August 2021
BC ELN summer news & updates
It's been a busy summer for BC ELN! Read on to learn about our new Digitization Support Service, AskAway and WriteAway updates, how library students contribute to BC ELN success, and much more.
Shelf-to-Screen Digitization Support Born of BC ELN Study Leave
When Sunni Nishimura, BC ELN Manager, went on study leave in March 2020, she set out to answer the question: “What support is missing for small GLAM organizations at the early stages of digitization planning?” As the BC History Digitization Program (BCHDP)-Arca Hosting Project Manager, Nishimura had observed pressure points in the digitization process that affected under- or minimally-resourced organizations. For example, a small museum may have staff with grant writing expertise and successfully achieve digitization funding, but no staff on-hand to actually digitize materials. Or, an organization might have the equipment to digitize their materials, but no experience with long-term preservation considerations.
Infographic that displays the stages of tasks required to digitize a physical item so that it is discoverable online.
Taking a careful look at the journey that materials take as they are processed from the shelf to the screen, Nishimura researched which steps might require additional support. In her conversations with staff at different small GLAM organizations, Nishimura connected with Denise Jacques at the BC Society for the Museum of Original Costume (SMOC). Together they explored challenges that SMOC faced in digitizing an archive of innovative dress designs by German-Canadian couturier Lore Maria Wiener. Jacques notes that for small GLAM organizations, the first hurdle is often completing the funding application: “The BCHDP funding application is very challenging for non-specialists. It is legendary for its highly technical vocabulary and references.”
Nishimura assisted the SMOC team with their BCHDP grant application and SMOC was subsequently successful in receiving funding. Since then, Nishimura and a roster of student librarians have been working with SMOC to bring the Wiener collection from “shelf to screen”. Support is being provided at multiple points in the process, including helping the SMOC team to organize and prepare the collection for digitization, assisting with structuring metadata, and helping the team make decisions around the collection's presentation in Arca, BC's Collaborative Digitial Repository. Once online, the public will have access to a unique view of the evolution of fashion in British Columbia. “The Wiener archive graphically presents the fusion of European design sensibility and new world Pacific consciousness,” says Jacques, “it builds the BC story."

With successful test cases like SMOC demonstrating the benefits of targeted support, Nishimura proposed and secured approval for a new BC ELN-BCHDP Support Service. The service brings BC ELN and Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at UBC Library together to provide vital digitization support to prospective BCHDP grant applicants for a 3-year pilot period. Announced in early July 2021, the new service has already received 15 requests for assistance through the program’s Early Notice survey, a testament to the sector’s desire for this kind of aid. Jacques agrees: “Support like this is essential for small museums and archives.”
Organizations considering applying for a 2022/2023 BCHDP grant are encouraged to complete the
Early Notice survey, open until September 15th at:
AskAway and WriteAway Student Usage Remains Strong
A look back at the last three Spring terms (spanning January to April) shows that student usage of AskAway and WriteAway remains solid. Both collaborative learner support services are seeing higher rates of usage than pre-pandemic levels, and usage rates are in fact trending upward.

While predicting future usage rates is always tricky, at this stage student demand for online support is expected to remain high into the Fall. To ensure that students are well supported, participating institutions within both services have approved higher levels of staffing than in pre-pandemic times.
Side by side bar charts of AskAway and WriteAway spring usage for three years (2019, 2020, 2021). Both charts show the usage trend (bars) is steadily increasing.
AskAway Quick Updates

Four institutions are currently piloting AskAway proactive chat through the summer term; testing will guide future steps

AskAway continues to provide handy visibility tips; check them out at:

In case you missed it: AskAway released its 2020 Actions & Achievements report, available at:
WriteAway Quick Updates

WriteAway said farewell this summer to long-time coordinator Megan Robertson, and welcomed interim WriteAway Support Tanya Burnstad

Northern Lights College joined WriteAway in February as the 19th participating institution

New WriteAway promotional materials are now available! Download or order at:
Illume Welcomes BC ELN Associate Members
BC ELN Associate Member libraries that meet criteria are now eligible join the Illume interlibrary service. This decision was made by the BC ELN Steering Committee at its July 6th meeting. The outcome follows work completed over the past year to bolster Illume with clearly defined benefits and responsibilities, best practices for the system, and training for participating libraries.

Scott Marsden, Director of Student Affairs at Alexander College, expressed delight at the recent decision: “This is something that Alexander College has been wanting for a very long time and it’s hard to overestimate the level of excitement that this inspires in our College community.” Associate Member libraries interested and able to join Illume will be on-boarded in the Fall of 2021.
Person standing in front of a Welcome Mat
Students Contribute to BC ELN: A Win-Win Situation
The BC ELN Office regularly welcomes students from the UBC iSchool and Langara College's Library & Information Technology Program to work with us in a professional development capacity or as co-op librarians. It's a relationship that benefits all: students get experience, gain confidence, and make professional connections, while the Office is able to move projects forward and benefits from student expertise and enthusiasm. This month we spotlight student employees Jane Jun and Elizabeth Pau.
Jane Jun
University of British Columbia School of Information
Jane Jun smiles at camera
What are you working on at BC ELN?

While my main focus during my co-op at BC ELN is Licensing Renewals, other exciting projects I'm involved with include writing a Recommendation Document for Low-cost Preservation Alternatives, A Guide for Traditional Knowledge Labels and Cultural Institution Notices, and examining how license agreements change over the course of several years, among other various tasks.

How has your time at BC ELN helped you and/or advanced your understanding of the library landscape?

Some of my tasks include assisting in evaluating, selecting, and renewing consortially-licensed electronic information resources. I expect this to be very helpful in any library position involving collections management. Communicating with resource teams, committees, and vendors is also helping me to gain a better sense of how the library network functions and is maintained. Other projects such as developing guidelines for smaller GLAM organizations in digital preservation is showing me how wide the range of services are that libraries are able to provide beyond the library setting.

What should students studying libraries and information organization know about library consortia?

It was very interesting to learn about how consortia operate and maintain relationships with stakeholders (libraries, government institutions, academic institutions etc.). I believe any student planning to pursue a career in academic librarianship would benefit from learning how consortia function, and the processes required in order to provide their many resources and services.
Elizabeth Pau
Langara College Library & Info. Technology Program
What are you working on at BC ELN?

I am working with the British Columbia History Digitization Project supporting our collections and digitization grants. There is a lot of metadata to be wrangled with the wealth of historical materials that are being digitized in BC!

How has your time at BC ELN helped you and/or advanced your understanding of the library landscape?

BC ELN is responsible for the partnerships that make it possible to access resources that many library users and staff like myself rely heavily on, like Illume and database access. The BCHDP is a partnership with the Irving K. Barber Learning Center, and through the program smaller local organizations are given support to digitize and share their collections, which are mostly at-risk heritage and historical materials, with the public.

What should students studying libraries and information organization know about library consortia?

Collaborating with partners is such a powerful step toward increasing access to scholarship and enrichment of library services. Library work doesn't always strictly involve being face-to-face with patrons, there's lots going on behind the scenes that support the resources that are invaluable to our communities.
Are you an MLIS or Library Technician Program student in B.C.? Interested in learning more about BC ELN and future opportunities for students? We'd love to hear from you! Email Sunni Nishimura, BC ELN Manager at
Maximizing Collective Efforts
BC ELN Staff Involvement in External Groups
BC ELN staff actively participate on committees and groups to contribute our expertise, gain knowledge, and strengthen collective efforts. Contact us anytime for more information about what we're up to - we'd love to share. Some of the groups we are connected with:

The Auto-Graphics SHAREit User Group
Myfanwy Postgate, Illume Support Centre
The Auto-Graphics SHAREit User Group is a community of A-G SHAREit Interlibrary Loan Management system software users. Members discuss new features, enhancements, updates, and fixes. As well as share home-grown documentation and tips & tricks for optimizing the software to its fullest potential.

BC Open Education Librarians Steering Committee
Reba Ouimet, Licensing Coordinator
The BC Open Education Librarians group is a supportive community for librarians to learn about open education practices. We seek to build support for librarians and faculty in advocating for the use of open education resources in their home institution by sharing knowledge and practices that can impact higher education.

Canadian Research Knowledge Network Platform Technical Task Group
Brandon Weigel, Manager
The purpose of the Platform Technical Task Group (PTTG) is to evaluate and make recommendations on the development of the Canadiana access and preservation platforms.

Consortial Awareness Group
Leah Hopton, Communications Manager
This is a new group that emerged from recent discussions among ICOLC members, aimed at increasing awareness of consortial activities - particularly among library school students. Our goals are to expand students' awareness of career options, deepen pools of interested candidates for a variety of consortial positions, and prepare grads to become active participants in future consortial committees. 

Cultural Institution Working Group
Sunni Nishimura, Manager
An international group sharing experiences using and implementing Local Contexts Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Institution Notices, which create space for Indigenous perspectives on access to and benefits-sharing of digital cultural heritage materials.

DataCite Governing Committee
Brandon Weigel, Manager
The Committee works in the interests of the DataCite Canada Consortium community to provide expertise and advice to Consortium Leads and Members on maximizing benefits through the adoption of Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs). In addition, the Committee provides governance and operational oversight for the Consortium in order for it to operate effectively and sustainably into the future.

DigitalBC Steering Committee
Sunni Nishimura, Manager
DigitalBC Steering Committee members are drawn from BC libraries and system partners, and work together to guide a phased, multi-year project to fulfill the vision of digital access to the intellectual, historical, and cultural record of the Province. 

International Coalition of Library Consortia Coordinating Committee
Anita Cocchia, Executive Director
The ICOLC Coordinating Committee guides operations of ICOLC, an informal group of approximately 200 library consortia from around the world.

Islandora Coordinating Committee
Brandon Weigel, Manager
The Islandora Coordinating Committee acts as the operational governing committee for the Islandora Foundation's activities, providing direction for Islandora’s development and community.

National Heritage Digitization Strategy Advisory Committee
Sunni Nishimura, Manager
The National Heritage Digitization Strategy Advisory Committee is a group of members from the Canadian library, archive, and museum community who share expertise and lend support to national scale preservation and digitization initiatives.

North American Collaborative Virtual Reference Group
Cristen Polley, AskAway Coordinator
The North American Collaborative Virtual Reference Group is a community of collaborative virtual reference service coordinators. Members meet on an informal basis to share best practices and innovations.