Long-term digital strategy: do it once, do it right

Publication Date08 May 2017
AuthorChris Batt
SubjectLibrary & information science,Librarianship/library management,Library & information services
Long-term digital strategy: do it
once, do it right
Chris Batt
Warlingham, UK
Purpose Collecting Institutions in the Network Society is a multidisciplinary PhD study examining
present practices and policies of collecting institutions (museums, galleries, libraries and archives) in their use
and development of digital technologies, within the context of wider socio-technical change. It investigates
whether existing service paradigms are best suited to future digital delivery of services in the emergent
network society.
Design/methodology/approach It uses an interpretive methodological approach creating a body of
phenomenological evidence enabling comparison between the organisational context, internal practices,
histories and policies of collecting institutions, and the wider socio-technical impact of the internet. Literature
reviews provide evidence from the “outer world” of internet developments and impact to establish four generic
drivers of internet change. For the “inner world” of collecting institutions, organisational context and research
and development on innovation are examined to analyse various perspectives on common approaches to
service policy and practice. Additionally, textual analysis of institutional mission statements and policy
documents is used to establish the degree of common purpose across collecting institutions and the
preparedness of practitioners and policymakers to deal with rapid socio-technical change.
Findings The evidence is synthesised to dene an institutional paradigm describing the present
operational processes and practices of collecting institutions. This is compared with the four generic drivers to
dene opportunities and challenges that collecting institutions face in exploiting the internet. This synthesis
demonstrates that the siloised and fragmented nature of the institutional paradigm creates signicant barriers
to effective exploitation. Evidence from the textual analysis is used to develop a shared mission statement for
all collecting institutions as the foundation of a strategic digital future.
Originality/value The study proposes a radically new service paradigm (the digital knowledge ecology)
enabling collecting institutions to achieve maximum user value in their delivery of digital services, and
concludes with proposals for actions to build a collective strategy.
Keywords Strategic planning, Libraries, Internet, Museums, Archives, Digital innovation,
Socio-technical change
Paper type Viewpoint
In the digital world, all of the objects that we have access to via the Web have been imbued with the
ability to speak […]. This leads to the inescapable conclusion that, in the digital environment, the
distinctions between libraries, museums and archives that we take for granted are in fact articial
(Martin, 2003).
Does your collecting institution – museum, library or archive – have a comprehensive
strategy for the planning and implementation of digital delivery that takes full
advantage of today’s networked world? Is it a strategy that ensures maximum service
value is delivered to all users? There continue to be dramatic changes in individual and
social behaviours and expectations arising from the effects of digital innovation.
Increasingly, with ubiquitous mobile access and global connectivity there is an
expectation of 24/7 access to comprehensive and user-focused resources for all aspects of
our lives. If you have a strategy for digital delivery, how often is it reviewed and
updated? How future-proofed is it?
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 19 June 2017
Accepted 19 June 2017
Informationand Learning Science
Vol.118 No. 5/6, 2017
©Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/ILS-06-2017-0058

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