Case Study

The Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Roadmap

A Three-Year Roadmap Into the Digital Age

The Folger Shakespeare Library’s industry is undergoing a digital revolution, while physical examination and in-person research continue to be important focuses, digital services that connect researchers to material globally are becoming more important. The Folger has been a leader in this space, developing tools and processes for digitizing their physical holdings, and working with other major institutions to develop standards and interfaces to share information online. Folger needed a plan that allowed each project they worked on to cost effectively and additively build towards their goal of creating the library of the 21st century.

The Challenge

Offline Content

The Folger’s digital strategy has to exist in lock-step with their growing real-world archive of content and exhibits. It also has to be global, while the physical is regional.

Unknown Audience Expectations

With a legacy of offline content, the library’s historically offline interactions limited the existing understanding of audience interests.

Global Community

The Folger must coordinate with a worldwide community of scholars and partners that contribute and complement the library, but also complicate the needs of a digital presence.

Our Approach

We created a 3-year technical roadmap for the Folger that anticipates the digital and organizational architecture they’ll need for their programmatic goals. The process involved engaging with internal stakeholders to document their needs and wants for systems that have failed to meet requirements, or that have yet to be created. After developing the roadmap, we worked with Folger staff to communicate about the plan among colleagues and partners.

The roadmap sets out plans for technical development, but also recognizes staffing and budgetary dependencies, allowing ample time to plan for the future. Our measured and collaborative approach to gathering requirements and rolling out a plan helped build internal support and buy-in across the units, ensuring that all voices were heard. With a shared understanding of their digital goals, the library can approach the road ahead with fewer surprises.

Folger Shakespeare Library View from Front

The Solution

Consensus Building

Working across the organization early in the process means that other departments will be partners—not opponents—during follow-on planning.

Staff and Budget Planning

The technical roadmap goes beyond technology to include financial and personnel requirements for upcoming projects, allowing ample time to address these needs.

Audience Needs Clarified

Exploring audience needs and expectations provides a foundation for upcoming information architecture and technical design work.