Tuesday, December 28, 2004

CCC Report "Copyright in the Digital Workspace"

The Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) has released a 12-page report entitled "Copyright In The Digital Workspace: Content Use and Attitudes Toward Copyright in Corporate America." The report, based on a study of 30,000 corporate employees shows widespread reuse of content across organizations. Text and a graph on page 4 detail the use of this shared information. The report goes to describe employees' awareness of copyright and their practices, and ends with a survey and suggestions for understanding an organization's risk. The report is available here.

Digitization and Stephen Covey

Is your team good at its digitization tasks? We tend to think that anyone can learn how to create, manage and preserve digital assets, but that is not always true. It is both a science and an art. It requires creativity and attention to mundane/repetitive details. It sometimes requires being excited by tasks that, after a while, may seem quite boring.

Stephen R. Covey, who is best known for the book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People has an interview question that may help you discern if the people you are interviewing for a spot on your digitization team are indeed the right people. The question is -- From your earliest memory, what did you like doing that you did well? By having the person talk about this from work done in grade school through the present time, you'll figure out what type out worker this person will be on your team. Is the person better at dealing with technology or people? Better at dealing with details? Does the person enjoy repetitive tasks? Does the person's history show him/her as working well with others or alone? Of course, this should not be the only question you ask, but this question may give you the insight that you need and ensure that your team is good at its work.

Looking for a degree program for competitive intelligence?

The Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP) maintains a list of colleges and universities that offer courses and programs in competitive intelligence.

URL updated March 27, 2011

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Brewster Kahle speech at the Library of Congress

On Dec. 13, Brewster Kahle spoke at the Library of Congress as part of their series on the Digital Future. I have listened to his speech twice and will undoubtedly listen to it even more because it shows us the future of digitization and proves that the future is occurring today. (For a link to his speech, go to this page.)

We already know that in many regions, digitization is something dreamed of due to the lack of money and knowledgeable resources. Some of us are fortunate to be in localities that have digitization vendors and training courses. For many who are involved in digitization, it is a time-consuming and costly venture. However, Brewster Kahle's speech (and accompanying photos) show us a world where digitization is inexpensive and truly changing what people access and how they access it. In his speech, he talks about digitizing books and then printing them on demand quite inexpensively. This could change the paradigm used by libraries of being lenders and make them low-cost booksellers instead.

Most amazing was the fact that he talked about digitizing a book for $10.00 by using a robotic scanner. Of course, automation always lowers the cost of something, but many of our projects cannot be automated, so we often see costs of $10.00 per page.

Now that he has shown us the future, we need to make this future a reality not only in some places, but everywhere. What he shows is too important for any of us to miss.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Presentations on competitive intelligence

I have done two-half day workshops and one presentation on competitive intelligence (CI) this year. The workshops were for the Manaufacturers Association of Central NY. The first laid the groundwork for how to do CI and had some exercises in it to get people started thinking about what information they needed to collect. The second contained hands-on exercises, which you can do from your computer. I've placed those PowerPoints for those workshops, a short presentation done for AFSM International, and some additional information at http://www.HurstAssociates.com/CI.htm. Feel free to look at those PowerPoints as a way of beginning to learn about competitive intelligence.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Digitization agreement between the Library of Congress and others

According to the New York Times, "Last night the Library of Congress and a group of international libraries from the United States, Canada, Egypt, China and the Netherlands announced a plan to create a publicly available digital archive of one million books on the Internet. The group said it planned to have 70,000 volumes online by next April."

Google Will Digitize and Search Millions of Books From 5 Leading Research Libraries

That's the headline in the Chronicle of Education's Today's News. The BBC news noted that:

The libraries of five of the world's most important academic institutions are to be digitised by Google.

Scanned pages from books in the public domain will then be made available for search and reading online.

The full libraries of Michigan and Stanford universities, as well as archives at Harvard, Oxford and the New York Public Library are included.

Online pages from scanned books will not have adverts but will have links to online store Amazon, Google said.

A key point of this effort is that:
Books that are in the public domain will probably have their full text available through the search engine. For works that are protected by copyright -- the majority -- Google will show either bibliographic information or snippets of text that appear around a Google user's search term. (San Jose Mercury News)

The New York Times noted that:

Although Google executives declined to comment on its technology or the cost of the undertaking, others involved estimate the figure at $10 for each of the more than 15 million books and other documents covered in the agreements. Librarians involved predict the project could take at least a decade.
This will be an amazing effort! Everyone should keep his or her eye on this undertaking, and see what new understandings of digital libraries and digitization it yields.

Friday, December 10, 2004

How long do you expect digital files to last?

In going back through my notes of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC), I see that one speaker talked about defining up front the lifespan of your digital materials you are creating. This is a point that we don't always consider. We may not creating digital assets that need to last forever. Perhaps the assets only need to last seven years for legal reasons, or some other defined length of time. So when thinking about a digitization project, think about the length of time you want the digital assets to last, then put the processes in place to ensure that they last that long AND (if necessary) destroy them at the appropriate time.

Digitization Training Opportunities

This following message is circulating on the Internet and worth noting.

"Basics and Beyond" Digitization Training Opportunities!

The Illinois Digitization Institute at the University of Illinois Library
at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), through a National Leadership Grant from the
Institute of Museum and Library Services, is offering more digitization
training courses in 2005.

On-line Only Course: January 31 - February 18, 2005. This
three-week on-line course allows busy professionals the opportunity to
learn more about digitization from the convenience of their own
computers! Asynchronous, Web-based course allows participants to
use the on-line course time to engage in on-line discussions, solve real
world digitization problems, and do readings on various aspects of the
digitization process. Cost: $200.00 per person.

On-line Plus Hands-on: February 7 - 25 with workshop on March 1
and 2, 2005. 3-week web-based course followed by a 2-day, intensive
hands-on workshop which will take place at the UIUC campus. Once
the on-line portion is complete, participants will travel to the UIUC
campus for two days to work hands-on with scanners, digital cameras, and
other image capture devices, create metadata, and work with digital
imaging and image management software. The workshop will also
include guest experts in the areas of digitization and
preservation. Cost: $300.00 per person plus travel,
accommodations, and per diem for the 2-day workshop.

Both courses will be directed towards participants from libraries,
museums, archives, and other institutions who are seeking in-depth
digitization instruction to work with cultural heritage materials.
Discussions and assignments will focus on the following topics:
  • Benefits and costs of digitization projects
  • Issues involved with designing and evaluating digitization projects,
    and goal-setting
  • Selection of materials for digitization
  • Determining the best way to digitize a collection and make it
    accessible to the target audience
  • Planning issues including: budgeting, workflow, copyright, storage,
    and preservation
  • Metadata: best practices and creation
  • Evaluating, selecting, and purchasing digitization equipment
  • Basic scanning and image manipulation
  • Delivery and access of digital images

Illinois cultural heritage associations may be able to qualify for a
scholarship to cover the cost of either of these courses.

To learn more about the "Basics and Beyond" digitization course series
and available scholarships or to register for courses, please visit
or contact:

Amy Maroso, Project Coordinator
Grainger Engineering Library Information Center
Phone: (217) 244-4946
E-mail: maroso@uiuc.edu

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

People like people who are responsive

Mark Zweig of ZweigWhite has written an article on being "hyper-responsive" to user requests. He believes that responding to a user in a few hours or within 24 hours is not enough; rather he believes that responding in 10 minutes is much better for the user and the organization. He notes that there are tools that will help people to be this responsive, but that we don't use them.

How responsive is your digital library or digitization project to user requests? How quickly can a person get a response? Historically, we have said that we would respond within 24 hours, but many people are working under deadlines (even students who are doing research), so is that really being responsive to someone's needs? Can we build a support network that will provide hyper-responsiveness to people -- no matter what time zone they live in -- when they use our online collections? If we are not hyper-responsive, will people see the collection as not being useful?

Obviously an idea worth discussing.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Reproduction charging models & rights policy for digital images in American art museum

The Mellon Foundation funded a study entitled, "Reproduction charging models & rights policy for digital images in American art museums." KDCS undertook this study of USA art museum policy and practice regarding the market for digital resources. 120 U.S. art museums were surveyed, with in-depth interviews conducted at 20 museums. The executive summary and link to the full report can be viewed here.

This is an extension of a 2002 report that looked into pricing policy with U.K. and other European libraries and museums. That report was entitled, "Exploring Charging Models for Digital Cultural Heritage: Digital image resource cost efficiency and income generation
compared with analog resources."

The bottom line is that museums are not charging what they could be (of course) and are giving up opportunities. The reports give recommendations which will undoubtedly create interesting discussions.

Monday, December 06, 2004

'Blog' picked as word of the year

This article includes a list of the top 10 words of 2004, according to dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Receiving e-mail updates from Digitization 101

Well, the e-mail updates process stopped working, but I believe it has been fixed. In general, there are 2 - 3 new postings a week in this blog, so you might want to check to see if you have missed anything. Recently postings include:

  • The Innovate Gateway (an innovative e-journal)
  • Lists of digitization vendors
  • Teaching about digital assets
  • David Weinberger's presentation
  • Wikipedia entries on digitization
  • The Digital Future: A Library of Congress Series

By the way, the e-mail updates are sent between midnight and 6 a.m. (EST).

Also remember that you can get stories "feed" to you through your RSS reader. Many RSS readers are available and even Yahoo! can act as your reader.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The Innovate Gateway (an innovative e-journal)

I received this following e-mail announcement about an e-journal that focuses on online education. That may be of interest for those of you who are involved with online education AND those who are looking to develop a more formal type of blog. One of the goals of this journal is to get people to comment -- in other words, to make it interactive.


The December 2004/January 2005 issue of Innovate will be available at http://innovateonline.info one minute after midnight ET on December1. I am distributing this announcement now because one minute aftermidnight on December 1 ET I will be on a heavier-than-air craft winging my way to participate in the Online Educa Berlin conference that begins later that day. :-)

Innovate is a peer-reviewed, bimonthly e-journal published as a public service by the Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University. It features creative practices and cutting-edge research on the use of information technology to enhance education.

The issue begins with my interview of Bill Graves, a pioneer ininformation management. Graves offers insights on service, program, and course redesign strategies and explains how they can improve educational delivery while lowering institutional costs.

The authors of our second article use research on adult learning to identify pedagogical strategies and practical techniques for writing instructional articles in adult online education. Verne Moreland and Herbert Bivens put their recommendations into concrete form with an alternate version of their Innovate article in prime educational format.

Bruce Howerton and Nicholas Moss follow with individual articles on multimedia teaching resources at a prominent dental school. Howerton reviews the technical potential of three software programs to enliven traditional dental lectures. Moss describes his classroom use of these programs, complete with results and student reactions. Both authors provide sample multimedia materials for readers to explore.

The next two articles focus on online instruction. John Sener discusses the scrutiny that online learning constantly undergoes, pointing out the problematic nature of comparing it to traditional education and arguing for a separate frame of evaluation. Mark Mabrito leads us into the heart of the online learning experience with a review of the tools, techniques, and policies he uses to enhance interaction on three fronts.

The issue concludes with another interview, a conversation betweenboard member Scott Windham and Dee Dickinson, the chief learning officerof New Horizons for Learning. Dickinson reflects on her organization's past, present, and future and points readers to its amazing array of resources.

Logging on is simple--but we invite you to do more than simply read. Use the journal's one-button features to comment on articles, share material with colleagues and friends, and participate in Innovate-Live webcasts and discussion forums. Join us in exploring the best uses of technology to improve the ways we think, learn, and live.

Please forward this announcement to appropriate mailing lists and tocolleagues who want to use IT tools to advance their work.

Many thanks.

James L. Morrison
Editor-in-Chief, Innovate
Professor Emeritus of Educational Leadership
UNC-Chapel Hill

Lists of digitization vendors

When you're looking for a digitization vendor, it would be helpful to not only be able to find a list of vendors, but to have that list give you information about the vendors so you don't waste your time on needless phone calls or mailings. Unfortunately, for those of us in NYS, the lists maintained by the state are not nearly complete and do not provide enough information to tell you what the vendor really does. That "problem" only has given people like me the impetus to create better lists and make them available on the Internet.

I have created a list of digitization vendors over the last several years. The list focuses primarily on those in New York State, but does contain information on some vendors elsewhere in the U.S. as well as pointers to other lists.

The most current version of the list is not online yet. (It is part of a digitization plan developed for the Capital District Library Council.) I'll announce when it is available. However, two older versions are available as part of plans completed for the Northern New York Library Network and the South Central Regional Library Council. These plans are located at:


In both cases, look in the appendix for information on vendors. These lists are more comprehensive that any others (except the one to be published in the CDLC plan). And the information is not that far out of date, so these are still quite useful. Honest!

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Teaching about digital assets

Yesterday I agreed to teach a course entitled "Creating, Managing and Preserving Digital Assets" for Syracuse University during the Spring 2005 semester. The class, which I've taught before, will be done solely online.

Teaching about digitization in an online environment, without ever seeing your students, is an interesting adventure. One must decide how to talk about the various aspects of creating, managing and preserving digital objects/images in a way that makes students realize that there is more to know -- that digitization isn't as easy as one thinks.

One challenge that I encountered last spring was having student find digitization vendors to talk to and write about for an assignment. Here in New York State, there are many vendors. Yes, you might have to drive to get to the perfect vendor, but we have vendors nonetheless. But not so in other parts of the country. In the central part of the country and near the Rocky Mountains, vendors are hard to find. In fact, they don't exist in some areas at all. Rather than being able to visit a vendor, students had to rely on information gathered electronically about the vendors or through telephone conversations.

And some vendors would not talk to students. Did they fear giving away some secret? Did they suspect that the students were actually competitors? Sadly, vendors gave up an opportunity to talk to a group that will be needing their services in the future OR who might refer a potential client. Very sad.

It was also sad that some vendors were unknown entities in their community. This occurred in California where one student talked to local libraries and museums about digitization vendors in the region, but they knew of none. The student did finally find a couple of vendors, who were missing out on a market that needed them.

For now, who knows what adventures this class will bring. Hopefully the adventures will be fun.

By the way, I'm again using the book by NEDCC entitled HANDBOOK FOR DIGITAL PROJECTS: A Management Tool for Preservation and Access, which is available only online. I'll be supplementing that will a wide variety of readings from reputable sources found on the Internet and in article databases like OCLC FirstSearch.

Monday, November 29, 2004

David Weinberger's presentation

I have now listened to David Weinberger's presentation -- part of the series on "The Digital Future" -- twice. Yes, it is that good. Weinberger talks at great length about knowledge. In the beginning, knowledge was something that was shared by everyone. Everyone was knowledgeable in something. Over the years, however, philosophers began to "bottle" knowledge and categorize it. Knowledge was no longer something that everyone had some of, but was something that belonged to experts and was found in specific places. He notes, though, that the Internet has changed that.

With the Internet, we now see knowledge being shared in personal ways through e-mail, online forums and blogs. In other words, people are making what they know available by self-publishing. That knowledge may not be lofty, but may be very useful. He talks about reading product reviews written by real people who had used the products.

We need more people to create blogs, not so much on personal topics, but on those professional and business topics. We need people to share their experiences and give lessons learned. For example, wouldn't it be wonderful if a digitization project published a daily or weekly blog that chronicled the project's progress as well as successes and failures? Imagine the lessons that could be learned. What digitization project would take on this challenge? Will any? Doing so could allow a project to teach us in real-time what to do (or not to do), rather than waiting for the project to do a presentation or publish an article. It would be very helpful. And it would make David Weinberger very happy.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Wikipedia entries on digitization

The Internet allows individual people to contribute to the world's knowledge bank. Wikipedia is a site that allows people to contribute through original text or by adding or modifying text. It is self described as a free content encyclopedia written collaboratively by contributors from around the world." Wikipedia contains only a few pages of information on digitization. Not enough to do the subject justice. Those of us involved in digitization should take it upon ourselves to contribute.

Those few pages in wikipedia that relate to digitization are:

By the way, once you're in wikipedia, you may never leave! There are many topics covered and it's fun just to wander and read what knowledge others are leaving for us.

Friday, November 19, 2004

The Digital Future: A Library of Congress Series

The Library of Congress is hosting a series of seven discussions on "The Digital Future." The series is being televised on C-SPAN and programs will be available on the C-SPAN web site. The first discussion aired on Nov. 15 and had David Weinberger, former senior internet adviser to the Howard Dean campaign, discussing how Weblogs work and their value in gathering knowledge.

The next program will be on Monday, Dec. 13, 2004 (with Brewster Kahle). The last discussion will be on Monday, March 28, 2005. Please note that during the live discussions, people can submit questions via e-mail.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

National Digital Newspaper Program to digitize 30 million newspaper pages

The National Digital Newspaper Program, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress, plans on digitizing 30 million newspaper pages originally printed between 1836 and 1922. The digitized content is planned to be available by 2006. Currently these newspapers are available in microfirm. Digitizing and placing them on the Internet would give people much better access to this slice of history.

This time period (1836 - 1922) was selected because, newspapers prior to 1836 will not be digitized because the typefaces are difficult for optical scanners to read. Newspapers published after 1923 are covered by copyright restrictions.

For more information read this article in the San Jose Mercury News.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Digital Library Construction Tools: How-To Manuals

David Mattison maintains a list of how-to manuals for constructing digital libraries on the British Columbia Digital Library web site. From that page, you can quickly jump to other pages that he maintains on how-to courses, standards and other topics.

The British Columbia Digital Library web site is not a government site, but seems to be the work of two people who are trying to further the development of digital libraries in that region. They have created a site worth bookmarking.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Digital Permanence: Our reliance on technology

Digitization and the creation of digital libraries both assume access to the necessary technology for those creating as well as those viewing. We assume -- both rightly and wrongly -- that what we have technically will always be as good as it is now.

The area of digital permanence looks at what we need to do to ensure that the digital images created today will be available for us to use in the future. We tend to think five or ten years into the future, but considering that we're still reading works written centuries ago, we do need to work towards a digital permanence that is "permanent."

However, it takes only one electricity outage or one disk drive go bad to remind us that, without technology, these digital images and digital libraries are meaningless. If we are betting on maintaining valuable information in a form that requires technology to view, then we need a plan to ensure that this information truly does remain accessible. Currently all we have is hope which can be dashed with one massive power outage.

What does this mean to you? Look at your storage options and ensure that you select the right option for the material. Perhaps you digitize for access, but store the original hardcopy items in an archive. Maybe you don't need immediate access, to you put your materials in compact/off-site storage. Or maybe the information is important/useful, but not critical, so you keep only a digital copy. Do what makes sense both for the short term (five years) and the long term (100+ years).

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Digital content: E-books

I am always intrigued when a discussion of new technologies arises. We tout tools such as e-books, but many people don't use them. In fact, many people don't even try them.

An e-book could be a book that has been digitized and then made available electronically in a book format, or an e-book could be something that is only published in an electronic format. There are several e-book formats and e-book readers available, with some allowing bookmarking, annotating, and highlighting. Some also allow for the font size to be changed, making it easier for people who don't want to squint at small fonts.

E-books can be read on a PC, laptop, e-book reader, PDA or even a high-tech cell phone. I keep a book on my PDA to read when I'm waiting for a meeting or when I'm traveling. Since I read only occasionally, it does take me a while to get though a book, although sometimes the book is SO good that I find myself curling up with the e-book in order to get done. (The Hacker Crackdown was such a book, available in plain text and e-book formats.)

But why don't people try e-books, especially those in the information industry who should be trying out new information technologies (like librarians)? I can only guess because it takes effort to use an e-book. You must decide on what reader to use, then find a book for that reader. People might be turned off by the cost of an e-book, although you can find free e-books. (I use the free reader software from Peanut Press and always read free e-books. You see a list of e-book titles here.) People take about not being able to do the same things that they do with a hardbound book and not being comfortable curling up with an e-book. However, are people missing an opportunity to carry and read an e-book when it not be as easy to carry a regular book? Whatever the excuse, if people in the information industry don't try e-books then they won't be able to relate to those people who are using the technology. They also won't be able to recommend e-books, when appropriate. And they won't know how to recommend changes to the technology that would make it more desirable for everyone else.

Anf for those involved in a digitization project, if the suggestion is made to digitize content and use it to create e-books, will you know enough about e-books to be able to contribute to the discussion and decision-making process?

Something to think about.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Teaching with Colorado's Heritage

Colorado Digitization Program has published online a final grant report entitled "Teaching with Colorado's Heritage." The 144-page document reports on the IMLS grant to create a "state-based school librarian and teaching training program that has comprehensively trained over 200 educators how to search for and use digital primary source material and how to integrate content-rich technology with state-based standards."

The Colorado Digitization Program increased awareness of digital primary sources and taught educators and students to use the sources through:
  • Hour-long classes to educate students and current educators
  • Sending promotional materials to 1,572 school media specialists in Colorado
  • Having participating educators create 65 lessons using digital primary source materials that are now available to educators nationwide
  • Having 79 participates in regional and week-long workshops train at least three other educators
  • Hosting a two-hour live teleconference that reached an estimated 10,000 K-20 educators, librarians and archivists nationwide
The report includes workshop agendas and other documents in the appendix.

The Hidden Cost of Buying Information

This article on the Harvard Business School Working Knowledge web site is very interesting. In her research,
"Francesca Gino suggests that if we pay for information, we tend to overweigh its actual value." The article includes implications for consultants, who bring information to light which then cannot be ignored.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Digitization information on Google

Google is probably the most popular search engine. We might forget, though, that it also has a directory where information is categorized for us to retrieve. The Google Directory does has three sections that cover digitization.

First, if you search on digitization in the Google Directory, you will find this page. This contains a long list of digitization projects. Since the list grows by people submitting sites to it, people involved in projects need to submit theirs to this Google Directory.

Second, Google has the category of Reference > Library > Digital. This category contains links to both digital libraries and digitization projects. Again, the list grows through site submissions, so projects need to be proactive in getting listed here.

Third, there is the category of Digital Library Development. Since many digitization projects are part of digital libraries, this is also a good place to look for information related to digitization projects and standards.

So remember to search the web using Google for information on digitization projects, but don't forget to check the Google Directories. The Directories may be a faster way of finding just what you need.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Hellenic Digitization Committee Questionnaire for Digitization Projects

In Greece, the Hellenic Digitization Committee (HDC) is compiling information on digitization projects through a questionnaire on its web site. A list of all of the projects submitted to HDC for inclusion on its list is available here. The list includes the name of the project, the project coordinator, who completed the questionnaire, the project's web site (URL), the duration of the project, and the project's status. The list includes such projects as the 3D Reconstruction of Parthenon, Chania Turkish Archive, and e-ISLAM.

Monday, November 01, 2004

The Changing Information Cycle

In the Sept./Oct. issue of Online, Greg R. Notess writes on "The Changing Information Cycle." Prior to the Internet, the information life-cycle followed a clear path from rumor through article and on to appearing in a published index. But with the Internet, the life-cycle has changed so that commentary, corrections, and updated information can appear in nearly any sequence and at any time. At the end of the article Notess talks about the need to retrain ourselves in how we search for answers on the Internet. He says, "...I find that I am working on retraining myself to dig more deeply on the Web, to look more broadly at the range of answers, and to search for the combination of resources that gives a more knowledgeable answer. Much of that retraining involves looking at comments critically, to track links in both directions, to seek out divergent views, and to evaluate much of the content based on the Internet's information cycle rather than the print information cycle."

We must also retrain ourselves to look for more than words. With more information becoming available as audio, video and image files (through born digital as well as digitization efforts), we need to look for information in any format.

Content management, chunking and Tony Byrne

Alice Marie Marshall of Presto Vivace, Inc. wrote a blog posting last week that summarized Tony Byrne's Oct. 14 speech at NCC AIIM recently. Tony Byrne is the founder of CMS Watch which provides information, trends, opinion, and analysis about Web Content Management and Enterprise Content Management solutions. This speech covers the content management marketplace, trends, and technologies. With content management systems playing a role in some digitization projects, this article is worth perusing.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

How do you find digitization projects online?

This question interests me because the information profession (and libraries in particular) has its own jargon. I remember writing in a monthly report to my boss -- a corporate manager -- that the library was doing a "retrospective conversion." As a non-librarian, my boss had no idea what I was talking about. In the same vain, people who are not involved in digitization projects do not know what the word "digitization" means. So if they are not familiar with this concept, how do they locate projects that would be useful to them? In other words, must they know the terms "digitization" or "digital library"?

I haven't done a study of this, but from the searching I do, I suspect that if someone knows the terminology used by digitization projects, one has an easier time finding projects on specific subjects. However, if one is unfamiliar with digitization projects, finding one project of interest might be like finding a needle in a haystack. This haystack gets even bigger when you realize that most people do not search effectively. Gary Price notes in an article written for Search Engine Watch that people average two words per query and two queries per session. In addition, people only look at the first page of search results. An article in the August issue of Information Outlook noted that people use the same term to describe a concept, item or object less than 20 percent of the time. So if people use only two terms and people don't use the same two terms, and don't realize that they should be looking for a digitization project, how will they find your project?

Of course, the answer is lots of metadata, however, in creating that metadata you must think of ALL the terms and related terms that a person might use to describe your project. Given that there are limits to how much metadata can be used, you will need to select the terms you use carefully. It would be helpful to ask potential users to think of words that might use to find a site such as yours. (Or how would they describe your site, subject or project?) It might also be useful to ask how they would spell those words. You might find that people aren't spelling terms as you assume (i.e., correctly), therefore you might want to add a common misspelling to your metadata. And since search engines might also index the text on various pages, you'll need to ensure that the text is descriptive. For example, instead of just saying "this picture", you might briefly describe the picture ("this picture of a Mayan temple..."). With the increased amount of text and metadata, we can hope that searchers will use some of the same terms/text and that the site will appear on the first page of results.

If you ask for feedback from users (e.g., though online forms), you might ask how people found your site. If they found it through a search engine, consider asking what terms they used for their search. Any information you gather could help you modify your metadata and text to be more effective.

In the end, a digitization project is successful if people use it. So helping people find your project is important. Your metadata and text are the keys to making that happen.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Using text, images, audio and video

Most web sites rely on text to convey their messages. On sites that contain digitized content, there is generally a mix of still images and text. Yet we learn not only by reading words and seeing pictures, but also through hearing the spoken word, music and sounds. A site that can combine text to read, images to view, audio to hear, and video to watch allows the users to taken in information in different ways. That site provides a more meaningful experience.

Creating and building such a site takes much planning and forethought. More thought must be given to the equipment that users will have access to, and if that equipment will be sufficient. If the user will need additional software, then thought must be given to how that software will be obtain. Hopefully it will be painless and easy for the users to install.

One digitization project that does a nice job of including audio is the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project at Stanford University. When you go to the web site, you hear audio of Dr. King immediately. The initial audio requires QuickTime and, if it is not on the user's computer, the site asks the user if he would like to download it. Several audio clips are available on the site of his speeches, as well as in Adobe PDF format. So, for example, you can read and listen to his final speech (I've Been To The Mountaintop). (These speeches are available in both QuickTime and Real Audio formats.)

The site's interactive chronology includes text, images, audio and video. The chronology also has links to items that are for sale, like a book King published in 1967. Here the site assumes that you have to correct software installed to play the audio and video. If you do not, it doesn't even tell you what software is needed. So even a well designed site such as this has its flaws.

But even with its flaws, it is a site that should inspire a digitization project to include various types of media, giving users a fuller experience.

Monday, October 25, 2004

WIPO online course on Intellectual Property

Addendum (3/13/2008): Occasionally I receive emails or comments asking about this course. This course below was sponsored by WIPO. I am not involved in WIPO or in this specific course. I do not know any specifics about the course or if it will be offered again. For that information, you will need to contact WIPO directly.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has a Worldwide Academy that is doing online courses in several languages. The general course on intellectual property is comprised of eleven (11) modules covered over a six week period (50 hours total). The eleven modules are:

(1) Introduction to IP
(2) Copyright
(3) Related Rights
(4) Trademarks
(5) Geographical Indications
(6) Industrial Design
(7) Patents
(8) WIPO Treaties
(9) Unfair Competition
(10) Protection of new varieties of plants
(11) Discussion and Summary on IP Rights

The target audience for this course includes government officials, staff in collective management societies, business managers in publishing, broadcasting and industry, students in faculties of law, business, chemistry, engineering, journalism, etc., who need a basic knowledge of IP.

The next class (course DL-101) will take place from March 1 to April 15, 2005. Registration will open from December 1, 2004 to January 31, 2005. Registration is done online at: http://academy.wipo.int

More information on the WIPO Worldwide Academy, including information on other courses, is available at: http://www.wipo.int/academy/en/dl101/

Friday, October 15, 2004

Taking a hiatus from the blog

Even in this 24/7 world, we have to rest. Postings will resume on Monday, Oct. 25.

Treasures in full

The British Library has digitized various versions (quartos) of Shakespeare's plays and made them available on its web site so you can compare the quartos. There are 93 copies of the 21 plays. The twenty-one of Shakespeare's plays were published in quarto before 1642. Using the site, you can view two versions side-by-side, page-by-page.

This is a wonderful use of digitized items! It gives to scholars and non-scholars alike something that is useful (and fun). Students reading Shakespeare in school might use this site to research a paper, while people who are just interested in Shakespeare might like looking at the graphics used in the various quartos. It is also interesting to see -- from a web design point of view -- how the British Library presents the quartos, and what additional information they make available for users.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Finding digitization vendors

When I was at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference, I spoke to a vendor who noted that "in the old days" they could rely on advertising in the phonebook as a way of connecting with possible customers. But now, they have to find alternate means. It is not because people don't use the phonebook, but because the phonebook doesn't use headings that describe some of our "new" high tech businesses. For example, there is not a heading that relates to digitization.

So how do you find a digitization vendor? Internet search engines are helpful. There are vendor lists on various web sites. And some vendors are part of AIIM.org, so you might find them through that organization. Asking others in your region might yield a few names. But there is no way of finding every digitization vendor.

I've compiled a list of vendors in New York State for several digitization planning projects. An updated list will be published soon and will be announced here when it's available. A list compiled in 2003 is available in a preliminary assessment report for the Northern New York Library Network.

If you are involved in a digitization project, you can help others locate vendors by placing information on your web site about the vendors you used and brief information on the work they did for you. Every little piece of information helps...and your mention might be all someone needs in order to find the perfect vendor for a project.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Five-Year Information Format Trends Report

In 2003, OCLC released its "Five-Year Information Format Trends Report." Recently, it released an update to the report. The four main areas studied in the original report were:
  • Popular Materials
  • Scholarly Materials
  • Digitization Projects
  • Web Resources

The 2004 report takes about the content explosion that is occurring with the new communication technologies and the need for people to be connected all the time. The report also updates the areas of popular and scholarly materials.

One of the most interesting sections of the report is a section on new vocabulary such as:

  • Blogosphere
  • Blogroll
  • Dayparting
  • Digital Swarming
  • Fleshmet
  • Moblogs

(I'll have to try to use fleshmet in a sentence soon!)

By the way, the three top trends noted in 2003 for digitization were:

  • commercial digitization expanding
  • national digitization growing
  • state and local projects increasing

Monday, October 11, 2004

Winning the Vote

Last week, I wrote about two projects presented at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference held in Pittsburgh, PA. The project that I spoke about was formally named the Women's Suffrage Digitization Project, but became known as Winning The Vote.

Winning The Vote was a two-year project spearheaded by the Rochester (NY) Regional Library Council (RRLC). The project was supported by Federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds, awarded to The New York State Library by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services. With RRLC as the the driving force behind the project, teams of people came together during the first year to learn about different aspects of digitization and to work on the guidelines and blueprint for Year Two, when the digitization was to occur. During Year Two, a team formed to work on different aspects of the project, including developing the web site. The team was primarily composed of RRLC staff members and outside contractors.

During Year Two about 200 items were digitized relating to the 30 suffragists -- both women and men -- who are featured on the site. Items were digitized from 18 institutions. The finished site was heavily marketed and is still well used, even though this was actually a demonstration project. (And as a demonstration project it is not receiving much maintenance.)

The presentation I gave, which gives an assessment of the project (valuable information for others involved in digitization projects), is available here.

This was a very valuable project to work on. I not only learned about doing a digitization project with multiple partners, but I also learned a lot of history. The items that are being digitized by projects ARE making more history available to people, and even those who work on the project learn! One of the most interesting facts I learned was about a domino, which is a type of mask. Look at this image to see dominoes being worn. You'll realize that you have seen these before, yet your feeling about them will change with this image.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The New Jersey Digital Highway

Yesterday I wrote about the HistoryMakers, which was discussed at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference. Today I want to talk about the other project that was presented in the same session.

The New Jersey Digital Highway is striving to be the one portal needed to locate New Jersey's heritage collections. As the web site states:
The New Jersey Digital Highway (NJDH) is a new way to explore our history and culture. The Highway will bring together digitized versions of historical and cultural treasures from our libraries, museums, and historical collections. The result will be a digital archive of documents, photographs, 3-dimensional objects and sound and video recordings that you can either browse or search depending on your interest. NJDH will also provide virtual field trips and other digital activities for exploring and experiencing New Jersey.

The homepage gives users an opportunity to enter the site in a way that will make sense for them. They can enter through virtual on-ramps for everyone, educators, students and librarians/curators. Of interest to people involved in digitization projects will be the information provided for librarians and curators. Here is information on "metadata and digitization best practices, including workflow design and developing a business model for a digitization project." There are links to other resources including online forums for librarians and curators who are involved in the project.

Some of the site is still under construction, but it is worth taking a moment to explore and then note what features are coming.

As a person who has lived in both Pennsylvania and New York, I think the name of the site is wonderful! We joke that people in New Jersey talk about where they live by noting which exit they use on the New Jersey Turnpike or Garden State Parkway to get home. (Actually, I have heard people really do this.) Here is a site that takes that image and turns it into a huge positive. Very cool!

New options for reading/accessing this blog?

I've added two features to this blog that should help those of you who want to know about updates without coming to the site each day.

First, you can receive e-mail updates. By signing up for it (on the blog homepage), you will receive an e-mail update at night when there is a new posting to the blog. The e-mail update will give you the first couple of lines of the posting, so you can decide whether or not you would like to read the entire post.

Second, you can add this blog to your RSS reader. Just add http://hurstassociates.blogspot.com/atom.xml to your RSS reader and you'll see headlines, etc., on the new posts. Easy!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

The HistoryMakers

At the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC), I presented in a session with two other people, one of whom was Julieanna Richardson. Julieanna is an vibrant woman who has founded an incredible project called The HistoryMakers®, a national African American video oral history archive. The goal of the HistoryMakers is to videotape interviews with 5,000 African Americans -- well-known and unsung -- in order to capture their personal stories and their views of American life, society and culture.

According to the web site, "The HistoryMakers represents the single largest archival project of its kind in the world, outdistancing the existing video oral history collections of New York's Schomburg Library and the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum. The HistoryMakers is unique among these other collections of African American heritage, because of its massive scope. Like other oral history collections, The HistoryMakers collection hearkens back to the earliest and most authentic efforts to capture the voice of a people, while introducing state-of-the-art technology and increased accessibility. The HistoryMakers wants to provide living proof that African American history did not begin or end with the civil rights movement, that the HistoryMakers number in the thousands and that their names are not just Harriet Tubman, W.E.B. DuBois, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ella Fitzgerald."

The interviews are each three-hours in length. The interviews are both digitized and transcribed, and then indexed. The wishes of those interviewed are honored, such as not releasing the interview for use until after the person has died. That fact alone demonstrates the sensitivity of the HistoryMakers team. They recognize that some people will tell their stories but only if they don't have to answer questions about them! And for some, the personal stories may be painful; a pain that they want told, but not until later (again when they won't hear them).

One interesting aspect of the HistoryMakers is that the full interviews will not be available on the Internet. First, placing that amount of information that could be streamed (viewed) might be a burden on the servers. Second, if the information were cut into smaller segments, some of the context would be lost. Third, people might use the information out of context, which would be a disservice to those who were interviewed. And lastly, the HistoryMakers would like to control how the information is used. Yes, people will have access to everything, but not via the Internet, but more likely (long-term) through research libraries.

For now, the HistoryMakers archive is available by appointment only. In 2002, the HistoryMakers was designated a special collection of the Illinois State Library system. The archives, which are open to the public, can be visited between the hours of 9:00 a.m. - 5 p.m. at 1900 South Michigan Avenue in Chicago. You can contact Edward Williams at (312) 674-1900 to schedule an appointment.

People "buzzed" around Julieanna after the session. She captured people's imagination and their need for history. She also talked about a digitization project that is much different than most. It was as if someone screamed, "look at the possibilities" and we did.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Regional archives conference

Last week, I had the privilege to present at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC), which was held in Pittsburgh, PA. I had not heard of MARAC until they asked me to come to the conference. But this opened my eyes to other archive organizations in the U.S. and Canada. A list of 20 is available on the New England Archivists web site. The smaller organizations allow for more networking, while still providing very worthwhile programs and educational opportunities. They are focusing on digitization (the topic of my talk) and learning from each other how to do it better. And they are attracting digitization vendors to their conferences.

If you are interested in digitization and interested in how archives are approaching digitization projects, consider attending a regional archives meeting. I bet you won't be disappointed.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

New executive director of the Collaborative Digitization Program

Jill Koelling has been appointed the new executive director of the Collaborative Digitization Program (formerly known as the Colorado Digitization Project). Ms. Koelling will begin her new post on Oct. 18. She comes to the CDP from Cline Library at Northern Arizona University, where she was the curator of Visual Materials. She has extensive experience in digital asset projects.

The press release announcing Ms. Koelling's appointment can be viewed here.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

A personal deed of gift experience

In the past, I have donated personal items to two museums, both of which had procedures in place for deciding to accept the items and preparing the proper paperwork. This week I donated items to a college and worked through an office that didn't have a deed of gift form. (The archives might have such a form, but that was not the office I was working with.) This became an interesting experience for me in several areas.

First, I was able to write a deed of gift form for my items that I believe will serve the institution well both now and in the future. This was my chance to do what I write and talk about!

Second, I used the deed of gift form to explain to my contact the important sections of the form and why they are important. In other words, this gift became an informal learning experience for that office. Yes, they have received other gifts before, and at least one other deed of gift, but this time they saw why the form is important and how it will help them and the college.

Third, although I had given all rights to the college, I thought it appropriate (and helpful) to talk about how I hoped the materials would be handled and used. It was a quick -- non-threatening -- lesson in conservation and preservation. This was perhaps the most important thing I did (besides giving the gift) because it lead to discussing other gifts that had been received, proper lighting, storage, etc.

As I write this, I am happy with the gift I have given this college and the history I have entrusted with them. In addition, I am happy that I have opened the eyes of one office to realize that the treasures they have need to be protected. I hope that I've shown the need for them to work more closely with their archivist. So I gifted them with new information of the school's history and information that will help them preserve their history. Not bad!

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The Maine Memory Network, part 2

Last week I posted an introduction to the Maine Memory Network. The about section on the site uses the phrase "Distributed Input, Dynamic Output". And remarkably there is no charge to the contributors or users; it is all free. But what do they mean by distributed and dynamic?

The Maine Memory Network has been constructed in such a way that many organizations can contribute to it. Well over 100 organizations have done just that. For some, this has allowed them to have a web presence for their collections. Contributing Partners, who are given an administrator password to the site, can upload, edit and catalogue items, and manage those items once they are part of MMN. Besides having a presence for their collections, Contributions Partners are able to learn about digitization. They receive training on how to digitize and how to catalogue their items to meet the Network's standards. (Records are reviewed, so the Network does maintain quality control.)

By having all of these Contributing Partners, the input becomes distributed. No one institution bears the burden for scanning or cataloguing the records, making the input of more than 6,000 primary documents a manageable task.

On the opposite end, users can create their own albums within the project to store images that interest them. As the site says, users can:
  • Save images to return to later
  • Add text and rearrange images to tell a story
  • View the album as a slideshow
  • Send the album as an email and collaborate
  • Create your own uses

This gives the users tremendous flexibility. Each user can interact with the images in different ways. Users become active participants in the site. Isn't this what all users want?!

The Maine Memory Network is a wonderful example of what is possible in building a large project that includes the contributions of many institutions and gives users the ability to interact with the materials as they see fit. It is a project that should been seen by everyone who is involved in digitization. Perhaps they won't emulate it, but they may derive some inspiration from it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Web sites cannot be required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act

The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that web sites do not have to comply with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), which required that any "place of public accommodation" must be accessible to people with disabilities. Earlier court decisions had suggested that web sites would need to comply with ADA, but this decision is more definitive.

It takes more planning and a little bit more effort to create a site that is useable by people with disabilities (e.g., people who use technology to read a web site for them). However, the extra work ensures that the site can be used by anyone and often will lead to a better designed site. Organizations and businesses that do want everyone to access them through the Internet should be reading and learning about this...then implementing what they learn.

Some organizations, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group, are working on standards in this area. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0: W3C Working Draft dated July 30, 2004 are now available online. The document details four principles:
  • Content must be perceivable.
  • Interface elements in the content must be operable.
  • Content and controls must be understandable.
  • Content must be robust enough to work with current and future technologies.
Organizations who are creating web sites that display images (e.g., digitization projects) should consider how people with disabilities will be able to "see" the images or do any special commands that might be needed to manipulate content on the site (e.g., zooming in on images). Using text to explain graphical elements, for example, is very helpful.

If you are interested in reading the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals judgment, it can be read here.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Coverage of digitization issues in First Monday

First Monday, a peer-reviewed journal that is published on the Internet, covers as part of its purview some of the issues that impact digitization projects, including copyright, the development of cultural content, and preserving digital assets. The journal also carries articles on specific projects, such as "Indian Peoples of the Northern Great Plains." This is a good place to look for articles by authors who are well versed in the issues, trends, and potential pitsfalls of creating, managing and preserving digital assets.

One article worth reading/skimming is a 2003 article by Gerry Wall entitled "Business model issues in the development of digital cultural content." Based on a study conducted in Canada, Wall notes that funding is an issue that may only be solved long-term by the adoption of business models such as user fees or content licensing. Although the ideas fly against the notion that information should be free, they must be considered since governments and other grantors are unlikely to fund all the digitization that cultural heritage organizations want to do.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Learning how to blog (a personal posting)

I am rapidly coming up the blog learning curve. This blog now as some extra features that help both me and you (the reader), such as the e-mail update feature. And as I add these things. which are mostly available for free, I am seeing how the interact with each other. The results have not always been as expected! For example, although the blogging site allows me to save draft versions of my postings, the e-mail update feature sees those drafts as being real and e-mails them to people who are getting the updates. But then when they try to read the full posting, there is nothing on the blog site (because I've saved them as drafts). Hopefully my growing pains are not painful for you.

I would hope that you'll give me feedback on the blog. Tell me what you like, what you'd like to see changed, and -- of course -- what topics you'd like to see covered under the broad topics of digitization and competitive intelligence. As the TV sitcom character Fraser used to say, "I'm listening."

The Maine Memory Network, part 1

I want to call attention to this statewide project in Maine. The Maine Memory Network is a place where institutions can deposit digitized historic items for use by a broad range of people. The Network will help people digitize by teaching them needed skills, etc., and provides server space and maintenance for the collection. They welcome anyone (yes...even individuals) to add items to the collection.

From the text on the site, the project is a success. According to the site, "Approximately 130 organizations from every corner of the state have contributed more than 6,000 primary documents to the MMN."

From a user's point of view, the project allows people to save images in personal albums. Text can be added to those albums and slideshows created. In other words, users can use this project to create their own stories. That is a very powerful ability!

We'll look more at this project over the next couple of days....

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The glut and lack of digitization vendors

While teaching a graduate class this past spring on digital assets, I learned that some areas of the country have many digitization vendors, while other areas have very, very few or none. Some states (such as Montana) seem to be void of vendors. Why?

It could be that digitization has caught on in areas where there large libraries or cultural heritage organizations who understand the benefit of digitization AND have the resources to do projects. Those large institutions do not tend to be in the Great Plains, but rather near large population centers on each coast.

Vendors will only appear where there is a need. If no organizations are looking to outsource digitization efforts-- either because they can handle their demand in-house OR they do not yet see the need to digitize -- then no vendors will appear since there is no business for them.

Vendors should begin market themselves to areas that are without digitization resources. They might think of themselves as prophets spreading the good news of digitization and showing people what is possible. Selfishly, they may build demand for themselves. Hopefully, they would spark interest...which would eventually create local digitization vendors. (And we all know that competition is a good thing.)

Looking at blogs

Now that I have a blog, I also spend time looking at other blogs and seeing what they include. Three that I've added to the side menu here are:
  • Google Blog which is both a serious and fun look inside of Google. The postings are done by a variety of people, including the guy who creates the fun Google logos.
  • The Yahoo! Search Blog which contains charts and guest posts from people like Danny Sullivan (of Search Engine Watch) . This blog includes info on how people are using search engines and what they find. Looks like very interesting reading.
I'll add more blogs as I come across them...and hopefully I'll find ones dedicated to digitization and competitive intelligence to add. (So far, I've come up blank on blogs truly dedicated to digitization, so if you hear of any, let me know.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The Digital Curation Centre

Long term preservation of digital information is a complicated subject. Several institutions are studying this topic including The Digital Curation Centre. The Centre using the term "digital curation" to mean:
... the actions needed to maintain digital research data and other digital
materials over their entire life-cycle and over time for current and future
generations of users. Implicit in this definition are the processes of digital
archiving and preservation but it also includes all the processes needed for
good data creation and management, and the capacity to add value to data to
generate new sources of information and knowledge.

The Digital Curation Centre (DCC) is just getting off the ground. It was begun on March 1, 2004 and will formally launch during the fourth quarter of this year. The Centre has research priorities and a network of associates. Located in Edinburgh (UK), it is being funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) . A timeline is not given for their research agenda, but it will undoubtedly take time. We can hope that the DCC will publish results and papers along the way, sharing what it learns with the rest of the world. Given its focus, it is definitely an organization that is worth watching.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Statewide digitization initiatives

At the American Library Association conference in June 2004, a group of people got together to discuss the statewide digitization initiatives that are happening in the U.S. Eight people gave project updates. (You can read the meeting minutes at http://lists.mdch.org/public/digistates/2004-July/000124.html) Perhaps more states than that are involved in major digitization projects, but some (like New York) are not. If digitization is an important technology that will make more information available to users (without them having to make special requests or travel long distances), if it will help our educational systems, and if it will help to preserve information (content) for the future, why aren't more states spearheading digitization efforts? There are likely several explanations.

First, some states may see more potential in other efforts such as funding statewide database access. Hopefully, they have truly studied to see if the potential for these efforts outweighs that of digitization.

Second, some state governments may not yet understand why digitizing materials within their states is important. They may not realize the potential audience or positive impact it will have on the state.

Third, they may be waiting to learn from the successes and failures of other states. This is admirable, but the longer state governments wait to fund digitization projects, the hard it will be to catch up.

Forth, a state may just be "paralyzed", unable to decide how to move forward with digitization. Sadly, state governments -- like any government -- can get paralyzed and unable to make a decision about what to do, how to do it, and how to fund it.

If a statewide effort is happening in your state, support it. Use it, point others to it, and tell your government that you appreciate their efforts. If your state is not supporting statewide or even regional digitization efforts, start mentioning it to your representatives. Tell them why it is important. Perhaps even point them (or their staff members) to projects that would be of interest to them and their agendas. Hopefully your efforts will get them to realize the potential and then get them to think about funding such efforts.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Focus on France

A large portion of the August issue of DigiCULT is focused on the best examples of digitized cultural heritage now avaiable on the Internet from France. There are eight articles including articles on the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and UNESCO's Memory of the World. The issue is full of URLs that beckon you to explore.

DigiCULT was begun in 2002 and now has correspondents in various countries that report on the intersection of cultural heritage and the information society. This is a great publication for staying on top of what is happening internationally with digitization and digital libraries.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Digital photography

I own a digital camera and have become quite accustomed to taking pictures with it. I haven't used a film-based camera in years and can't imagine using one. Digital photography has displaced film in many areas. It offers many advantages including cost. A professional photographer, for example, can take more photos at an event without drastically impacting the cost to the client. However, with film-based cameras, every photo taken increased the cost to the client.

The advantage of digital photography that I really enjoy is being able to see the photos right away. This has allowed me to take better photos and build my "photography" confidence.

When you digitize, you enjoy many of the same benefits as when you use a digital camera. (In fact, some digitization is done with a digital camera.) However, the biggest things to remember is that you can keep on creating images until you -- the person doing the digitization -- get it right. The impact is only in the time you spend. And -- of course -- as you digitize more items (or re-digitize items to get them correct) you are learning and improving your technique, and building your confidence.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Lesson Learned: Have well defined selection criteria

Much has been and can be written on selection criteria for digitization projects. The selection criteria impacts not only what will be digitized, but the equipment needed, handling procedures, cost, etc. For example, if you decide to digitize 35mm slides and glass plate negatives, you will need two types of scanners. You might also need to train your staff (or a vendor) on how to properly handle the glass plate negatives so they do not break during digitization.

So when you think about your selection criteria -- what you will and will not digitize as part of your project -- think about the entire digitization process including handling the items, digitization, and metadata (describing the items). Questions about each item that you might ask yourself and your team include:
  • Does the item fit the subject area for this project?
  • Does the item help to tell an important part of the story? Or does it illustrate something important?
  • Can the item withstand the handling that will be needed in order to be digitized? If not, should the item receive some conservation efforts or special handling so that it can be digitized?
  • Is enough known about the item so that metadata (cataloguing record) can be created for it?
  • Can this item be digitized using the same equipment as the other items selected? If not, can its digitization be outsourced? Should the organization acquire special equipment so that it can be digitized?
  • Is the item copyrighted? If yes, does the organization have the right to digitize it? Can the organization gain the right to digitize it?
  • Is the object too personal to digitize and make publicly available? For example, is the item a record of hospital admissions?

Having well defined selection criteria is a lesson we all try to learn upfront. Of course, mistakes are made, but testing your criteria on a representative sample of items can help.

Remember -- time spent creating your selection criteria is time well-spent.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Copyright statements on digitization projects

When you mount a digitization project on the Internet, you will want to put a copyright statement on the web site. But what should it say? Many groups use the copyright statement posted by the Library of Congress on its American Memory web site as a template (http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/copyrit2.html). This copyright statement covers areas that may be important to include. For example:

"Some materials in these collections may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) and/or by the copyright or neighboring-rights laws of other nations. "

"Transmission or reproduction of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners."

"The Library of Congress is eager to hear from any copyright owners who are not properly identified so that appropriate information may be provided in the future."

The text also explains that using the materials appropriately rests with the user, not with the Library of Congress. In other words, if the user downloads an item, distributes copies of it and is found to be violation of copyright, it is the user that is at fault and not the Library. (This also points subtly to the often forgotten fact that even though you can do something, it may not be appropriate or legal.)

The idea that the Library of Congress wants to hear from copyright owners who are not properly identified is a good one. It means that the Library is willing to correct any inappropriate use of copyrighted materials that it has done. Although that statement may not be enough to keep a copyright owner from suing the Library of Congress for inappropriate use, it does demonstrate a willingness to be fair, which is often all that someone wants.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Deed of Gift forms

In the spring of 2003, I did a seminar series (five sessions) on digitization and several of the people who attended worked for historical societies that had received many donated items over the years. Because an institution needs to understand what rights it has to these donated items, the deed of gift form became a hot topic.

Let's say that you donate old photographs to a historical society without any written instructions. Does the historical society know what it can do with those items? The answer is "no." In fact, the historical society may not even know -- for sure -- if it owns the items you have donated or if you retained ownership.

According to the Society of American Archives, "The deed of gift is a formal, legal, agreement that transfers ownership of, and legal rights in, the materials to be donated." A deed of gift form not only transfers ownership of the items, but also transfers the copyright (if applicable), and states what the new owner can and cannot do with the items. For example, if the historical society decides not to retain the items, can it sell them or throw them out? Or perhaps the items must be returned to the original owner (or that person's decendents)?

When one considers digitizing items from an archives, not only is copyright important on original works of authorship, but ownership and the rights of the owner are important. For example, if you were to digitize a letter, one would need to know if the letter was still covered by copyright or not. In addition, you would need to know if you had been granted the right make a copy of the letter (digitize) and publicly display the letter (which occurs when you display digitized items on the Internet). Those ideas would be covered in the deed of gift.

With changes in technology, deed of gift forms have become more comprehensive, learning from the mistakes of the past. Some institutions post their deed of gift forms online, which can be helpful in understand what should be included and how it might be worded. Examples can be viewed at:


4/3/2009: All of the links above no longer work. The Navarro College form was quite nice, so I'm sad to see that one disappear. Here are is one that is a decent model:


Please note that each example is different and has its pluses and minuses. Each works for that institution and its current situation. We hope that they will cover future situations by transferring all rights to the archive or library (donee).

Friday, September 10, 2004

Digital States

Are you looking for information on statewide digitization initiatives? Do you want to know what concerns the larger digitization projects have and how they are addressing them?

Digital States in a discussion list for people involved in "collaborative statewide projects for the digitization of cultural heritage resources." The discussion list currently excludes people who are considered vendors, but that may change. However, the list archives are viewable by anyone. There is excellent information here, and perhaps information that you'll see nowhere else (for example, notes from a meeting of statewide digitization projects held in June at the American Library Association conference).

This is a site worth bookmarking and monitoring.

Thursday, September 09, 2004


Digitization is discussed on many e-mail lists. Two that can be quite useful for locating resources and discussing ideas are:

Anyone can subscribe to these lists. Both are available in digest form (which means you get one big message per day, instead of many smaller messages), which can be handy for someone who is "lurking" on a list or doesn't want to be innudated with lots of e-mail.

Personally, I like the breadth of discussion on ARCHIVES and have found it a great place to ask any archives related question. The subscribers to that list are truly knowledgeable and willing to share what they know.

Lessons Learned: Projects need to be planned

Sometimes digitization projects seem to just begin without real forethought or planning; however, digitization project must be well planned in order for them to achieve their desired results. Why?

When we plan, we consider all of the things that need to occur -- from start to finish. When creating digital assets, that means considering questions such as:
  • What is the focus of the project? Does it support the organization's mission?
  • What critieria will be use to select items for digitization?
  • How will the items be digitized? What standards will be followed? What equipment will be needed?
  • How will the items be made available to users? How will the items be described so that they can be retrieved?
  • How will the project be maintained long-term?
  • How will the project and its maintenance be funded?
  • Who will work on this project? Who will be responsible for its success?

Planning does take time, but once the plan is in place, the project will go much more smoothly.

And that old adage remains true: "Plan your work and work your plan."

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Competitive intelligence: overheard at lunch

Information gathering about one's competitors and the competitive environment allows a company to make fully informed decisions. Most information needed is available through public means, but it might take some effort to find it. We don't expect a competitor to announce their problems, concerns, suspicions, etc., in a public place, but sometimes they do.

Today, I had lunch in a very public spot, and listened to a group at the next table quite loudly talk about a technology that seemed to appear in the market and might have been stolen from someone else. Specifics --including names -- were mentioned. That's not good. Perhaps it wasn't their technology and perhaps their company had no involvement in the situation, but it sounded like sensitive information was being aired very publicly.

If you are involved in doing research for your organization/company, maybe even competitive intelligence, you might want to work with your management to educate other employees about how to handle the information that they have. How should they handle or safe guard information such as sales data, marketing information, strategy documents, price lists, etc.? What information should be shared with people outside of the organization and how? What information should or should not be discussed in a public place? A little education might save your organization/company heartache -- and its market share -- later on.

A framework of guidance

In 2001, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) published A Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections. This document was created with input from people and organizations that were at the forefront of digitization. The introduction states:
This document is not a guideline itself but rather a framework for identifying,
organizing, and applying existing knowledge and resources that can be used as an
aid in the development of local guidelines and procedures.

Although more recent documents may point to better resources, this document is still important because of the framework is give and the challenge offered subtly in the second paragraph. It states:
In the early days of digitization for the Web, projects could be justified as
vehicles for the development of methods and technologies, as experiments in
technical or organizational innovation, or simply as learning experiences. A
collection could be good if it provided proof of concept, even if it disappeared
at the end of the project period. As the environment matured, the focus of
collection building shifted towards the more utilitarian goal of making relevant
content available digitally to some community of users. The bar of goodness was
accordingly raised to include levels of usability, accessibility and fitness for
use appropriate to the anticipated user group. We have now entered a third
stage, where even serving information effectively to a known constituency is not
sufficient. In today's digital environment, the context of content is a vast
international network of digital materials and services. Objects, metadata and
collections should be viewed not only within the context of the projects that
created them but as building blocks that others can reuse, repackage, and build
services upon. Indicators of goodness correspondingly must now also emphasize
factors contributing to interoperability, reusability, persistence, verification
and documentation. At the same time attention must be focused on mechanisms for
respecting copyright and intellectual property law.
This challenges us not to create demonstration projects (which might be referred to as first stage projects), but to create projects that consider such concepts as interoperability, reusability, and persistence among others. A third stage project is well planned. It not only considers the present need, but also looks towards other unknown uses in the future. A third stage project is forward thinking.

If you are considering a demonstration project, stop and ask yourself why. Why do you need a demonstration project? Is it a way of learning more about digitization? Do you need to prove that digitization will work for your institution? Instead of just doing a demonstration project, could you make it the first step in a third stage project? In other words, can you move yourself (and your institution) beyond just a demonstration project?

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Hudson Valley Heritage

The Southeastern NY Library Resources Council has coordinated a regional digitization project named Hudson Valley Heritage (http://www.hudsonvalleyheritage.org/). (This region covers nine counties just north of of New York City.)

The homepage of the web site places information about the digital initiative and digitization first, then gives information on the collections that are currently featured. This order to the hompage makes one wonder if the emphasis of the site is on providing information and resources about digitization or providing access to digitized collections. My first reaction is that site is not meant for end-users, as it is currently organized, but for people in the region who are involved in digitization. If that is what the group intended, then they succeeded. However, this might be a place where they could build different front-ends (homepages) for different uses. Think of it as different doorways leading to the same room. There could be a doorway (homepage) geared towards end-users who want to view the collections and another doorway (homepage) for organizations who are interested in the nuts-n-bolts of digitization. The back-ends could use the same information (images, etc.) but would present the information differently depending on the needs of that view's user. The ability to use content multiples ways is one of the benefits of a digitization project. A well-thought out project (what IMLS refers to as a third stage project) will take advantage of the ability to reuse and repurpose content to meet different user needs.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

What do others know about your digitization work?

If you are involved in creating, managing or preserving digital assets, what have you told others about your work? Do they know what you do? Do they know of your successes or your failures (...lessons learned...)? Do they know how you could help them? Have you written any articles? Published information on processes, etc., on your web site? Have you taught someone what you learned from your work?

Why not?

It is important that we not only do digitization projects, but that we teach others what we have learned from those projects. We need to talk about what worked well and what we wish we had done differently. And any documentation that we create, especially if it talks about what we wish we had done, is valuable to others.

Consider this...many of the digitization projects that stand out to us are those that have taken the time to talk about (and share) what they have learned. It becomes one of the ways that they market their projects and attract users.

Friday, September 03, 2004


A web site that posts information on digital cameras and film scanners is the Imaging Resource, http://www.imaging-resource.com/. The contains both reviews and test images for film, negative, slide and print scanners.

The impact of copyright

Copyright impacts us everyday, yet it is a concept most people know very little about. As an adjunct senior instructor at Syracuse University, I tend to cover a bit about copyright in every course. (It is useually quite an eye-opener for the students.) When I taught a class on digital assets (digitization), copyright was a very important topic and one that reared its ugly head for weeks as students came to terms with what copyright means.

When we take a book, for example, and digitize it, we have made a copy. If that book was published before 1923, it is in the public domain and anybody can make a copy of it legally. However, if the book was published after 1923, then copyright law comes into play. The U.S. Copyright Law give the following rights to the owner of the work:

  • To reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords;
  • To prepare derivative works based upon the work;
  • To distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
  • To perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
  • To display the copyrighted work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work; and
  • In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

(See http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html for additional information.)

As a persion who wants to make a copy of a copyrighted work, you must consider if your use will be fair (called Fair Use). Fair Use considers:

  • the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  • the nature of the copyrighted work;
  • amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  • the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Each of these four factors must be considered when deciding if the use is fair or not. For example, if the copy takes away potential imcome (e.g., sales or copyright fees) from the owner of the work, then the use is not fair.

The U.S. Copyright Office has information on Fair Use at: http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

I'll blog more about copyright later. For now, here is an excellent resource for people who needed to decide is something is in the public domains.

"Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States" by Peter Hirtle

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Using digitization to help with competitive intelligence

Libraries and archives tend to digitize historic -- old -- materials, but companies might use digitization to build databases of competitive intelligence information. For example, a company might digitize old hardcopy memos and reports that it wrote on its competitors in order to have that history in electronic form (and searchable). The company might also digitize photos of locations or products. The company would need to ensure that it does not violate copyright when doing this, so it would be best if the company digitize materials that it had created (and thus owned the rights to).

Companies also digitize for other reasons, for example:

* To create electronic files on its own products (e.g., digitizing old engineering drawings, etc.).

* To collect and analyze materials to support a litigation.

Unlike projects done by libraries and archives which try to gain much public attention, these digitization projects are done "quietly" and without fanfare. Lessons learned are not published and you'll see few articles or conference papers on them. However, they do exist and are an employment or internship opportunity for students interested in digitization. How would a student find such a program for an internship opportunity? Students should talk to corporate librarians, since they would be aware of such projects, and do lots of networking. Finding these opportunities is not impossible, but it may take patience.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

The cost and quality of scanners

The first scanner I worked with cost $20,000! (I don't remember if that included the software or not.) The large table-top scanner, with a sheetfeeder, was a sensitive piece of equipment and didn't like to be moved. The software used with it allowed us to OCR (optical character recognition) documents. The scanner could scan many documents per hour, but what slowed down the process was the OCR, since the software had problems with various fonts -- especially if the text was skewed a bit. And although anybody could operate the scanner, only a few understood how to get a "good" scan so that the OCR went "better" and then understood how to check and correct the documents efficiently.

Now I own a flatbed scanner that is also a printer and fax machine. It cost around $100, including software. The multi-purpose machine can scan or print in color or black-n-white.

As the technology has gotten cheaper, people think that these small low-cost scanner will work on digitization projects that require high-quality images. That is not always true, since the inexpensive scanners may not scan at a high enough dot-per-inch (DPI) or pixel-per-inch (PPI). Some scanners (and their software) won't even create TIFF files, whcih is the preferred high-quality file format used in digitization projects.

So these inexpensive scanners are great for the office, but not for working on digitization projects where you are creating images that you hope will last for years. In order to find a scanner that is appropriate for your digitization project:
  • Talk to others who have worked on a digitization project and see what hardware they have used. (You can check for projects through a local library consortium or archives organization.)
  • Check the Internet to see if any projects have posted information on the equipment used. (Consider checking or contacting those projects that seem to be adhering to best practices.)
  • Talk to equipment vendors.
  • Test equipment and see if it produces the quality that you need. Also check to see if it is easy to use.

And remember that the equipment must fit its purpose. If you are digitizing slides, then you'll need a scanner that was build for that purpose.