Tuesday, June 14, 2011

PL 19/11: Started but not sustained

Filed under: debate — plinius @ 3:53 pm

There are serious weaknesses in the way digital development work in the library sector is financed.

Funding for Sustainability, a new report from Great Britain, explains why. I recognize the experiences they refer to. Funding organizations do not understand the full cost of social change. They want the political capital gained by financing many short-term projects rather than the long-term commitment (and bcooperation and learning) required for permanent social effect.

I except the Gates Foundation and a few others.

Applicants do not protest, since they prefer some funds, rather than no funds.

Quotes from the press release:

This report, written by Nancy L Maron and Matthew Loy, provides funders of digital resources and their grantees with an overview of current funding practices and highlights areas for potential improvement in defining and planning for post-grant sustainability.

  • Funders articulate a range of desirable outcomes under the umbrella term of ‘sustainability.’
  • But  it was much less common for funders to require applicants to think deeply about the financial and other resources needed post-grant to reach these outcomes.
  • Funders engage in a rich range of planning activities to address different aspects of sustainability, including technical, content-based, access and discovery, and audience impact requirements.
  • But many funders only engage with their grantees at the beginning of the grant period
  • All too often, funders and project leaders alike rely heavily on a university or other host institution as a back-up plan for long-term sustainability.
  • The report offers funders and project leaders a high-level process for working together at the proposal stage to set plans for sustainability, including establishing a clear definition of sustainability for a particular project, indentifying the steps needed to achieve the desired outcome at different stages of the project, and establishing metrics for measuring the project’s ongoing impact.
  • Strategic Content Alliance is a unique collaboration initiative funded by public sector organisations, all different, but all deeply involved in the creation, management and exploitation of digital content for the common good.
  • These are: JISC, British Library, BBC, Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and the Wellcome Library.
  • The Alliance aims to maximise financial and intellectual investment in digital content through a more systematic approach to pooling and co-ordinating activity.
  • It pursues projects in programmatic areas that are critical to academic work: Sustainability of Digital Resources, the Role of the Library, Practices & Attitudes in Scholarly Communications, Teaching & Learning with Technology, and Scholarly Publishing. 

Funding for Sustainability: How Funders’ Practices Influence the Future of Digital Resources.


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