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Roberts, Growing Pains of Digital Library Projects: The Opportunities and Challenges of Follow-on Initiatives

Kyle Roberts
American Philosophical Society

Follow-on initiatives for established digital library projects, whether funded through granting agencies or undertaken through the personal efforts of project team members, can bring in new contributors and provide valuable enhancements, but can also create challenges in site design. When Dissenting Academies Online: Virtual Library System ( launched in 2011, it provided users with a reconstruction of the holdings and borrowing records from the libraries of leading eighteenth-and nineteenth-century English dissenting academies. Soon after publication, follow-on funding allowed for the incorporation of an additional library’s holdings but also a new feature: provenance markings from surviving books. In the process, however, it introduced a fundamental change to the information architecture. This paper offers a case study for how these changes impacted a third-generation enhancement to the project: a reconstruction of a lost dissenting academy library. The paper will conclude with reflections on how we might think about best practices for managing project growth after the initial launch.