities both began with scholar collaborators from the humanities and both have served to further develop the scholarly cyberinfrastructure for the Digital Humanities. This presentation will feature examples from dLOC Ephemeral Cities, a nd subsequent projects born from them ( including Unearthing St. Augustine Pioneer Days in Florida, and the Panama Silver Asian Gold: Money, Migration, and the Making of the Modern Caribbean DOCC or Distributed Online Collaborative Course), to show the importance and value of collaboration with user communities and specificall y with scholars and scholarly communities. SobekCM digital asset management and repository system capable of supporting immediate needs for scholars, gal leries, libraries, archives, museums, research, teaching, and data collections as well as the needs associated with supporting complex international collaborations. In 2012 the UF Libraries officially released the SobekCM Digital Repository Management Sy stem as Open Source Software The release marked a milestone for the software and for the large community of contributors from across the world who participated and continue to contribute to SobekCM ongoing development Contributors included those contri buting code, as well as contributors from the many critical u ser communities especially scholarly communities
Knight Lab at Northwestern University (July 2013), open source software projects succeed and flourish when developers are also users of the software. Similarly, Charlie Edw Di 1 explains the importance of users, explaining that success for open source software is defined by its user community and relies on the user community for testing and feedback for ongoing improvement. Similarly the authors of the 2013 report Searching for Sustainability: Strategies from Eight Digitized Special Collections 2 noted the an example where the system display a nd operations for digital collection software directly also emphasized the importance of engagement with the user community for sustainability and longevity : Devoted users and stakeholders can greatly add value for digital collections in terms of the collect ion contents, technologies, and new possibilities. A lso, a s explained by the authors of the report : the physical collections do not just translate them to the web; they transform and enhance them, making them potentially even more useful than their physical counterparts (29). A udiences and users can have critical insight s into collections because they are uniquely inform ed on the collections and can bring that expertise into collaborative opportunities that support the techno logically enabled enhancing and transformation of collections. The SobekCM user community includes many communities w ith many types of users in each. T he larger sets of users can be organized loosely into groups based on primary interests and the feedback and support contributed : P atron users (e.g., providing feedback and insight on wanted features, questions, and interface needs); A uthors, creators, and publishers (e.g., providing insight on representation, branding, rights, and in terface design); I nternal users with expertise in collections and curation in libraries, archives, and museums (e.g., providing feedback, insight, and user testing for interface design, internal tracking features, integration with other systems, user supp orts, and new e nhancements for specific needs); S cholar users (e.g., providing feedback, insight, and user testing for research, teaching, service, and scholarly community needs, especially as associated with virtua l scholarly communities online); and I nternal users with expertise in technologies and who are also relate d to an other user groups (e.g., providing feedback on specific shared concerns; for instance: Research Computing groups for collaboration on scholarly research and data, technical experts on scholarly projects with concerns spec ific to those projects, exhibit coordinators with concerns specific to the archiving and presentation of objects in exhibits as well as online exhibits, etc.). Collaboration with user communities and user groups is of great value. R ising interest in the D igital Humanities has brought new opportunities for collaborating with scholarly users and 1 http://dhdebates.gc.cuny.edu/debates/text/31 2 http://www.arl.org/publications resources/3022 searching for sustainability strategies from eight digitized special collections
communities, and new collaborative work that helps to drive and define development that supports the Digital Humanities and that enhances the SobekCM software overall because of the active level of engagement. Technical Requirements and Beyond; More than Lists of Technical Feature s By featuring and building from examples including dLOC, Ephemeral Cities, Unearthing St. Augustine Pioneer Days in Florida, and the Panama Silver, Asian Gold: Money, Migration, and the Making of the Modern Caribbean DOCC or Distribut ed Online Collaborative Course in this presentation, we will show the importance and value of collaboration wit h user communities, specifically with scholars and scholarly communities. By building from these examples, we will show how critical user feedback and involvement has been in enabling a system and tools that are develope d ground up to meet user needs in th e best manner possible, and how doing so enabled new projects to become possible, as with the Panama Silver, Asian Gold: Money, Migration, and the Making of the Modern Caribbean DOCC. These new projects, in turn, engaged new users and existing users in ne w ways for more feedback and participation. We will also cover recent feedback and opportunities which have emerged from collaboration on Curator Tools, which are be ing actively used by several Digital Humanities scholars for their research projects. In all, we show the value and importance of collaboration with scholars and scholarly communities, especially with Digital Humanities, for the contribution to software an d tool development for larger needs including digital scholarship and data curation.