Building a Team

Who are your Project Team members?

To use RoPA effectively, you will need to build a Project Team composed of a mix of community members, professionals, and volunteers. There’s no set size, but we suggest a minimum of three people to serve as Community, Event, and Collection coordinators. It’s common for roles to vary and overlap, depending on the resources in your community. What’s important is to have all of the bases covered. 

We’ve outlined key roles and responsibilities and an organizational structure to guide you in building a team that works for your group.

Project Team members should represent libraries and cultural organizations that are typically involved in history-related projects as well as community leaders and individuals who are passionate about the idea of documenting and preserving legacies that are important to them. Everyone in the group should share enthusiasm for and commitment to working together to define and implement project goals. The whole Project Team will be responsible for the success of both the event and the collection.

One effective way of building your Project Team is to look closely at your community, to identify institutional resources and existing relationships, and form appropriate partnerships across organizations to get the work done.

Collaboration and Teamwork

Planning and producing a participatory archiving event and creating a digital collection requires a relatively wide range of expertise, knowledge, and skills. Librarians and archivists are trained to describe and manage historical documents, and they often have access to digital platforms and know how to use them. In addition, libraries often serve as important community meeting grounds, and so are able to meet community members where they are. Community leaders and activists bring a deep understanding of the perspectives, priorities, and needs of community members. They further are best positioned to engage the participation of fellow community members. 

It’s important to establish a sense of common understanding and mutual trust among all members of the Project Team. Many team members might not have worked with one another before, and so it may take time to finalize the precise team composition and develop a productive working pattern. The RoPA modules are designed to enable everyone to “get on the same page” by first identifying common interests and goals, and then moving forward together efficiently while continuing to understand and appreciate the different skills and abilities that everyone is bringing to the project. Building trust and mutual cooperation is a necessary condition for the success of any participatory archiving project--and is an ongoing process.

Coordinators and Working Groups

It’s equally important to establish a clear division of labor among the Project Team members. RoPA is designed for each Project Team to have a Coordinator for each of the three main areas of work: engaging the Community, producing the Event, and creating the Collection. The Roles and Responsibilities section of each module outlines who needs to be involved, and the Steps to Success describe the specific tasks for each role.

JPG version of Project Team Chart shows 3 columns for the three module areas: Community, Event, and CollectionEach Coordinator will ideally have a small Working Group to help them through the process. Coordinators don’t necessarily do it all--but they make sure it all happens. They identify the gaps in their Working Groups and find the right people to fill those roles. It’s important to assign roles to all of the players to allow them to “do what they do best.”

In general, a Working Group supports the Coordinator in completing the Steps to Success. Working groups should include a mix of professional staff members, volunteers, and community members. It is expected that some individuals  might serve on more than one Working Group. Some Working Groups include task-specific roles to be filled. On the day of the event, all of the Coordinators and many of the Working Group members come together to welcome Contributors and collect their Items and descriptions.

For smaller events and in communities with limited resources, it is possible to plan a successful event and create a collection with a Project Team composed of only the three coordinators. In this case, the RoPA Developers recommend that the Community Coordinator assume the responsibilities of the Cultural Competence Workshop Facilitator, Outreach Specialist, and Social Media Specialist while the Collection Coordinator assume the responsibilities of the Online Access Specialist, Digital Preservation Specialist, and Data Entry Volunteer. At the event, you will still need a full cohort of volunteers as outlined in the Coordinating Logistics module.

For expertise and help with specific tasks, a Project Team of three will need to both confirm strong support from the organizations you represent and establish partnerships with other institutions.

Download this Project Team Organization Chart and Contact Sheet (MS PowerPoint or PDF document) to get a sense of how to best structure your Project Team.

Project Team Coordinators

Community Coordinator

The Community Coordinator will lead the effort to ensure that community members are driving the process. The coordinator has a lot to do over the many months prior to the event. We recommend that the person in this role is a community member.

Their responsibilities include:

  • Leading the Community Working Group--Working with the other coordinators to organize and lead planning meetings
  • Identifying an individual to be the Cultural Competence Workshop Facilitator 
  • Facilitating the Project Team in completing the Defining Community Questionnaire
  • Hosting Collecting Stories meeting
  • Coordinating outreach and publicity, or designating a member of the Community Working Group to do this
  • Attending the event and making sure their section responsibilities are addressed
  • Ensuring that the collection is shared with community members after the event

We recommend they have the following skills and resources:

  • Strong communication and organizational skills
  • a “people person” 
  • experience with collaboration
  • good at delegating tasks
  • knowledgeable about, familiar with, and “plugged into” the community

Event Coordinator

The Event Coordinator has a moderate amount of work before the event and their responsibilities are focused on preparing for event-day logistics. We recommend that this person is a staff member at the host institution.

Their responsibilities include:

  • Leading the Event Working Group 
  • Securing the location
  • Drawing up the floor plan for the event
  • Assembling the required equipment and paperwork
  • Recruiting, coordinating, training and supporting station and other event-day volunteers
  • Delegating tasks to Event Working Group members to prepare for and produce the event
  • Coordinating logistics on the event day

We recommend they have the following skills and resources: 

  • experience with event planning, 
  • access to the location(s) and any required locked spaces
  • access to a photocopier and scanning equipment 
  • good at delegating tasks
  • attention to detail
  • experience working with volunteers

Collection Coordinator

The Collection Coordinator will be focused on planning for the event day and the bulk of their work will happen after the event.  We recommend that this is a library staff member.

Their responsibilities include:

  • Leading the Collection Working Group
  • Attending the event and overseeing Collection aspects
  • Overseeing the processing of digital items and data collected at the event
  • Coordinating the creation of an online digital collection 
  • Working with Collection Working Group to ensure that the digital items and data collected at the event are preserved
  • Working with Collecting Working Group and Community Working Group to share the digital collection with the community and other researchers on the web, social media, physical exhibits, or in-person public programs. 

We recommend they have the following skills and resources:

  • fair degree of proficiency in technical skills such as digitization, database management, and digital collections management
  • access to a digital repository
  • speak the language of digital archivists and librarians

Working Group Roles

In addition to the Project Team Coordinators, a number of individuals with specific expertise are needed to complete the work.


Cultural Competence Workshop Facilitator

The Cultural Competence Workshop Facilitator will be responsible for the planning and execution of the Cultural Competence Workshop. They will guide conversations around bias, inclusion, and belonging. Some organizations may choose to have this role filled by an outside consultant, which may have fees associated with it.

Outreach Specialist 

Your Community Coordinator and Project Team may decide to designate an Outreach Specialist to be responsible for event outreach and publicity in lieu of the Community Coordinator. Should your Project Team decide to go this route, this role will serve on both the Community and the Collection Working Groups. The Outreach Specialist’s major duties include coordinating outreach and publicity prior to the event and coordinating the promotion of the collection among researchers, educators, and relevant community groups.

Social Media Specialist 

If needed, the Community Coordinator will designate a member of the Community Working Group to serve as the Social Media Specialist. Should your Project Team decide to go this route, this role will serve on both the Community and the Collection Working Groups. The Social Media Specialist will have experience with a variety of platforms used by the community and be available to post and share frequently for at least one month prior to the event. They may also occupy a professional social media role in one of the partner organizations and have direct access and control of the social media platforms and accounts that the Project Team will use. The Social Media Specialist will also use these same media platforms and accounts to promote the collection. 

Translators and/or Sign Language Interpreters 

Depending on your community, your Project Team may decide to translate publicity materials before the event, have translators and/or sign language interpreters available to assist Contributors at the event, and translate publicity about the collection’s availability after the event.


Station Captains

At your event there will be a minimum of three stations: the Welcome Station, Information Station, and Copying Station. Each station needs a captain with a specific skill set to ensure activities go smoothly. 


Digital Preservation Specialist

The Digital Preservation Specialist will be responsible for ensuring the long term integrity of your digital collection. Their major duties include organizing forms and digital Items collected at the event, managing the Event Hard Drive, and creating production copies of all contributed Items for the use by the Online Access Specialist and Data Entry Volunteer. 

Online Access Specialist

The Online Access Specialist will oversee all activities related to putting the collection online, including the selection of an online digital repository prior to the event, as well as all data entry work related to the various forms collected at the event.