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Building a Spotlight service community

Spotlight was developed by Stanford Libraries in 2013/14 as open source software, to provide a solution enabling librarians, curators and others to create attractive, feature-rich websites that highlight digital collections. This has facilitated its adoption by many universities as a primary digital exhibit platform. In turn, Stanford benefits from community sharing of inspiration, design and code.

In late 2017, a group of staff across the United States and Canada began meeting monthly to discuss issues focused on setting up, managing and operating a Spotlight exhibit service at their respective institutions. Attendance has blossomed over time, resulting in frequent demos during Spotlight community calls, posted to a Youtube playlist.

It is important to note the focus of our community calls is geared towards exhibit curators and creators, and the staff who support and collaborate on those endeavors by managing their respective instances of Spotlight. Here are 3 compelling presentations/demos from past community calls:

Further, an Oscar for the creative use of Spotlight goes to Sierra Laddusaw, Assistant Professor and Curator at Texas A&M. Her demo showcases a Texas A&M University Libraries partnership with the Bryan/College Station Public Library System to create a Spotlight scavenger hunt for the 2020 Summer Reading Program. Five maps from the “Maps of Imaginary Places Collection,” held at Cushing Memorial Library & Archives, were chosen for the exhibit. Local community members were invited to visit the Spotlight exhibit and participate in the scavenger hunt, submit their answers via email, and be entered in a prize drawing. One of the librarians from the public library created sets of clues that encouraged participants to explore each map to find the answer.

Our community call collaborations also gave rise to the creation of a Spotlight community wiki used to share institutional practices. The wiki contains valuable information, including:

The call in February 2021 had 22 attendees representing 11 institutions:

  • Cornell University
  • Durham University
  • Harvard University
  • Indiana University Bloomington
  • National Library of Medicine
  • University of Oregon
  • Princeton University
  • Stanford University
  • Temple University
  • Texas A&M University
  • University of Victoria, British Columbia

We’re pleased with the steady community growth which is benefitting recent and longtime adopters of Spotlight, and those who are considering adopting Spotlight at their institutions. We communicate outside of our monthly calls via 2 venues, a Google Groups email list and a Code4Lib slack channel: #spotlight-service.

We welcome new attendees and particularly encourage demos from exhibit curators who would like to share their work. This sparks new ideas for all of us! If you are interested in presenting, please feel free to contact Cathy Aster directly:

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