Monday, May 19, 2008

New York Digital Collection

Tomorrow I will be in Albany, NY to present a proposal to the New York State Board of Regents' Committee on Cultural Education on the New York Digital Collection Initiative. The Initiative is a collaborative proposal between the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries, the State Historical Records Advisory Board, the Museum Association of New York, the Association of Public Broadcasting Stations of New York, the New York 3Rs Association, and the New York State Education Department Office of Cultural Education. The goal of the initiative is:
To create a statewide digital collection of cultural heritage resources and a framework to promote the use of digital technologies to broaden and enhance access to New York’s approximately 10,000 local, regional, and state cultural heritage institutions, including those located in colleges, universities, and local governments.
As I look at the goal, several words and phrases stand out to me:
  • Statewide digital collection -- Although there are many digital collections in New York State, there has not been an effort to connect them together, so that students, teachers, historians, genealogists, and other residents can easily locate cultural materials from across NYS. A statewide digital collection would increase access to all collections, especially those at smaller institutions with limited funding.
  • Framework -- The initiative will create a framework for the future. Long term, that framework -- an infrastructure that includes technology, guidelines & standards, people, training and funding -- would aid in the development of new digitization programs.
  • Broaden and enhance -- The initiative would broaden and enhance access. Broaden means giving access to more people. Enhance means providing more resources, e.g., lesson plans, to help people use the digital assets.
  • 10,000 -- Linking together the assets from 10,000 institutions is not a trivial task. It will take planning and coordination...and time.
Having digital assets from that many New York State institutions online and connect through the New York Digital Collection leads me to imagine...
  • Any New York State resident easily using cultural heritage materials through the Internet that exist in the State’s ~10,000 local, regional, and state cultural heritage institutions, including those located in colleges, universities, and local governments.
  • P-16 educators using primary source materials – including audio and video – in their lessons that were previously unavailable.
  • Students studying original letters, photographs, manuscripts, and ephemera as they learn about New York State history, without harming the original items.
  • Materials gathered and digitized on underrepresented populations of New York State in order to make their history more visible.
  • Families able to research their genealogies more effectively because information is more accessible.
  • Increased information on community histories, local governments and area demographics that will help to attract businesses to New York State.
  • An infrastructure – including people, standards and technology – that supports a statewide digital collection. The infrastructure allows current digital collections to reach broader audiences and provides a path for additional collections to be digitized.
  • A collaborative, multi-phase project that provides the type of access to materials desired by both the digital natives and digital immigrants. These residents fill New York State schools and are pivotal to the State’s future.
Tomorrow will be a first step. Our hope is that the Regents will accept our proposal and include it in their proposal to the Governor for the 2009 state budget, which would then be voted on by the legislature in early 2009. Thankfully, there are many partners involved in this proposal and many others who are interested in it. Together, we will be able to answer the questions that are sure to arise over the coming months and keep the vision alive with the goal of turning what we now imagine into a reality.

Technorati tags: , , , ,

No comments: