Friday, December 30, 2005

Happy New Year!

2005 was a wonderful year full of interesting projects, challenging ideas, exciting people, and fun conversations. Thank you for being a part of my 2005! May 2006 bring you joy and prosperity.

Happy New Year!


Jill Hurst-Wahl

Hurst Associates, Ltd.

Sun Microsystems is using Grokker

If you have not seen Grokker, you should. It is a very interesting and useful information visualization tool that can be used for federated search. Some call it a research platform. At Internet Librarian in October, the CEO of Groxis, said that Grokker "clusters documents and categorizes them on the fly to make sure that users get the information they are looking for." Christy Higgins of the Sun Microsystems Library talked about how they are using the product. According to notes from her session, "engineers [at Sun] are visual learners and are making widespread use of the system." The Sun case study can be viewed here.

Having seen demonstrations of Grokker, I would considering testing it as a federated front end to several repositories of digitized materials as well as using it in a digital library setting. The visual nature of the product definitely gives us something that we're missing in our search engines (as well as something that others have tried and failed at).

Technorati tags: , ,

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Larry Lessig on the Creative Commons

As you should know, the Creative Commons has created licenses for people to use that allow them to give away some intellectual property rights on their creative works, while also retaining soom. You also should know that the Creative Commons (CC) is doing some fund raising in order to continue its work, and hopes that it can remain a not-for-profit organization. Larry Lessig yesterday did a nice job talking about the funding raising effort (why and what the money will be used for), as well as how the fund raising ties into remaining a not-for-profit. It is not a long post and is easy to read.

As a person who often preaches about respecting intellectual/creative rights, I was thrilled when I became aware of the CC and its efforts. Their licenses help us to what we often intend -- to allow people to use our works in a way that is fair and respectful. If you have not checked out the licenses available from the Commons, please do. I think you'll be pleased at the options they provide to you and to your users.

Technorati tag:

Report: Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources (2005)

Each year, OCLC does a study on the information industry. This year's is entitled "Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources." The free report is a window into the perceptions that users and non-users have of libraries, search engines, and the other information services they use. The report is available in sections, so you can read part or all of it. I would recommend that you at least read the conclusion (8 pages) because of the insights it contains.

Here's a quote just to peak your interest:
Search engines fit the information consumerÂ’s lifestyle better than physical or online libraries. The majority of U.S. respondents, age 14 to 64, see search engines as a perfect fit.
You can find links to the previous OCLC reports on the left side of this page or here.

Technorati tag:

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Event: International Conference on Graphical Models and Imaging (GMAI'2006)

This conference will be held in London, UK on July 5 -7, 2006. The web site has details, including their call for papers. The scope of the conference does include digital imaging and digital libraries.

Technorati tag: ,

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Search is hard (off-topic)

From an unlikely source, Seth Godin (a marketing guru), comes a quick critique of Google and how it searches. He assumes that Google is overpromising on what it can do for you (the searcher). Is it? Does it deliver what you want? Interesting to think about...

Technorati tag:


Here are pointers to two software initiatives for archiving materials that are in electronic formats including materials that were born digital and materials that have been digitized.

digitizationblog mentioned recently the aDORe Archive developed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. digitizationblog says:
The Los Alamos National Laboratory Research Library has released the aDORe Archive Solution, a “write-once/read-many” framework for archiving files, assigning persistent identifers, and disseminating metadata about the file via the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting. adoreArchive is made available under the GNU Lesser General Public License.
The Digital Archive at McGill University recently mentioned software developed there that:
...was developed by a Ph.D student here at McGill, that captures dynamically-generated webpages such as the McGill University website.

Technorati tag:

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Creative Commons needs OUR help

Back in early October, Larry Lessig wrote a post on the Creative Commons blog about their first fund raising campaign. They need to raise $225,000 by Dec. 31, 2005 in order to keep going and maintain their not-for-profit status. (In order to remain a not-for-profit, they must show community support.) The Creative Commons has now less than a week to raise the remainder $55,000. If you have used a Creative Commons license, mentioned them as a positive asset in a lecture/speech, or used materials that had a CC license, please go to their web site and contribute something.

Support the Creative Commons. I did.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Article: Digitization is rolling through the museum world

At this time of year (the holidays), in the U.S. we often see works by Norman Rockwell on cards, ornaments, etc. Those objects might be the closest many get to seeing Rockwell's work, but there is Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA. Now comes word that the museum is going to create a "cyberspace archive." The online archive "will link the letters, photos, fan mail and newsclips amassed by the museum's namesake one of most popular and successful illustrators of his time to pictures of his artworks." (The Norman Rockwell Archive contains more than 100,000 photographs, letters, and other rare mementos.) The museum has received more then $1 million in grants to fund this effort, but says that the work may cost ten times that amount before it is completed. They hope to have materials accessible via the Internet in 4 - 5 years.

Technorati tag:

Thursday, December 22, 2005

What equipment does Cornell have?

When talking about digitization in Upstate NY, at some point someone will ask about some university and wonder out loud what that institution is doing. What are they digitizing? What equipment do they have?

And why do we want to know? Generally because we see these institutions as benchmarks. We also figure they've done good research on what to purchase, and so we might learn from seeing what they have. (Whether or not we can afford what they have is a different question.)

Here's a page that describes the equipment being used in Cornell University's Digital Consulting and Production Services group. There are also a couple pictures, so you can see some of the equipment. You also get a little peek into their process.

SAA workshops

The Society of American Archivists offers a variety of workshops, including workshops that relate to digitization or the creating of finding aids. For example:
  • Style Sheets for EAD—Delivering Your Finding Aids on the Web
  • IT Training for Practicing Archivists Series: Digitization of Archival Material
  • IT Training for Practicing Archivists Series: Digital Libraries and Digital Archives
The workshop calendar is available here.

CILIP workshops in the UK

One of the RSS feeds I get is for training, events & conferences announcements from CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals). Generally these are one-day workshops on timely topics. If your in the UK, you may want to add the CILIP RSS feed to your blog reader, so you can stay up-to-date on their offerings.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A Technology Analysis of Repositories and Services

The Ten Thousand Year Blog mentioned this a couple of weeks ago and I'm just getting around to checking it out. This wiki's homepage says:
The Digital Knowledge Center (DKC), working with the University of Virginia (UVA), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and an extensive network of collaborators, will conduct an architecture and technology evaluation of repository software and services such as e-learning, e-publishing, and digital preservation. The result will be a set of best practices and recommendations that will inform the development of repositories, services, and appropriate interfaces. This project is funded by the Mellon Foundation.
The repository systems currently listed on the site are:
  • Digital Commons
  • DiVAD
  • PubS
  • DSpace
  • ePrints
  • Fedora
  • JSR 170
  • OJS
  • Sakai
  • "Status Quo" Core Internet Technologies
There aren't notes available for all of them, but then this is a work in progress. Nothing on the site states their timeline, so patience may be in order.

Technorati tag:

Paper/article: How to speak a teen's language, even if you're not one.

This paper is not rocket science, but it is a quick and interesting read. Written by Josh Shipp, it gives some general techniques/hints about talking to young people. The biggest technique, I think, is to engage them. Shipp does that by playing the game "Simon Says."

As information professionals, how can we make our interactions with teenagers more engaging, more interactive, more on their level, and more fruitful?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The cost of "whatever"

In every area of a library's operations -- brick-n-mortar as well as digital -- we have to be aware of costs and realize that many costs are not fixed. There is often room for a little give-n-take and some creativity.
  • Don't have quite enough images to digitize to get that wonderful price break? Do you have something that vendor needs like an introduction to a prime prospect? Could you do case study for that vendor in return for the price break? Could you include images from another institution or collection in your order in order to get the price break?
  • Can't get that vendor to come to you to do training without paying big bucks? Could a larger organization (and a big client of that vendor) get them in to do training for several organizations at a low (or no) cost? The vendor might do it in order to keep that major client happy.
  • Can you collaborate with other institutions in your region to get a price break on equipment? We often think of consortia as helping with this, but are there informal (ad hoc) arrangements that you can take advantage of?
  • Negotiating for a price break on attending workshops and conferences can be impossible, but is there some other way of lowering the cost of attendance? Or might you use posted presentations, blog posting, and other communications from conferences to learn without actually attending the sessions? (A strategy promoted recently by ALA TechSource in some of its postings.)
  • Need a database, but the cost is too high? Figure out what you could pay and then approach the vendor for a negotiation. The vendor isn't going to give-away the database for nothing, but might be very willing to come down in price a bit in order to get a new client. This negotiation can work anytime, but might especially be effective towards the end of the year when vendors are trying to get more sales on the books. (The vendor might ask for a non-disclosure agreement, so that you won't go telling everyone what a great deal you got.)
Often the key in negotiation is being able to "walk away" from the deal. No, can't pay that price. No, guess I don't need it. No, my management isn't convinced. Guess we'll have to look around at other options. So sorry...yup...walking away can often open a few doors and options, if you're truly ready to walk away and do without the product.

Can't negotiate? Then hire someone to do the negotiation for you. It might be someone on staff or a consultant.

And what if it doesn't work? Hey, at least you tried.

Technorati tags: ,

Monday, December 19, 2005

Google's Newsletter for Librarians, Dec. 2005

This is not related to digitization, although it is something digital library or digital images projects might imitate.

Google has released its first newsletter for librarians. This newsletter contains an introductory letter and an article entitled "How does Google collect and rank results?" The article includes two exercises that you (or your students/patrons/??) could perform in order to learn more about ranking search results.

Google undoubtedly sees this as a way of answering/addressing the questions that the librarian community has about its system. They also see it as a way of engaging in a conversation with librarians. (Odd that the own Blogger, but chose not to blog.)

Here are questions for you -- How are you addressing the questions of your user community? Do you have a newsletter, a blog, an FAQ? How are you engaging your users in conversation?

Technorati tag:

January - June 2006 Speaking/Training/Travel Schedule

Here's my speaking/training/travel schedule for the first half of 2006. Most of it is digitization related.
  • Jan. 2 -- Presentation -- Looking Back, Looking Ahead, Women Business Owners Connection (WBOC), Syracuse, NY
  • Jan. 10 -- Workshop -- How to Create a Blog for Your Business, Syracuse, NY
  • Jan. 17 thru May 7 -- Graduate Class -- Creating, Managing & Preserving Digital Assets through Syracuse University's School of Information Studies (taught online) [The link will take you to the syllabus.]
  • Feb. 8 -- Presentation -- Using Blogs & Other Social Networking Tools for Business, Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), Syracuse, NY
  • Feb. 17 -- Workshop -- Library Outreach, Redefined: It’s a Wide New World, SCRLC, Binghamton, NY
  • Feb. 24 -- Workshop -- Train the Trainer: Business Resources, SCRLC, Ithaca, NY
  • March 22 -- Session -- Failing to Innovate: Not an Option, Computers In Libraries, Washington, DC
  • March 25 -- Workshop -- Digitization Project Management Essentials, with K. Matthew Dames, Computers In Libraries, Washington, DC
  • April 12 -- Virtual Seminar -- Digitization Project Management in a Nutshell, with K. Matthew Dames, Special Libraries Association
  • April 26 -- Virtual Seminar -- Managing Intellectual Property Issues Within the Digitization Project, with K. Matthew Dames, Special Libraries Association
  • May 3 -- Workshop -- Digitization Planning, RRLC, Fairport, NY
  • May 9 -- Presentation -- Blogging, ICON, Ithaca, NY
  • May 12 -- Faciltated Discussion -- Digitization Discussion Series: Exploring Legal Issues for Digitization Projects, WNYLRC, Amherst, NY
  • June 10 - 11 -- Workshop -- Digitization Essentials Workshop, with K. Matthew Dames, Special Libraries Association Annual Conference, Baltimore, MD
  • I'll also be doing several facilitated discussion on digitization in Buffalo for WNYLRC (dates to be determined).
Dames has put the workshop descriptions in his blog for those that we are doing together. He comes from a solid intellectual property and library science background. The workshops we do together will definitely be very informative in looking at all aspects of a digitization project and what one needs to know in order to succeed.

Published: Dec. 8, 2005
Updated: Dec. 19, 2005; added SCRLC workshop
Updated: Dec. 20, 2005; added RRLC workshop & ICON presentation
Updated: Jan. 20, 2006; added 2/8, 2/17 and 5/12

Techorati tags: , ,

Event: TAPE Workshop on Management of Audiovisual Collections

The web site says:
TAPE [Training for Audiovisual Preservation in Europe] will organize an annual 5 days’ European training course on preservation and digitization of audiovisual collections. The programme has been developed by experts from different countries with training expertise, among them the TAPE partners, some of whom have extensive experience with training in this specific area.
The workshop will be from April 19 - 25, 2006 at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in Amsterdam. Complete details are available at:

Thanks to Digital Audiovisual Archive for posting about this.

Using your project's blog to really communicate & be transparent

One of the speakers at the 2005 SLA Annual Conference talked about transparency. He (whose name I can't remembers) believes that organizations should be transparent. In other words, what they do and how they do it should be visible to all; obvious to all. One way of doing that is to use your blog -- and your web site -- to communicate to your users about what's happening. Tell them the good and the bad.

An interesting example of this is Bloglines where they've been having some problems. Their news says, "Bloglines performance has sucked eggs lately. Why? In short, Bloglines has been busting at the seams like the Incredible Hulk." Nothing like being honest! What are they doing to fix it? They are taking the system off-line in order to move to a bigger data center. Every Bloglines page contains a note/link to additional information.

Is your digital library/digitization program being transparent? Are you telling your users what they really need to know? Are you communicating with them, perhaps even over-communicating?

Technotari tag:

Friday, December 16, 2005

Library terms evaluated in usability tests and other studies

Steve Abram pointed to this in his blog. This web page lists several studies of library web pages and the terms used, and what was learned from those exercises. If you think you're using clear wordings to describe your online offerings, you might want to think again.

Technorati Tag:

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Adding Technorati tags to Digitization 101

If you're using a blog reader, then you may see some older posts coming up as new. I've edited some older posts so I could include Technorati tags at the bottom. I'll try to add Technorati tags to all new posts (emphasis on the word "try'). [Although not this one, since I doubt it needs a tag.]

Event: Sixth Annual Symposium on Intellectual Property, June 14 - 16, 2006

The Sixth annual Symposium on Intellectual Property is sponsored by the Center for Intellectual Property at University of Maryland University College. The theme will be: "Copyright at a Crossroads: The Impact of Mass Digitization on Higher Education."

There will be two full days of seminars and discussions on June 15-16. Pre-symposium seminars will be held on the afternoon of June 14.

The symposium will take place at UMUC Inn and Conference Center in Adelphi, MD

Details will be forthcoming at

Are there job in digital libraries or working with digitized materials?

Okay, since you're reading this blog, that will seem like an odd question to you, but students (e.g., MLS students) do wonder about that. Some are specializing in digital libraries but are unsure if a job will be waiting for them. Part of the problem could be that the jobs are posted in various places, so the ads can be hard to find. Jobs are posted in library discussion lists as well as those focused on digital imaging. This one below was posted in IMAGELIB.

I'm not going to make it a habit of posting job announcements here (unless that's something you all want), but thought I'd post this one as proof that jobs are out there. This one in particular caught my eye because it is for a Metadata Librarian!

Metadata Librarian Posting of 12/12/2005

Primary Purpose:

The Metadata Librarian at the Libraries of The Claremont Colleges will serve as resident authority on existing and emerging metadata schemas; catalog digital objects selected for the Claremont Colleges Digital Library (CCDL); serve on the CCDL Policy Task Force; ensure quality control on digital objects in the CCDL; and create and maintain CCDL best practices documentation. This position reports to the Digital Initiatives Librarian.

Essential Functions: The Metadata Librarian will:
  • Collaborate with Special Collections, subject specialists,catalogers, and other library staff to select appropriate schemas for descriptive, structural and administrative metadata and authority controls for CCDL collections.
  • Catalog digital objects from our Special Collections andcampus wide resources in all formats for dissemination in theCCDL.
  • Participate on the CCDL policies, guidelines and bestpractices task force.
  • Identify, create and maintain documentation on bestpractices for creating and preserving digital objects and applying metadata schemas and authority controls.
  • Perform second level quality control on all digital objectscreated for the CCDL.
  • Participate in departmental and libraries-wide committees and work groups established to further the mission of the Libraries of The Claremont Colleges.
  • Contribute to providing user services, including referenceservice in an area related to CCDL collections.
Required Qualifications:
  • ALA-accredited MLS, MLIS (required for Librarianappointment) or equivalent degree.
  • Knowledge of AACR2r, LC classification, and MARC21.
  • Comprehensive understanding of authority controls like LCSH,TGM, AAT, LCNA, ULAN, etc.
  • Minimum two years experience cataloging digital objects.
  • Experience using metadata schemas such as Dublin Core, EAD,XML, TEI, METS, MODS, MADS, or PREMIS.
  • Knowledge of how digital library collections are used in anacademic setting.
  • Advanced computer skills, and experience with MicrosoftWindows 2000 and XP operating systems and commonly-used productivity applications.
  • Effective communication, planning, time management andorganizational skills.
  • Ability to work independently and in a team environment.
  • Adeptness at working in a rapidly changing technologicalenvironment.
Desired Knowledge and Skills:
  • Familiarity with digital asset management systems.
  • Knowledge of best practices for digitization of primaryresources.
  • Awareness of copyright laws and rights management issues in a digital environment.
Hours: 40 hours per week

Salary: Minimum starting annual salary is $42,507. Starting salary offered and appointment to rank in the Librarian Series are commensurate with education and experience. In addition the Claremont University Consortium provides an attractive benefits program that includes medical insurance, sick leave, 22 days vacation, two personal days and ten paid holidays per year.

To apply: Send resume with cover letter and the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses of at least three references who are knowledgeable about your qualifications for this position to:
Search Committee: Metadata Librarian, Attention: Alberta Walker, Associate Director, Libraries of The Claremont Colleges, 800 Dartmouth Avenue, Claremont, CA 91711, Email:, Applications received by January 10, 2006 will receive first consideration.
Located at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains in the city of Claremont, California (population 36,500), 35 miles east of Los Angeles, the Claremont Colleges are a geographically contiguous set of five top-ranked liberal arts undergraduate colleges and two graduate institutions, uniquely configured to support and encourage interdisciplinary study. The Libraries, a part of The Colleges' supporting organization, the Claremont University Consortium, support all seven colleges across a wide spectrum of disciplines. Comprising four buildings, three of which are located on individual campuses, the Libraries hold more than 2 million volumes and subscribe to a vast array of electronic resources.


Claremont University Consortium is an Equal Opportunity Employer, Committed to providing career opportunities to all people, without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin or disability.

Email Instructions: You may apply for positions via email. The address is Please do not include attachments in the message. Include the resume as normal text in the body of the message. You must follow up the email application with visit to Office of Human Resources or a copy mailed to the address above.

Technorati Tag:

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Do sign your work?

An item I ordered arrived yesterday and inside the box was a note from the person who packed the order. The note basically said that they try very hard to pack the orders correctly, but to call the company if there is a problem and to tell them the name of the packer. In other words, that person signed her work so she could held responsible for any problems!


Looking at the Internet, we can easily find web sites (business, library, museum, etc.) where you don't know who to contact if there is a problem or if you have a question. What if you see a digital imaging project online and you want to contact the group that did it with a professional question, is there something that tells you who to contact? For example, the Rochester Images site give no contact information for the group that spearheaded the project, but you can contact the webmaster for the site (and hope that person forwards your questions).

Contrast that with the UBdigit web site where the About page provides a phone number to call as well as lists of people responsible for various aspects of the site. (Yes, their actual names are listed. You could then use the main Univ. of Buffalo web site to locate their full contact information. So the About page doesn't get you directly to everyone involved in the project, but it definitely helps you make the right connections.)

Another example can be found at the American Memory web site that provides several ways for people to contact them, depending on the need.

What does your organization do? Do you sign your work? Do you provide some contact information so people can target an inquiry? And do you ensure that those inquiries are answered?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Placing project background information online & the Upper Mississippi Valley Digital Image Archive

I spent a part of this morning looking at collaborative digitization projects online. I'm always pleased when a project places good information about its background online. For example, the Upper Mississippi Valley Digital Image Archive gives information on its funding, technical & metadata guidelines, goals and more. They provide enough information for it to be truly useful, yet don't burden you will too much to wade through.

The Upper Mississippi Valley Digital Image Archive web site is also an interesting site to use. The homepage held my attention and got me to try out the search feature, and dig deeper. Notice the "slider" to the left of the images on the homepage. You can use it to move the images, so you can see them better. Cute, huh?!

Technorati Tag:

Monday, December 12, 2005

Book scanning is everywhere (including HarperCollins)

With projects begun in -- for example -- the U.S., Europe, and India, and groups digitizing public domain as well as copyrighted texts, book scanning is here to stay...and more are entering the fray.

The Wall St. Journal (as noted in CopyCense) reported that HarperCollins Publishers will "...produce digital copies of its books and then make them available to search services offered by such companies as Google Inc., Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp. and, while maintaining physical possession of the digital files."

Friday, December 09, 2005

Who should judge the quality of your digitization efforts?

In a previous post, I talked about Google's digitization quality and some of the problems that can be seen in the items digitized. If you've looked at Google Book Search, then you've perhaps seen the problems I mentioned and also noticed the link at the bottom of each page asking that you report any problems with the pages that are displayed. Does that mean that Google does not do quality control and expects the users to do it for them? (Or maybe that link is there just in case something doesn't display correctly?) Interesting questions...

So, who do you count on to judge the quality of your product? Is it:
  • Those that do the actual work?
  • A quality control team?
  • Usability testers?
  • Anyone who uses the product (digital library, digitized materials or whatever)?
Hopefully, you're using all of those resources. If you do, then the majority of the problems will be found before you users see your work. Sometimes it can be hard to catch every problem, so it is likely that users might find something, but they should not be the primary source for ensuring that you're producing good quality work.

Technorati Tag:

Proceedings: Document Lifecycle Management conference

Electronic Records Supporting e-Government and Digital Archives

The Document Lifecycle Management conference took place in Budapest from 5 till 7 October 2005. The participants included users from all sectors, information and records management, and IT specialists. The DLM Forum Conference 2005 consisted of plenary sessions and parallel general and specialist sessions. Proceedings are now available online:

This TinyURL links to the same site, avoiding broken links due to line breaks:

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Digiwik: The Digitization Wiki

diglet found and mentioned this. I'm not sure who's behind it, but there is good content here already, although much more needs to be said/included. It's a wiki, so it if you have time, chip in!

BTW perhaps we should get some students, who are learning about digitization, the assignment to add in information?

Addendum (4:40 p.m.) -- Looking at the wiki, you'll see that the person stated in out of a need "to put together a paper on digitizing audio and video for my library...." So, yes, it leans more in that direction at the moment (as a commenter noted). But it is a start that we can add to!

I'm teaching a class in digitization in the spring and can see getting students to spend some time adding to it.

Article: Web log promotes connection: South Side Entrepreneurial Connect Project begins to yield results.

This article relates to another project I'm involved in (and is unrelated to digitization). I thought I'd post the link so people will know that I actually do more than just think about digitization (although I do think about digitization for most of my waking hours). [The article will be available for free online for another week or so.]

The South Side Entrepreneurial Connect Project was started last year by Syracuse University, and brings together students and faculty with local business owners. From their work, the students learn more about entrepreneurship. The business owners benefit by having access to resources to help them improve their businesses. The Project has spawned an association (South Side Entrepreneurial Association) and a business incubator that will open in 2006. And there is a blog, which I maintain. The benefits I reap are in the networking opportunities as well as learning from presentations given at the SSEA meetings.

I don't think the people who attend the SSEA meetings have yet figured out what an information professional can do for them. For now, I've been just trying to get them to contribute information to the blog and promote the blog as a way of telling others about what's going on. Next year I'll have to begin banging on the "information is power" drum!

How do you describe your digital library or digital assets?

Let me tell three stories as a way of introducing this topic.

Story #1: Several years ago, I used a printing/reprographics service that was new and family owned. They did excellent work, but failed. One of the reasons I think they failed is that the one partner described their products in a technical way. According to her, they did four-color offset printing. But people didn't care about that, they wanted brochures, business cards, letterheads, etc.

Story #2: I was at an auction last night that was a fund raiser. You could view some items, while you only had descriptions of others. Some items definitely didn't raise as much money as they should perhaps because the descriptions weren't enough. So, the bag contained wine, but what kind? A gift certificate to use at a store, but what does that store sell (really)? Everything is not always obvious.

Story #3: There is a Japanese TV show called "Iron Chef" that has been shown in the U.S. for years. (I think it is also shown in other countries.) In the U.S., this has spawned a show called "Iron Chef America." In both version, an "iron chef" (a master chef) is challenged by a world-renown chef in a culinary battle where there is theme ingredient. At the end of the show, the prepared dishes are judged and a winner declared.

In the American version, I have noticed that the Iron Chefs spend time describing their dishes to the judges. They talk about the ingredients, what they were trying to achieve, and more. These verbal descriptions help the judges understand the dishes and, I think, help to influence their decisions. (Although a bad dish is always a bad dish.)

The Lessons:
  1. What we are presenting to our users in not always obvious. We need to describe the "what" in ways that make sense to them, using words and examples that they will understand.
  2. We forget how influential a description can be. It can mean the difference between someone trying "something" or not. The description can truly "sell" the product.
  3. The description can't just be plain words; it needs to paint a picture or set a mood. Only then will you draw the person in and capture his/her attention.
The Questions:
  • How do you describe your digital library or digital assets?
  • Do you describe them in ways that are inviting, that paint a picture in the user's mind, or that capture the person's imagination?
  • Do you use words/descriptions that are meaningful to your audience?
  • If you have multiple audiences, do you have multiple entries (homepages), each geared for a specific group?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Book: Introduction to Metadata

Obviously, this 47-page book isn't new, but it looks like a well-written resource AND it is available online (for free) in full-text! The online edition is version 2.1, but is not dated.

Introduction to Metadata: Pathways to Digital Information
By Tony Gill, Anne Gilliland-Swetland, and Murtha Baca
Published by the
Getty Research Institute (v. 2.1)

Technorati Tag:

The Ministry of Reshelving

I spent some time this morning talking to K. Matthew Dames (executive editor of CopyCense), with whom I'm doing several workshops in 2006, and our conversation transitioned to the future of libraries and then meandered from there. Libraries struggle constantly -- if they are honest -- with what their users will want and will use. What users want and what libraries have traditionally provided can be quite different. We all struggle with how to bridge that gap.

I mentioned this project on the phone this morning and then realized that I had not mentioned it in my blog. Here Jane McGonigal, with some friends, had launched a reshelving project. The idea is to go to a bookstore and reshelve the book 1984 to where you think it belongs. There is a whole methodology outlined in her blog posting (as well as the suggestion of helping bookstore staff members by reshelving out of place materials and placing them in their proper spots).

Librarians and bookstore owners have set ideas -- based on the Library of Congress cataloguing -- of where a book should go, but is that where the reader/user expects to find it? The Ministry of Reshelving is using its efforts to show us that the traditional categories don't fit everyone's ideas.

Dames pointed out this is a version of the tagging that people have been doing with blog postings and other items. In other words, creating their own -- hopefully more useful -- categories.

Rather than being incensed by this effort (which you might be), step back and think about what our users really want. How do they want information categorized? What would make sense to them? What services do they want? How can we get them to use the information that we have?

BTW Dames has a posting that ties into this idea of providing services to attract users entitled "MICs, The Library Mashup, & The Next Level."

Event: Digital Preservation in State Government: Best Practices Exchange 2006

When: March 27th - 28th, 2006
Where: Wilmington, North Carolina at the Hilton Wilmington Riverside
Registration Fee: $150
Registration Deadline: February 23, 2005

Come join fellow librarians, archivists, records managers, and other information professionals as they share their experiences in managing and preserving digital state government information for public access. Bring examples of your successes, failures, and lessons learned to share with colleagues in facilitated exchange sessions. You will most certainly provide and take away something of value from this experience.

The Best Practices Exchange consists of two facilitated large group sessions (an opening forum and a closing wrap-up), six small group topic-based exchange sessions, and an evening reception.

For more information on the Best Practices Exchange, visit:

or, contact Christy Allen at:

Christy E. Allen
Digital State Documents Librarian
Documents Branch, State Library of North Carolina
4643 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-4643
Phone: 919-807-7447
Fax: 919-733-1843

Monday, December 05, 2005

In a comment to my posting about Google's digitization quality, it was suggested that I look at the public domain books digitized by the Internet Archive and available at

There are fourteen books online (I believe). Each book was digitized in color, so you can see stains and the yellowing of the pages. The interface was inspired by a kiosk used by the British Library (according to the web site). You can flip through each book as if you were really turning the books. You can also listen to audio of the books, if it is available. Unfortunately, the audio starts at the beginning of book. It would be nice to be able to point to a specific page and have the audio start there. More enhancements, like being able to magnify the pages, are "coming."

Very cool!

One interesting tidbit, you can't see a "full size" image of the covers and when you look inside the book, the cover that shows (the edging of the inside cover) is always red. Obviously that "inside cover" is a ploy so you get a better visual of looking at the inside of the book.

Too bad that no details are given about how they're developing this site. It would be informative to know what technology their using, what they've learned from this effort, etc.

How do you get people to come to training (and then use what they've learned)?

That can be a very interesting question, especially when it comes to providing training on aspects of a digitization project. People may avoid training until they feel more prepared to use what they are going to learn. However, the training will help them develop ideas and partners.

The problem is that going to one workshop is often not enough. When being training on digitization, people need to attend a series of workshops (or a multi-day event or a semester-long class). How do you get people to attend multiple workshops?

Then -- having been trained -- how to do you get people to use what they have learned?

The Southeastern NY Library Resources Council has a solution to these two problems. First, they offer a series of workshops with a special price of $100 per registration (one person or different people from the same institution). Those who do not want to participate in the entire series can attend individual workshops at a cost of $50.00 per workshop. Wow! So right off the bat, it makes sense to do the entire series.

Second, participating institutions are expected to contribute 30 digital objects from their collections to the Hudson River Valley Heritage program, which the Council is overseeing. This gets institutions over that hurdle of learning what digitization is and then feeling too overwhelmed to do anything. With this model, the institutions must do something. The hope is that the institutions will not just do 30, but will continue and do more (making their efforts not just a one-time event, but an ongoing program).

I'm sure other consortia might be doing something similar. If you know of any, please let me know.

Webinar: Maximizing Economic Value from Large-Scale Digitization Projects

Presented by Innodata Isogen, this "Webinar will offer a primer on the key issues facing companies about to tackle large-scale digitization projects and provide a detailed look at a number of industry success stories." The webinar is being given at two different times to accommodate people in North America and Europe. Go to the web site for more details.

Event: Joint Workshop on Future-proofing Institutional Websites January 19-20, 2006 Wellcome Library London

The Digital Curation Centre and the Wellcome Library are pleased to announce that they will be delivering a two-day workshop on future-proofing institutional websites. This event will be held at the Wellcome Library in London on 19–20 of January 2006.

Institutional websites have become an increasingly integral tool for disseminating key institutional information and for promoting institutional identities to the general public. The long-term survival, value, and usability of the information presented via institutional websites depends on numerous criteria such as the formats and codes selected for presentation, the capture and binding of associated metadata, the identification of the web resources, and the perceived quality of the web resources among current and future users.

This event will focus on practical tools and techniques that can help to ensure that institutional websites are future-proofed against risks such as institutional change and technological obsolescence. In particular, this event will examine appraisal processes, formats for curation and preservation, international curation and preservation activity, and specific experiences via a series of case studies.

Benefits of Attendance
The workshop will be of benefit to institutions who are in the process of implementing or managing an institutional website.

This workshop will be held on Thursday, January 19th and Friday, January 20th 2006.

The workshop will be delivered over three sessions — international activity, practical tools and techniques, and selected use cases. Each session will be chaired by a leading expert on the topic. The chair will begin the session by placing the topic into the context of digital curation and provide references to international efforts in the area. Following this introduction, each session will highlight specific tools and techniques, practical experiences and/or emerging standards in the form of presentations. Each session will conclude with an open question period which will be moderated by the session chair.

Key themes include
  • Overview of international curation and preservation activities
  • Tools and techniques to create and persistently identify website content for curation and preservation
  • Examples of real-life experiences in web archiving
Programme Committee
  • Joy Davidson, Digital Curation Centre (DCC)
  • John Kunze, California Digital Library (CDL)
  • Dave Thompson, Wellcome Trust
The Venue
The Wellcome Library will host this event and the venue will be the Wellcome Trust Gibbs Building, 215 Euston Road. For more information about the Wellcome Library and the Wellcome Trust, see and

Travel Instructions
See detailed options for travelling to the Wellcome Trust Gibbs Building.

For a list of accommodation options near the venue, see

Registration fees are £75 for DCC Associates Network members and £125 for non-members. These fees include all workshop materials and handouts, lunch on both days and refreshments. Membership of the DCC Associates Network is FREE!
For more information, see our Associates Network page

Friday, December 02, 2005

ASIS&T 2006 - Call for Papers

"Information Realities: Shaping the Digital Future for All"
November 3-9, 2006
Hilton Austin in Austin, Texas

ASIS&T 2006 challenges us to explore this moment in the history of information science as people seamlessly move between their physical and digital worlds to create information realities for themselves and others. Submissions by researchers and practitioners are solicited on a wide range of topics.

  • Contributed papers
  • Contributed posters/short papers
  • Practitioner/Industry track
  • Symposia and panels
  • Pre-conference sessions
  • New theoretical perspectives on information use and management
  • Ethical and legal implications of digital worlds
  • The nature of the information profession in the digital future
  • User, organizational and cultural analyses of information realities
  • Future information architectures to both build and harness information realities
  • Implications for information (seeking) behavior and retrieval
  • New forms of human-computer/information interactions
  • Distributed collaboration and information sharing
  • Enhanced access to multi-format and multimedia information
  • Learning and education in the digital future
  • Digital storytelling and presentation
  • Conflicts in information realities, their recognition and resolution
  • Preserving our cultural records in a digital age
  • Scientific underpinnings of new information designs and uses
  • February 13, 2006 -- Proposals due for contributed papers, technical sessions and panels, and pre-conference sessions
  • February 25, 2006 -- Proposals due for contributed posters/short papers
  • April 28, 2006 -- Acceptance notices issued
  • May 27, 2006 -- Final versions due for conference proceedings

Full Call for Papers is at
All submissions are made electronically via a link from the ASIS&T Web site (

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Report: Descriptive Metadata Guidelines for RLG Cultural Materials

This looks like an excellent document for anyone looking at/for metadata guidelines. The document is 64-pages (PDF format).

Technorati Tag:

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Brick and mortar libraries (something fun)

After getting involved in the Librarian Trading Cards Pool, someone told me about the Libraries and Librarians Photo Pool (with nearly 2,000 photos) . This "pool" on Flickr is mostly of library buildings, with photos from around the world. If you're thinking of remodeling your library, you might get some ideas here. Otherwise, you might just find it comforting to look at pictures of brick and mortar libraries. Perhaps you should add in photos of your library?

How is Google's digitization quality?

When Google announced its project nearly a year ago, I was anxious to hear how they were going to digitize the materials. I soon realized that confidentiality agreements and the air of secrecy was going to keep me (and you) from learning from this project. I know that we'll learn more about copyright because of Google's work, but would it be wonderful to learn more about how they are going about this effort? Even just some tidbits?

We can learn a bit from looking at the books that Google has digitized. And what we learn is that their quality isn't all good. If you search through the materials, you'll find items were the images are very crisp and clear, and others that are blurry and (perhaps) sloppily done.

For example, if you flip through this book (from 1908 and in the public domain), you'll see a fingernail, book clamps, obscured pages, pages missing (p. 61), and pages that are crocked. And nearly every page is hard to read. Is this an anomaly? No. Look at this book (from 1916 and in the public domain) and you'll see brown pages (p. 22). What's up with that?!

Without signing in, you can only see a few pages of the newer books. Even without signing in, one quickly senses that the pages are clearer and much easier to read. (Look at this example from 2004.) Is Google doing something different with these so that they are scanned better?

BTW Google will display only snippets of a book where it has not received permission to digitize and display more pages from the book. Here's an example of that. Useless, right?!

Of course, Google would say that they want you to find the books online and not read the books online. To read the full-text, it is hoped that you'll purchase a copy of the book. Fine. But can I purchase a copy of a book published in 1908? Likely I would have to get a copy from my library through interlibrary loan (ILL), if it is available. Even if I have to get a book through ILL, Google has done its job because it has made me aware of a book that I might not have known about otherwise.

So can we overlook the errors and problems because Google is helping us find books? Part of me says "yes", but then I remember that we don't want be digitizing old books more than once. We want to do it correctly the first time. If these books have to be digitized again to improve the quality of the images, then time and money has been wasted. In addition, the books will have to be handled once more, which I hope is not once to many.

Google need to do better. The company is leading us down an important path. It need to do so the right way.

Finally, I found that if you page through a public domain book too quickly, Google senses that and feels that you may be a robot or virus, and thus stops you. You must then type in a code to continue. (This also occurs if you look at a book more than once.)

Technorati Tag:

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Market for used scanners?

Occasionally I get an e-mail message that lists used scanner which are available for purchase. Today's email was from James River Systems. (It could be that all of the e-mails with used equipment have been from them...I haven't tracked that.) It has never crossed my mind to buy a used scanner. Just like a used car, you wouldn't know what horrors it had been through. But a good used scanner could -- I guess -- help launch a project that couldn't afford new equipment.

It looks like James River Systems will sell equipment on consignment, too, and even make introductions (for a price) between a purchaser and someone who has equipment to sell. And besides giving equipment a second lease on life and providing equipment to a projectt that couldn't afford new equipment, they are helping to keep equipment out of landfills. An interesting business...

Dublin Core questions asked by a reader. Can you give answers?

A reader has asked about the adoption rate of Dublin Core outside of the library/information profession. Here are his questions, as I understand them. Maybe you can comment with you thoughts and answers, and help me give him the information he desires.
  • Is Dublin Core being supported by common tools? Think not of OPACs and digitization programs, but more common web tools.
  • How well is Dublin Core being adopted outside of the library/information community?
  • Are tools such as RSS using Dublin Core?
In other words, is Dublin Core really something that the non-library community needs to be learning and using?

one millionth image online!

Congratulations to the Library of Congress for putting its one millionth image online. For some institutions, just getting started on a digitization program seems like an insurmountable task. How wonderful to see an institution start and keep going with great consequences!

[Actually the image has been selected as the one millionth. The photograph depicts Washington Senators baseball player Herman A. "Germany" Schaefer using a camera during a visit to play the New York Highlanders in April 1911.]

Monday, November 28, 2005

Event: Digital Preservation in State Government: Best Practices Exchange 2006

This will be held March 27th-28th, 2006, in Wilmington, NC. Lots of information is available on the event's web site.

Report: A Textured Sculpture: The Information Needs of End-Users of Digitised Collections of New Zealand Cultural Heritage Resources

I'm late in posting about this, but -- as the saying goes -- better late than never.

According to the NZ web site:
In 2004-05 the National Library continued to support research into library and information studies through commissioning the School of Information Management at Victoria University of Wellington to investigate the needs of end users of digitised cultural heritage collections. The report is presented here in its final version.

Results from the surveys and interviews indicate that digital access is indispensable to cultural heritage research. However, participants also identified a number of barriers to digital access, some that are more generic, and others that are more relevant to scholarly historical research. The importance of New Zealand primary documents for cultural heritage research is repeatedly mentioned by participants, with particular emphasis on image sources (i.e. maps, photographs), newspapers, and all Māori cultural materials.
The full report and an eight-page summary are available. Included in the full report are the survey questions used with the end-users.

Presentations available: European Fedora User Meeting

Look closely and you'll see links in the agenda to the PowerPoint presentations.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Qualified Dublin Core

At a meeting this fall, a colleague implored that we not just talk about (and recommend) Dublin Core, but that we specifically get people to use Qualified Dublin Core. The Dublin Core web site says:

"Qualified Dublin Core"Â’ employs additional qualifiers to further refine the meaning of a resource. One use for such qualifiers are to indicate if a metadata value is a compound or structured value, rather than just a string.

Qualifiers allow applications to increase the specificity or precision of the metadata. They may also introduce complexity that could impair the metadata's compatibility with other Dublin Core software applications. With this in mind, designers should only select from the set of approved Dublin Core qualifiers that were developed by the Dublin Core community process.

Unfortunately, qualifiers often introduce additional complexity that can make metadata less interoperable unless approved DC Qualifiers developed within the DCMI are used with such interoperability considerations in mind.

The other version of Dublin Core is referred to as Simple Dublin Core or sometimes Unqualifed or Basic Dublin Core. If you are not familiar with Simple and Qualified Dublin Core, go to the web site and read more about it, and then talk to your colleagues about the pros and cons. Hopefully the benefits of using Qualified Dublin Core will outweigh any negatives.

Technorati Tag:

"Bit-level" preservation

I'm reading a document a friend wrote and found the phrase "bit-level" preservation. Bit-level is preservation the file as it was submitted. The Florida Center for Library Automation says that bit-level preservation includes maintaining onsite and offsite backup copies, virus checking, fixity-checking, and periodic refreshment by copying files to new storage media. In other words, maintaining the integrity of the original file is preserved for later dissemination.

You can contrast that with full preservation. FCLA says:
Full preservation includes bit-level preservation of the originally submitted files, as well as services intended to ensure that the information content of the files will remain usable into the indefinite future. These services vary according to the file type but may include the creation of normalized forms of the file and/or the reformatting of obsolete formats to reasonably comparable successor formats. It is not guaranteed, however, that normalized or migrated versions of any file will be identical in functionality or in “look and feel” to the original file. Note also that if a logical object is comprised of individual files in both supported and unsupported formats, there is no guarantee that the logical object will remain usable as intended.
The assumption is, of course, that you have defined what file types you want to do full preservation on and why, and that those decisions match your organization's needs.

At any rate, these are both good definitions to keep handy. A Google search doesn't show bit-level preservation to be use widely at the moment, but I'm sure it will be.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

When/where do vendors release new products?

This may seem like a stupid question, but it occurred to me earlier this week, when I heard that a vendor is going to announce it new product at the ALA mid-winter conference. In the information industry, vendors like Dialog, NewsNet (defunct), Dow Jones and even the smaller guys long ago used to introduce their new products at National Online in May in New York City. National Online, hosted by Information Today, was the first conference of the year and a very big deal. People attended National Online because it was were you learned what was new. Vendors would sometimes even announce things that weren't quite ready, just to get the word out at this big event.

BTW vendors would then follow-up their appear at National Online with appearance at other conferences like those held by SLA and ALA. The last conference of the session was -- at that time -- the Online conference in London, UK (which is still a big deal conference). [Marydee Ojala in her blog today notes three vendors who will be making announcements at Online Information this year.]

As the industry grew more diverse and more conferences appeared on the scene, National Online became less important and it no longer exists. The industry changes also brought about a change to when new products are introduced. It may still be true that a vendor will try to time the formal release of a new product with a major conference, and probably a conference where the audience is hoped to be appreciative of its new product. But new products are also released at other times during the year, with whatever fanfare that can be mustered.

Here's the question for the day: Where should digitization-related vendors announce their new products in order to get maximum exposure and generate good word-of-mouth advertising? Is a traditional information industry conference the right place? What about the conference hosted by AIIM? (I've been told that the AIIM conference attracts vendors and not necessarily a lot of end users, even though it sounds like a conference we would be interested in given that AIIM members deal with information and image management.) Is there a digitization-related event that would be more appropriate?

If you're stumped, then join the club! I don't think there is a good place (conference) for these vendors to announce new products. Any conference will have some of their ideal customers there, but there is no one conference to give them the best launch. That's too bad, because that's the conference I'd like to go to!

Working with smaller institutions

In a post yesterday, I wrote that it was sad that many small institutions were not digitizing and are, in essence, being left behind.

Kay Schlumpf -- who is involved with the Digital Past at the North Suburban Library System based in Wheeling, Illinois -- wrote a comment and said that their project: trying to find ways to get more small cultural institutions involved in digitization efforts. We have several instances where local public libraries have formed partnerships with small historical societies to get their items online. We have another library that brought together a group of 4 smaller local museums to digitize some of their materials as well.

We even offer a digitization lab with hands on help and training free to participants. There is a very small fee to participate but most times the library or a donor will step in to cover that cost.

Currently we are focused in northern Illinois, but are willing to form partnerships with others.
Wow! These efforts are wonderful to hear. Anyone else have a success story about working with smaller institutions to get them involved in digitization?

Event: Digital Preservation in State Government: Best Practices Exchange, March 27th-28th, 2006

Received via the Archives discussion list:

The State Library of North Carolina is pleased to announce:

Digital Preservation in State Government: Best Practices Exchange 2006

When: March 27th - 28th, 2006
Where: Wilmington, North Carolina at the Hilton Wilmington Riverside
Registration Fee: $150
Registration Opens: December 5, 2005
Registration Deadline: February 23, 2005

Come join fellow librarians, archivists, records managers, and other information professionals as they share their experiences in managing and preserving digital state government information for public access. Bring examples of your successes, failures, and lessons learned to share with colleagues in facilitated exchange sessions. You will most certainly provide and take away something of value from this experience.

The Best Practices Exchange consists of two facilitated large group sessions (an opening forum and a closing wrap-up), six small group topic-based exchange sessions, and an evening reception.

Exchange Session Topics include:
  • Repository Systems
  • Identification, Selection and Appraisal of Digital Assets
  • Collection of Digital Assets
  • Authentication of Digital Assets
  • Metadata
  • Resources/Workflows for Managing Digital Assets
  • Access to Archived Digital Assets
  • Preservation of Digital Assets
  • Organization (Central versus Federated)

For more information on the Best Practices Exchange, visit:

or, contact Christy Allen at:

Christy E. Allen
Digital State Documents Librarian
Documents Branch, State Library of North Carolina
4643 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-4643
Phone: 919-807-7447
Fax: 919-733-1843

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Librarian Trading Cards / Pool (something fun)

Okay, this has NOTHING to do with digitization (although it uses digital photos), but is something fun that librarians are doing. Librarians are creating electronic "trading cards" using Flickr (and other products). You can read about it in Steve Cohen's blog here and here. It's a fun way of making ourselves more visible to each other and maybe those that need our services. (The hard part might be finding a decent photo to use, though.) I did one and Steve hopes that many more librarians will take time to do one, too. If you look through them, I bet you'll find some people you know (or whose blogs you read). I found it nice to put faces with names I already knew.

Library of Congress Plans World Digital Library

From the press release:

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin announced today that Google is the first private-sector company to contribute to the Library's initiative to develop a plan to begin building a World Digital Library (WDL) for use by other libraries around the globe. The effort would be supported by funds from nonexclusive, public and private partnerships, of which Google is the first.

The concept for the WDL came from a speech that Billington delivered to the newly established U.S. National Commission for UNESCO on June 6, 2005, at Georgetown University. The full text is available at

In his speech, Billington proposed that public research institutions and libraries work with private funders to begin digitizing significant primary materials of different cultures from institutions across the globe. Billington said that the World Digital Library would bring together online "“rare and unique cultural materials held in U.S. and Western repositories with those of other great cultures such as those that lie beyond Europe and involve more than 1 billion people: Chinese East Asia, Indian South Asia and the worlds of Islam stretching from Indonesia through Central and West Asia to Africa."

Google Inc. has agreed to donate $3 million as the first partner in this public-private initiative.

To lay the groundwork for the WDL, the Library will develop a plan for identifying technology issues related to digitization and organization of WDL collections. These might include presentation, maintenance, standards and metadata schemas that support both access and preservation. The plan will also identify resources, such as equipment, staffing and funding, required to digitize and launch an online presentation of a WDL collection.
In their commentary on this, Danny Sullivan and Gary Price note:
Over the past year, Google has digitized about 5,000 public domain books from the Library of Congress, material that may ultimately end up in Google Book Search, though it's not currently listed there yet. Google will continue scanning public domain books from the Library of Congress Law Library. Google said it's too early to tell if any of the scanning work it has already done will end up in the WDL.
Now we have several big projects underway. It will be interesting to see how they all fair.

The actual digitization isn't the hard part

Next week I'll be doing a short talk on digitization. I suspect the group expects me to talk about what people's concerns are with digitizing materials, but digitizing is the easy part. It is everything else that causes difficulty. Perhaps this goes along with where we often focus our time when learning about digitization. We tend focus on the process of digitizing, since that seems so foreign to us, but there is so much more to a digitization program including project planning, metadata creation, copyright, preservation, marketing, etc. The actually digitization can be learned and is often very rote. Other areas require more thought and more preparation.

What's the most different area that needs addressing in a digitization program? I think my answer changes depending on the situation. Clearly every hurdle can be overcome if there is money to solve the problem. But sometimes the hurdle is management's attitude. They don't see the importance of beginning such a program. They don't understand the positive impact it will have on the institution and those it serves.

The saddest part of digitization is that more institutions are not doing it. Many institutions, especially those small ones (e.g., small historical societies) with great collections, are being left behind. A divide is occurring and I don't see anyone riding in on a white horse (the proverbial hero) to solve it. The only way to get these institutions involved in digitization is to create collaborative efforts that they can easily be a part of. These smaller institutions don't need to digitize everything, but they do need to make some materials available online so that people know that they exist and know -- by example -- what they own. This would help those institutions stay visible and help drive visitors to them (both online and to their physical buildings).

Technorati Tags: ,

Monday, November 21, 2005

Who is reading Digitization 101?

I have two searches that run constantly to see where this blog is being mentioned. I did it to help me understand who is reading this blog and hopefully to be able to target postings more to my readers. The mentions come from places I'd suspect, as well as unexpected places (e.g., blogs published in French and German). Thankfully, I can use Babelfish to give me a rough translation of the pages.

The searches I have running are in Feedster and Google. They are not perfect, but they do deliver interesting results. And they have helped me find other blogs that I finding interesting and informative.

In case your curious, looking at the counter I have on the blog, I'm getting an average of 82 visits per day from around the world (every continent). That does not include all the people who read this blog through a blog reader. I've gotten messages from some of you. It would be wonderful to meet more of you, especially if there is a topic you would like addresses here.

Addendum, 11/23/2005: Guenter Waibel at RLG wrote to remind me of the PubSub features to check Daily Link Counts and Site Statistics. I had actually just started using it and it is an interesting tool.

Addendum, 11/23/2005, 2:44 p.m.: I should also mention that PubSub has a list of librarian blogs and shows them ranked against each other by something called ListRank. Besides seeing how a blog ranks (or not), you'll likely find a few blogs that you didn't know about and perhaps should investigate.

Talking with vendors

This year, I've interacted with many digitization-related vendors through one-on-one meetings, e-mail, and phone calls. Here's what I've learned:
  • Digitization vendors based outside of the U.S. (i.e., India) are reaching out to find potential customers. They use e-mail and phone calls to introduce their services and try to solicit business. Several vendors based in India have contacted me this year (one per month?), but only two U.S. digitization vendors have contacted me without any prompting. None of the digitization-related vendors in my geographic region have ever contacted me. (Yes, I do know who they are and what they do.)
  • Many of the vendors who are reaching out are those that are looking for big projects like digitizing corporate files and working papers (e.g., banking records). Sadly, many that I talk to don't realize that the requirements for digitizing materials from a library, archive or museum are likely to be very different.
  • Vendors are very picky about where they will exhibit their services (e.g., a conference vendor exhibit hall). Everyone wants to exhibit where the big customers will see them. However, they should also exhibit were smaller customers can also see them. You never know who knows who, and that small customer could lead to something very big. (Consider, for example, that a smaller organization is likely to find a major organization to partner with in order to create a more successful project.)
  • Vendors would be wise to learn what an organization thinks about when considering a digitization project, so they understand how their services fit into the entire mix.
I do like talking to vendors. Today I talked with two. And next week, I'll visit one of them. I think I can give a vendor the inside scoop (story) on what libraries, archives, museums and even corporations are looking for. And I like hearing what they are doing and who they are working with. Hopefully our conversations are mutual learning experiences.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

My web site is back up! Hallelujah!

If you've never looked at my site, feel free to take a peek and read more about what I do in regards to digitization and in doing business intelligence (BI) research. Although they seem like very different things, in both I help organizations have the information they need to move ahead with decisions and projects.

I also occasionally do workshops (usually digitization, BI or computer-skills related) and this year developed one based on my blogging experience. I offered it -- How to Create a Blog for your Business -- in September (very successful, if I do say so myself) and will be offering it again in January 2006.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Online Book: Creating an Institutional Repository: LEADIRS Workbook

This may be of interest to those building institutional reposittories of digital materials. It is 134 pages in length. The introduction says:
The Learning About Digital Institutional Repositories Seminars programme (LEADIRS) aims to describe and illustrate how to build an online institutional repository.

The LEADIRS series of seminars present specialists from the UK and abroad sharing their expertise and experiences in building institutional repositories. This workbook book supplements the seminar presentations and offers practical advice as well as work sheets you can use to get started with your own repository programme. Where possible, we point you to real-world examples of planning aids or presentations used by university library teams in the UK and around the world.

The information in this book is as complete as possible at the time of writing. Because each institutional repository service will be unique to the institution where it is built, this information is meant to be helpful and to provoke discussion and exploration. It is not meant to be prescriptive. We cannot account for or anticipate the unique challenges and resources of your institution.

Larry Lessig -- the "discussion": the morning after

Last night, Larry Lessig participated in a Google Print debate. Today in his blog, he has some "morning after" thoughts about what was said and the implications for Fair Use. From his vantage point, the arguments that the publishers are putting forth will potentially shrink Fair Use. For sure, this topic -- digitizing and making available copyrighted materials -- is changing how we think of Fair Use and maybe in the long run that will be the what we'll all remember about Google's efforts.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

My web site is down

Actually, it has been down for more than a day due to a server that is dying. I have e-mail (thank goodness), but no web presence other than this blog.

When your web site is down, it is like you don't exist. Your "public" face is gone. No one can find you. Maybe Internet hosting services should develop some affordable mirror site ideas, which would guarantee that a web site is always available no matter what. (BTW thank goodness for cached sites in Google and those archived at the Internet Archive. And why does the Wayback Machine not show any pages archived for this year?)

People have asked why my blog is not part of my web site. The simple truth is that I didn't even think about putting on the same site as my web site, when I set it up. And now I'm happy that my blog is someplace else (Blogger) and available when my site is not.

The prognosis is that my site will be back up tomorrow. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

Google's Librarian Center

In case you haven't seen this, Google has launched a site/service geared towards librarians. According to the page, Google is going to produce a quarterly newsletter for librarians and I'm assuming that they'll do other stuff to.

Interestingly, they're also looking for pointers (URLs) to lesson plans and other documents that people have used to teach others about Google. Now it looks like they are not looking for this stuff in order to share it more widely, but rather as a way to learn what works when teaching people how to use Google! I wonder if they'll then use this information to create their own materials and put those trainers (librarians) "out of business" (at least for teaching about Google)?

Technorati Tag:

Continuing partners

When Carole Ann Fabian (director of the Univ. of Buffalo's Educational Technology Center) talks about digitization projects, she talks about the need for "continuing partners." Interestingly, this also came up -- in a sense -- at the Statewide Digitization Planners Conference in October. Projects (and programs) that are collaborative in nature are more successful than those that are solo efforts. Why? Here are reasons that come to my mind:
  • When you collaborate, you bring in additional resources and skills to compliment those you already have.
  • Two or more partners are less likely to let a project fail.
  • There are more people to pick up a dropped "ball."
  • The additional resources can help to create a better end-product.
  • Responsiblities are distributed, so no one group feels overwhelmed.
The challenge is finding the right collaborators. It seems, though, that going through the trouble of finding the right collaborators is more than worth it if you realize that the project itself will be stronger and better because of it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Google Print — the debate

There will be a debate in NYC this Thursday evening (Nov. 17) at 7 p.m. on Google Print. Larry Lessig's blog gives the details. He also notes today that the debate will be streamed over the Internet at this site (note that there is nothing there now). I hoping that the debate is archived on the Internet, so it can be watched later (for those of us who will not be glued to our computers Thursday night).

BTW I hadn't posted this earlier, because it was "just" an event in NYC, but now that it's going to be webcasted...!

FILE FORMAT REGISTRY: new version released by the UK National Archives

I received this press release today:

The UK National Archives has released PRONOM 4, the latest version of its web-based technical registry to support long-term digital preservation. Adrian Brown, Head of Digital Preservation, at The National Archives said: ‘PRONOM 4 incorporates a number of significant enhancements, including an automatic file format identification tool.’


  • Now holds detailed technical information about individual file formats, including links to the full format specifications where available
  • In anticipation of the launch of the PRONOM Unique Identifier scheme, later in 2005, PRONOM 4 now also supports the use of unique identifiers. The scheme will provide persistent unique identifiers for file formats recorded in PRONOM, and has already been adopted as the preferred encoding scheme for describing formats within the e-Government Metadata Standard in the UK
  • Introduces DROID (Digital Record Object Identification) the first in a planned series of tools, which use the content of the registry to provide specialized preservation services. DROID is an automatic file format identification tool, which uses byte signatures stored in PRONOM to identify and report the specific file format versions of digital files

Dr Peter Townsend, Commercial Director of Tessella, said: “The introduction of DROID will allow repositories all over the world to identify the format of the files they need to preserve, and take a first step on the road to long-term preservation. One of the first repositories that will take advantage of this new tool will be the award-winning Digital Archive, developed by Tessella for the UK National Archives.”

Kevin Gell, Managing Director of Tessella, said: “Tessella has built a long-standing relationship with the UK National Archives, which includes the development of all four releases of PRONOM. Projects such as these, and the Electronic Records Archives program for the US National Archives and Records Administration, are demonstrating to the world that the seemingly insurmountable problems of digital preservation are beginning to be solved, and that the benefits of innovative solutions can be shared with the rest of the digital preservation community.”

Adrian Brown continued: “There is an ongoing programme of development for PRONOM, and we very much welcome feedback, including ideas for future enhancements. We are also always interested to hear from anyone who is either using, or would like to use, PRONOM content or services.”

Notes to editors: [edited]
  • The UK National Archives hold one of the largest archival collections in the world, spanning 1,000 years of British history. Launched in 2004, the National Archives brings together the Public Records Office and the Historical Manuscripts Commission, and is responsible for the long-term preservation of, and access to, Government records in an authentic and complete state. Increasingly these records are ‘born digital’ files published by government departments. []
  • The Digital Archive stores important UK Government records, including public enquiries such as the Hutton Inquiry, the websites of Number 10 Downing Street and the Cabinet office, e-mails, web pages and databases. []
  • For further information on PRONOM please visit:
  • For further information on DROID please visit: