Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Syracuse University's School of Information Studies

As you likely know, I teach part-time in Syracuse University's School of Information Studies (also known as the iSchool). Over the course of the last 2+ years, the School has been moving into a newly renovated building called Hinds Hall. The grand opening (or iOpening) will be on May 10 as part of graduation weekend. The local newspaper shot video of the facilities. While the video is showing off the technology that is geared more towards the non-library sciences programs in the School, it is important to realize that all of that technology is also available to the library and information science faculty and students.

Library schools all over are including more technology in their programs. The must -- our libraries contain more technology and the methods that our patrons are using to access information are often reliant on technology. And what would digitization be without technology?

As we engage new professionals in our programs, I think it will be important to look not only at the classes they have taken, etc., but also at the environment they were in. Were they in an environment that really understood and used technology? Were they in an environment that gave only a nod to technology? And what technology was present? We will benefit if the new professionals have been immersed and can use what they have learned to move our programs forward.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A service bureau to service bureaus

I receive periodic emails from Penny Imaging Exchange and this one recently included a link to a video (1:42 min.) where they talk about being a service bureau that services other services bureaus. Interesting.

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International Calendar of Information Science Conferences

This reminder was posted on the Sigdl-l discussion list. Yes, I see some digitization-related events listed there.

  • Over 500 conferences listed in the past year!
  • Over 75 countries hosting events on all continents!
  • Over 80 countries represented by visitors to the Calendar!
  • Over 9,000 visits a month!
If you work in the information sciences and related disciplines (libraries, archives, museums, information and communication technology, telecommunications, etc.), be sure to stay up to date on the latest opportunities to learn and share your work throughout the world by regularly checking (RSS available) and posting your events in the Calendar. Help colleagues by registering the conferences you are aware of in case they are not listed.

If your favourite conference or the one you organise is not listed, be sure to let us know of your event. There are three ways to submit events. See the FAQ here:


The "Quick Calendar" is a static version of the calendar grouped by date and by region: ... which is great for a quick glance and for slower connection speeds or printing.


Use the Calendar to coordinate events with other groups. Feel free to post "PROPOSED" events. *We encourage you to enter your events directly*:


The Calendar is a nonprofit collaboration between the International Information Issues Special Interest Group and the European and New England chapters of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (, with the additional support of Haworth Press (

Thank you for bookmarking and/or subscribing to the International Calendar of Information Science Conferences ( and sharing this message with your colleagues!

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Student blog posts

For the last three spring semesters, I had had students blog as one of their assignments in "Creating, Managing and Preserving Digital Assets", a graduate class taught online through Syracuse University. The blog now contains over 550 posts that describe and critique various digitization projects around the world.

For me, it is interesting to see the projects through their eyes, especially as they learn more about digitization and all of the "topics" that go along with it (e.g., copyright). As the semester goes on, I can see them picking up different details from the projects. And they stop focusing so much on how the site looks and more on everything else.

If you look at the blog, it is likely that you will see projects described there that you had not heard of. You might see your project there and get a different perspective! Do leave comments -- they will be read by myself and the students. Feel free to offer additional information and even corrections.

As you look at the blog, you will see that there are links to other blogs in the right column. that is not meant to be an inclusive list, but a few resources to help the students. There is also a link to my digitization blogroll from Bloglines.

A new addition this year was the Meebo Me widget. Meebo is an instant messenger service that allows me to receive IMs from several services in the same "window." The Meebo Me widget allows anyone to communicate with me from the blog's web site, as long as I'm in Meebo. (It will tell you if I am online.) This was not only useful for the students in communicating with me about assignments, etc., but I found that others liked talking to me through Meebo. Given its usefulness, I may add a Meebo Me widget to this blog.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Article: 'Monotonous' page turning helps digitize books for Google

In a dimly lit back room on the second level of the University of Michigan library's book-shelving department, Courtney Mitchel helped a giant desktop machine digest a rare, centuries-old Bible.

Mitchel is among hundreds of librarians from Minnesota to England making digital versions of the most fragile of the books to be included in Google Inc.'s Book Search, a portal that will eventually lead users to all the estimated 50 million to 100 million books in the world.

The manually scanning -- at up to 600 pages a day -- is much slower than Google's regular process.

Continue reading...

Related Blog Posts:

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Press release: PDF should be used to preserve information for the future

This press release was received via the Digital-Preservation email list. Looking at the 27-page report, this caught my eye (p 23):
PDF has become a widely used file format that is integrated into many desktop applications. Before adopting any of the PDF subset file formats, organisations must consider the alternative file formats that are available, understand their content (documents and records), and how they use electronic information. It is critical to understand the purpose of the electronic information as that will be a determining factor in choosing the file format to best suit the organisation's needs.
The recommendation is not to use PDF blindly, but to use it when appropriate.

PDF should be used to preserve information for the future

Good news the already popular PDF file format adopted by consumers and business alike is one of the most logical formats to preserve today’s electronic information for tomorrow.

According to the latest report released today by the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC), Portable Document Format (PDF) is one of the best file formats to preserve electronic documents and ensure their survival for the future. This announcement will allow information officers to follow a standardised approach for preserving electronic documents.

Information management and long–term preservation are major issues facing consumers and businesses in the 21st Century. This report is one of a series where The Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) aims to think about and address the challenges facing us.

This report reviews PDF and the newly introduced PDF/Archive (PDF/A) format as a potential solution to the problem of long–term digital preservation. It suggests adopting PDF/A for archiving electronic documents’ as the standard will help preservation and retrieval in the future. It concludes that it can only be done when combined with a comprehensive records management programme and formally established records procedures.

Betsy Fanning, author of the report and director of standards at AIIM, comments, “A standardised approach to preserving electronic documents would be a welcome development for organisations. Without this we could be walking blindly into a digital black hole.”

The National Archives works closely with the DPC with issues surrounding digital preservation and will continue to do so. Adrian Brown, head of digital preservation at The National Archives said: “This report highlights the challenges we all face in a digital age. Using PDF/A as a standard will help information officers ensure that key business data survives. But it should never be viewed as the Holy Grail. It is merely a tool in the armoury of a well thought out records management policy. “

The report is a call to action, organisations need to act now and look hard at their information policies and procedures to anticipate the demand for their content (documents and records) in the future. Everybody has different criteria, types and uses for documentation so you need to find one that works for your organisation.

If you would like to read the full report please go to the Digital Preservation Coalition website. This can be accessed here:

For further information about:

The National Archives please contact, Tim Matthews,, or 020 8392 5277.

Digital Preservation Coalition please contact Frances Boyle, or 01904 435 320

About The Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC)

The Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) is a cross-sector member organisation established in 2001 to foster joint action to address the urgent challenges of securing the preservation of digital resources in the UK and to work with others internationally

For further information, see

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Blog post: Librarian participant Peter Hirtle's view of Section 108 Study Group to change copyright exception for libraries

This blog post is a quick read and give you Peter Hirtle's perspective on the Study Group's report.

Related Blog Post: Report from Section 108 Study Group

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Raising the bar on marketing

Photo of business cardAs part of larger entrepreneurial effort in the Central New York region, I received a modest grant to produce a speaker series geared towards small and micro business owners, as well as business students. The first event was last evening and featured a gentleman who has owned a dozen businesses in total, seven at one time, and currently owns 3 - 4. When asked about marketing, he demonstrated how he gets information into the hands of interested parties. And then he talked about the number of business cards he gives out every month -- 500 business card! While some of us have been taught to give business cards and literature to people that we feel are truly interested, his belief is to give a business card to everyone and to leave them everywhere. He joked that people say they can tell where he has been by the trail of business cards.

Later, I talked about this with someone else who was at the session. The number of business cards and promotional pieces we give out each month is much less. Yet what would happen if we gave out more? What if we challenged ourselves to give out (a modest) four business cards a day (or 120/month)?

What does this have to do with you?

How many people each day or each month do you tell about your digitization program or your digitization services? How many business cards or pieces of literature do you give out each month? What if you increased that? What if you did like last night's speaker and left a trail of literature similar to the bread crumbs left by Hansel and Gretel?

One more thing...even though his newspaper's web site received thousands of hits per month, that was not good enough for him. He worked with his web team to develop the site so that it would get even more. How many hits is your program's web site receiving? If you don't know, find out. And then challenge your team to increase it!

For me, the bar has been raised on marketing. Hopefully today, you will raise your bar too.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What if...a digital dark age?

I've written a fair number of blog posts of digital preservation and none talk about the preservation of digital materials without the use of technology. Our "bet" is that technology is here to stay. If past events can predict future performance, then our history tells us that our technology will continue to become more advanced. However, the use of materials on our planet is changing. Will those of us who have been used to unlimited electricity, for example, continue to be able afford it? And will the electricity be there? How "preserved" are our digital assets if they cannot be used due to periods of darkness?

I am not predicting a digital dark age. Nor am I saying that we should not digitize because we have a fragile infrastructure. If we limited what we all did because we felt the future was uncertain, we'd never do anything. But I do hope that somewhere someone is working through scenarios and thinking about what we'll need in order to bring our digital assets back to life should a period of darkness occur. (Will they require some special care?)

Yes, a deep thought on the day after Earth Day. A day on which I drove too much, because taking public transportation was not an option. A day where I saw gas prices over $3.70/gallon. A day where I participated on a panel about technology (blogging), while the sun was setting over the lake, reminding us that technology isn't everything.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Report from Section 108 Study Group

I have been remiss in not noting that the Section 108 Study Group issued its report and executive summary on March 31, 2008. The Study Group focused on Section 108 of U.S. Copyright Law that provides a limitation of copyright in regards to libraries under specific circumstances. The press release notes:
The report was delivered to Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters. It will serve as the basis on which legislation may be drafted and recommended to Congress.
So while we may all agree with some of all of the recommendations, they are not yet law. And some may never be law. Let's hope that Congress is called upon to act on the recommendations and they act upon them soon (meaning within the next few years).

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The role of WorldCat

The white paper, Preservation in the Age of Large-Scale Digitization, mentions WorldCat in talking about it representing "the shared investment of many libraries in aggregating various metadata for their print collections." (p. 37) WorldCat and, are OCLC products that provide information on library holdings around the world. WorldCat in total contains more than 100 million metadata records. So, when trying to locate metadata for books that are being digitized, WorldCat is a useful resource. But what about using WorldCat to locate digitized books? On page 40 of the white paper, Oya Rieger writes:
OCLC is working with Google and Microsoft to synchronize WorldCat with digitization efforts. OCLC eContent Synchronization is designed to automatically create a record in WorldCat representing the digital manifestation.
Wouldn't that be useful if there were one "catalogue" to search in order to find a digitized book, no matter who digitized it? And if anyone were going to create that catalogue, it would have to be OCLC, wouldn't it? OCLC has the clout and resources for such an effort.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

How does the world know about your new services?

Sometimes when I meet with digitization companies, I ask that question. Some send out press releases. Others attend trade shows. A few belong to industry associations. But the reality is that none get the word out in a way that really does them justice. I have to be walking on the right path in order to trip over their information.

One of the discussion questions I gave my graduate students this spring was to try to locate digitization vendors in their region. I asked that the spend just a few minutes doing Internet searches, then report what they found. All of them had a difficult time and it didn't matter what location they were in. So if finding them is difficult, then knowing what is "new" with a vendor will be even more difficult unless I know where to look (and I'm willing to look there).

So what's the solution? That's the million dollar question. I think digitization companies could do a better job of using the Internet to their advantage. Most likely do a great job of placing content on their web sites, but what about placing content on other web sites? Can you -- dear digitization company -- use YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites to your advantage (perhaps just with informational stuff)? You might find that your customers or visitors (at trade shows) are posting photos, for example, of your products. I bet, though, that the quality isn't that great, so do some of your own and get them out in a photo sharing service.

BTW if you haven't searched for your company name in Flickr and YouTube (for example), I would suggest you do that. You might be a bit surprised by what you will find!

You might think of Twitter as being a strange tool to use, but you can use it to disseminate pointers to press releases and announcements. The White House and Congress are doing this, so why not you?

Even creating RSS feeds can be useful.

Putting the information on various "roads" where I -- and others -- can stumble across it isn't difficult. Companies just need set aside a little time to do it.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Presentations from the Significant Properties Workshop at the Britsh Library

Quoting the web site:
Significant properties are essential characteristics of a digital object which must be preserved over time for the digital object to remain accessible and meaningful. Proper understanding of the significant properties of digital objects is critical to establish best practices and helps answer the fundamental question related to digital preservation: what to preserve?

The importance of significant properties has been highlighted by a number of notable digital preservation initiatives in recent years. These include a range of projects funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and the European Union, in which work has been undertaken to investigate the factors affecting decisions on significant properties, to establish generic models for determining them, to develop tools and services for describing and extracting them, or simply to understand complex digital object types, using the concept of significant properties as a starting point.
Eleven of the presentations give at this day-long event, which discussed this topic, are online.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

For New Yorkers: New York Digital Collection Initiative -- read and share your ideas

The notice below is circulating on several discussion lists within New York State and concerns the building of digital collections in NYS (yes, that does include doing digitization). I'm heavily involved in this and hope that those of you in NYS will take time to read the proposal and to send in your comments.


The Regents Advisory Council on Libraries (RAC) continues to seek input and advice from the library, museum, archival and public broadcasting communities on a proposed new budget and legislative initiative for 2009-2010 that will be presented to the Board of Regents at their May meeting in Albany.

This new funding initiative is called “The New York Digital Collection.” The goal 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.

A revised draft discussion paper dated April 10, 2008 represents the thinking to date on the "New York Digital Collection Initiative" concept. The new discussion paper is now posted on the Regents Advisory Council website. Please visit the site, read the latest version of the discussion paper and share your ideas for strengthening the proposal.

Please send all ideas, comments, suggestions and questions in writing to Jill Hurst-Wahl, Regents Advisory Council member at by April 22. If you would like to discuss the project with her in more detail, please send a message to the NYSLRAC email address and she will contact you.

This project, under the leadership of the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries, currently is seeking full project partnership with the following groups: The State Historical Records Advisory Board (SHRAB), the Museum Association of New York (MANY), the Association of Public Broadcasting Stations of New York (ABPSNY), and the NY3RS. Additional partners are welcome.

The Regents Advisory Council on Libraries, established in 1894, advises the Board of Regents regarding library policy, works with the officers of the State Education Department in developing a comprehensive statewide library and information policy and makes recommendations to
the Regents concerning the implementation of the program. For more information on the purpose and goals of the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries, visit .

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Defensible chain-of-custody

Reading a brochure for a company named DocuLegal, I saw this phrase -- defensible chain-of-custody. In cultural heritage organizations, we want to know an item's provenance. If we don't know its history, we at least want to know that it is authentic. However, law firms need to know not only that a document' is authentic, they need to know its chain-of-custody (who had it and when). When you get into a court of law, you want to know that the documents you are presenting are what they appear to be and that you know where they have been (with the goal of demonstrating that they have not been altered).

Now think of our digitization processes. For companies that are digitizing legal documents or documents being used in litigation, keeping information on the chain-of-custody is important. Documents may need to be closely tracked and secured. The chain-of-custody as well as how they have been handled, what has been done with them, etc. needs to be clear. While we may not need that level of tracking, is there something we can learn from those who digitize legal documents? With our most precious materials, should we document the chain-of-custody in case questions or problems do arise? Should we get into the habit of doing this on all of the materials we digitize? (I'm sure some projects do this, but others may be more cavalier.)

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Monday, April 14, 2008

ITI's Library Resource Guide - any digitization-related companies listed?

Actually, the answer is "yes", but only a few. Information Today Inc. (ITI) gives the Library Resource Guide to participants at its conferences and makes a copy available online. I would suspect that they get several thousands of these directories in the hands of public, academic, corporate and special librarians. Perhaps a good place for digitization-related companies to be listed (especially if they added useful categories)?

Just a thought...which came to me as I flipped through the directory.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

CIL2008: More Session Notes & Wrap-Up

Okay..I'm going to try to make this my last Computers in Libraries post, which means it will have tidbits from several sessions.

Talking about how libraries treat their users (sometimes), Michael Stephens quoted an overhead conversation in one of his sessions:
Every time people really like something, we get rid of it.
How do administrators really know what users want? Can administrators use their own services so they can understand the experience that their users have? (Hint -- every type of organization should do this...and many for-profit companies do just that.)

Cindi Trainor talked about integrated library management systems (ILS) and whether that are "there yet." She looked at four factors:
  • Content
  • Community
  • Interactivity
  • Interoperability
Needless to say, the ILS software she looked at left much to be desired, even those that are forward thinking and innovative. Web sites that did better (and that we're familiar with) are Amazon, Flickr, Pandora, and Wikipedia.

One topic that seemed to come up over and over again was container vs. content. As John Blyberg noted, the container is irrelevant. I wonder how long it will be for us to really understand that? He also noted that the OPAC (online public access catalogue) should not be a destination. That's a message that many are starting to understand.

I attended two sessions that discussed open source solutions. Open source solutions is being used both in large and small organizations, including the Smithsonian Institution. Ching-Hsein Wang talked about the cross searching cataloguing cataloguing that they have built. Benefits:
  • Single search point
  • Faceted searching
  • Term stemming
  • Relevancy ranking
  • Handles multiple object types
  • Scalable
  • Able to do lighter cataloguing (think I got that correct)
And what about CIL 2009? While rumors were that the conference was moving back to the Washington Hilton, I heard from a reliable source that it is not, due to the Hilton being renovated. The InfoToday blog says to stay tuned for information on next year's conference. I would expect them to announce the date and location soon. While the Hyatt is extremely close to the airport (and a very nice hotel), the conference is too big for the space. Perhaps ITI will move it to a larger facility?

Final Thoughts:

First, let me quote the InfoToday blog about the statistics for this conference:

This is the 23rd CIL and 14th under ITI’s organization, and it’s the biggest ever. There are 2,267 people here: 2,202 conference attendees, 283 exhibits only visitors, and 182 exhibitors. They come from 49 states (all except Wyoming), Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. The state with the largest increase in attendees is Iowa–72 this year, up from 5 last year. Attendees also are here from 18 countries (including 7 out of 10 Canadian provinces). There are 186 speakers and moderators and 65 companies exhibiting.
If the conference rooms felt tight and if you had a hard time calling an elevator, that is why!

Like many others, I found the wifi for the conference to be poor, however, it is important to recognize what they tried to do and what the "backbone" was. First, Information Today (ITI) built a wireless network for the conference areas, using the Internet "backbone" of the Hyatt Regency Crystal City Hotel. Unfortunately, the hotel's Internet connection was not meant to hold that amount of traffic. This is a conference with lots of Internet-enable devices and many people who demand Internet access. I admire Information Today for trying to satisfy our need. As library conferences go, they do an excellent job. However, as Karen Schneider notes, technology conferences do better with technology that even technology-focused library conferences. Somehow we've got to get library conferences to really step up to the plate and deliver.

To be fair, the T-Mobile fee-based Internet service in the hotel was not as speedy as it should have been, but at least it worked. I wonder if those of us, who decided to pay for access, were maxing out their "backbone" at the hotel?

There is a nice variety of food places near the Hyatt, although some can't handle a big influx of people. Chili's had great food, but lousy service (very under-staffed). Urban Thai was excellent again this year (561 23rd St S, Arlington, VA 22202) and good prices. Bebo Trattoria had good food, but slow service. The Deluxe Diner on 23rd (near Urban Thai) is a great place for breakfast (and yes, it is a diner). Peter's Deli, quite close to the Hyatt, has a good breakfast bar and a good lunch bar, both with hot and cold items, and very reasonably priced. And they can handle a lot of people, especially if people do take-out.

I should also note that I ate at the Brickskeller near Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. that has hundreds of different beers. This bar/restaurant is an easy walk from the Dupont Circle Metro Station. I also ate at Grace's in Bowie, MD (taken there by car), which had excellent Asian cuisine. Two people at the table had the Chilean sea bass, which was outstanding!

[You may wonder what I'm blogging about food, but this is good info for next year...]

Finally, there are lots of photos and blog posts about the conference. There are 300+ blog posts tagged with CIL2008. There are also many photos (3,000+) of the conference itself as well as what we did when not in sessions. With that much content, it is impossible to not know what this conference is about or like!

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Call for Papers: 4th International Digital Curation Conference

As posted on the Digital-Preservation list.

4th International Digital Curation Conference
"Radical Sharing: Transforming Science?"

In partnership with the National e-Science Centre we are holding our 4th International Digital Curation Conference on 1-3 December 2008 at the Hilton Grosvenor Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The DCC invites the submission of full papers, posters and demos from individuals, organisations and institutions across all disciplines and domains engaged in the creation, use and management of digital data, especially those involved in the challenge of curating data in e-science and e-research.

Full details available at

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

CIL2008: New Generation of Library Interfaces: Meeting the needs of today’s library users

Marshall Breeding did this presentation on Tuesday. {4/12/2008 new presentation URL}

Are libraries where users go when they want information? Most start with a search engine, not with a library's catalogue or databased. And most of those people begin with Google. According to OCLC, library web sites are being used less. (I heard someone near me say quietly that he had heard the opposite in another session.) People use sites that are engaging, but most library web sites are not engaging. One web site he mentioned as being good at engagement was Queens Library.

In a library, the electronic content is often disjointed. What is needed is a more flexible back-end as well a decoupling the front-end. That would allow the front-end to be developed so it was more user friendly. Among the features needed is the ability for users to be able to manipulate the results they receive, so they can quickly find the source/info/container that the need. People should be engaged with the content, not with the interface.

Three thoughts that stand out from Breeding's presentation:
  • Our systems need to be able to handle any metadata format.
  • We're entering a post-metadata search era, where searches will be based on the object itself, not on metadata. However, metadata is still needed in order to improve search precision.
  • "Search" needs to be integrated into the web site for the larger organization. It should not just be on the library portion of the web site.
  • Never lead the user to a dead end. (As I say in other presentation, this is a good place for a Meebo Me widget. Breeding would likely suggest that you should the user some related content, rather than nothing.

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CIL2008: Kete

Eric Atkinson, from Orange County Library System (FL), talked about their implementation of Kete. Kete allows a community to cooperatively build a a digital library that contains:
  • Images
  • Audio recordings
  • Video recordings
  • Documents
  • URLs of web resources
It can also contain:
  • Topics (articles on a subject, person, place, event or thing)
  • Discussion or comments
This open source software was used to build Kete Horowhenua, which contains 1,400+ topics and 12,000+ images as well as other content.

I wish Atkinson had been given time to talk about how they (OCLS) were going to get people to participate in loading content, and the hurdles that they might be experiences. Unfortunately, he only talked about the software. Something to investigate...

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CIL2008: The Cathedral & the Bazaar

This book, The Cathedral & the Bazaar, was mentioned several times during the conference. The book, which can be read online for free, analyzes the open source world. Although I've not read the book, I was intrigued by a comment Joshua Neff made Tuesday when he suggested that a piece of software being discussed be "more cathedral and less bazaar." Open source -- as well as beta versions of software -- can "resemble a great babbling bazaar of differing agendas and approaches (aptly symbolized by the Linux archive sites, who’d take submissions from anyone) out of which a coherent and stable system could seemingly emerge only by a succession of miracles." (Subversive Influence blog)

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CIL2008: Albert Einstein

If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.
One of the afternoon speakers (Amy De Groff) used that quote, which seems very appropriate for this conference.

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CIL2008: Innovative Marketing Using Web 2.0

Helene Blowers and Michael Porter did "Innovative Marketing Using Web 2.0."

Here are the slides...

What we want is to make our brands portable. That means that our library isn't just on our web site, but it elsewhere on the Internet. It also means that our users should be active participants in our brands (and what our brand is).

From the slides, you should get a good idea of what they showed and discussed. (BTW these slides aren't exactly the same as what as seen in the room -- there are more slides in the SlideShare version.)

One resource that Blowers mentioned is worth checking out. Big Huge Labs allows you to create a wide variety of "stuff" with your images. One of the things you can do is to create posters that can be saved to disk, emailed, shared, etc. Pretty cool!

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CIL2008: Liz Lawley

Liz Lawley did the final keynote. She was also the final keynote for Internet Librarian and I was interested to hear what new stuff she would discuss. Her presentation was actually titled "Libraries as Happiness Engines." Libraries are than place; they are emotional centers. Lawley pointed out that, these days, happiness is big news.

There are four components to happiness:
  • Satisfying work to do
  • Experience of being good at something
  • Time spent in a place we like
  • The chance to be part of something bigger
For some, their virtual world quality of life is better than that in the real world. This is causing people to blur the boundaries between their real lives and their virtual lives.

Games feel rewarding, even when playing are doing repetitive tasks in order to get to the next level. These repetitive tasks are referred to as "the grind." Because there is a goal to them, they feel rewarding.

There some specific game mechanics that help to make games fun:
  • Collecting (information and stuff)
  • Points (something that allows you to be ranked)
  • Feedback (on how you are doing in the game)
  • Exchanges (Exchanging what you have for other things)
  • Customization
The question is, can we use some of the principles of gaming in our world lives or in normal activities? Yes:
  • Chore Wars
  • Seriosity's Attent
  • Social Genius
  • Passively Multiplayer Online Game (PMOG) -- This allows the web to become a game board.
Interestingly, the virtual is bring people back to the real. It is not making the tangible go away.

So what was the bottom line from Liz Lawley's talk? I don't think she really talked about libraries as happiness engines. What she did do was give us a peek into why we cannot ignore games. I would think with our current economic condition that we might find more people playing games as a way of escaping their day-to-day reality. If that is true, will libraries get more into games? And will the gaming night next year not have people wondering what games have to do with libraries?

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CIL2008: About conversations, people and connections

This is the last day of Computers in Libraries (CIL) and I am behind in my blogging. We are maxing out the wireless Internet in the hotel, so I am not blogging during the sessions and was not able to catch up last night. So, my blog posts about this conference will come slowly (and perhaps more thoughtfully).

This is my third CIL, which means I've gotten to know a group of people who have been here before and are here this year. I've also seen some of these people at Internet Librarian and the SLA Annual Conference. That makes this a bit like "old home week". However, I actually converse with some of these people daily/weekly using Twitter, Facebook and other social media. Here we're getting face-to-face time, but we get time with each other everyday online.

As I think about the conference so far, it is about conversations, people and connections -- both with each other as professionals and with our users/patrons.

For example, we need conversations -- face-to-face (f2f) or online -- in order to exchange information about wants and needs. With our users, we need to talk with them in order to know about to service them better. Without those conversations, we might develop a product that doesn't match what they want. With our colleagues, we need to have conversations that allow us to learn from them AND to allow them to learn from us. That exchange it vital if we are to continue to grow professionally.

The conversations about CIL actually began months ago online, as some of us exchanged information about the conference. Those conversations were enhanced through the conference wiki as well as though other social networking tools. A number of people are using Twitter to exchange information in real time. Twitter is not a tool for everyone (and you really have to try it in order to "get it"). If you look at my Twitter feed, you can see a bit of our online conversations.

Everyone at CIL is approachable, which is very cool. If you come to this conference and, want to talk to a presenter, you can do it. If you can't talk to them live here, then follow-up online afterwards (even with email). And the number of conversations that happen here is incredible!

As for the people -- CIL attracts a group that is interested in the technology that can be used in libraries, but who also understand that the technology is nothing without people. So this is a technology aware group. There are many Internet-enabled devices here (too many for the wireless network). This is also a group that believes in using what it learns as well as teaching others what it learns. Information from CIL will fan back out through the institutions that sent people here to the conference.

For me, I am thrilled with the people I am able to meet here as well as the minimal face-time I get with some of my colleagues. I guess those grand plans I had for deep, meaningful face-to-face conversation with Roy and Chadwick, for example, will have to occur online!

Finally, CIL is about connections. Like every conference, you meet people, exchange information, etc., but what you hope for are connections that last beyond the conference. Those connections can impact our professional lives in many positive ways. If you were at CIL this year, remember to follow-up with those that you want to stay connect with. Drop them an email or contact them using a social networking site. Even if it is a quick "hi...glad we met", that can be enough until you need to check-in on something specific.

While CIL is about technology in libraries, what we often do with that technology is create connections to content. As we were reminded yesterday, it is not about containers, but about the content that is in those containers. That is one message I hope everyone takes back to their institutions. Yes, the containers are important, but what is really important is the content within them. Let's build systems that connect our users efficiently and effectively to the content, no matter what the container is.

Okay...enough rambling...time for breakfast and the last day of CIL! I'll have more later...

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

CIL2008: Pecha Kucha

Pecha Kucha means something like the sound of conversation in Japanese (according to Aaron Schmidt). This was a fast paced session with six presenters, who each had 6 minutes 40 seconds (and only 20 slides) to talk about a topic:
  • IM
  • Podcasting
  • Wikis
  • Vodcasting
  • Facebook
  • Rebuttal of the other five
  • Creating community
  • Creating content
  • Collaboration
  • Web 2.0
  • Communicating with users in ways that are appropriate for them
  • Easy
What was cool was how much information each was able to give in that short length of time. Each worked creatively to get their points across. We tend to think of presentations as being 20 - 60 minutes in length. What if we were all challenged to do a high quality presentation in 6 minutes?

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CIL2008: Hi Tech with Hi Touch -- Libraries: Innovative & Inspiring

The guys from Delft Public Library (Netherlands) did the keynote this morning. They interviewed librarians on stage (including on LIS student) and showed video that they had shot while touring libraries in the U.S.

One of the themes that came up during their conversations on stage this morning was also mentioned in some of the other presentations. Libraries deal with many different containers for information (e.g., books, audio, video, ebooks, etc.). What is the correct container for a specific user? What is the correct container for the information? Can we build systems that will deliver information to users, no matter what the container is? We and our systems tend to get hung up on the container, but what matters is the information. Being able to find the information -- no matter what container it is in -- is vital. Having library systems that can handle any container are also important. (These are not all themes that emerged during the keynote, but did emerge during the day today.)

Information on the work the Delft guys did last year is at Shanachie Tour. They are continuing to tour and to gather information on libraries. Erik Boekesteijn's hope is that an organization in the U.S. will pick up and do what they have been doing, although the accent just won't be the same!

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Monday, April 07, 2008

CIL2008: Digitization 101: The Workshop

I already posted briefly about the half-day workshop on Sunday. Hopefully, everyone will remember to download the resource list.

The questions and conversations were good. In one conversation, I mentioned that there are some Information Schools (iSchools) that have certificate programs for digital libraries (which digitization would be a part of). Two schools that I mentioned were the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University and and the School of Information Resources and Library Science at the University of Arizona. Of course, there are other programs in the U.S. and Canada.

And are the recipients of these graduate certificate programs finding employment? Yes! Jobs are posted in a variety of locations including:
If you know of another place where digitization-related jobs are frequently posted, please leave a comment on this blog post.

Another person asked if federal agencies are digitizing materials, and that answer was "yes." One of the departments mentioned was the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which is digitizing in order to increase public access to their collections.

Since Information Today scheduled the workshop for only three-hours, I did a good overview of the topics involved in digitization, but could not go into detail in areas that deserved much more information. Thankfully, the resource list will provide more information for the participants. However, those who are preparing to undertake a digitization program will need to continue to learn. I believe some needed to build awareness. One person is repositioning her career, so she is looking for truly in-depth information on digitization and digital libraries.

If I could give them one piece of advice, it would be to look at several (many) digitization projects that are on the Internet. It is amazing what you can learn by seeing what others have done. Look at the web site, the digital assets, metadata, additional information, the software being used, etc. Figure out what you like/admire about the projects, as well as what you would like to see changed. Look --> Investigate --> Learn

Link updated 4/8/2008

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CIL2008: User Generated Content (and more info on LOC & Flickr)

Roy Tennant gave a talk on User-Generated Content to a full crowd. He's going to cover both real (photos, movies) and descriptive content (tag, ratings).

He plugged "Social Software in Libraries by Meredith Farkas.

Why (user generated content)?
  • More (decent) content is better -- Let's find ways for our users to contribute
  • More access is better
  • Help provide more personalized service
  • Can foster interaction and community
  • "We don't know everything" - Meredith Farkas
  • More data trumps better algorithms
Contributions to Content
  • Added new content
Descriptive Contributions
  • Helping to describe the content
  • Provide missing information
  • By exposing content on the web & providing a way for people to contribute info. Lower the barriers to participation.
Library of Congress Photos on Flickr
  • 5.4 million views in one month
  • More than 10,000 unique tags (out of nearly 55,000 total)
  • Acquired more than 11,000 contacts through Flickr
  • More then 3,500 comments posted by more than 1,400 users
  • Have updated 68 records based on user input
What have they accomplished?
  • Higher profile of its collections
  • Community engagement
  • Corrections and additions to metadata
  • Sparked discussions and elicited personal histories that relate to photos. People did really investigate the full images
  • Higher visibility for the LC blog
Exploiting the knowledge of the masses
  • Many eyes increases the likelihood of getting things right
  • Library staff are often distant from localized knowledge of items in their collections
  • the web can provide a feedback loop
Contributions to Discovery
  • For example, Hennipen Public Library --> bookspace
  • User terminology
  • Low barrier (only the cost of typing)
  • Low overhead (uncontrolled)
  • Can have redundant terms
  • Odd grammar
  • Steve.Museum
  • LibraryThing
  • Aggregating synonyms
Third Party Providers
Thoughts & Considerations
  • Our idea of "content" may not their idea of content
  • It's going to be messy and that's (mostly) okay
  • There are ways to increase effectiveness
Issues to Consider
  • What are your goals?
  • Are you set up appropriately to meet those goals?
  • Are there strategies you can use to maximize benefit?
  • How to distinguish between user and library content?
  • Will you need to vet/moderate?
  • Is the impact worth the investment?
Where from here?
  • User engagement is a GOOD THING
  • Need to get up to speed on how to foster engagement in our systems
  • Need to get savvy about how best to use things like tags more effectively

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CIL2008: Second Life Cyber Tour

I did a Cyber Tour this afternoon on Second Life. The conference is maxing out the hotel's Internet connection, do I dared not too do much in-world. I did briefly tell them this history of Second Life and give them a few statistics. The five things I left them with, at the end of the 15-minute presentation, were:
  1. There are more than 50 virtual worlds, with virtual worlds for children, teenagers, and adults. There are virtual worlds being used specific for business and education. Virtual worlds are not going away.
  2. Second Life (SL) has attracted people because it is free and it is an environment that allows people to be creative.
  3. It is worth repeating -- Second Life is free! Unless you want to own land, there is no reason to have a premium account. Premium accounts cost $9.95/mo.
  4. It does matter what hardware you use. Generally speaking, you want to use a fairly new PC with good processor. The video card will matter, too. Check the web site for the computer requirement. You will also want to use a broadband Internet connection, not dial-up.
  5. There isn't a goal to Second Life. It's not a game. People do it for networking, professional development, and for fun.
And then I threw in one more....Users of SL do want library services, but not books. They want programs, exhibits, reference and the other services that libraries provide.

I also did a Cyber Tour of SL at Internet Librarian in the fall (notes).

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CIL2008: Library Society of the World

Four people spoke during an afternoon session on an ad hoc group called Library Society of the World (LSW).

A year ago, the challenge came to a group of librarians to make their own "ALA" and make it free to everyone. Joshua Neff created a wiki, which caught on quickly. There is also a Meebo room for LSW.

What makes LSW valuable? It's like being at a conference everyday. Both personal and professional things are happening. Diversity of librarians.

People provide personal and professional support. The support is instantaneous.

Why has it been successful? Low expectations maybe help it be successful. People didn't know what to expect.

What can other communities learn from it? Steve Lawson mentioned the book "Here Comes Everybody."
  • Promise -- show up and talk to librarians online
  • Tool -- Is the tool appropriate for what you want to do? They first used the wiki, then a Meebo Room.
  • Bargain -- What is expected of you and what will you get out of it?
You do have to show up in order to participate. You cannot be passive. Although the founders had a low expectation for what would occur, people have kept "delivering."

Tip -- When trying to do something like this, you need to find the correct tool for the group.

It's not really an alternative to ALA, but no one has said negative things about it.

Needs some minimum number of participants to be viable. Is there such a thing as too many members? Perhaps not. It may divide into smaller groups as necessary.

It can be like s 24 hour unconference.

The group brought Library Society of the World ribbons for people to put on their badges.

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CIL2008: Library of Congress Flickr Pilot

Cyber Tour of LOC-Flickr ProjectMichelle Springer from the Library of Congress (LOC) did a 15-minute Cyber Tour about this project.

Goal -- Increase access and increase content. The project is based on the work of Picture Australia.

Flickr's tag line is "Share your photos. Watch your world." That seems appropriate for what the LOC wanted to do.

Major challenge -- copyright status statement. None of the available content licenses in Flickr were appropriate. The LOC has no right to state firmly that content is definitely in the public domain. They talked to Flickr, who then created a new model. "No known copyright restriction."

Yahoo and LOC then created a modified terms & conditions, which then allowed LOC to have an account.

Currently have two sets of photos. All photos have in-depth descriptions and a link to the high quality image photo on the LOC web site. Some photos are being posted(by other users) in groups within Flickr.

All 3,100 photos where already available on the LOC web site and had no known copyright restrictions.

  • People have made the LOC a contact on their Flickr account. And they are updated when new photos are added.
  • Aggregate views have totaled more than 6million as of early match.
  • People are adding meaningful comments, as well as links to their own (related) photos.
  • People sometimes make correction in comments to the metadata.
  • Updates and corrections are also being made to the LOC catalogue. Nearly 100 records have been updated, and Flickr is cited as the source.
Added tag by type:
  • Words copied from the LOC title/description
  • New descriptive words.
  • Transcriptions
  • Symbolism
  • Topics
  • Commentary
  • Humor
  • New subject words
  • Geo tags
  • Emotional tags
Most popular images have reached their maximum number of tags.

Other institutions are going to follow the LOC's lead.

She pointed us towards the project's FAQ for more information.

Roy Tennant also talked about this project in his presentation, so look for more info in those notes.

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CIL2008: Fast & Easy Site Tune-Ups

Jeff Wisniewski -- rough notes below. His slides will be on the conference web site -- likely next week.

Interactive change, rather than major changes.

Users do pay attention to the freshness of our web sites.

Regardless of when you updated your site, update your copyright statement. There are ways of scripting this so it updates automatically.

You can add a last updated script to every web page. Use an external script.

Add photos to your contact page. Will increase trust and recognition.

MicroFormats -- using XML code. So turn borring old contact information into exciting hCards! Some programs will know what to do with microformats. There is an extension for FireFox, for example.

Harness the power of the 3 question survey -- Why are are you visiting today? Were you able to complete your tasks today? If not, why not? Ask for their email address so you can do some follow-up and outreach.

Don't make your server think. User the final / when referencing a directory, so the server knows to automatically look for a directory.

Don't use the phrase "click here." Helps when people scan a web site quickly for info.

Provide graphic clues to what is happening on the web site.

Web 2.0-ify your logo -- Web 2.0-ify your logo -- Web 2.0 STYLr

Benchmark the speed of your web site. In FireFox, install FireBug and Yslow.

Get static elements of your site into the user's cache. Set certain files to stay fresh and not expire.

If you are not your server admin...
Step 1: You should have a file called .htaccess in your server root. If not create one.
Step 2: Add code....(see his slide) This code will help files not expire during a user's session.

Combine small images into a image map.

Eliminate in-line scripts. Put these scripts in an external file. Except for your homepage.

Use the HTML validator. And you can have it fix errors.

CleanCSS is another tool -- Will clean up and compress your CSS.

He has lots of info that Yahoo has discovered through his research.

People do not pay attention equally to all sections of a web page. Banner blindness.

SEO: Page Titles -- Have really good page titles. He recommends Google webmaster accounts. Has diagnostic tools. Can do page title analysis.

A recommended format for titles is:

Document Title / Section Name / Site Name

Accessibility -- Add labels to forms.

Use radio button and checkboxes correctly.

Make your site social media friendly.

And social bookmarks links. The Social Bookmark Creator.

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CIL2008: Web 2.0 Services for Smaller, Underfunded Libraries

Sarah Houghton-Jan presented on Web 2.0 Services for Smaller, Underfunded Libraries.

High growth of library users who are accessing the library online and using library electronic resources. Any library can find itself where its digital presences is not up to par.

An eBranch can be the the cheapest branch to run. High return on investment (ROI) for every dollar spent on web services.

#1 Talk with your customers -- IM, Meebo Me VOIP, video chat -- Consider placing IM in the library catalogue as well as other places that you users visit on your web site.

BTW she had an experience of hearing someone to a presentation at a conference via Skype!

#2 Don't pay for images -- Lots of great places to find public domain or Creative Commons licensed images.

#3 Offer Tools and Mash Ups -- People are dong things with your library's content: be aware and advertise/educate users. She advocates creating toolbars for students, since they seem to use them more.

#4 Make Dynamic Lists -- Use blogs and other things to create and maintain these lists. If you create blogs, do allow comments. When people participate, they feel like a real part of the community.

#5 Give your Library a Face -- Use photos to show your web users what the library and staff look like. You can even create fun photos (avatars).

#6 -- Provide Audio Content -- Podcasting is easy and free.

#7 -- Provide Video Content -- Video cameras have come down in cost, so videocasting can be down. Consider even videocasting classes and lectures.

#8 -- Exploit the Blog as a Format -- Consider not calling it a blog. Consider re-posting old, valuable content. New readers will not have seen older posts.

#9 -- Make RSS Your BFF (Best Friend Forever) -- So much can be served through RSS. It is definitely worth exploiting.

#10 -- Help Your Catalogue -- because it probably needs it. Work with your vendor if possible or find add-ons.

#11 -- Be Present in Social Networking -- Be where your uses are. You can even advertise on some of the services. $10 will get you 5,000 Facebook "flyers."

#12 -- User Outside Web Hosting Tools

#13 -- Try a Wiki

#14 -- Use -- Sarah said that everyone should know about it. Free and low-cost Web 2.0 service for libraries.

#15 -- Use Design Tools to Make Your Web Site Look Better

#16 -- [Missed it]

#17 -- Exploit Image Generators

#18 -- Recommend Websites Easily

#19 -- Microblog with Twitter

#20 -- Keeping Everything Current -- participate, update, keep it real

Sarah will be posting her presentation on her blog.

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Digitization 101: The Workshop at Computers in Libraries

Unofficially Computers in Libraries began on Saturday as participants arrived in Crystal City, VA. Sunday brought pre-conference workshops including Digitization 101: The Workshop. My workshop had 23 participants including librarians and non-librarians from as far away as Washington State, Illinois, Texas, Missouri, Iowa Louisiana, other U.S. states and Quebec (Canada).

In the three-hour workshop, I covered four area:
  • Scope
  • Selection
  • "Scanning" (Conversion)
  • Sustainability
As I promised the attendees, here is the resource list for the workshop (others can look at it too!). This resource list has been updated since last year.

The questions and conversations were good. I'll post more about that later...

Link updated 4/8/2008.

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