A nine dimensional framework for digital cultural heritage organizational sustainability: A content analysis of the LIS literature (2000–2015)

Kristin R. Eschenfelder, Kalpana Shankar, Rachel D. Williams, Dorothea Salo, Mei Zhang, Allison Langham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to report on how library and information science (LIS) as a field operationalizes the concept of organizational sustainability for managing digital resources, projects and infrastructures such as digital libraries and repositories over time. It introduces a nine dimensional framework for organizational sustainability in the digital cultural heritage community. Design/methodology/approach: Content analysis of publications from three LIS databases (2000–2015). Findings: Comparing the articles to the nine dimension framework shows that most LIS articles discuss technology, financial or management dimensions. Fewer articles describe disaster planning, assessment or policy dimensions. Research limitations/implications: Three LIS databases might not include all relevant journals, conferences, white papers and other materials. The data set also did not include books; library management textbooks might include useful material on organizational sustainability. Claims about the prevalence of themes are subject to methodological limits of content analysis. Practical implications: Organizations that steward digital collections need to be clear about what they mean when they are referring to organizational sustainability so that they can make appropriate decisions for future-proofing their collections. The analysis would also suggest for a greater need to consider the full range of dimensions of organizational sustainability. Originality/value: By introducing a new nine dimensional framework of organizational sustainability the authors hope to promote more and better conversations within the LIS community about organizational sustainability. The authors hope these conversations will lead to productive action and improvements in the arrangements of people and work necessary to keep digital projects and services going over time, given ongoing challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-196
Number of pages15
JournalOnline Information Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
© Kristin R. Eschenfelder, Kalpana Shankar, Rachel D. Williams, Dorothea Salo, Mei Zhang and Allison Langham. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article ( for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at http://creativecommons.org/licences/by/4.0/legalcode The authors wish to acknowledge the financial support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, and the University of Wisconsin-Madision School of Library and Information Science Sarah M. Pritchard Faculty Support Fund. The authors also wish to thank the anonymous reviewers for their suggestions.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Kristin R. Eschenfelder, Kalpana Shankar, Rachel D. Williams, Dorothea Salo, Mei Zhang and Allison Langham.


  • Content analysis
  • Data and digital repositories
  • Digital longevity
  • Sustainability

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