Monday, February 28, 2005

Creative Commons license distribution

The Creative Commons has create licenses to help people share their information more freely(i.e., publications in the broadest sense of the word). An article on license distribution notes:
Last week we mentioned there were over 5 million web pages linking to Creative Commons licenses. This week, it has come to our attention that Yahoo! has updated their index to find well over 10 million web pages that link to our licenses.

The accompanying chart can be viewed here. The most popular license (37%) is referred to as "Atribution - Noncommericial - ShareAlike".

Lesley Ellen Harris has an interesting web site called The site includes articles, newsletters AND a copyright quiz! The 12-question quiz definitely contains questions most people don't consider like "May libraries, archives and museums benefit from e-commerce? If so, how?"

BTW none of the newsletter articles published on the web site (under Newsletters & Reports) have dates on them. Odd...

The 2004 METRO Digitization Survey Final Report

The Metropolitan New York Library Council has released its 2004 METRO Digitization Survey Final Report. The announcements states that:

In September-October 2004, an online survey was conducted among members of the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) to determine their activities and needs in digitization, and their plans for future digitization projects. The main objectives of the study were to determine digitization practices in the past two years; education and information needs in digitization; and digitization planning for the next two years.

The Executive Summary notes that:

The results of the 2004 METRO Digitization Survey show some interesting trends. While a number of barriers to digitization are mentioned -- funding being most frequently cited -- many institutions responded that their projects were funded by internal budget lines. This is a very positive trend for sustainability of institutional digitization projects, and differs greatly from many other state, regional, and national trends which show digitization efforts primarily funded by grants. Another strong area of institutional self-reliance was the production of digital works by in-house staff and equipment at a majority of responding institutions.

The three most common materials digitized over the previous two years were photographs, bound books and manuscripts.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Civil War battle in Petersburg, VA

Four years ago, I toured the Civil War battlefield in Petersburg, VA. This battlefield became very interesting to me for two reasons. First, on the Union side, Pennsylvania soldiers (coal miners) decided to use their mining skills to dig underneath the Confederate soldiers to gain entry and mount an attack. Second, some of the Union soldiers were African American. They trained to be the first soldiers through the hole and the first to engage the Confederate soldiers in battle; however, the Union changed its plans at the last minute and sent a white troop through first that had not properly trained for this role.

I tell the story of this battle occassionally. Recently, I decided to doublecheck the location of the battle (and ensure that my memory had not mixed up locations). What was interesting to me was that several Civil War sites online did not tell this version of the battle. I did finally find one that did and confirmed that I had the right location.

This search brought to mind an important feature that does not exist in the search engines I use. I would like for the search engines to analyze the pages retrieved and mark those that contain unique content (or a unique slant to the story). Yes, some search engines create categories, etc., but here I'm talking about something different. I want a search engine to tell me that of all of the pages returned, these are different, unique...and probably the ones were I will learn something new and different.

Is that too much to ask?

Do you use a digital library every day? Why not?

This question occurred to me this morning as I was laying in bed. I do a lot of research -- both personal and professional -- and am on a daily basis looking for some tidbit to prove a point or help me learn something new. But I rarely seek out a "digital library" to help me in my research efforts (unless I automatically know that a particular database held in a digital library that will be of help).

Why? The answer is simple. Because of how digital libraries are indexed (or not indexed) I cannot quickly identify those that contains what I need. If there is a fast way of identifying a digital library and its strengths, I haven't found it. (If you have, please let me know. Perhaps a searchable directory of digital libraries and digitization projects?) What I do find -- through any search engine -- are those pages (reputable or not) that contain information that is related to my topic. Which brings me to one other thought...a search engine will take me to a specific page. If it finds (somehow) a digital library that would be helpful, I might have to do another search in that collection, creating a longer process for me to find the information I need.

Should I vow to use a digital library every day or make digital libraries my first choice for finding information? mmm...sounds like a possible resolution that I'm not ready (or able) to keep.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

My blog hates me

Okay...that's not entirely true, but occasionally I write something "wonderful", post it, and then find that half of it is missing online. Bad HTML? Poltergeist? Who knows. But in this type and publish age, systems that misinterpret HTML or save things incorrectly are a bane to our existence. And typos! Even had a typo in a headline today.

The lesson? Proof. Edit. View in final form. Repeat. Sounds like what we do (or are suppose to do) when we mount any web site, digital library, online exhibit...

The death of federated searching?

Have I come to this trend -- federated searching -- too late? The Digital Librarian has written a post that talks about what's wrong with federated searching and why it may not last. The main question asked is whether "a harvested, centralized search approach is more useful to information seekers than any federated search approach."

BTW the post mentions the G-word (Google).

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

'Borrowing' Graphics or Text For Library Web Pages: Fair Play, And Fair Use

I found this announcement for a great sounding webcast. And note that the PowerPoint slides and hand-outs for this session are already available online!


Infopeople and the American Library Association's Office of Information Technology Policy (OITP) is pleased to announce a special webcast by Mary Minow entitled: "'Borrowing' Graphics
Or Text For Library Web Pages: Fair Play, And Fair Use."

Mary Minow will deliver the webcast on March 3, 2005 startingat 12:00p.m PST. This ALA-sponsored webcast is available to library workers nationwide but "seating" is limited to 150.
There is no registration. Admission to the live webcast is on a first come, first serve basis.

For more information and to participate in this webcast, go to

Please print and post or route this message to staff and colleagues who might be interested in this topic.

Date: March 3, 2005
Time: Noon - 1:00pm PST

Description: Libraries seldom have generous graphic arts budgets, and it can be hard to give your Web pages that extra sparkle. When is it OK for a library to borrow graphics and text from other Web sites? This Webcast guides you through a handy flowchart that helps you identify what is in the public domain, gives you a sense of what qualifies as "fair use," and offers sample permission forms that can be emailed to Webmasters.

For more information and to participate in this webcast, go to

If you are unable to attend the live webcast, you may view the archived webcast by visiting the above URL the day after the live event.

Other archived Infopeople webcasts are available at

Library Terms That Users Understand

The blog Information Wants to be Free has a posting on library terminology. Meredith writes, "Like every other decision made in libraries, it is key that we look to patrons when naming things in the library and on the library's website." She points to a page written by John Kupersmith entitled "Library Terms That Users Understand" provides research and bibliographic information "intended to help library web developers decide how to label key resources and services in such a way that most users can understand them well enough to make productive choices."

Some of the jargon we use is very much ingrained in us. The research quoted by Kupersmith further proves that we need to use the words and terms that our users use and understand.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Copyright and the Internet: Is There a Canadian Way?

Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law from the University of Ottawa, presented an information-packed, fast-paced presentation on the history of Canadian copyright law and the need for change during the spring lecture series for Project Open Source Open Access at the University of Toronto on Feb. 10, 2005. His speech and the Q&A that followed are available online (requires QuickTime). It is worth listening to (watching), even if your not Canadian, in order to hear how people think about copyright in relation to privacy rights, etc.

* * * * *
Thanks to Carol Schwartz of SNT Report for the pointer to this excellent presentation.

Books related to digitization

The most recent Neal-Schuman catalogue contains four books that are focused on digital assets.

Introduction to Digital Libraries by G.G. Chowdhury and Sudatta Chowdhury, published in 2002 ($85.00). The catalogue states that, "This holistic view of the global digital library scene covers: the nature and growth of digital libraries, the technological infrastructure, digital library collections, digitization and document management, organization of digital information..."

Cataloging and Organizing Digital Resources: A How-to-do-it Manual for Libraries by Anne M. Mitchell and Brian E. Surratt, published in 2005 ($75.00). The catalogue blurb states that, "This timely manual shows how to best integrate online resources into traditional workflows...Coverage tackles problematic areas such as copyright considerations, Dublin Core metadata creation, user interface design, access control, hardware and software selection and more."

Digitizing Collections: Strategic Issues for the Information Manager by Lorna Hughes, published in 2004 ($85.00). "This invaluable handbook discusses all the strategic and practical issues libraries consider when making the decision to digitize collections."

Preserving Digital Information: A How-to-do-it Manual by Gregory S. Hunter, published in 2000 ($65.00). "Here are the 'best practices' recommended by professional associations and experts in preserving information in electronic format."

Monday, February 21, 2005

A Reference Guide for the Digitization of Audio

I just found this online, which is similar to a hardcopy document I picked up from the Cutting Corporation at a trade show. The 22-page guide, entitled "A Reference Guide for the Digitization of Audio," appears to be from 2003 and contains a reference list of places to go for additional information.

BTW As I find additional (perhaps more up-to-date) resources, I'll post them.

Marketing: Listen to your users

Generally when we think of someone marketing to us, we think of them doing all of the talking. Often that is the case, but they should be listening too. How can a person, business, library, collection, or project market itself to me if he, she or it doesn't know what I want? If you are creating a new digitization project or an online collection or a digital library, go out and talk to those that you hope will use it. Ask them open-ended questions, then LISTEN to their answers. Ask questions of lots of people and listen to the responses to hear what they want as well as what they don't want. And listen for the things that they desire but consider impossible. Who knows, you might be able to do them.

Looking at Bits and Bytes: Managing Digital Image Collections

The program for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) is now online. The conference will be held April 21-23 in Albany, NY. One of the sessions is entitled "Bits and Bytes: Managing Digital Image Collections." Click here for more information on MARAC.

100 Ways to Succeed #60: "Humane" DESIGN/Do the ... Wabi-Sabi

In one of his blog posting today, Tom Peters implores us to design "whatever" for people. Whatever we create will be used by people, so it should be designed with them in mind. Sounds obvious but how many web sites, electronical products, etc. have you tried to use, only to exclaim that they weren't designed with you (a human) in mind!

Friday, February 18, 2005

News from this year's Web-Wise Conference

News from this year's Web-Wise Conference is that the one pre-conference session (Business Planning for Digital Asset Management in Cultural Heritage Resources) really emphasized needs assessment. We are long past the days when a project should be done because it sounds like a good idea or is just an experiment. We must continually be asking if the project is needed. Will it do what we want? Does it support the goals of the institution? Is this what the our users need? And these questions must not just be asked at the beginning of the project, but throughout the project's life.

By the way, in 2001, IMLS published "A Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections" which states that there was no longer a need for demonstration projects. We had already demonstrated what digitization is and its benefits. Funding agencies also have shown that they do not want to fund demonstration projects or ordinary experiments. We have the knowledge, etc., to create very worthwhile projects. Let's use needs assessments to help us ensure that our projects fit the mission of our institutions and meet the requirements of our users.

* * * * *

Thanks to Elizabeth Di Cataldo for sharing her notes from the conference.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Bangor University (UK) librarians face internet threat

The Guardian newspaper reports that Bangor University is proposing to fire eight of its 12 librarians because students can find the information they need on the Internet. Eileen Tilley, one of the librarians who may be fired, said:
The university thinks that because we have the internet it no longer needs skills teaching, that people can do literature searches themselves. I would say this has, in fact, complicated the resources. They need librarians to guide you through it. So many students think they can do those searches on Google. That's not true. Users are confused and need guiding through this.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Google Out of Print

In Library Journal's online edition, Roy Tennant has an article about Google's digitization announcement. He quotes Elizabeth Edwards, a Stanford University Libraries staff member and blogger, who says "the company has not yet been forthcoming as to how the process of digitization will be implemented in detail...."

One of the best sentences in the entire article is, "...wholesale digitization is no more a good thing than buying books based on color. "

How do your describe digitization to the masses?

That was the essence of last week's discussion question I posted to my graduate students. I often joke that we went from a word that people understood (scanning) to a word that people don't understand and often mispronounce (digitization). [Actually, I tell that joke in groups where people are having a hard time saying digitization correctly. It seems to put people at ease.] So if the word "digitization" is not instantly known, how to we tell people what it is? And given all that digitization entails, what are the most important concepts to get across before the listener's eyes glaze over?

Of course, you think I have "the answer", but I don't. I struggle with this constantly especially since many people I talk to at business events are very clueless about this area. But we do expect them to use materials that we have digitized, so it is important that even the clueless be able to understand what this is and then find digitized collections to use. So what do I say? I generally talk about taking books, photos, etc., and converting them to electronic images that can be viewed online. That, though, sounds so easy...but we know it isn't. (Digitization does require knowledge, training and special equipment.) So perhaps I should mentioned something about those areas in digitization that need to be considered, but which are not easy? For example, access and preservation are very important.

So could a simple explanation of digitization be that it is taking materials like books, photos, and ephemera and converting it to electronic form, and paying special attention to how the electronic materials are accessed and preserved for future generations?

BTW some of my students use in their explanations. They point to the book pages available through and the fact that those has to be scanned (digitized) in order to be available online. They know it isn't the best example, but evidently eyes don't glaze over immediately when they say it.

The Tundra Times Newspaper Digitization Project

The RLG DigiNews for February 15, 2005 is now available. The first article, The Tundra Times Newspaper Digitization Project, discusses a newspaper digitization project completed in Alaska of "a statewide newspaper that documents the history of Alaska Native peoples and their political struggles from 1962 to 1997."

The abstract notes:
The Library adopted and extended the methodology developed by the Utah Digital Newspapers Project. In two significant departures from the Utah approach the Library used contractor-supplied workflow-processing software that enabled the segmentation and metadata markup of the newspaper articles to be done locally, in Barrow. The Library also used Greenstone, an open-source digital library software suite rather than a commercial product, to publish the newspaper on the Internet.
The project estimates that its per page cost was approximately $1.70/page. However, that figure does not include overhead costs such as administration, IT, and benefits, or time per day not spent on the project.

12/14/2007: The word "not" was inserted.

Technorati tag:

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Have you posted information on your digitization lab on the Internet?

Most projects don't post details about their digitization labs, but this information can be helpful to other projects as well as students who are learning about digitizing assets. In talking about the hardware needs to my graduate students, I point them to the following sites to read/see what equipment specific projects are using.

If you've published information on the Internet about the digitization equipment you have used in a project (or the lab you have built), leave a comment here and let us know. Many people would benefit from hearing about the equipment you are using.

Monday, February 14, 2005

The Myth Of The 100-Year CD-ROM

I found this article today, which was originally published in The Independent ( a UK newspaper) on April 21, 2004. This article does a nice job of laying out the facts and dispelling the myth (which needs to be done repeatedly so that facts sink in).

Friday, February 11, 2005

How many blogs do you track?

I've started using Bloglines as my blog reader and the number of blogs I have it track is increasing quickly. I'm now up to 15 and suspect that by early next week, I'll be over 20. This is allowing me to really read those blogs in my "blog roll" that are important to me. And I'm using those blogs to find others pertinent blogs through a Bloglines search feature.

So how many blogs do you read/track really? According to Bloglines:
The average Bloglines user tracks more than 20 news feeds. The most we've ever heard of is 1,400 news feeds. Not everybody has the stamina for that amount of information.

They go onto to say that reading blogs is habit forming. I guess it is (as is
writing one).

* * * * *

BTW I've added a button to Digitization 101 (in the left column) so you can subscribe automatically to this blog through Bloglines.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Marketing online resources: Staying away from jargon

At the end of yesterday's post about marketing online resources, I noted that you should stay away from jargon. This is often hard for us to do, especially when dealing with databases, digital libraries and digitization projects. We ten to feel the need to use specialized words to define what we're talking about, but often these words are not familiar to our target audience. Instead we need to speak their language.

When you begin to construct marketing materials for your target audience (e.g., brochures, flyers, presentations, training, etc.), consider the following:
  • How would your users describe the product? What words would they use? Don't think of the industry jargon that you take for granted, but the words that people unfamiliar with the industry/product would use. Yes, this might mean you'll have to use more words to describe what you're talking about, but your users will appreciate it.
  • What examples would users grasp? Sometimes we think of really cool examples (well, cool to us), but your users might be more impressed with something more mundane and in their realm of understanding. And keep in mind that some examples don't translate across age groups or cultures.
  • Can you keep the K.I.S.S. principle? (Keep it simple, stupid.) We tend to provide information and explanations that get complex and confusing. Do your best to keep it simple.
  • Can you gear your language to specific target audiences? For example, can you produce marketing materials in foreign languages geared towards non-English speaking members of your community? You may find people interested in the product your marketing and willing to work through a third-party (due to language constraints) to gain access to it. (Do have someone who speaks the language review your materials to ensure that the translations are appropriate.)

Remember to test your marketing materials on members of your target audience before disseminating. This extra step can ensure that the materials will work and save you embarrassment.

Lawrence Lessig Talks About Brewster And The Internet Archive

Lisa Rein, a fellow blogger, has audio and video on her web site from the SXSW Conference held in Austin, TX in 2003. Yes, a couple of years old, but the excerpt she has of Lawrence Lessig talking about Brewster Kahle and the Internet Archive is very much worth listening to. Click here for a link to the audio clip.

Lawrence Lessig is a law professor at Stanford University, Chairman of the Board for the Creative Commons and a board member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. As reported here on Feb. 1, he is also part of the new Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) .

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

OCLC Grant Writing Hints

OCLC has published a list of grant writing hints for funding digitization/preservation projects. The 16 hints are all good. I'm especially drawn to #15:
Prove that there is strong support to project continuation and provide a
specific implementation plan for continuation.
The project does not end when the grant ends. There is support to be done, content to be updated, etc. And hopefully the project (content) will continue to grow and evolve.

Marketing online resources: Getting creative

When I talk about creating marketing materials, either to a college class or workshop of library staff members, I always talk about being creative. Creativity means thinking outside of the box and often that is what we really need in order to get people to notice our online resources. With some online collections, the target audience is in the organization's (e.g. library's) region. These are people who can be found...and finding them is often where creativity comes into play.

Let's say that you -- perhaps a library or museum -- have created an online collection of immigrant history in your region. You know that this resource would be useful to students studying local history, as well as members of the community who wanted to learn about their history. How might you creatively market this resource? Here are a few ideas:

  • Send a press release to your local media outlets. Peak the reader's interest by including information on some intriguing piece of history documented in the collection. (Often when I'm talking about Winning the Vote and can pull up an image for the group to see, I use this photo of a suffragist parade that shows the women wearing clothing that resembles something worn by the Klu Klux Klan. Intrigued? Of course you are...and any reporter would be too!)

    By the way, be sure you send your press release to a specific person, then call that person to ensure that it was received. With so many press releases received by the media each day, this extra effort will help to get yours noticed.

  • Create posters about the collection and post them around town.

    First, make the posters eye-catching. Considering including an image from the collection or intriguing questions about local history (which of course can be answered by looking at the collection) -- you goal here is to get the person to stop and really read the poster.

    Second, ensure that the posters can be read at a distance. Often we make the print too small, so that someone has to be standing next to the poster in order to read them. A good rule is to make the letters 1" in height for every ten feet of viewing distance.

    Third, find places to hang these posters where your target audience gathers: youth centers, pizza parlors, churches and clubs formed by the immigrants, school classrooms (history classes), teachers' lounges... Do ask for permission to post, so that your poster isn't removed and trashed.

  • Consider using your building as a canvas for your advertisement/marketing. Could you place a banner on the building that advertising this new collection? Could you do a chalk "drawing" on the sidewalk that promoted this new collection? (This is a technique used by students on college campus.)

    If you can't afford a banner, see if a local business will donate the money for one. Another option would be to create a banner out of white sheets. You might even have a contest to see who could create the best banner to advertise this new collection.

  • Create a give-away that markets the collection. We always think of bookmarks, but you should also consider binder clips (or potato bag clips), magnets, squeeze balls, etc. Get as much relative information on the item as possible, although you may be limited to just the name of the collection and your organization's name (or URL). Be sure to give away items that people tend to keep (like magnets). Look around your house/office and you'll quickly see what these items are. (One library on Long Island gave away car air fresheners that had promotional information on them. Very creative and a big hit.)

  • Finally, no matter what you do, ensure that you talk about the collection in way that makes sense to your target audience. Don't use jargon or library-speak (or museum-speak). Talk your audience's language. (More about this tomorrow.)

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

DigiCULT publishes Thematic Issue 7: The Future Digital Heritage Space, December 2004

DigiCULT committed to produce "seven Thematic Issues which build on the results of an expert round table on a selected topic, and provide additional information and opinions in the form of invited articles, interviews, and case studies." In December, the seventh Thematic Issue was published entitled "The Future Digital Heritage Space." Previously released issues were:

  • Resource Discovery Technologies for the Heritage Sector, June 2004
  • Virtual Communities and Collaboration, January 2004
  • Learning Objects from Cultural and Scientific Heritage Resources, October 2003
  • Towards a Semantic Web for Heritage Resources, May 2003
  • Digital Asset Management Systems for the Cultural and Scientific Heritage Sector, December 2002
  • Integrity and Authenticity of Digital Objects, August 2002

DigitCULT participants bring a breadth of knowledge and a non-North America perspective that we need to hear.

* * * * *

Thanks to Elizabeth Di Cataldo for her pointer to the publication of the seventh Issue.

Marketing online resources: Making people aware of your digital libraries and digital assets

My graduate students, who are taking "Creating, Managing and Preserving Digital Assets" from me at Syracuse University, at some point during the semester, begin to wonder how anyone finds collections of digitized assets (or digital libraries) on the Internet. It often seems that you have to know that a collection exists in order to find it. This is a topic near and dear to my heart because I think some organizations (i.e., libraries) do not fully realize the need to market themselves and their services. Thus when they launch a digital library or digitized collection, they do not market it properly.

The American Marketing Association states that:
Marketing is the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion, and distribution of ideas, goods, and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational objectives.
Key to that statement is that marketing must be planned. It cannot be haphazard. By planning your marketing activities, you can decide which audience to target, what message to deliver, and the best methods to use.

With many digital collections, the target audience seems to be everyone, but there are likely core groups that you want to have using your collection. Who are those groups? How can you identify them? What message do you want to tell them? What is the best way of getting that message to them? Not every method works for every audience. For example, you might deliver your message differently to senior citizens than to teenagers. And not only could your method of delivery be different, but likely the message itself (and the words used) would be different.

In 2000, I worked with a group to develop a demonstration digitization project called Winning the Vote, a project focused on women's suffrage in the Rochester (NY) region. We used a variety of methods to announce and market the project. Some of the marketing pieces were created by the project team, while others were created by a professional marketer. The methods used would still be valid today:
  • Before the project was completed, it was written about in the Rochester Regional Library Council's newsletter (the sponsoring organization). In addition, presentations were given to local archive groups.
  • We wrote a press release and sent it out via e-mail to libraries, museums and historical societies in the region (five counties surrounding Rochester, NY).
  • We sent the press release and a press kit to the local media. The press kit included sample pages from the site, a brochure and other information. The press kit was noticed and did get the project written about in the local media.
  • Brochures and bookmarks were created and sent to schools and libraries in the region. A key target audience for the project were students in grades 4, 7 and 11. We targeted the brochures and bookmarks to librarians and teachers, since we knew they could point students towards the web site.
  • E-mail messages -- basically the press release -- were sent to discussion lists in the U.S. that focused on history, women's history and archives. Although these were not seen as our main audience, we knew this group could promote the web site. These messages not only circulated in the U.S, but also overseas and brought this project to the attention of interested parties from around the world. (Finding these discussion lists was not as difficult as you might think, since they are indexed in the various search engines. In addition, there are some directories of discussion lists that can be consulted.)
  • E-mail messages were also sent to people we had encountered in completing the project.
  • The team worked to get the project recognized by the major search engines, so that people searching for suffrage materials would find the project.
These methods worked. The site was noticed and used. Even five years later, with very little additional marketing activities, the site is still well used. Unfortunately, the site was done as a demonstration project, so it is not being updated. Still users find the site to be interesting and useful.

If Winning the Vote had been an ongoing project (with funding and support), I would have recommended that the marketing activities continue. With the project being geared towards students in grades 4, 7 and 11, it would have been important to re-contact teachers and librarians in the region every year to make them aware of the collection. I would have also issued e-mail announcements when information on additional suffragists was added to the site. Press releases might have been issued to announce major updated or the addition of information on specific individuals.

Two additional activities I would have advocated for would the the addition of a blog and a wiki. First, having a blog would have been useful to post what we were doing as the grunt work was being done on the project. I think it would have been useful to write about how we made decisions, the problems we encountered, and of course the things that went exactly as planned. Blogs give projects what they have desired -- an easy way to disseminate information about the project and create public notes for others to read. The comment section in a blog would allow readers to offer support and advice, especially if someone else has solved a problem we were tackling.

The wiki could have been used to allow people to add content to the site. Many people have information on these (and other) suffragists, as well as pointers to additional information. A wiki -- used properly -- would have allowed people to add content, while still maintaining the work that the project team did.

There is more to be said about marketing. We'll continue this topic tomorrow.

* * * * *
A presentation on Winning the Vote was presented at MARAC in October 2004. The presentation is available online.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Digitizing speech and audio

Michigan State University is housing one of the first fully functional, multi-media, interoperable digital libraries available online. The digital library -- Historical Voices -- is working with several partners including the Chicago Historical Society; Northwestern University; University of Michigan, Flint; Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire (IFAN), Dakar, SN; West African Research Center (WARC), Dakar, SN; University of Capetown, SA; University of the Western Cape, SA; and University of Durban, Westville, SA. In addition, the project has several research partners including the Center for Speech and Language Research, University of Colorado; Northwestern University; Speech Processing Lab, Michigan State University; Speech and Audiology, Michigan Sate University; and the Oral History Association.

The Historical Voices web site contains links to research reports on digitizing audio and speech. Eventually the site will also contain best practices for sound digitization, system architecture, federated searching, metadata implementations, online delivery, and multimedia education.

Historical Voices is housed at a center at Michigan State that has as its mission to "serve as a catalyst for and incubator of the emerging fields and disciplines resulting from the integration of the humanities with information technologies." The center-- named MATRIX: The Center for Humane, Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online -- "engages in fundamental research in the development of digital libraries, creates and maintains online resources, provides training in computing and new teaching technologies, and creates forums for the exchange of ideas and expertise in new teaching technologies." (from

Friday, February 04, 2005

NIH to Deliver Free Access to Research

Increasing access to materials not only means digitizing, but also providing access to those things that are born digital. The National Institutes of Health has released a plan to make published health studies (which given how we work would be in electronic form to begin with) available to the public.

From the NPR web site:

All Things Considered, February 3, 2005 · The National Institutes of Health
unveils a plan to offer a Web site giving consumers free access to published
government health studies. The plan comes after pressure from patient advocacy
groups and Congress.

A link to the audio of this report is available here.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Downloading digital assets: King County library lets you copy its e-books

The Seattle Times reports:

Last November, the county library became the first in the nation to allow
people to download audio "e-books" to home computers.

An e-book can be downloaded from the library's Web site onto a computer and
either burned to a CD or transferred to an MP3 player.

For free.

Special software is needed on the user's end, which allows the audio books to be downloaded and then inhibits access to the audio book once the loan period is over. The program targets those who are unable to get to the library as well as those who are traveling. Users note that they like the program because they do not have to remember to return something to the library.

Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) founded on Feb. 1

On Feb. 1, the Software Freedom Law Center was founded to provide legal representation and other law related services to protect and advance Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). SFLC states,
The FOSS production ecosystem, once dominated by a few small not-for-profit
entities and individual contributors, now includes a global array of individuals, not-for-profit entities, and commercial developers and redistributors. In this mixed-model organizational environment, all FOSS developers must have an environment where liability and other legal issues do not impede their important public service work.

By the way, one of SFLC's directors is Lawrence Lessig who is a professor, lawyer and author, and on several influencial boards.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

IT Conversations: Brewster Kahle

If you're like me, you've noticed that Brewster Kahle is pushing the envelope on how we create and use digital assets. His Web 2.0 Conference held in San Francisco, CA, October 5-7, 2004 is available online (audio only). As with his December 2004 speech at the Library of Congress, you hear his ideas on universal access.

Government Information Preservation Working Group: Stability Study of Optical Discs

It's worth noting that in December the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) posted a study on its web site on the stability of optical dics. The abstract notes:

This paper describes an initial stability study of commercially available recordable DVD and CD media using accelerated aging tests under conditions of increased temperature and humidity. The effect of prolonged exposure to direct light is also investigated and shown to have an effect on the error rates of the media. Initial results show that high quality optical media have very stable characteristics and may be suitable for long-term storage applications. However, results also indicate that significant differences exist in the stability of recordable optical media from different manufacturers.

The study can be downloaded from here.

New Descriptive Metadata Guidelines for RLG Cultural Materials Issued

"This set of guidelines is designed to help contributors to the RLG Cultural Materials database, but a broad audience can also benefit from its clear overview of the daunting concepts and acronyms in the field of descriptive metadata. Written by an expert working group and vetted by a wide community, these guidelines can be used to create or review local best practice in describing collections of unique cultural objects—regardless of the specific metadata standards you use. This document is a complete overhaul of the initial guidelines (last updated September 2003)." Additional information and pointers to the guidelines available here.

Digital Corner

Looking for information on activities conducted by the Institute of Museum and Library Services in the area of digital projects? In order to make it easier for you, IMLS has created a "Digital Corner" that contains information on:
  • Digital Projects Funded by IMLS
  • Publications
  • Conferences
  • Grant Programs
Included are pointers to papers presented at the Web Wise conferences.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

JPEG 2000 in Archives and Libraries

JPEG 2000 in Archives and Libraries is a web site that allows users to register and post their own information concerning how this standard (JPEG 2000) is being used in these two type of institutions. People are encouraged to post articles as well as information about projects and products that use the standard. You can also sign-up for a discussion list where people are sharing experiences with this standard.

If you are using JPEG 2000, please consider registering your experiences -- both good and bad -- on this site and adding to its list of resources. Remember that it is helpful if we can learn from each other.

Can I have that digital asset to go?

When I head out on a trip (business or personal), I look through the pile of magazines and journals that I have to see what I can take with me. I sometimes will even purchase a new (different) magazine for the trip. I also check various e-book sites to see if there is something I'd like to download to my Sony Clie to read. Yes, I like reading e-books, although I generally read them while waiting for a meeting, etc., so I don't get through them quickly. (I have, however, read some very good books this way including Seth Godin's Unleashing the Ideavirus.) But what if I could also take some "digital assets" along that I wanted to view? Wouldn't it be interesting if I could download part of an digitized collection (e.g., Zuni art) to my laptop or PDA and then view it at my leisure?

The idea of someone downloading a part of an online exhibit raises immediate concerns about intellectual property control. There would also be some hardware and software aspects to be worked out. Perhaps there could be software that would put a time limit on my use of the exhibit and even prohibit me from abusing the items (e.g., copying). However, why not aim for this type of access? If I can borrow a book from the library and carry it with me, why not allow me to borrow digital assets to view at my leisure? If we want digitization to impact access to materials, then eventually we'll need to address how people can view these items digitally in a way that meshes with their lifestyles and "reading" (viewing) needs.