Friday, June 30, 2006

Proposal for a regional digitization project, part 7 (The End)

First, I want to thank those who have commented on this series. The comments have been thought-provoking and helpful. If others have thoughts to share on this mythical project, please feel free to do so.

Today I want to tackle a very important aspect of this project: marketing.

We tend to think that "if we build it, they will come." Although that happens in the movies, it doesn't happen in real life. In real life, there is often much formal marketing as well as things that spark word-of-mouth marketing and "idea viruses." (If you've not heard of ideaviruses, you might want to check out Seth Godin's book, Unleashing the Ideavirus.) Let's look at several marketing activities that these collaborators can use:
  • Although the potential finished products were outline in part 2, those ideas, alpha and beta versions, and final versions should be shown to potential users in order to obtain feedback (e.g., focus group sessions). Along with asking for feedback, these sessions should also be thought of as marketing. Here are early opportunities to get people interested in the project. These people should be empowered to talk about the project with others in hopes of starting some word-of-mouth advertising.
  • Press releases should be issued when the collaborators receive major funding, when a new collaborator joins the group, or when a major milestone is achieved. These press releases should give a nice overview of the project, its goals, etc., and contain pithy quotes from people involved, supporters, and/or its users.
    • Press releases don't always get published without the efforts of a PR person (e.g., a staff member given PR responsibilities) to follow-up with reporters and "push" a story. However, even when not published, they make the media aware of what's going on. And keeping the media in the loop can be helpful when you need that "big story" written.
  • Brochures, etc., will need to be created for use when the web site goes live. These brochures (or maybe just something like a 3" x 8" card) should be placed in prominent places within every collaborators' institution, in libraries, in schools, government offices, and in places visited by tourists.
    • Since some tourists now travel with web-enable devices, they may check out the web site while in the area. That could lead them to actually visit some of the institutions.
    • Brochures can be expensive, depending on their quality, so the collaborators will need to look at ways of having professional looking brochures (marketing materials) at a reasonable cost. (Or maybe they can get a grant maker to fund some of the publicity materials needed?)
  • Small signs should be placed near some of the actually objects (that we digitized) noting that they are part of this mythical online collection. The signs should include the project's logo as well as text. I would not places then next to every object, but perhaps "enough" so that they are noticed.
  • The logo is a marketing tool as well as the project's name (on the web site). These should be carefully considered since they should not be changed after the project has formally launched.
    • The site's URL is also important and needs to be memorable and not too long. The project should be on its own web site and not part of one institution's web site.
  • Every institution that contributes materials to the project should have something in its foyer that announces that to visitors (perhaps a poster).
    • Each institution should also have something on its own web site including a link to the project.
  • Materials should be sent to 4th, 7th and 11th grade teachers within Dauphin County telling them about the project. These materials should be geared specifically for them and might include ideas on how to integrate the materials into lesson plans.
    • Similar materials should also be sent to school librarians.
  • Purchasing advertisements (e.g., newspaper ads) can be quite expensive, so I would encourage the project team to "work" the media and get stories written about the project instead. In fact, those stories might reach more people than the ads.
    • TV coverage might include screen shots and perhaps a mini tutorial.
  • There should be a "grand opening" for the project. This might occur after the project has been "live" for a few weeks and any bugs have been worked out. (I used to work in IT and I know that no matter how much testing you do, there are always bugs.) The collaborators, the people who worked on the project, the supporters and funders, representatives from the key user groups, and the media should be invited to this event.
    • The mayor of Harrisburg and the Dauphin County Board of Commissioners need to be at this event. Having them at the event not only allows them to show their support, but it will ensure that the media is there.
    • The governor should be invited and someone from the governor's office (if not the governor or lieutenant governor) should be at the event. Again, that will help ensure media coverage.
  • During special theme weeks/months (like Women's History Month), the project should generate a press release and perhaps other materials to circulate. These materials should highlight the parts of the digital collection that support the themes.
    • These should be done every year, not just during the first year. This does not mean that the materials need to be new every year, just that the promotional activity needs to occur. Don't expect people to automatically remember that the project has information on that subject/theme.
Are there more activities? Probably. The collaborators should think creatively about marketing and look for ideas that are unique as well as inexpensive. Personally, I like swag and think that the team should find a way to include/use giveaway items to help promote the project.

There should be someone in charge of marketing. This might be a specific institution or a team of people from several institutions. Likely some of the institutions involved will have marketing people on staff who can (and should) assist with this effort.

And the cost? As I said above, some of these marketing ideas only take time while others require materials to be purchased/made. A marketing budget will need to be developed early in the project with considerations given to what institutions may be able to do out of their own budgets or as part of existing marketing activities. There is also the possibility of getting funding specifically for marketing.

Everyone will need to keep in mind that marketing is an ongoing activity and not just something that will end (just like those activities that surround preserving the digital assets). Remember that even the most famous museums continue to market themselves. They know that if they do not market themselves that their visitors/usage/importance will decline.

How should the collaborators track the results of their marketing efforts? Usage will be the most important thing to track.
  • Does the marketing result in increased usage of the web site?
  • Can a specific marketing effort be linked to specific changes in usage?
  • Is usage increasing or remaining steady? (If it is decreasing, why?)
If institutions sell reproductions of any of the items, they should track those sales and note if they increase.

The group should also collect other evidence that the project has made a difference. For example, has the project made a difference in:
  • How students are accessing materials (or how many materials they are using)?
  • How teachers use primary source materials?
  • What people know about the area?
  • How often the original materials are accessed?
  • How history will be retained (preserved) for the future?
My exercise of creating a mythical collaborative project for Harrisburg, PA will now come to an end. Have I forgotten anything? Yes. For example, I didn't address the need to keep the content fresh by doing ongoing maintenance, adding new content, etc. And I needed talk about adding more contributors after the project has gone live. And even though I have consistent used the word "project", I didn't talk about why everyone should see this as an ongoing "program." Oh well...

As I said before, walking through a project in this way is useful because it give you a chance to envision what will really occur, to spot areas of concerns, and to see what you might overlook. Hopefully you will do such exercises with your digitization programs/projects.

The previous parts of this series are available at:
  • part 1 -- Introduction
  • part 2 -- Material selection & products to be created
  • part 3 -- Obstacles & copyright
  • part 4 -- Digitization, standards & guidelines
  • part 5 -- Content management & metadata
  • part 6 -- Preservation

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Event: MCN 2006: Access to Assets: Return on Investment

The 34th Annual Museum Computer Network Conference
Access to Assets: Return on Investment
November 8-11, 2006
Pasadena, CA

At MCN 2006 in Pasadena, we will explore ways we’ve found to demonstrate useful, successful methods for accessing technology; we’ll share our challenges and triumphs as we network together to creatively and effectively improve our bottom lines. We’ll discuss the many ways we’ve found to maximize the compelling value of our technology collateral, keeping in mind that the bottom line is not always financial, sometimes it’s intellectual, and sometimes, it’s just for the greater good.

Visit to view the preliminary program and find information about how you can join us this fall in Pasadena.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Proposal for a regional digitization project, part 6

Yesterday instead of continuing with this "proposal", I responded to a comment made by Kevin Driedger. A comment received on that post was about preservation, which is the topic for today. In that comment, Richard L. Hess wrote:
The other crucial point is that in this century, I suspect we'll see the mantra, if it's not digitized, it is not preserved.

As you know, preservation can take many forms, but geographic diversity of duplicate originals is a key to long-term survivability of records and documents. That is only effectively possible in the digital domain.

...While many of these organizations do an excellent job in preservation, with only one copy, the risks are high. The museum could be struck by lightning or we could see record-breaking rains like those that the DC area just experienced (too close to Harrisburg and Lancaster -- my Dad's home -- for comfort).
Here Richard Hess is talking about preserving the content. Once an item is digitized, then you have a digital file that you can use instead of the original. That digital file preserves the content of the original and is a surrogate for the original. In some cases, it might even be better than the original (e.g., enhanced audio). It is easy to make copies of those digital files, so now you can have lots of copies so that those contents stay safe (the idea behind LOCKSS).

So, creating the digital files preserves the content, but then you must preserve those digital files. Many projects have been begun and completed without any thought to long-term preservation of the digital assets. Generally when we talk about preserving the digital assets, we simply talk about the concepts of refreshing and migrating the files. As simple as these ideas might be, procedures and processes must be put into place so that they are done. And that is not so easy or simple.

Using the glossary in the Western New York Regional Digitization Plan, which I worked on with a committee of WNYLRC members:
Refreshing is a technique used to preserve digital content. When files are refreshed, exact copies are made of them on newer media. This is done because of the concern that older media may have a limited shelf life (or may have already outlived its shelf life).

Migration is a technique used to preserve digital content. Migration entails the replacing older file formats and internal structures with newer ones. For example, a JPEG file might be migrated to a newer version of that format. The assumption is that the older version will eventually not be supported, so it s better to migrate files to the newer, supported formats.
Since refreshing is making copies of files onto new media, it actually is quite simple, but requires time and new media in order to do it. It is a task that can easily be procrastinated. However, if not done regularly, the project runs the risk of having its media get old and degrade, thus ruining the files stored on it. (If you have lots of copies, then hopefully a disaster has been mitigated.) The New York State Archives is recommending (in a yet to be published guideline) that organizations review their files every six months to determine if they need to be refreshed, rather than automatically refreshing the files on a regular schedule.

And when do you migrate? When file formats have changed and the new formats are stable and are being widely adopted. The key is to migrate before support runs out on the old formats. We'll assume that the migrate paths will be easy, but -- of course -- we really don't know that for sure.

Since preserving digital files is something that we are still trying to get our heads around, there continues to be work in this area. Questions being asked include:
  • Can we pinpoint better the "when"?
  • How much does digital preservation cost?
  • Must all digital files be preserved?
  • Must all digital files be preserved at the same level? (Here we get into the concepts of bit-level preservation and full preservation.)
Resources to read more about preservation include:
We often say that digitizing items will lessen the wear and tear on the originals. The thought is that the digital versions will be heavily used, and that the originals can go into storage. However, often more serious researchers become aware of the originals from their digital surrogates and then want to see/use the originals. So those originals may actually be used more. It thus becomes important that the originals be conserved and preserved, if at all possible. Generally, this work is funded out of a different "pot." Depending on the conditions of the originals, some conservation efforts might occur before the materials are digitized, and might be funded by the actual digitization program.

And so what about this mythical project? I would hope that they would think about digital preservation at the beginning of the project and plan for it, even if those plans are rough. I would, however, expect that they might enter into this project without really considering preservation and with the attitude that they will think about it "later." Like everyone else, then they will hope that "later" does not occur too late.

And what about preserving the originals? Since we understand how to conserve and preserve items that we find traditionally in libraries, museums and archives, I would expect that preservation of those items would not be a huge problem (especially for the collaborators of this project). The collaborators should be able to handle the work among themselves and either pay for it out of their operating budgets or get a grant specifically for preservation. In fact, as the collaborators talk about their strengths and what they can donate to the project, there might be one institution that could spearhead (or coordinate) any conservation/preservation efforts.

That's all for today. There is one more area to discuss: marketing. We'll tackle that later this week.

For the first parts of this series, read part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Playing devil's advocate: Are large projects worth it?

Kevin Driedger left a comment on this post and asks:
...I've had one question in the back of my head the entire time, and maybe it is just the devil's advocate in me, or maybe I'm a miserly administrator in the making, but my question is, why do this? Such a project would be a large expense of time, money and energy and would the final produce be "worth" it. What I don't know is who uses these digitized local history type collections? - apart from the K-12 community. There may well be strong evidence for the usefulness and need for these kind of projects and I would love to see it. I don't mean to dismiss the idea, it sounds wonderful and I would love to see it succeed. I'm just curious to know what kind of ongoing use these projects see to justify all the expense.
Kevin, playing devil's advocate is quite necessary. We do often think of projects and realize how cool they would be to do, but don't do enough investigation -- sometimes -- to know if they really would be heavily used.

A project focused on local/regional history (like the mythical project for Harrisburg) could be used by:
  • K-12 students, especially those in 4th, 7th and 11th grades were local/national history is emphasized.
    • A local history project should market itself to local teachers and school/public librarians, so they will use the project and refer students to it.
  • Genealogists
    • Genealogists are often huge users of local history online, including newspaper archives. They really will go through a site looking for pertinent information and they don't mind paying a reasonable price for access.
  • History buffs
  • Researchers of topics where the impact can be found a local history. For example:
    • The fall of Saigon
    • The Agnes hurricane in 1972
    • Racial tensions of the 1960s
    • Religious freedom
    • Utopias
  • Corporations who are interested in relocating to the region. The decision-making process is not straightforward and often entails things that we might not consider (the number of universities, transportation infrastructure, cultural mix, cultural outlets). In addition, could a look at the past help the corporation understand the area's current state and its future?
  • Vacationers, who are looking to spend time in an area with a rich history. It has been proven that having materials online can attract people to view actually collections.
Keep in mind that the users of this type of material could be anywhere in the world. With Harrisburg's history, for example, I could see people in England and Germany have some interest because of those who immigrated to that region. Because Native Americans where often moved off of their lands, Native people in other regions -- with roots in Central PA -- might use this materials to trace their family history as well as understand the politics that caused their ancestors to migrate.

It is also important to realize that we are becoming more dependent on the information that is available online. If we can't find something online, then we might think it doesn't exist. Therefore, I think it behooves every region and every institution to have an online presence and to have some of its history online. Does the information need to be as extensive as what I'm outlining? No, but it doesn't hurt to dream big, since we do sometimes dream too small.

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Report: Copyright Issues Relevant to Digital Preservation and Dissemination of Pre-1972 Commercial Sound Recordings by Libraries and Archives

Someone on the Archives discussion list mentioned this. It has been out for a while, but I don't think I've mentioned it the posting on Archives has prompted me to mention it now.

Copyright Issues Relevant to Digital Preservation and Dissemination of Pre-1972 Commercial Sound Recordings by Libraries and Archives

Commissioned for and sponsored by the National Recording Preservation Board, Library of Congress

by June M. Besek
December, 2005. 54 pp.
ISBN 1-932326-23-5
ISBN 978-1-932326-23-9

Available in PDF and full-test formats online.

Abtract: This report addresses the question of what libraries and archives are legally empowered to do to preserve and make accessible for research their holdings of pre-1972 commercial recordings, the large aural legacy that is not protected by federal copyright. As the first in-depth analysis by a nationally known expert in copyright law, this report will also be a timely and authoritative aid to the many librarians and archivists who face decisions daily about how to establish priorities for sound preservation.

This report is one of several studies that CLIR is undertaking on behalf of the Library of Congress and the National Recording Preservation Board.

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Proposal for a regional digitization project, part 5

As I build this mythical project using only words, I find that the exercise is very helpful. I am seeing places where additional content could be create, thinking of new/different content owners, and sensing where the pitfalls might be. Rather than just building the initial idea, walking through the entire project verbally gives me a richer view of the project. In real life, this exercise could help a project ensure that it has thought of everything. And like Plato and his city in speech, once built verbally you can then really examine it, tear it apart, and rebuilt (if necessary).

Having been involved in many projects over the years, including some that were purely IT (information technology), I know that we often don't go through this exercise as thoroughly as we should. We think of the project, outline it, create goals/deliverables/etc., and then rush into it. Stopping to examine the project from different viewpoints could be very helpful and might even ensure that the project can be completed as envisioned! (As a business searcher, I often will "walk through" a search reuqest, in a similar fashion, before agreeing to do it. What would the search statements me? Who might keep that type of information? What will the results look like? Over the years, stopping to think ahead like that has served me well.)

As for this mythical project for Harrisburg, PA, one important area to consider further is access (see part 2 for information on the products to be created). Two areas that important when thinking about access are:
  • The content management system (software that will house the a metadata and allow it to be searched) or digital asset management system
  • The metadata
There are many software packages that can be used for content management. Some are more used in libraries, others more popular in museums, and many others used in corporate settings. Software that might be considered include (yes, there are others):
For libraries that do not want to go the open source route, the product that is heavily discussed is CONTENTdm (marketed by OCLC).

In order for this project to decide on software, I would first ask it to think about its resources -- both short and long-term -- for providing support and maintenance of such software. If the collaborators felt confident that they could support the software themselves (primarily) long-term, then I would suggest that they look at an open source package, since it would likely be more customizable to their situation. If they felt that they wanted to rely on the vendor to provide support long-term, then I would suggest that they look at those products that they could license. No matter what their answer, I would want them to look at and evaluate several packages and not just accept a piece of software because "someone else" is using it.

I would advise this group to select something that it felt it could live with for 5 - 10 years, not because moving to a new package would be difficult (it shouldn't be), but that it would be best to be on a stable platform for a period of time so they can focus on other areas that will need their attention.

BTW here is a document that compares some of these products, created by the CURL Task Force on Digital Content Creation and Curation.

As for metadata, they should use qualified Dublin Core, which is being widely used, especially when the content is not being integrated into a library management system (OPAC). They should define the individual elements (fields) and appropriate content. Since the creation of the metadata could be divided among the collaborators -- or outsourced -- they should have an authority file that details everything, so that there is consistency across metadata creators. The team should provide sample records for each type of material digitized, so that the metadata creators have examples to follow.

Metadata can be time-consuming to create, if there is research needed. Therefore the collaborators should try to provide as much information for each item digitized, so research can be limited.

As a librarian who does not consider herself a cataloguer, I would want the team to be sure to discuss the metadata with those who "live and breath" cataloguing in order to get their input. If the metadata is being created by people who are not cataloguers, the team should be sure to provide as much training as possible in order to infuse them with knowledge.

There are two areas left to discuss -- preserving this new digital work and marketing. Tomorrow we'll continue with those topics.

For the first parts of this series, read part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Proposal for a regional digitization project, part 4

[For the first parts of this series, read part 1, part 2 and part 3.]

Part 3 of this series was quite long and my goal is to not be so wordy today.

Assuming that funding is received and that the actual digitization can continue, how will these materials be digitized?

Not only are we talking about a tremendous amount of content, but we are also talking about content that is quite varied in format -- from old handwritten documents to oversized maps to audio files. I would not expect all of the materials to be digitized in-house (if any). Instead, I would expect that this group of collaborators would look for several service bureaus that could handle the work.

Several? Yes, for a number of reasons.
  1. Generally, each service bureau is well-versed at digitizing certain types of materials. For example, I would look for a company qualified to digitize audio to actually do the audio. I wouldn't look for the microfilm digitization service bureau to also do the audio. (Yes, I know that is obvious or should be.)
  2. There may be a benefit in using two or more services bureaus who do similar work, so that the project is not reliant on one company. Putting "all of one's eggs in one basket" can be a problem. If the group feels that it wants to use only one service bureau for certain types of materials, then it should be sure to discuss the pros and cons, and be sure of its decision.
  3. Some materials made not be able to leave their institutions, so I would look for a service bureau that could come on-site to do those materials. (And not every service bureau offers that service.)
Actually, depending on the number of items, I might ask a service bureau to set up shop temporarily in the Harrisburg area (if an appropriate one does not already exist there). That would mean that the items would not be out of their collections for extended periods of time, would not have to travel far, and that it would be easy to check-up on the operation.

Personally, I would want to see the service bureau operations and meet the staff, if at all possible, before the project began. I might even want to talk to the staff about how the materials are to be handled, etc. I would want to know that they are comfortable with and competent in working with historic, fragile and priceless materials.

As for the contracts, I would place clauses in the documents that outline the service bureaus' responsibilities including the care of the items, security, storage (e.g., climate control), and specifics around the actual digitization quality (ppi, file formats, etc.). I would expect the service bureaus to do their own quality control on every item and also would have the collaborators do quality control. Any problems should be fixed by the service bureaus at no additional cost.

As for the standards to be used, I would look to the collaborators to review and agree on the standards and guidelines that they will use for the actual digitization. Documents that they might review as part of this process include:

Yes...there are other documents that could use, including information produced by Cornell. However, I would encourage the group not to get bogged down in reviewing too many document and delaying decisions.

I haven't spoken about specific equipment. The equipment used is driven by the materials to be digitized. During the grant writing stage (when they will need to come up with cost quotes), the group will need to have a very good idea of what the materials are, their formats, and the quantity. However, I would expect that information to be solidified during the selection process. If the group can do the complete selection process before it writes the grant, then that would be great (but not always possible) and would ensure a must more accurate cost quote.

The actual digitization of the materials is the easiest part of the project and an area where the costs are not likely to get out of hand. Other areas can be "black holes" and much more creative. We tend to talk about the actual digitization costs being 10% - 30% of the total project costs. In part 5, we'll talk about another area of this project and an area where cost can be an issue.

This occurred to me last night -- One additional area I would consider including in this project would be information on the cultures that influenced Harrisburg (e.g., Native American and Pennsylvania Dutch). One very obvious way this influence is seen is in the names of the streets, although I suspect that some of the pronunciations have taken on a very South Central PA twist (e.g., Muench is pronounced "Minnick")!

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codeMantra, located in Plymouth Meeting, PA (near Philadelphia), is another digitization service bureau. (As this point, I'm not amazed when I come across another one. I'm just pleased to know that more service bureaus exist.) codeMantra provides several services including Digitization Services. As the brochure says, "codeMantra offers a full suite of digitization processes, from non-destructive scanning to abstracting and indexing services." The company uses onshore and offshore options for its digitization.

From the looks of their material and web site, I would summarize that codeMantra has historically worked with corporations and law firms (i.e., litigation support). Since they are technology-focused company, I would expect them to be very good at the technology aspects of a digitization project, including data storage.

As with most service bureaus, codeMantra does not have information on their web site about the type of equipment that they have. Remember that when you are talking to a service bureau that you need to ask questions about the equipment that will be used, since it will impact the quality and speed of the work, as well as the wear-n-tear on your materials.

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Image Data ScanPro 1000

I had an opportunity to see this microfilm scanner at the SLA conference. (BTW -- people do want see equipment at conferences and trade shows, not just brochures.) The ScanPro 1000 is produced by Image Data and sold by Brodart (and likely others). You can read about it here. The ScanPro 1000 scans all microform and micro opaques. It has a optical 7X to 54X zoom lens that means you don't have to stop your look-ups to change lenses. As the site says, "using the included software, you can annotate, network, e-mail, save to other media, and print all of your scans, right from your PC."

Why am I mentioning this equipment? Microfilm is not going away. Many people still need to use microfilm to do research and giving them the option to scan (rather than print) is a great option. This piece of equipment competes with the S-T Imaging ST200. Anyone interested in these types of machines should look at both of these (maybe a head-to-head comparison), as well as keep an eye open for any other machines in this category.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Proposal for a regional digitization project, part 3

[For the first parts of this series, read part 1 and part 2.]

Yesterday, I outlined what I see the end project looking like. Obviously, it is a lot of content which would come from many sources (a collaborative project). So who are these collaborators and what obstacles would they have to overcome in order to make this a reality?

First of all, I see a major collaborator being the government which really means the state, county (Dauphin) and city governments. Because of the area's role in U.S. history, I would suspect that materials owned by the federal government might also be digitized. Given the work that the city government has done to revitalize the area (and the leadership of Mayor Stephen Reed), I see the city taking a lead role in this effort. I believe the city (and mayor) would have the clout to get the other levels of government to cooperate and collaborate. Information to be digitized might be within specific government agencies as well as in government-run libraries, museums and archives.

Would information be needed from other Pennsylvania counties? Maybe, but I think I would wait and not make that part of the initial project. My sense is that Dauphin County and the City of Harrisburg would have enough of the history.

Next I would look to other museums and archives in the area for information that they have concerning Harrisburg's history. For example, since Harrisburg -- and Camp Curtin -- did play a role in the Civil War, I would look to the National Civil War Museum, located in Harrisburg, to be a collaborator as well as the Camp Curtin Historical Society. I would also look to institutions that have a long history in the area (e.g., the Harrisburg Academy founded in 1784) as possible contributors.

Are there family/private collections that should be included? Yes, however, I might look for one of the organization to reach out to this group, so that only one organization is involved in negotiations, etc.

What about small organizations? Good question. Small organizations may not be able to do any of the work themselves or contribute financially, but they would have materials that could be included. Again, I would look for one of the larger institutions to facilitate their involvement. (Yes, more work for that institution, but I would also expect that the grant would allow some compensation for that.) Having those smaller institutions -- and private collections -- as part of the project not only would make the content better, but would also show possible funders that this is a project that means business! (BTW one reason to have private collections and smaller institutions work through the major institutions is to keep decision-making, etc., manageable. As the saying goes, too many chefs can spoil the pot.)

Imagine, then, a group -- headed by the City of Harrisburg -- coming together to do the business plan. I would expect that some of the partners could contribute money to the project, but that they would also go after grant funding (e.g., IMLS) and thus would need to do a grant proposal.

Creating a level of comfort between the groups would not be easy. There might even be some concern over "who" had the power, whose needs were being served, etc. Therefore, I see this group meetings, talking, networking, and exchanging information regularly -- and over a period of time -- in order to build the trust and air of cooperation that would be needed. One of the tasks during this period would be to write the grant applications and just doing that would help them learn more about each other and lay the groundwork for being cooperative.

I would hope that the group would be able to start some of the work without the grant funding. Specifically, I would look to the group to create its selection criteria for what will be digitized and then begin the selection process. I don't see the selection process as being easy, but I would hope that the group would look at the products to be created and think about this items that will fit into those products (see part 2). Without thinking of specific materials that might be digitized, I would imagine that two areas of concern would be copyright and ownership.

Copyright will only be an issue for recent materials (see "Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States"), however, there have been significant happening in recent history that should be covered. For example, Harrisburg was part of the "chitlin' circuit" and many famous African American performers played there. In the 1970s, after the fall of Saigon, Vietnamese were airlifted to a base outside of Harrisburg and have had a lasting impact on the region. (I've specifically picked those two examples because they show the breadth of history that may exist in a region, yet can easily be forgotten.) If recent history is to be included -- and it should be -- then a team will need to be created to do the copyright clearance on these materials.
Copyright clearance can be very time-consuming and can stop (or shrink) a project. One potential partner -- that could lend materials to the project and easily clear their copyright -- is the local newspaper, the Patriot News. Newspapers are digitizing their archives and are using those archives to make money, so why should the Patriot News cooperate? I think the carrot would be that their materials in this collaborative project would help people understand what is in the newspaper's archives. Collaborating could increase sales of old articles, not lessen sales.

For materials where the project needs to deal with copyright owners who are not collaborators, the process of copyright clearance is straight-forward, although arduous. One must consider: (from K.M. Dames)
  1. Is the work copyrightable?
  2. Is the work copyrighted?
  3. Who owns or controls the copyright?
  4. What rights does the owner control?
  5. What rights are involved in the project?
  6. What limitations apply?
  7. What is your exposure?
Dames also summaries the copyright clearance process as:
  • Determine IP issues
  • Determine if permission is necessary
  • Identify owner’s rights
  • Determine time (Do you have the time to seek permission as well as looking at the date of the creative work.)
  • Identify owner
  • Request permission
(Deed of gift forms and other documents can simplify this process.)

As I step back and think about this potential project, I would suggest that one person be in charge of each product (e.g., the exhibits), and have a cross-organizational team of people working with him/her to ensure that things move forward. There should also be a person in each institution who can step in when needed, move obstacles out of the way, and get any YESes that are needed.

I do not for one moment think that bringing this group together would be easy, but I do think that doing so would create a richer and more worthwhile project.

Enough for today. Stay tuned for part 4 tomorrow, when I'll continue to discuss this mythical, potential project.

If you have read this far, you are either intrigued or wonder what I'm doing and why. With the regional digitization plans that I have done, the question is always how can that area get started with digitization? Yes, there might be a few organization digitization, but how can more institutions get involved? And, how can the region get smaller institutions involved? So I have decided to create a mythical project...walk through the who, what, where, a way of getting some thoughts on paper, generating ideas, and perhaps teaching a few readers more about digitization. Is this the perfect -- or only -- regional digitization project? No and it is not meant to me. Like Plato, this is a just vehicle for further discourse.

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Article: Genealogical site digitzes millions of census records

From the Associated Press:
An Internet company is adding U.S. Census records to boost its archive of searchable names to 5 billion, which it says is the most comprehensive genealogical database ever compiled. planned to announce Thursday that it has copied complete census records from 1790 to 1930, making it the only searchable, online repository of the documents.

The U.S. government waits 72 years before releasing original census documents. Copying the material took a team of experts and workers a combined 6.6 million hours of labor, said.

This is great news for those people (including me) who are trying to research their family trees. You can read the entire article here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Proposal for a regional digitization project, part 2

Yesterday I began thinking about a regional digitization project using Harrisburg, PA as my example. The questions I asked were:
  • How can you take the history of a place, digitize it, and display it in a way that makes the history visible?
  • Who would contribute?
  • What would be the benefits?
  • And how would you overcome the obstacles?
First, let's think about how you take the history of a place, digitize it, and display it in a way that makes the history visible. Of course, the question to be asked is what type of materials could be digitized? Let's not think narrowly. We could digitize:
  • Paintings and drawings of historic figures and events
  • Photographs
  • Photos of historic sites
  • Video of a walking tour of historic Harrisburg
  • Historic documents, letters, journals and diaries
  • Documents that would help to trace the history of the area
  • Information on early settlers as well as the Native People who lived in that region
  • Birth, death and census records
  • Old newspapers
  • Radio broadcasts or other audio that ties into Harrisburg's history
  • Etc.
Once digitized (notice that I'm not yet discussing the "how"), I would propose that the materials be made available on the Internet as "exhibits" (think of walking through a museum), illustrated stories, annotated maps, and a searchable database.

Exhibits -- An exhibit is focused around a specific subject. Imagine walking virtually through exhibits that talk about different aspects of Harrisburg's history? These could be multimedia online exhibits that combine visuals and audio. As if you were on a moving sidewalk, the exhibit would pass in front of you at a comfortable pace, with the option for you to stop, go back, and continue on.

Exhibits would be of interest to casual users of the site, as well as people who are more visual. Since people would "see" the history, these might be useful to those who want to be able to connect the history to what exists in Harrisburg today. (I'm thinking specifically of connecting historic photos or photos of historic buildings with current physical locations.)

Illustrated Stories -- While an exhibit is more visual, these would be primarily text with illustrations and some audio. In fact, you could have an audio version of the stories! The stories would allow for more facts and details to be communicated. They would be useful to those who are doing research or interested in more indepth information.

Annotated Maps -- The Harrisburg government web site does have PDF maps that show the locations of historic sites, but you cannot click on the map to get more details or see photos. It is those features that I see connected to these annotated maps. Imagine a map -- like those you see in the current mapping programs (e.g., Google Earth) -- where you can see an overview map, zoom in to see details, then click on specific locations to see photos or drawing, read documents associated with the location, and hear audio (old audio as well as new audio that perhaps give little-known facts).

For example, on the annotated map, let's say that you could have it highlight all of the locations where there have been governor mansions, then you could click on each location to see photos and other details. Imagine, too, that you could then follow a link to obtain information on the governors who lived in a specific location, and then follow additional links to find out about this history of their eras.

Maps can be very important because then you can see (visualize) how close things were. With some topographic detail, you could start to think about the problems of traversing the hills around Harrisburg and the impact that had on industry and the area's expansion. Maps that showed population density for specific eras would also be useful in understanding how the area grew and changed.

[As you can tell, using maps as a basis for displaying digitized materials/history really excites me.]

Finally, all of the digitized content and textual information would be searchable through a database. This means the creation of metadata and the use of a content management system. The database needs to be searchable in ways that make sense to end-users (not in ways that only make sense to use). It should have excellent help features and some ready-made search on hot topics.

Yes, this would be a huge project...and obviously, a collaborative project. Who would contribute to it? What obstacles would they have to overcome? some point...what technologies will be needed?

I'll write more on this tomorrow...

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Project Report: British Library Microfilmed Newspapers and Oxford Grey Literature Online

This 19-page document discusses a collaborative project between the British Library Newspaper Library, the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University, OCLC, the Malibu Hybrid Library Project at King's College London, and Olive Software Inc. The project included the digitization of historic newspapers. The report includes discussion of problems and solutions (with illustrations). For examples, complex page layouts, large titles, and narrow spacing between lines.

This is an excellent document for anyone to read who is involved in digitizing historic newspapers. Undoubtedly you can learn from their lessons.

07/24/2007: URL for report no longer works.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Proposal for a regional digitization project, part 1

After the Special Libraries Association Conference in Baltimore last week, I stayed the weekend in Harrisburg, PA, where I spent my childhood. Harrisburg has gone through tremendous changes over the last 50 years -- both good and bad. In recent years, the city has revived itself and is now a place of positives and of hope.

Harrisburg has always been a place of rich history and with many historic sites. Sadly, it is a history that is not broadly known (as it is with many other areas). However, as I strolled the streets and walked along the Susquehanna River, I saw that the history is being made visible. There are historic markers in front of buildings that tell the history of the area and of specific sites. Some of the markers contain photos or drawings of what a specific site used to look like. The markers help people -- residents and visitors alike -- to know and appreciate what occurred there beginning in the early 1700s.

But there is one problem. One must walks the streets and read the markers in order to soak in the history. Yes, some of it is online (and here), but not all of it and it is not like being there.

This is a problem -- an opportunity -- that many regions face and discuss as they consider digitizing materials. How can you take the history of a place, digitize it, and display it in a way that makes the history visible? Who would contribute? What would be the benefits? And how would you overcome the obstacles?

Over the next few days, I am going to explore this type of digitization project and begin to address those questions.

Stay tuned...

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Google does Shakespeare

Once you begin digitizing entire collections, you can do interesting things. Google has created a section of Google Books devoted only to William Shakespeare. Google says:
Search within Hamlet for "to be or not to be" to read the rest of his famous soliloquy. Find out who called the world his "oyster" and why. Browse through a familiar play – or follow your curiosity to discover a new one. And if you decide you want to buy a copy, "All editions" will show you every version in Google Book Search, many of which are available for purchase.
They have divided the works into four categories: comedy, tragedy, romance and history. You are given quick access to specific titles s as well as the ability to see all editions.

The page also links to Google Earth where you can "visit the Globe Theater and other Shakespearean landmarks right from your desktop." And at the bottom of the page are other ways of exploring Shakespeare on the Internet -- all using Google.

Of course, this leads us to say, "To Google or not to Google, that is the question." But for many, that is no question at all! Google continues to develop products that attract us to it (something that more companies wish they could do).

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Monday, June 19, 2006

SLA2006: Microfilm Digitization Vendor Roundtable

I missed this session but j Baumgart has posted brief notes. Here -- it seems -- is the most important point:
If you're working with a paper that has a long history, don't forget that papers 100 years ago had different contents than papers today. It's important to pick a vendor who can handle your older issues and their content.
j points out that once newspapers have been digitized, publishers are pursuing various options to recoup their costs (or even make money). As we know, newspaper content is very hot with genealogists, history buffs, and historians. A good, continual marketing effort will serve the publisher well in making people aware of the digitized content.

BTW like every good conference, the sessions that you really should attend conflict with other sessions that you really should attend, as well as vendor demos, etc. Thankfully, fellow bloggers do make it possible to be in two places at once!

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Master of Science in Information and Archive Management

Years after ending its library science program, Columbia University is getting back into it -- or something a bit similar. Columbia announced:

As you know, information professionals must have an increasingly complex understanding of the information over which they preside. To meet this need, Columbia is launching a new part-time Master of Science in Information and Archive Management.

This fall, the program launches with two inaugural core courses: Legal and Policy Issues for Information Professionals and Introduction to Information Professions and Knowledge Management. Subsequent core courses include: Business Information, Documents, and Materials; Introduction to Information Technology and IT Project Management; Government Information Resources and Systems; Records and Archives Management: Principles and Practices; and Working with Commercial Vendors.

The program is designed for mid-career professionals who currently work in information environments and want to systemize and enhance their knowledge and skills. It is also appropriate for career changers. We hope you, your colleagues, or others you know will be interested in enrolling in the new M.S. program or taking one or more courses on a non-matriculated basis.

We encourage you to visit the program’s Web site at

It will be interesting to see if they add anything that is specifically digitization related.

Article: U.C. system signs on to Microsoft book-scan project

As the article says:
The University of California and the University of Toronto libraries have agreed to lend their collections of out-of-copyright material held in trust. In concert with the Open Content Alliance, Microsoft will scan and index the materials for use in its Windows Live Book Search, according to a Microsoft statement issued Friday.
Deciding who to align themselves with must be an interesting exercise for these libraries! Google? Microsoft? Or someone else? As the saying goes, whose horse do you put your cart behind? (Which project will succeed?)

As for explaining this effort, the article notes:
The idea behind digital libraries is that published information offers an alternative and accurate source of information from that gleaned via general Web searches. Digital libraries could also make a collective cultural archive globally accessible.
Very concise...

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Event: Online course in digitization


The Illinois Digitization Institute is offering more online digitization courses in 2006! The next course will be July 10 - 28, 2006 with an optional two-day, hands-on workshop on August 3 & 4, 2006.

Using WebCT courseware, this web-based course will allow participants to contribute to online discussions and solve real world digitization problems right from their own computers. Topics to be discussed are:
  • Benefits and costs of digitization projects
  • Issues involved in designing, setting goals, and evaluating digitization projects
  • Planning issues including: budgeting, workflow, copyright, and delivery
  • Metadata standards and metadata creation
  • Selection of materials to be digitize and equipment selection
  • Best practices and basic scanning and image manipulation skills
The online course will run Monday - Friday each week, with the online portion taking approximately two to three hours per day. Other readings and assignments may take more time to complete.

The optional two-day, hands-on workshop will be held at the Illinois State Library in Springfield, Illinois. Workshop will include image capture using scanners and digital cameras, OCR, and metadata creation using CONTENTdm.

Registration fees:
  • $300.00 per person for online course
  • Additional $100.00, plus travel expenses for workshop (space in workshop is limited so register soon!)
For more information or to register for a course visit:


Questions? Please contact Amy Maroso by e-mail: or by phone: + 217-244-4946.

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Friday, June 16, 2006

Article: New Web site is rich resource for Hudson Valley information

From the sounds of this article, Hudson River Valley Heritage -- a digitization program in the Hudson Valley region of New York State -- had a formal unveiling last Friday (June 9). This program has been underway for quite a while and continues to grow. (There was actually a conference session on this program in 2004 at MARAC.) The article says:
The Web site,, has been accumulating digitized collections for about a year and currently contains photographs, maps, multimedia clips, newspaper items, postcards, diaries and other memorabilia from Bard College, the Consortium of Rhinebeck History, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, the Hudson River Valley Institute, the Samuel Morse Historic Site, Vassar College, Wilderstein Preservation, the Coxsackie Heermance Memorial Library, the Chester Historical Society, the Newburgh Free Library, the Library Association of Rockland County, the Orangetown Historical Museum Archives, the Huguenot Historical Society, the Marlboro Free Library, SUNY New Paltz and the Woodstock Library.

In addition to serving the Hudson Valley, the site also has received thousands of hits from foreign countries, administrators say.

One of the things that is interesting abut this program is that the Southeastern New York Library Resources Council -- one of the partners in this program -- has created a series of workshops for participants, made the cost for attending all of the workshops low ($100 for the series per person), and added a requirement that people who attend the series contribute digitized items to the collection. You can read the training brochure from the Council here. In my mind, the low cost for training gets people/institutions committed. The commitment of contributing a certain number of images is not burdensome and helps people demonstrate to themselves what they have learned and gives them a chance to practice. It is a win-win situation.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

SLA2006: Digitization at MHS

One of the presentations that I heard was the library director of the Maryland Historical Society talking about the Eubie Blake Collection. The director, Beatriz Hardy, spoke about all the things that went wrong as they tried to work on the project as well as how the problems were overcome. It is a miracle that the project was completed and completed successfully! Then she listed her "lessons learned." They were:

  • Be flexible
  • Look at different angles (see the project from different angles, look at different ways of getting things done)
  • Reveal your problems
  • Be willing to admit that you don't know (whatever that may be)
  • Hire good people and check their references
  • Don't limit yourself geographically (vendors, staff, etc.)
  • Keep good records
  • Students work cheap
  • Have humor

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Monday, June 12, 2006

SLA2006: Be modular

This will also posted on the SLA conference blog.

In a session this afternoon about the National Digital Newspaper Program, the speaker talked about building a modular systems using open source software. The content -- stored in standard formats -- will be maintained and will be stable. The system will be built using open source software and in modules. Why modules? Since this is a new system -- a new idea -- if a module doesn't work correctly, it can easily be replaced. If a module needs to be updated, that work can be done without replacing the entire system. Smart.

Information on the National Digital Newspaper Program is online here.

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SLA2006: The Exhibitors

Also posted in the SLA conference blog.

There are 305 exhibitors this year with 72 new exhibitors, all with a total of 482 booths. This is the largest exhibit hall in 10 years!

I'll post information on the Exhibit Hall later (maybe much later), but want to point out that there are several companies exhibiting that provide digitization-related services. To find them, look at the list of exhibitors in the conference program under several categories including:

  • Cataloging
  • Categorization
  • Content Conversion
  • Data Conversion
  • Digital Archiving Solutions
  • Digital Systems

This morning I went to the OCLC update as well as a presentation by CSA on MultiSearch (a federated search product). What stood out to me about OCLC is how large it has become. OCLC has members (or was that presence?) in 109 countries; 54,400 libraries in total. CONTENTdm -- which is of interest to me -- is used by 300 libraries and contains 5 million objects. OCLC's PowerPoint from this morning is not online, which is a shame. It was packed full of info and too much to try to write down. [Addendum, Sept. 8, 2006: The presentation from the OCLC update is indeed online here. The PPT is quite large -- 11.5 MB]

BTW OCLC is going to release an open WorldCat later in the summer at

As for MultiSearch...this seems like a federated search option worth investigating. I'm sure that each federated search option has its pros and defining requirements and reviewing as many options as possible is something libraries will need to do before making a decision.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

SLA2006: Digitization Essentials Workshop

K. Matthew Dames has posted online the resource list for our workshop tomorrow at the SLA conference. You can view the resource list here as well as our PowerPoint. The workshop is eight hours in total spread over two days and includes a ton of information. Personally, I am looking forward to hearing what projects or potential projects the participants are considering. That should make for an interesting conversation and help us tailor the content in order to help them attain their goals.

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Blogspot: Hopefully the problems have been solved

Blogspot/Blogger, the host of this blog, has been having problems. Since it is owned by Google, one would think that it would have the same bulletproof infrastructure and perhaps one day it will. If you have had problems getting to this blog, it has been due to issues in Blogger's data center. We're being told that they are working to fix them. Patience will be key.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Digitization and SLA

The annual conference for the Special Libraries Association (SLA) starts in two days in Baltimore, MD. K. Matthew Dames and I are doing workshops on digitization on Saturday and Sunday (June 10 & 11). There are also other digitization-related workshops and conference sessions and there are a few digitization-related companies exhibiting in the Exhibit Hall (Info Expo). One of the products I'm looking forward to learning more about is CSA's MultiSearch, which is a federated search product, and which I think should work on digitized materials (but we'll see what CSA says).

The Exhibit Hall will be open Sunday through Tuesday. The formal conference itself is Sunday through Wednesday (June 11 - 14).

I will be blogging the conference in the SLA Conference Blog. I'll also post digitization-relating information here in Digitization 101. If you are interested in following what all of the bloggers are saying about the conference, go to Technorati and following what appears with the sla2006 tag. I would also expect to see some photos in Flickr with the sla2006 tag also.

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How fast can a scanner operate?

This is the eternal question. Can a sheetfed scanner rated to do 200 pages per minute really do that? Can the software and PC that are used to operate the scanner keep up with it? I fondly remember a manager -- many years ago -- who wondered why our scanning operation wasn't getting the throughput that the hardware company said we would. It took him a long time to realize fully how the hardware really worked and the problems (e.g., humidity) that could cause everything to slow down. There was the speed the hardware company stated in its promotional literature, then there was reality. And the two were different.

Steve wrote a comment on the Atiz BookDrive DIY post about the speed of a Kirtas machine in production mode versus that of the manual DIY. I've seen the Kirtas APT 1200 and know that someone must be present with the machine. That person should be able to do more than just watch the scanner, but that is not always what happens.

It would be interesting if someone took several of these book scanners and did a side-by-side comparison using the same books and operators. How did each work? How many pages per hour could they do? How easy were they to use? Which had the best quality. That kind of information would be quite revealing.

Anybody up for the challenge?

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

UNC Electronic Media Cooperative

Although these guidelines are specific to the University of North Carolina (UNC), the information on the format, size, recommended editors and recommended viewer/players for images, audio and video would be useful to anyone.

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Monday, June 05, 2006

Restoration Tips & Notes

I found this relatively new blog -- Restoration Tips & Notes Media Formats & Resources -- that you might want to check out. Recent postings include:
  • Binder adhesion to back of next layer
  • Cassette Equalization: The 4 dB ambiguity at 16 kHz
  • Let sleeping tapes lie—what to do with poorly wound tapes
  • Project Notes: Advanced oxide delamination of a cassette
Looks like this blog is written by someone who really knows what he is talking about!

Technology use by cultural heritage organizations

As we propose to institutions that they digitize materials, it is important to consider where those cultural heritage institutions are on the technology curve. A May 2006 article in Information Outlook quotes an IMLS study entitled "Status of Technology and Digitization" and notes that more cultural heritage institutions are using technology (p. 8).
  • 78% of small museums that completed the survey have a web site.
  • 85% of small museums have e-mail.
  • 70% of small public libraries have an online catalogue of library or other collections
  • Digitization among museums, public libraries, academic libraries, archives and state library administrative agencies is increasing.
  • 94% of the archives reported some digitization activities over the previous 12 months, as did 77% of state library administrative agencies, 60% of large public libraries, and 18.5% of small to medium public libraries.
Although many institutions are digitizing, many still have much more to do.
Lack of sufficient funding and staff time limit the ability of institutions in all groups to implement technologies. Almost two-thirds of museums, 31 percent of archives, half of large academic libraries, and a a majority of small public libraries say their technology is less than adequately funded. More than two-thirds of institutions among all the groups reported that they do not have enough skilled staff to accomplish their technology objectives.
It is very good news to see technology use on the rise. The bad news is that technology use is increasing and changing. Those that are behind the curve need to continue to challenge themselves to learn and understand new technologies, as they become available, and use those that are appropriate for their own situation. The rate of technology change is not going to slow down and wait for them.

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Atiz BookDrive DIY

Last week, I received an e-mail from Atiz about its new book scanner called the BookDrive DIY. The BookDrive DIY is a semi-automated machine and has the possibility of doing 1,000 pages per hour. It's base price is $3,499 (without the two cameras) and is $5,699 fully loaded (with cameras). The cameras can be upgraded.

Someone -- who was not from Atiz -- e-mailed me and said this machines was very similar to the Scribe machine, which is being developed by the Internet Archive. Jessamyn has seen a demo of the Scribe and has a couple photos online. You can see some similarities, but is the BookDrive DIY the off-the-shelf version of the Scribe? I don't know. Perhaps it is that these types of book scanners will be very similar in design and what will delineate them will be some of the finer details.

I spoke with Nick Warnock, Atiz' CEO, on Friday about the BookDrive DIY. Yes, they have sold a few machines. Yes, people are interested in it. Yes, it has some similarities to other machines on the market. I suggested that they provide some customer comments on their web site as well as better photos. Of course, the manufacturers is going to say glowing things about the machine, but will the customers? And wouldn't it be nice to see some images created from the BookDrive DIY in order to understand the image quality? Is the quality as good as its high-priced competition? (6/6/2006: See the comments to the post for links to images and more.)

If you -- yes, you the person reading this post -- have had experience with either of the Atiz book scanners, I would be delighted to hear from you. You can leave a comment on this blog post or e-mail me.

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Friday, June 02, 2006

Long-term archiving of office documents

For many, storing data on microfilm is still the preferred method when archiving. But what about your electronic files (e.g., word processing files, spreadsheets, PDFs, etc.)? Last week, I learned of one piece of equipement that will take electronic files and write then to microfilm. The machine is the ArchiveWriter OP 500 manufactured by Zeutschel GmbH. The brochure says that it will preserve "all native digital data (CAD, e-Mail, Word, Excel, etc.) and digitized data (scanned documents, images, etc)." It can create up to 1200 images per hour in color.

I can see some institutions using this type of hardware because they recognize the need to keep some of their office documents long-term. They might try to compile the document by type, focus or subject so that similar information was stored together. I can really see this being used in industries that are heavily regulated and need to keep documents for government inspection.

It would be interesting to hear from record managers who might be using this type of equipment. How did they get started? How do they organize the files? Do they keep the electronic versions for access purposes and use the microfilm only as the archival version? (Well...that's the option I would take.)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

"More details on Open Archive’s Scribe Book Scanner Project"

Somehow I missed this post from Feb. 2006 on the Future is Yesterday blog (although I had seen the post after this on Atiz). In this post, Jared talks about the Scribe Book Scanner Project. You might want to read his previous post on the subject here.

Now...I was search on Atiz, which has a new book scanner. someone e-mailed me...the Atiz scanner looks a lot like the Scribe machine!


Occasionally you might hear or see a story about the work that inmates at correctional facilities do (e.g., order entry). Yesterday I learned that Federal Prison Industries, Inc. uses inmates to do document conversion. They do OCR, coding, indexing, digitizing, and electronic imaging. Evidently, this group (called UNICOR) has more than 30 years experience doing document conversion. There is a video on their web site, which talks about their document conversion work and shows one of the workrooms. You really should watch the video!

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Library Outreach -- Scare Fair

Yesterday I did another workshop on Library Outreach, this time for the Rochester Regional Library Council. We looked at many web sites, discussed ideas, and did some brainstorming. The panelists all talked about what they had tried and presented some very interesting successes. The most interesting was the "Scare Fair" held at Rush Rhees Library at the University of Rochester (NY). This link is for the 2003 event, but it is done annually. They decorate the library, have a scavenger hunt (of sorts), give out candy, have food/drinks, do a costume contest, and -- the piece de resistance -- give tours of the tower on top of the library. This tower is normally closed to the public. The tower is a huge hit with the students. It's too bad they had not integrated some of their online offerings into the event. However, just getting students into the library and recognizing a bit more of what it has to offer is wonderful.

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Out-Source Document Imaging

Late yesterday afternoon -- after a full day of work for everyone involved -- I visited with people at the Out-Source Document Imaging in Rochester, NY. Here was another digitization service bureau in the region that was new to me, but has been in business for a few years. (Isn't it amazing how digitization companies seem to always be "flying under the radar"?) This growing company creates microfilm as well as digitizes materials. Quite the operation! We spent two hours talking and looking at equipment.

But here is what impressed me -- and that I've seen no one else do as well -- they showed me before and after photos of their work. There were photos of what the materials looked like when they arrived, photos of the work-in-progress, and photos of the many re-boxed originals and the small number of CDs used to store the images. We know that converting hardcopy materials to a digital format will save space, but here were photos that showed how much. I don't know how often they show off those photos, but what a cool marketing tool!

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

(BTW -- Yes, I know that those hardcopy materials will likely not be thrown out and will need continued storage, but they can now go into low-cost, off-site storage, while people use the digital files to access needed information.)

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