Digital Commons at Rhode Island School of Design: Collaboration and Integration of Art and Design Practice Toward a Digital Library Program




Pompelia, Mark

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Texas Digital Library


The Rhode Island School of Design launched its Digital Commons institutional repository following a multi-year period of research and investigation that began with preliminary conversations with the school’s Department of Architecture, the RISD Museum, Graduate Studies, and the RISD Fleet Library’s Archives and Special Collections, among other stakeholders. Implemented in 2015 with digital content already administered by the library, the soft launch period led to many questions and decisions about the role of the library in this new endeavor to preserve and present the school’s creative and scholarly output and collections of note. The nearly five years since have led to uploading seventeen thousand items from offices and departments across the school. The platform includes the school’s strategic plan, commencement addresses, and other speakers and symposia as well as unforeseeable developments such as ephemera from a Cabaret-modeled performance-based class and a faculty-edited journal. Along the way, Digital Commons @ RISD has been presented at faculty meetings, to the school’s Board of Trustees, and stands to contribute to faculty promotion and tenure dossiers while already landing the school into the top downloads by a global audience for a handful of disciplines at any given time. This presentation will detail the considerations leading to Digital Commons @ RISD and the processes of identifying and building communities across the school; targeting and soliciting content from department faculty and students; establishing and adjusting digital workflows; the reallocation of existing librarians and staff; criteria in selecting content types for differing media (critical for an art and design school); and addressing accreditation concerns while forcing a much-needed conversation for cross-curricular content access and preservation. Lastly, it will address a trajectory of digital library activity and scope leading to the creation of the school’s first-ever digital archivist at the start of the current academic year.


Presented by Rhode Island School of Design, 5B | Digital Humanities, at TCDL 2019.