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Scaling Innovation Initiative Absorbed into Standing Committees

The working group formed to shepherd experimental projects to production is dissolved as the Standing Committees absorb the charge to support innovation.


March 17, 2015—After shepherding eight projects to improve staff and patron experience to full operations, the Scaling Innovation Initiative has concluded, having met its aim to create a path to integrate successful experiments and promising innovations into the Library ecosystem.

The Library’s five Standing Committees have absorbed the charge to support innovative projects aligned with their respective areas by providing feedback and expertise as well as funding.

“We want people to probe and think differently about what they are doing,” said Library vice president Sarah Thomas. “Innovation is not always so evident in historic institutions, but we are striving to integrate it across our operations and functions. The Scaling Innovation Initiative sparked important conversations about alternative ways of working and brought wonderful projects to bear, and my hope is that we all increasingly view risk-taking as a positive.”

Generously supported by the Arcadia Fund, the Scaling Innovation Initiative was begun in 2013 with the goal of clarifying ways to bring experiments to larger groups of users.

“Everyone loves the idea of innovating in the library, but we didn’t have a good way of getting things to scale,” said Abigail Bordeaux, the program manager. “A lot of the innovations happened within specific departments or schools and didn’t reach the entire organization.”

The eight projects stewarded by the program ranged from organizational workflow changes to new online platforms. The first to launch, Inscriptio, went live last July and more have since been completed and further developed. Others include:

  • Course Reserves Unleashed: An API for course reserves data that allows libraries and others to present course reserves data on a web page of their choosing and streamlines student access to course reserves.
  • ListView (formerly known as HOLLIS Links): A program to generate user-friendly link lists for digital objects belonging to a parent HOLLIS+ record (e.g., a record for a digitized multi-volume set or periodical) and allow searching across the full text of related items (e.g., 70 years of a digitized periodical).
  • Geotagging Library Data: A project to geocode HOLLIS records with location and contribute them back to Library Cloud. See a demo of how this data can be used.
  • Link-o-matic: A tool to automate the process of linking digital resources held by Harvard libraries and archives and stored in the Digital Repository Service (DRS) with associated metadata in discovery systems such as HOLLIS and OASIS.
  • Map It: A lightweight application that shows the building level and range that is home to a given item in HOLLIS and displays a map with that range highlighted.
  • ETDs@Harvard: A Harvard-wide open-source tool for electronic thesis and dissertation submission and management, including embargo requests, license selection, and submission of the dissertation and supplemental materials to their school. The system pushes files and their metadata to DASH for online access, to Acme Binding for printing and delivery to the Archives, to DRS2 for preservation, and elsewhere as requested by individual schools.
  • Archives and Special Collections Class Request Tool: A web platform that facilitates object-based teaching by easily connecting instructors with collections and librarians.

The Scaling Innovation Initiative working group’s members were Abigail Bordeaux, Kim Dulin, Michael Hemment, David Osterbur, Tracey Robinson, and Ann Whiteside.