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About Rhodes Digital Commons
The Rhodes Library’s primary function is to aid in fulfilling the scholarly values and objectives of Rhodes University through its rich collection of information resources, both print and electronic, its information portal, and institutional repository. It is imperative that the Library is able to meet the information needs of the university’s students and staff, to support and enhance high standards of teaching, research and scholarship.
The Rhodes Digital Commons is a collective responsibility of the institution, library, Research Office, and academics. The primary role of the Library in this endeavour is the hosting; managing the repository; selection; strategy; human capital; marketing; and scholarly communication.
The value of Rhodes Digital Commons
The value of the Rhodes Digital Commons is that it:
- provides access for the development of new knowledge at Rhodes University,
- serves as a means to archive and preserve Rhodes University’s intellectual output,
- increases Rhodes University’s research visibility,
- allows for collaboration and interconnection,
- allows for global sharing of knowledge and learning through technology, encouraging social unity thus removing barriers to access to information.
Digitisation: Guiding Principles and Standards
The development of digital collections is informed by certain guiding principles, legal requirements, standards and best practices, being, but not limited to:
- In terms of collections development:
- The principle of accessibility in support of open scholarship and public interest;
- The principle of broad and contemporary relevance of collections relating to the current and potential value of materials in support of research, teaching and learning at Rhodes as well as the broader national and international scholarly community;
- The principle of meeting legal requirements and honouring donor agreements as per specifications;
- The principle of digitisation for preservation of the analogous environment.
- In terms of technical requirements:
- International standards for data object creation (e.g. dpi and file formats);
- International standards for descriptive and related metadata (e.g. Dublin Core);
- International standards for information interchange and accessibility (e.g. OAI-PMH)
Digitisation Initiatives at Rhodes University
Digitisation initiatives at Rhodes University are mostly driven by the need to make primary and secondary resources accessible to the larger scholarly community in support of the research agenda, and to create surrogates of the original materials as a preservation strategy. In order to consolidate and standardise digitisation activities and the growth of these digital collections, a mandate was approved by Council in support of enhanced discovery, delivery and access to these collections:
- The Library is mandated to identify, prioritise, lead and coordinate digitisation efforts centrally across the institution (with consideration for national and possibly international strategic partnerships and initiatives), and where required partner with units in terms of project facilitation, including possibly project management, assistance with funding proposals, skilling of staff etc.;
- The Library, together with stakeholders, is mandated to design and effect supporting institutionally-wide adopted policies. These policies include (but may not be limited to) digitisation standards, metadata standards, author-archiving policies, digital preservation, rights management and access policies;
- The Library, together with input from relevant stakeholders, is mandated to manage and customize the delivery platform for digital collections.