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Know Your Mission

If you don't have a mission statement before you start: create, formulate, or negotiate one. Try to identify all of the logical players on your campus that will need to be involved in the effort: library systems office, computing centers, network gurus, public service/reference librarians, and subject specialists. Use the mission statement as an opportunity to establish buy-in and begin to define areas of responsibility and competence.

You'll find that a number of your faculty are likely to be more advanced in their thinking about using computers for textual analysis: hear them out, but listen also to those for whom such efforts seem improbable or not much worth their while. These are the users you'll need to lead and who will require the most time to bring up to speed, and they won't necessarily be the ones who have come to technology late.

You will need friends in networking, systems, and reference. You'll need to be on good terms with your Webmaster (or be one yourself). You'll need to work hard to keep your service mainstream. But remember: you're delivering content, the thing itself, not just the 'meta-information.' Yours is a service that should be seen as on the forefront of the much vaunted digital library, and you can help to sell it by offering two insights to those who may question its importance: 1) does anyone believe that libraries will be needing to deliver less content over their networks in five years time? 2) isn't a library of electronic texts a good testbed for thinking about how your library will be delivering content?

Strive hard to see that policy questions are addressed as such, and that questions that involve high-level service considerations (for example, the level of assistance in textual markup that your service might provide for scholars, researchers, students) are treated as such. Phased approaches to establishing networked delivery are likely to be the most attractive to management and therefore successful, but even here, the start-up costs are not insignificant.

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Last Updated: July 3, 1995