Organizations must evaluate their activities and show the relevancy of them to their funders. It is no exception that organizations like libraries and archives are facing severe budget cuts, which will affect their current activities like their digitization projects. Simon Tanner of the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London, wrote an interesting report, in which he explains the Balanced Value Impact Model. This model will support organizations (especially memory institutions) to do an Impact Analyses of their digital resources in order to show how the use of digital resources will benefit and change people. Not with vague notions, but in an evidence based approach. The results can be valuable input for further plans and can support decision makers at various levels. Decisons could be made not only on economical grounds, but also by taking the impact values into account.
Tanner distinguishes the following impact areas:
- Social and Audience impacts : “the audience, the beneficial stakeholders and wider society has been affected and changes in a beneficial fashion”
- Economic impacts “the activitiy is demonstrating economic benefits to the organisation or to society”
- Innovation impacts: “that the digital resource is enabling innovation which is supporting the social and economic benefits accrued”
- Internal process impacts: ”that the organisation creating/delivering the digital resources have been benefitted within its internal processes by the innovation demonstrated”. (p.45)
The model consists of 5 stages, of which the first two are “Context” and “Analysis and Design”. In these steps the digital environment in which the organization operates ( “the digital ecosystem”), are described, as well as the stakeholders who either benefit from or at least are affected by the digital resources.
It is not my intention to explain the model here and I would advise you to read the report. But it occurred to me that this exercise could benefit the case of digital preservation in an organisation as well. Part of the digital resources will be preserved for the long term after all.
As digital preservation is a costly activity, it is important to show the value of it. Why are we keeping all this digital material for an undefined amount of years? The Balanced Value Impact Model could be very helpful as this exercise will lead to an overview of the current ecosystem, and the current stakeholders for the digital resources. It will also show the value the stakeholders relate to the digital collections. Values for society and for individuals, economic values and values for the organization itself.
The information collected for the Balanced Value Impact Model can help the organization to identify the areas they need to monitor in their Preservation Watch to safeguard that this ecosystem and the identified stakeholders will be served over the years. The Designated community, – for many memory institutions quite a vague notion -, will be described better, as well as the value this Designated Community experiences with the digital resources. These values could be an ingredient for the organization in establishing their preservation policies, in which they will describe whether and how they will keep these values in the digital collection present.
Creating a Balanced Value Impact model will not be an easy task for an organization. But it could be a very useful exercise to support the preservation policies too.