Friday, July 29, 2005

Article: Where Do We Go From Here? The Next Decade for Digital Libraries

Several blogs have mentioned this article written by Clifford Lynch, founder and Director of the Coalition for Networked Information, in the July/August issue of D-Lib magazine. bblummer in the Digital Libraries blog has a nice summary of the article. If you have no time to read the full article, do read the summary.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Announcement: ABBYY USA and Kirtas Technologies Form Strategic Licensing Partnership

Two companies that have appeared together in print (thinking of articles that appeared in USA Today and elsewhere quoting the two CEOs), now have formed a partnership. The press release states that "Kirtas will incorporate ABBYY's optical character recognition (OCR) technology through ABBYY FineReader Engine into its APT BookScan 1200™ system and its BookScan Editor software." The Kirtas literature alluded to the fact their images where clean enough for OCR. Now one will not need a seperate piece of software to have text OCR'd.

The impact of financial problems on library systems and innovation

I haven't mentioned it here, but the public library system in Erie County, New York (the Buffalo area) is in dire straights. The system currently has 52 libraries and is anticipating closing 24 of them next year. Although that will save the system $4 million, that will not cover the system's budget shortfall. In addition, the Niagara Falls Public Library and its LaSalle Branch may have to close. These two budget-strapped libraries are in Niagara County, which is next to Erie County.

There are libraries all across the country that are facing severe budget pressure. The Salinas Public Library in California has grabbed headlines. In my larger region, the public libraries in Broome and Tompkins counties have had to cut back on services. Broome has also closed branch libraries. A library that closes may not stay closed forever. Sometimes -- as in the case of the public library in Corning, NY -- it just needs time to reorganize itself financially, make some other changes, rally its supporters and then re-open. The library in Corning was closed for a year and is better now than it was before.

So the good news is that a library closing is not the end of the world (as we saw with Corning) and that a library can emerge from this better than before. But that is likely not true for every library that closes. Many branches that close will stay closed and their resources consolidated. Library systems will shrink and focus on the essentials.

Sometimes these financial stresses will lead a library system to think creatively and to become innovative. Obviously, they cannot do things the same way, so how can they adapt to their new reality? What services can they create to attract and retain patrons? How can they now meet their patrons' needs?

Innovating in the middle of a financial disaster is not easy, but sometimes it is the stress of such times that lead to creative solutions. Sometimes we can only think out-of-the-box when the box is on the verge of disappearing. My favorite innovation story is not library-related but has to do with the Apollo 13 accident and the work of NASA to figure out how to create a filter for the spaceship's oxygen system out of parts that were on the craft.

Of course, I see digitization programs and digitized content as a way of reaching out in new ways to patrons. Maybe a library cannot create its own digital images, but it could link to and use materials provided by others. The library might create more of a web presence to replace those lost branches. Maybe a library might work with local businesses to install kiosks that could be used to tap into the virtual library?

Instead of loaning books, what if the library used its resources to create an "Internet Bookmobile" that can download and print books that are in the public domain (or where permission has been given). Brewster Kahle has demonstrated this technology in various parts of the world. Could it be that with library closures here in the U.S. that we should be considering it?

We've been hooked on the library being a place. Perhaps one thing that might come out of these crises is that the library will not be seen as a physical place, but as a virtual place where certain tools exist. Or perhaps a new type of library will be introduced; one that fits these new times?

If you have an opinion on this, I would welcome hearing from you -- please leave a comment.

* * * * *

Go here to read a recent article on the Erie County libraries. The American Library Association has a post on the Niagara Falls libraries here.

The International Calendar of Information Science Conferences

The International Information Issues SIG and the European and New England chapters of the American Society for Information Science & Technology have collaborated on the International Calendar of Information Science Conferences. There are many items already on the calendar, but it isn't yet comprehensive. Organizations can use this form to submit conferences to be posted.

Let's get conferences that are concerned with digital images listed on this site so that more people know about them (and can attend).

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Article: The Fading Memory of the State

This article in the MIT Technology Review details a problem we all know and tells how the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is attempting to fix it. Faced with digital records that are at risk, NARA hopes to find a solution to a growing problem.
...NARA has hired two contractors--Harris Corporation and Lockheed Martin--to attempt that miracle. The companies are scheduled to submit competing preliminary designs next month for a permanent Electronic Records Archives (ERA). According to NARA's specifications, the system must ultimately be able to absorb any of the 16,000 other software formats believed to be in use throughout the federal bureaucracy--and, at the same time, cope with any future changes in file-reading software and storage hardware. It must ensure that stored records are authentic, available online, and impervious to hacker or terrorist attack. While Congress has authorized $100 million and President Bush's 2006 budget proposes another $36 million, the total price tag is unknown. NARA hopes to roll out the system in stages between 2007 and 2011. If all goes well, Weinstein says, the agency "will have achieved the start of a technological breakthrough equivalent in our field to major 'crash programs' of an earlier era--our Manhattan Project, if you will, or our moon shot."
The article also talks about research activity that is occurring in this area.

"State of the nation" survey (UK's digital heritage)

For immediate release

25th July 2005

State of the nation survey to reveal threat to the UK’s digital heritage

The Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) is today launching its biggest project to date, a ‘state of the nation’ survey designed to reveal the extent of the risk of loss or degradation to digital material held in the UK’s public and private sectors.

The UK Digital Preservation Needs Assessment survey will analyse and synthesise existing sources of data on digital preservation activity in the UK and gather additional information to present a detailed analysis of the status quo regarding digital preservation in the UK. The need for a comprehensive survey was revealed by smaller scale studies carried out by the DPC and its members (see background notes, below).

The survey will be carried out by the software services company Tessella, which won a competitive tender process. Tessella will look at archive practice in government bodies, archives, museums, libraries, education, scientific research organisations, pharmaceutical, environmental, nuclear, engineering, publishing and financial institutions. A draft report and findings will be presented in October 2005, identifying priorities for action to accelerate, influence and inform the development of a UK digital preservation agenda.

“We have cared for our physical collections for generations but we need to ensure that our digital material remains as relevant and as accessible for the researcher of the future,” said Lynne Brindley, Chair of the Digital Preservation Coalition and Chief Executive of the British Library. “This survey is vitally important to help us identify not only what is being created in digital format, and how it is being preserved, but also what items are potentially vulnerable or at risk. It will ultimately allow us to develop a national strategy.”

Kevin Gell, Managing Director of Tessella added: “The challenges of digital preservation are considerable, since the aim is to ensure that in the future we can read any electronic record – ‘born digital’ or scanned – regardless of how it was created. It is important to establish a sound basis for the storage and preservation of electronic information, with the flexibility to deal with an unknown future and new long-term solutions as they become available. The survey will help do this and, just as important, raise awareness of the key issues, and influence organisations to make this a high priority.”

Dr Peter Townsend, Commercial Director of Tessella said: “It is critical that organisations at both a national and a regional level respond positively to the challenge of migrating from paper records and enable electronic documents to be stored and accessed in perpetuity. The cultural and historical memory of countries and organisations is at stake, as is business-critical information in the commercial sector.”

Background notes:

About the DPC: The DPC is a cross-sectoral membership organisation dedicated to securing the preservation of digital resources in the UK. It currently has 27 members and associate members: The British Library, the Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries (MLA), the Consortium of University Research Libraries (CURL), the Digital Curation Centre, the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), the National Archives, the National Archives of Scotland; the National Library of Scotland, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI); the University of Oxford, University of London Computer Centre (ULCC), Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS), Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP), the BBC Information & Archives, the Corporation of London, Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC) , the Ministry of Defence, National Electronic Library for Health, National Library of Wales, Natural History Museum, Online Computer and Library Center (OCLC), Open University, Publishers’ Association, Research Libraries Group, Research Libraries Group, UK Data Archive, and the Wellcome Trust Library.

Previous DPC research: A DPC Members survey, which was undertaken in 2003, revealed details of volumes and formats of digital materials held by DPC members and the issue they faced in their preservation. Additional work was undertaken to provide real-life scenarios of circumstances in which digital materials become vulnerable to loss. Earlier this year, the Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries, funded a sample survey of local and regional organisations in two regions. These investigations revealed the need for a comprehensive, nation-wide survey.

About Tessella: Tessella Support Services plc specialises in the application of innovative software solutions to scientific, technical and engineering problems. Tessella has over 20 years of proven expertise in the area of reliable and authentic long-term preservation of electronic records, both for government and scientific organizations. In recent years a number of mainly academic and government organisations have been at the cutting-edge of facing up to the digital preservation challenge, and Tessella has played a key role in a number of the most practical of these initiatives.

Further information:

For DPC press enquiries and interviews please contact Anna Arthur, 0207 637 2994, --

For Tessella press enquiries and interviews please contact Alison Smith, Marketing Manager, + 44 (0) 01235 546609, --

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Thinking about software

Over the last four days, I've been in a couple interesting conversations on digital asset management (DAM) software. The questions that have been raised boil down to:
  • Can small institutions afford these packages (especially those that seemed preferred in the marketplace)? The answer for many is "no." Another consultant that I spoke with recently said that he was setting up a temporary solution with some of his small clients (and one that could be easily migrated), so that they had a rudimentary retrieval/tracking system in place.
    • What about Greenstone? Good question. Although it is distributed freely, libraries need to have a higher level of technical sophistication in order to use it. A small library may not have the technical resources (or time/money to acquire them) in order to use Greenstone.
  • Can institutions partner in a way that would allow them access to more expensive software? Several library consortia in New York State are looking into this. This could make the costs more tolerable as long as vendors (like DiMeMa/OCLC) don't make the entry level pricing too high for these consortia that are in cash-strapped situations.
  • How do these packages function really? This question came to mind as I was looking at CONTENTdm this weekend. After reading the product literature, I looked at some of the projects that had installed it and checked to see if they had implemented a particular feature (highlighting). Since none that I saw had, I wonder now if it is a feature that is difficult to implement or just not seen as worth it? Articles and papers on real-life experiences should be widely circulated on these digital asset management systems, so that everyone knows the pros and cons.
    • Articles should also include information on how/why the institution decided to implement specific features.
  • The functionality on that site is useful (e.g., the highlighting in Google Print) -- what software are they using? We know that CONTENTdm will highlight and we know that Google Print highlights, so is Google using CONTENTdm? We don't have enough data to say that and Google's not talking. So here other projects are wanting to implement or at least investigate the software that Google is use, but unable to because Google has everyone under non-disclosures. (I'm singling out Google here, but there are other projects that are very closed-mouth.)
    • In 2003 - 2004, I had two MLS interns work with me on a list of projects and people worth watching in digitization. These were projects and people that were doing important work AND that we could learn from. Google is doing important work, but they are making it impossible for us to learn from them. There is no trail for us to follow and no lessons learned being published.
  • How do you truly find the right DAM software for your project? It seems from a conversation I had yesterday with another consultant that the best way is to talk to lots of people, who travel in different circles than you. What have they used? What software are they talking about? What have they heard that might help you? Perhaps you'll still select the "hot" software being used in your region, but at least you will have gather more information before making a decision.
  • What will the merger of Dynix and Sirsi mean to the software they market for DAM (and to their customers)? (And lets' not forget that Dynix has a partnership with PTFS that also sells software.) The only obvious answer is that the number of choices will decrease.
These conversations ended with everyone feeling the need to do more research and to continue to exchange what we know.

Technorati tag:

Monday, July 25, 2005

Event: Describing Photographs in the Online Environment, Nov. 7

Another date for this workshop has been added! “Describing Photographs in the Online Environment” will be offered by the SAA in New York City on November 7. Get an in-depth review of the major emerging standards for the online description of physical photographs, with an emphasis on data structure standards such as the Dublin Core and VRA 3.0; content standards such as the new CCO (Cataloging Cultural Objects), DACS, Graphic Materials; and data value standards such as the Art and Architecture Thesaurus and the Thesaurus for Graphic Materials. Collection-level description, item-level description, and traditional finding aids are discussed in detail. Program runs from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. To register and for more information contact Solveig DeSutter, or Jodie Stauffer in the SAA Professional Education Department, at: Email:; Tel: 312-922-0140; or see Website:

If this workshop interests you at all (even if the date is not convenient), please contact Solveig DeSutter so that SAA knows that more people are interested in it. Perhaps she can add additional dates in your region?!

* * * * *
Thanks to Miriam Meislik at Univeristy of Pittsburgh for alerting me to this addition to the SAA calendar.

Event: DLM Forum Conference on electronic records, Budapest 5-7 October

As posted to several discussion lists...

The fourth multidisciplinary European Document Lifecycle Management (DLM) Forum Conference on electronic records will take place in Budapest on 5-7 October 2005.

This year the conference is being organised by the Hungarian Prime Minister’s Office and the Hungarian Archives with the support of the DLM Forum chaired by Sarah Tyacke, the Chief Executive of The National Archives.

To register and view the programme see the conference website at

Special rates apply for early registration.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Article: Amassing a Treasury of Photography

The George Eastman House in Rochester and the International Center of Photography in Midtown Manhattan are working on a joint project. The New York Times reports:
The Web site -, now active only as a test site, with a smattering of images - is expected to include almost 200,000 photographs when it is completed in the fall of 2006, and as both institutions work out agreements with estates and living photographers, the intention is to add tens of thousands more pictures.
The idea is to create a free, virtual -- and quite large -- online photography museum available to all.

As for format, the article only says:
... images of most pictures on the site would be modestly sized, about 300 pixels on the longest side, though higher-resolution images of photos in the public domain would be available.
Read the full article more information (free registration required).

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Make the "obvious" obvious

Today I attended a board meeting for an organization I'm in. Board members traveled from various parts of New York State for the meeting, which was held in a county park (under a tent and by the lake). The park has a web site, with driving directions, but not with detailed directions of how to get to the various pavilions, etc. When you get to the park, there is no information at the entrance that will help you. (And no one to ask a question of.) You have to either "know" or be willing to drive until you find the right location.

What does this have to do with digital libraries, for example? Is your service obvious? Do your users understand what to do? Where to go? How to get a question answered? Could "signs" be useful?

And like getting to a distant location, once your users get "in" do they know how to get "out"? In other words, is everything obvious? If not, find ways to make what is obvious to you, obvious to your users. They'll thank you for it with fewer questions and less frustration.

Distance Learning Glossary

We assume people know what we know, don't we? But often others don't know what we know.

The South Central Regional Library Council realized that people didn't know the different terms used when talking about distance learning, so they created a Distance Learning Glossary. I'm sure there are more terms that could be added (like WebCT), but it is a long, wonderful list and useful to those who are unsure of the words they are hearing used. One might also use it to figure out alternate terms to use so that our language isn't so filled with jargon.

What terms do you use on your web site or in your institution that are not obvious to others? Should you also be creating a glossary for people to check?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Event: Describing Photographs in the Online Environment

This is from the Archivist's Daybook:

August 15 -- “Describing Photographs in the Online Environment” will be offered by the SAA in New Orleans, LA. Get an in-depth review of the major emerging standards for the online description of physical photographs, with an emphasis on data structure standards such as the Dublin Core and VRA 3.0; content standards such as the new CCO (Cataloging Cultural Objects), DACS, Graphic Materials; and data value standards such as the Art and Architecture Thesaurus and the Thesaurus for Graphic Materials. Collection-level description, item-level description, and traditional finding aids are discussed in detail. Program runs from 9am-5pm. To register and for more information contact Solveig DeSutter, or Jodie Stauffer in the SAA Professional Education Department, at: Email:; Tel: 312-922-0140; or see Website:

* * * *
Update (7/21): Oh, dear...Someone has pointed out that the actual web site for the workshop notes that it is "closed." Obviously this is a popular topic. It is suggested that those interested contact Solveig DeSutter at SAA to see if they will run the workshop again.

Article: 32 Tips to Inspire Innovation for You and Your Library: Part 1

In commemoration of his 25th anniversary of graduating from library school, Steve Abram, Sirsi vice president of Innovation, is publishing a list of things he has learned over that time period. This article contains the first eleven, which is an interesting list and includes a few rules worth remembering such as "90% of your costs in both time and money are in implementation, not development."

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Gina on "career physical therapy"

Gina at Idaho State Library has a good posting on keeping abreast of what is happening the her profession. She likens it to going to the gym and maintaining her career health and vitality. Her career physical therapy includes:
  • Journal articles
  • Library Weblogs
  • Professional Journals/Organizations
She notes that her goal is not to know everything, but to be aware. Being aware helps us not to start at ground zero all the time. Instead we have an important head start.

Please read her full posting for more information.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Article: Legacy Content Conversion

This article looks at the work Allen Press has done in helping publishers place legacy content (back issues) online. Although this is an article that is trying to sell publishers on digitization, there is interesting content in it for everyone. For example, pasge 11 looks at some of the preparation decisions that must be made in scanning a journal (e.g., do you scan the table of content) and some of the issues that will arise (such as small font sizes). The article contains three case studies and shows how frequently scanned legacy content was used. Obviously the message is that users do want older content, especially is the scientific fields, so it is worthwhile for publishers to make this content available. The article notes that PDF format is preferred over HTML.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Article: Could Googling become illegal?

Unrelated to digitization, although might impact Google Print.....

The TP! Wire Service (TP stands for Tom Peters) carried mention of this story from the Globe and Mail in Toronto. The article talks about a bill that has been introduced in Canada.

Bill C-60, which amends the Copyright Act and received its first reading in the
House of Commons on June 20, suggests it could be illegal for anyone to provide
copyrighted information through "information-location tools," which includes
search engines.
From what the article says, this could potentially impact Google and the Internet Archive because of their cached pages. Would a government look upon this activity and deem it illegal? Is that what the Canadian government means to do or would this be an unintended result? Perhaps this will be interesting to watch.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Event: OCLC Western Digital Forum- Newspaper Digitization

I found this a while ago, but am just getting around to posting it, so (unfortunately) early bird registration ends today. (Sorry)


OCLC Western Digital Forum- Newspaper Digitization

The first in a series of four digital forums sponsored by OCLC Western Digital & Preservation Services Program, Newspaper Digitization will be held in beautiful Portland, Oregon on August 11-12, 2005.

Co-sponsors for the event include the Utah Digital Newspapers Project, the California Newspaper Project and the Orbis Cascade Alliance.

Forum Overview

The OCLC Western Digital Forum - Newspaper Digitization will provide a national forum for the discussion of issues relating to newspaper digitization and will provide an opportunity to continue the national discussion of collaborative solutions to newspaper digitization. The forum will highlight existing major projects, encourage discussion of problems relating to newspapers in digital format, and foster collaboration on finding solutions and funding mechanisms. Speakers will discuss issues such as funding projects, indexing, metadata, copyright, permissions and foster discussion that leads to solutions. The forum will address needs and interests expressed by OCLC Western membership and the wider national interest in newspaper digitization projects.

Registration Information:

Early Registration (received by July 15th) - $75
After July 15th - $100

See the web site for additional information.

The use of checksums in digitization projects

The digitizationblog has had two postings on this recently. In the first posting, Mark Jordan writes:
Many institutions use checksums to ensure that the files they are creating in digitization projects are integral. However, there appears to be little consistency in what types of checksums are being used.
At the end of the article, Jordan asks that reading tell him about their use of checksum.

The second posting points to the release of "the DSpace Checksum Checker, which monitors changes in digital objects in DSpace by comparing initial and recent checksums and reporting the results via email."

What is checksum? Wikipedia states:
A checksum is a form of redundancy check, a very simple measure for protecting the integrity of data by detecting errors in data that is sent through space (telecommunications) or time (storage). It works by adding up the basic components of a message, typically the bytes, and storing the resulting value. Later, anyone can perform the same operation on the data, compare the result to the authentic checksum, and (assuming that the sums match) conclude that the message was probably not corrupted.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Books related to digitization

The most recent Neal-Schuman catalogue contains several books that are focused on digital assets.
  • Developing and Maintaining Practical Archives: A How-To-Do-It Manual by Gregory S. Hunter. 2003. 457 pp. $65.00

  • Building Digital Archives: Descriptions & Displays: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Archivists and Librarians by Frederick Stielow. 2003. 225 pp. $75.00

  • Digital Imaging: A Practical Handbook by Stuart D. Lee. 2001. 192 pp. $55.00

  • Managing the Digital Library by Roy Tennant. 2004. 280 pp. $49.95

  • XML in Libraries edited by Roy Tennant. 2002. 213 pp. $75.00

Lighting and wall colors for an imaging lab

A posting on the IMAGELIB discussion list pointed to a two-part article by George Wedding on lighting and color in a digital darkroom. As the introduction to Part 2 states:
In the first installment of this two-part article, we made the case for turning down the lights in computer editing rooms for graphic artists and photographers who need more-accurate color. Getting your workspace right for color-accurate situations may also require toning down the colors of walls, counters, and even monitor desktop color schemes. In this second installment, we'll give you the information you need to turn your own office into a proper "digital" darkroom, or at least to move it in the right direction.
The articles -- The Darkroom Makes a Comeback and The Darkroom Makes a Comeback (Part 2) -- are technical and do point to ISO standards, but are well-worth reviewing so that you understand the importance of building the correct surrounds for your digital imaging lab. Part 2 even gives the paint colors that have been used in specific labs and information on specific lighting suppliers.

This spring, I had the pleasure of being in a lab that has paid close attention to lighting and wall color, as well as air quality. What I noticed was that the room was very pleasant to be in. The lights did not glare or harm the eyes, and it seemed peaceful. Using the standards, they had built a good workspace both for the work to be done (digitization) and for the humans that were doing the work.

If you are considering building a digital imaging lab, I would encourage you to read these articles, look at the standards, and even visit a lab that has implemented this information. Hopefully doing so will encourage you to build a good environment for your imaging work as well as for yourself.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Article: WMU lands grant to digitize Civil War diaries

Western Michigan University today announced:
A grant to Western Michigan University Libraries will not only keep the diaries of eight Civil War soldiers alive, but will help share these treasures with the world through the technological innovation of digitization.

The $95,619 grant from the Library of Michigan will be used to digitize the Civil War diaries of eight men who served in several Midwestern Union regiments. The diary entries represent a wide variety of experiences and perspectives, ranging from that of musician to a prisoner of war.

This work is part of $965,000 Digitization for Preservation and Access grants announced by the Library of Michigan.

The full press release is available here.

Article: Keeper of Expired Web Pages Is Sued...

The Internet Archive is being sued by a company that says "the access to its old Web pages, stored in the Internet Archive's database, was unauthorized and illegal." Most see the Internet Archive's efforts as beneficial, but in this case, the pages were used in an intellectual property lawsuit. Read the full New York Times article for the details. (Be aware that the two companies in the original lawsuit where material from the Internet Archive was used have very similar names, which can make the article a bit confusing.)

Brewster Kahle and the Internet Archive are involved in several digitization and access efforts. Let's hope that this does not sidetrack them.

Turning Your Life Into Bits -- Part 2

Dennis Moser wrote a thoughtful comment to my posting on MyLifeBits (Article: Turning Your Life Into Bits, Indexed). He takes exception to the use of the word "archive" which is used in the original article and which I also used. Moser wrote:
This is not an archives, unless it can be shown that there has been an arrangement of the material collected that provides us a context for its' assembly and existence as a 'collection.'

While it is clearly a 'collection' by most any definition, it lacks the process of appraisal that distinguishes any 'archival' one. The two terms I've used, 'arrangement' and 'appraisal' both have a specific meaning with the field of archivy.
Unfortunately, the word "archive" just means repository, while those who work in archives (and are indeed archivists) see it to be much more than that (and rightly so).

In The Laws Of Archivy compiled by Terry Abraham, he notes that:
Garbage is garbage, no matter how long you keep it.
This is true with both hardcopy and electronic materials. Gordon Bell has amassed gigabytes of information from his life, but it is all necessary? What if the information had been appraised? Would they find that some of is garbage and should not be saved?

Turning back to digitization, let's remember that the goal is not to digitize everything, but to digitized what will be useful and used. There must be some appraisal of the materials or you may find that you're digitizing junk.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Announcement of the DIGITAL PRESERVATION AWARD Shortlist

As posted to the Digital-Preservation discussion list.



- London, 12 July 2005 -

The Digital Preservation Award of £5,000 is sponsored by the Digital Preservation Coalition. This prestigious Award recognises the many new initiatives being undertaken in the challenging field of digital preservation. Shortlisted for the Digital Preservation Award are:

1. Choosing the optimal digital preservation strategy
Applicant: Vienna University of Technology

The Vienna University of Technology recognises the difficulty in choosing a long-term preservation strategy, whether the material be digitised or born digital. It has developed a workflow evaluation tool to assist in the selection of an optimal preservation solution (eg. migration, emulation, or computer museum), thus enabling the user to make an informed, well documented and accountable decision for the implementation of a specific strategy for a given collection. Their approach has a wide application and has been successfully applied to video, audio and document records.

2. Digital Preservation Testbed
Applicant: National Archives of the Netherlands

The Digital Preservation Testbed project, developed by the Nationaal Archief of the Netherlands, is a practical research project to investigate options to secure long-term accessibility to archival records. The Archief carried out experiments based on series of solution-oriented research questions, in order to decide which preservation strategy or combination of strategies would be most suitable. The Testbed focused on three different methods for the long-term preservation of digital information, namely migration, XML and emulation. These methods are assessed not only in terms of their effectiveness, but also in terms of their limitations, cost and possibilities for use. From June 2005, the Testbed will operate as the Digital Preservation System of the Nationaal Archief.

3. PREMIS (Preservation Metadata: Implementation Strategies)
Applicant: PREMIS Working Group

Sponsored by the OCLC and RLG, PREMIS is an international working group set up to define a core set of preservation metadata elements, applicable to a broad range of digital preservation activities and to identify and evaluate alternative strategies for encoding, storing, managing, and exchanging preservation metadata - in particular, the core metadata elements - within and across digital preservation systems. Its activities culminated in the release of a Data Dictionary for Preservation Metadata: Final Report of the PREMIS Working Group (May 2005). The Data Dictionary is a comprehensive guide to core metadata for supporting the long-term preservation of digital materials. PREMIS has made a vital contribution to the development of effective digital preservation solutions by creating and moving forward an international standard for preservation metadata.

4. Reverse Standards Conversion
Applicant: British Broadcasting Corporation

The recovery of significant early British colour television programmes by the BBC, which were degraded when they were converted to an American TV standard in the late 1960s and early 1970s. An innovative project that overcomes problems dealing with an obsolete video format, resulting in the digital conversion of some 80 programmes to broadcast quality, ensuring their preservation for future generations.

5. UK Web Archiving Consortium
Applicant: The Consortium

Six leading UK institutions, The British Library, the National Libraries of Scotland and Wales, JISC, the National Archives and the Wellcome Library, have formed the UK Web Archiving Consortium (UKWAC) to deliver a searchable archive of selected UK websites. This pioneering project addresses the lifecycle of websites from selection, through rights clearance and capture, to access by the public and long-term preservation. The collaborative venture went live at on May 9th 2005.


All the shortlisted projects will give a presentation to the Digital Preservation Awards judges in September. The members of the 2005 judging panel are:

Richard Boulderstone (Chair of the Judging Panel), Director, e-Strategy, British Library Sheila Anderson, Director, Arts and Humanities Data Service Kevin Ashley, Head of the Digital Archives Department, University of London Computer Centre David Dawson, Head of the Digital Futures Team, Museums, Libraries and Archives Council Hans Jansen, Head of Research & Development Division, National Library of the Netherlands Maggie Jones, Executive Secretary, Digital Preservation Coalition (sponsor of the Digital Preservation Award) Chris Rusbridge, Director, Digital Curation Centre David Seaman, Executive Director, Digital Library Federation

See the Conservation Awards website for further information on the judging

Also announced this week are the:

Student Conservator of the Year
Anna Plowden Award for Research & Innovation

The winners of the Conservation Awards will be announced at the British Museum on 22 November 2005.

- Ends -

Notes to Editors:
For further information, please contact:
Maggie Jones, Executive Secretary, Digital Preservation Coalition
Tel: 01904 435 362

The Digital Preservation Coalition sponsors the Digital Preservation Award under the banner of the Conservation Awards, which are supported by Sir Paul McCartney and managed in partnership by key organisations in conservation, restoration and preservation management: the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), the UK Institute for Conservation (UKIC), English Heritage, the Institute of Paper Conservation (IPC) and the National Preservation Office. UKIC and IPC are in the process of merging with other organisations during 2005 into a new larger professional body for conservation of the cultural heritage, the Institute of Conservation. The Anna Plowden Trust sponsors the Award for Research and Innovation in Conservation.

The Digital Preservation Coalition was established in 2001 to foster joint action to address the urgent challenges of securing the preservation of digital resources in the UK and to work with others internationally to secure our global digital memory and knowledge base. For further information see the website at

For further information on the Awards visit:

Article: Turning Your Life Into Bits, Indexed

Gordon Bell, of Microsoft, has created "a system known as MyLifeBits (soon to be formally renamed 'Memex') aims at nothing less than creating a digital archive of a person's entire life." This product takes advantage of the ability to digitize a wide variety of items and the plummeting cost of digital storage. As ofMay, "the archive held 206,000 items in 101 gigabytes, including 84,300 e-mail texts, copies of 53,400 Web pages Bell had visited, 38,600 pictures and more than 15,000 documents. It grows at a pace of about 1 gigabyte per month." The LA Times article provides more details on how Bell came up with this idea. The question it doesn't answer is how many people will really want to archive everything associated with their lives as Bell is doing.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Job hunting advice from Meredith

This is off-topic, although some may be reading this blog in preparation to look for a job related to creating, managing or perserving digital assets.

Many people -- including me -- have been following Meredith's job search through her blog, Information Wants to be Free. She has now found a job and on Saturday posted her job hunting advice to others, based on her experiences. Although you may not agree with everything she says, it is still a very worthwhile piece to read.

ALA Resolution on Threats to Library Materials

Given that some organizations want to censor the materials that libraries hold (in hardcopy or electronically), the American Library Association Council adopted this resolution on June 29, 2005. The Resolution on Threats to Library Materials Related to Sex, Gender Identity, or Sexual Orientation states that it is:

RESOLVED, that the American Library Association affirm the inclusion in library collections of materials that reflect the diversity of our society, including those related to sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the American Library Association encourage all American Library Association chapters to take active stands against all legislative or other government attempts to proscribe materials related to sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the American Library Association encourage all libraries to acquire and make available materials representative of all the people in our society.

Thanks to Bill Drew for pointing out this resolution to libraries in my region via a regional discussion list.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Maverick Festival photographs

A former library science student of mine, Jane Ward, wrote to me this week and told me of a collection of photographs that have gone online from her library (Woodstock Public Library District). These photos circa 1923 of the Maverick Festival are part of the Hudson River Valley (NY) Heritage Digital Collection, which is a growing collection of materials from that area of New York State. Jane reports that she is involved in scanning and creating metadata. Although 24 images does not seem like much, they show an interesting view of outdoor theater in that era.

The Hudson River Valley Heritage Digital Collection was begun a couple of years ago. The About section of the web site contains information that other digital imaging projects would find interesting including the lists of best practices that were recommended for use.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Event: International Conference on Preservation of Digital Objects

This conference is September 15 - 16, 2005 in Goettingen, Germany. The conference will cover:
  • Preservation Policies
  • Technical Workflow
  • Web Archiving
For more information, go to the conference web site.

Contractual obligations

Those words popped into my head on Monday as I watched a fireworks display that ended abruptly. It was obvious that something was wrong. As we tried to head home amid very heavy traffic, I wondered what the contractual obligation was for the fireworks. What happened if the fireworks did not all go off? Would the fireworks company have to return part of the money they were paid? What we do know is that there was a fire in the area of the fireworks and that after it was extinguished, some of the remaining fireworks were shot off. This occurred many, many minutes later and entertained those of us stuck in traffic.

When you work with a vendor and are signing a contract, think of all of the things that might go wrong. Does the contract cover those situations either implicitly or explicitly? Are you sure what the contractual obligations are for both parties (you and the vendor)? Is there anything that should be in the contract that is not already there? Conversely, is there something that should be taken out?

In a perfect world, you would have the contract reviewed by an attorney. We don't always have the ability (money) to do this, but it can be very helpful and might save you heartache later on.

You might begin, however, with having some staff member or cohorts review the contract, since we all look at these things differently. Then talk among yourselves about the contractual obligations, questions, etc., that you see. Likely you will come up with several talking points to review with the vendor.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Summertime digitization projects

I wrote last Friday about planning digitization projects and that you must select the right time of year to do the project. For example, can you sustain the project year-round or is it something best not done in the summer, when everyone wants to take vacation? (Yes, a very simplified view, but you get the idea.)

One community college that has library staff on 10-month contracts (meaning that they do not work or get paid in the summer), uses the summer to work on digitization projects. Why? First, they can provide summer employment for those employees who are on a 10-month contract. Second, the staff is dedicated to the digitization project and are pulled away by other activities.

Using this as an example, is there a way for your project to be creative in scheduling or utilizing staff that will allow it to work on a digitization project or sustain a digitization program?

Event: NFAIS Program on Federated Searching

Since digitized materials may be part of a what is integrated into a federated search system, this may interest you.


Limited Seating Remains for NFAIS Program on Federated Searching.

The NFAIS program on federated searching scheduled for July 29, 2005 is proving to be very popular and is almost sold out. This one-day meeting will be held at PALINET Headquarters in Philadelphia, PA, from 9:30am to 4:30pm. Whether you are an information provider seeking to offer customers an integrated search experience that is simple and efficient, or a librarian/information professional responsible for providing your constituency with the ability to search successfully and effectively across multiple and diverse data sources, this meeting will provide you with the information and contacts needed to meet your objective.

The event will begin with an overview of federated search and the user needs that has driven its development. The remainder of the day will focus on such critical issues as: the challenges that information providers must address when delivering this capability; how various libraries have chosen to implement it; diverse approaches to the post-processing of search results and the effectiveness of each; the development of standards in support of federated search; and the long-term outlook for its successful implementation in today's web-based/online information environment. Join a discussion with other members of the information community about the realities - and practicalities - of providing a seamless search and retrieval experience for the user.

The meeting is limited to 50 participants and is filling up quickly. So if you plan to attend, register now. The program, registration form, directions to the meeting location, and a list of nearby hotels is available at:

Registration is $245 for NFAIS members and $295 for non-members (registration fee includes continental breakfast, a box lunch and an afternoon refreshment break). For more information contact: Jill O'Neill, NFAIS Director, Communication and Planning, 215-893-1561 (phone);
215-893-1564 (fax); mailto:

Founded in 1958, NFAIS is a premier membership organization of 50 of the world's leading producers of databases, information services, and information technology in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, business, and the arts and humanities.

Event: Digital Preservation Training Programme

The Digital Preservation Training Programme (DPTP) is a JISC funded project which offers practical training and support all staff involved in managing digital information within their institutions. The pilot training programme will be geared towards Higher Education and Further Education institutions but the content will also be broadly applicable to a range of institutional settings. Managing digital material requires a range of skills from different individuals working within an institution, from managers to operational staff, and includes legal, policy and economic considerations as well as technical strategies. The DPTP is being led by the University of London Computer Centre (ULCC), in association with the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC), Archaeology Data Service (ADS)/ AHDS Archaeology, and King’s College Digital Consultancy Service (KDCS) and in partnership with Cornell University. It provides a modular training programme designed to give individuals the confidence to apply their new skills to their own institutional setting, supported by carefully designed course materials.

A pilot residential DPTP takes place in the University of Warwick, October 10th-14th, 2005.

The cost of the pilot programme is free and participants will be asked to pay the costs of accommodation only. Accommodation will be at Arden House at the University of Warwick and will cost c. £ 80 per night.

To register your interest in attending the DPTP please visit our website at

Event: Electric Connections 2005: A Vision for Virtual Scotland

Event: Electric Connections 2005: A Vision for Virtual Scotland

Date: Monday 22 August 2005, 09.30 - 16.00

Location: AK Bell Library Theatre, York Place, PERTH, PH2 8EP

Cost: FREE

The third annual COSMIC Electric Connections conference is due to take place on Monday 22nd August 2005 at the AK Bell Library Theatre, Perth. Funded by the Scottish Library & Information Council (SLIC) and the Scottish Museums Council (SMC), and organised by the Confederation of Scottish Mini-Cooperatives (COSMIC), EC2005 provides an insight into Scottish digital developments in the library, museum and archive sectors.

The focus for EC2005 will be on creating a 'Vision for Virtual Scotland' and will explore those issues pertaining to the management of digital resources across all domains, including preservation, metadata, interoperability, user issues, and open access issues. The conference will be free (with refreshments and lunch provided) thanks to support from the SLIC and SMC.

EC is a must for anyone who needs to stay in touch with the initiatives that will influence the development of the Scottish Common Information Environment. Note that registration will be essential to avoid disappointment since places are limited.

For registration details, please visit:

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Article: Just What Is Google?

Yes, Google is digitizing books and creating lots of new products. But what is Google? Many would say is a media company that is delivering content -- and ads -- to your computer screen.
Where the company's bread is buttered right now is clear: Nearly every one of its billions of dollars comes from selling advertising that appears when people search the Web using its ultrapopular search engine. With analysts saying more and more ads will be moving away from TV and print to online, Google would seem to have a bright future just doing what it's doing.

But Google has also become the world's biggest "media" company, larger than TimeWarner, according to some, if a company can have that moniker without producing any original content. Others have their own ideas about what is, arguably, the most intriguing company on the planet.
What this article is saying has been said elsewhere, but it's a good write-up. Worth skimming if this is new to you.

Friday, July 01, 2005

July 1...July 4...July 14...digitization?

Today -- July 1 -- is Canada Day when Canadians celebrate their heritage. July 4 is Independence Day in the U.S. July 14 is France's national holiday (often called Bastille Day among English speakers). The celebrations on July 4 and 14 are tied to revolutions and civil war. It is easier to start a war in the summer, than in the winter, yet it is in the winter when many hard battles are fought. (And perhaps in the winter when the civil wars are planned.)

So what does this have to do with digitization? Easy -- timing.

If you are considering a digitization project, look at the calendar. What else is lurking in the future that could interfere with the project? What will you need to schedule around or at least be mindful of? When are all of the holidays and vacations? And finally...

When can you set aside time to plan? And...when can you set aside time to actually do the project? Perhaps the best time to do the digitization is not in the summer when everyone is on vacation (and when the humidity may be high and cause problems), but in the winter when everyone is in the office. And maybe the time to plan is in the summer when you can vet those ideas with colleagues at conferences?

And let's not forget those cycles that are created by funding agencies. Some seem to be on an opposite schedule that us (giving out grants in the spring when we're looking forward to summer vacations). Factor in the impact that those funding agencies will have on your calendar and on the project's timing.

As someone as said, timing is everything. There is also the saying that everything has a season. Both are indeed true with digitization projects.

If you are in the U.S. or Canada, have a wonderful holiday weekend!