Digital projects often bring together many different members of an institution, or several institutions, and those members often have very different statuses: students (undergraduate or graduate), workers in precarious positions, those with permanent positions, etc. Understanding and properly valuing all of this work, and the disparate effects such work has on the different people who perform it, is an ongoing challenge.
To help people begin to approach this problem, the Digital Library Federation‘s Working Group on Labor in Digital Libraries has produced an invaluable Research Agenda: Valuing Labor in Digital Libraries.
The Research Agenda identifies a variety of topics related to labor, some of which are directly practical (e.g., organized labor) while others seem more of a conceptual intervention (maintenance vs. innovation). For each topic, there’s a brief prose description of the issue, a list of possible research questions and projects, and a splendid bibliography. It’s a remarkable resource for anyone involved in the creation, maintenance, or preservation of digital projects in libraries or library-adjacent organizations.
Produced by Amy Wickner, Karly Wildenhaus, Hillel Arnold, and Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, the Research Agenda pulls together insights from many fields in order to make the problematics of digital labor more visible, so that they can be addressed systematically. It’s well worth a read.