Herding tacit knowledge: the opportunity for real teamwork in digitising information resources in support of learning, teaching and research at the Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria
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The paper will outline the factors leading to and including the establishing of a digitization project at the Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria. The project is a shared endeavour of the Department of Telematic Learning and Education Innovation (TLEI), the Academic Information Service (AIS) and the Faculty of Veterinary Science. The Faculty of Veterinary Science identified a need to preserve their slide collections and engaged in a project, subsidised by TLEI, to digitize their total collection of slides which amount to 40 000. Even though the slides were digitized, it was still impossible to search for specific content, because the content was not “tagged” (enriched with metadata) in a meaningful way and keywords could not be used to search and find specific images. The images were only available on CDs. The Faculty houses rich and diverse heritage and learning resources which is mostly unavailable to researchers and learners. Since these are the only sources in South Africa that are also being widely used in the rest of Africa, it is of the utmost importance to safeguard these sources and enhance their accessibility through innovative ways. The imminent retirement of elderly staff members may result in the permanent loss of tacit knowledge. Years of unpublished research work would be inaccessible to future users. This led to the second phase of the digitization project, namely enhancing the accessibility of the webready images, and the adding of metadata in collaboration with the lecturers and the AIS. The paper will explain the aim of the project and the role played by the growing need for organizing and retrieving digital materials in support of learning, teaching and research. The project plan will include the development of metadata templates and standards; the collaboration and shared responsibility/management, the role of the AIS in applying of metadata, selecting a thesaurus, and designing the database and user interface. The future plans for optimizing the use and preservation of a digital archive for the Faculty will be discussed, including skills development training in the effective searching and application in WebCT.