Assessment:Cultural Assessment

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DLF Cultural Assessment Working Group

This sub-group of the DLF Assessment Interest Group (DLF AIG) was formed in February 2016 to discuss ways by which we may assess our digital collections and their cultural impact. Members of the DLF AIG for Cultural Assessment aim to first identify institutional data and practices that may be relevant to building a robust understanding of “cultural assessment.” Then, the group will investigate and attempt to surface underlying assumptions within our data and practices to help the community better understand the social structures that both influence our work and result from it. Ideally, the group will develop helpful and nuanced rubrics for institutional measurement and analysis of cultural biases and assumptions. The DLF AIG Cultural Assessment group intends to raise awareness of cultural bias and institutional “blind spots,” as well as recommend a set of data points, to create more inclusive cultures within DLF member organizations.

We will explore whether and how cultural biases/assumptions are embedded in:

  • materials we have available in physical collections - special collections, institutional archives;
  • in librarians’ and archivists’ selections of what to digitize;
  • in the requests their patrons and communities make for content;
  • in choices about levels of digitization and preservation;
  • in metadata-creation/descriptive activities;
  • and in decisions about how/when/whether we publicize collections and make them discoverable.

with the understanding that biases and assumptions have concrete impact on digital library collections and services.

Current Projects:

Annotated Bibliography

Define Cultural Assessment in collaboration between librarians, archivists and anthropologists in a way that applies to digital collection development and dissemination. The outcome will be an annotated bibliography that will help set the stage to further discussions about cultural and social responses of library digital collections and potential biases in information structuring and management. The project alos entails compiling the bibliographies and initial findings for the other sub-topics and coordinating the eventual creation of the Cultural Assessment Interest Group white-paper.

Metadata & Description Practices

Outline potential measures and standards for metadata and description activities that allow our digital collections to be culturally aware. Metadata, in this context does not only refer to Subject Headings (like those maintained by the Library of Congress) but may also include folksonomies and ontologies. The intent is to uncover ways metadata is currently being produced, identify ways in which one might determine the cultural awareness of metadata and descriptions (if possible), and by pointing to work that intends to expand the boundary of metadata, like the Mukurtu Project (, develop a set of recommendations on how to generate metadata that is culturally responsible.

Selection & Digitization

Investigate how institutions of higher education select materials for digitization and how they are prioritized. We will research metrics and decision-making workflows as well as the underlying assumptions regarding selection and decision-making throughout the beginning stages of the digitization process.

Levels of Digitization and Preservation

Investigate how libraries (which may include archives) determine levels of digitization and preservation for digital collections. This may include a review of how groups are formed to make these decisions, how decision-making groups make determinations about levels of digitization and preservation, and how these decisions are communicated. We will think about how these decisions may be evaluated for cultural factors and influences and/or what impact these decisions may have on various communities.

Publicizing Collection and Discoverability

Investigate how libraries (which may include special collections and/or archives) make their collections discoverable and how they publicize collections. This may include how to identify constituents, stakeholders and customers; to craft custom communications; to apply descriptive metadata for searching and sharing in an effort to conquer the digital divide. Publicizing and discoverability should also include considerations for selecting discovery platforms and tools, defining methods to present collections, and user interactions with collections, and “usability”. Defining the standards for community demographics, marginalized and underrepresented groups, and representation of diverse communities within the collections is needed for qualitative and quantitative assessment.

  • There is a possible collaboration here with the Metadata Group

Get Involved

Meeting Schedule

The Metadata Group meets bi-weekly on Monday's at 11:00am CDT beginning on Aug.15 (see working documents)

The Digitization & Preservation Group meets bi-weekly on Mondays at 11:00am Central Time /beginning Aug. 22 (see working documents)

The Publicizing and Discoverability Group meets bi-weekly on Tuesdays at 11:00am Central Time beginning Aug. 16 (see working documents)

The Selection & Digitization Group meets biweekly on Mondays at 12:00pm Central Time beginning Aug. 15 (see working documents)

The Annotated Bibliography Group meets biweekly on Mondays 12:00pm Central Time beginning Aug. 23 (see working documents)

Updated Schedule after DLF 2016.

Social Media

Join our Google group or contact group chair Hannah dash s dash Kettler at uiowa dot edu.

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