Friday, December 29, 2006

Digitization 101 Year in Review: Words to Take into 2007

Here are a few words and phrases to take with you into 2007. None are new, but they are increasing in importance and usage:
  1. Digital preservation
  2. OAIS (Read about, study it...people will assume that you know its acronyms and terminology, so learn them.)
  3. LOCKSS, CLOCKSS and other digital preservation initiatives
  4. Mass digitization
  5. Crowdsourcing
  6. Trusted repository
  7. Certification
  8. The long tail
  9. Image coordinates
  10. Dark archive

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Digitization 101 Year in Review: News

There is one ongoing news story that everyone is watching, whether they want to or not. Mass digitization and specifically Google. Yes, there are other mass digitization programs underway including the Internet Archive and programs in Europe. But it is Google that got the world to stand up and take notice. Google made digitization nearly a household word, although most people don't really understand it. It is Google that has given people the impression that everything is or well be online, and Google is working to try to make that fantasy a reality.

The idea of mass digitization is thrilling to many people because many projects/programs cannot dream that big, nor do they have the resources even if they could envision it. So the thought that someone can even think about pulling it off is mind-boggling.

Mass digitization, however, will do more than just digitize millions of items. Like early innovators in other areas, mass digitization programs are creating processes and procedures that should help other programs in the future. I emphasize the word "should" because currently must of the work is being done under non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), which means that the rest of us are learning nothing from them. But there is the possibility that these programs, like Google, will commercialize (or productize) their processes and procedures OR decide to place the information in the public domain, once they have gotten the needed value out of what they are doing.

So mass digitization news in 2006? In brief:
  • More mass digitization programs were announced.
  • Existing programs grew in size.
  • Major funding groups are getting involved and see these efforts worth supporting.
  • The fact that mass digitization is not just an American thing was reinforced as programs in other part of the world captured headlines.
And the impact on small digitization programs? Very little. The modest programs see Google, etc., as being on a different plain of existence, with different technologies, resources, and goals. And since there are NDAs in place, there isn't much information that filters out that might even inspire small digitization programs. What is needed is for missionaries from these mass digitization programs to tour the countryside and talk honestly about what they are doing (and how) so that others can be inspired. (Oh...that's right...there are non-disclosure agreements to prohibit that. Stupid me!)

How does the mass digitization movement intersect with the digital preservation movement? There is some thought that mass digitization is not thinking about preservation. Only those intimate with the program details would know for sure. Those of us "on the outside" hope that these mass digitization programs are thinking of everything, including preservation, and not doing what is often done (do the project, then think about how to preserve it).

In 2007, news of mass digitization programs will continue. I suspect that we already pay less attention to these news items because its no long novel. In 2007, it could be that this news will fade further into the background until something astonishing occurs.

Relevant Digitization 101 blog post here. (I'm using the BlogSpot search feature which may retrieve a few posts that are not "spot on.")

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Digitization 101 Year in Review: Influences

This is the first of several posts looking back at 2006.

Those things that influenced me during 2006 left an important mark on the year and -- directly or indirectly -- on Digitization 101. Things? Well...people, places, events, and news items...some related directly to digitization while others were not. Yet all changed my perceptions and what I deemed important as an information professional and blogger.
  • iPRES -- iPRES opened my eyes to the number of people who are not only concerned about digital preservation, but are also working on the problem. What I saw were groups forging ahead, developing strategies and implementing plans. Clearly just thinking about preservation is not enough. It was interesting, though, to realize that not everyone agreed on the methods to be used. There were whispers in the halls about what direction was "best."

    So iPRES forced me to talk more about digital preservation. It is something that projects want to ignore, but it is clear that what a project does upfront will impact its preservation efforts. So we need to ask ourselves -- and those involved in projects/programs around us -- how they will preserve what they are doing? Do they think that they will do it themselves or will they turn to someone else for the service? Do they understand what preservation really means? (Like digitization, it is not as easy as it sounds.)

    Relevant Digitization 101 postings:

  • Copyright -- Although copyright has been a forte of mine for a long time (and I know I've digested documents about copyright -- green papers, white papers, etc. -- that many others haven't), this year I learned more of the subtleties of copyright law that can impact a digitization program. That learning really influenced my workshops as well as how I talk about material selection for a digitization program (more granularity). It can, however, be quite difficult to get others to understand how the law impacts them because they see one law, rather than many subparts that are separate and distinct, yet sometimes impact each other.

    K. Matthew Dames has talked and blogged about the need for more people to understand copyright law. Unfortunately, most people -- including librarians -- can go through college and graduate school without a firm grasp of copyright law. Fortunately anyone -- who takes a class or workshop with me -- will become more aware of the law.

    Relevant Digitization 101 postings:

  • Computers in Libraries (CIL) -- At CIL, I got more jazzed (excited) about social networking tools, Library 2.0, new library catalogues, and how it "all" can be tied together. Yes, digitization was discussed at CIL, but what stood out to me was how the tools can be connected and even mashed up.

    CIL is also where I met a group of people that I had been reading or talking to online -- Michael Stephens, Paul Miller, Roy Tennant, Christina Pikas, Meredith Farkas and others. Yes, face-to-face does still matter, even if it occurs only once! Since we knew each other from online, we didn't need to stop for the normal pleasantries. We had already connected and could quickly move onto important matters.

    Finally, CIL was a reminder that we need to get out of our silos, stand in the barnyard, and tackle problems together.

    Relevant Digitization 101 postings:

  • Working with clients -- Working with clients is what I do for a living. I help them think about, talk about, plan for, and implement digitization programs. I tackle the details that give them headaches and give them the answers/solutions that they need. In some cases, I work with a small team who are leading a program, while at other times, the client might be a large committee. I am always influenced by and learn from the client's perspective. What words are they using the describe their wants and needs? What is their stumbling block? What can they learn from the other programs I've been involved with? Each program is unique, yet each is the same. Each forces me to talk about digitization in a way that makes sense to them, using words and examples that are natural for them. And each program provides new lessons that can passed along.

  • Second Life -- If at the beginning of the year, you had told me that I would be involved in an online digital world called Second Life, I would not have believed you. Yet now Second Life (SL) is an important part of my thinking. And, yes, I can relate SL to digitization.

    First, digitized materials (e.g., photos) can be used in SL to build educational and cultural exhibits. Earlier this month, the Alzheimer's Society of Ontario (Canada) opened an exhibit in SL that contains photos of people who are dealing with the diseases as well as digital views of a MRI, and more. This exhibit is what I think many people have envisioned for the Internet (photo). Perhaps Second Life will spawn technology that will allow people to walk in virtual exhibits easily on "normal" web site. (BTW walking through the MRI -- and thus layers of the brain -- is very cool!)

    Second, Second Life, for me creates concerns of preservation. Should we preserve this digital environment? Or perhaps what should we preserve from this digital environment? And if we should preserve, then how? Answers to these questions are not easy, yet I'm sure more people in 2007 will be asking them as SL continues to grow and important work (i.e., work you want to save) is done there.

    Relevant Digitization 101 postings:

  • Teaching -- I conduct workshops and teach a graduate class at Syracuse University (IST 677). All of the teaching I do keeps me on my toes! There is a saying that those who can't do, teach. Well, not in digitization! The components of this topic called digitization are evolving, so teaching about digitization means constantly learning (a theme that will re-occur below).
  • My other blogs -- Unbeknown to many people, I actually have been blogging in several places. (See below) Early on, I realized that blogging was not just about writing, but about learning. All of the blogs I contribute to force me to keep learning, to rethink what is important, and to be able to talk about those things coherently. They have also given me a place to "put" what I had learned, so I could find it again.
    • Besides Digitization 101, for more than a year, I have written for two blogs owned by Syracuse University's Michael J. Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship. Both blogs -- Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship blog and the South Side Entrepreneurial Connect Project blog -- provided an outlet for talking about business, entrepreneurship and Central New York. They helped me focus more broadly on business and forced me to think about other things besides digitization, competitive intelligence and social networking. As 2007 begins, my efforts with the Falcone Center and its programs will change (I'm now on two boards related to new initiatives) and others -- I hope -- will take over the blogs.
    • I also blog for the Special Libraries Association annual conference and for its Information Technology Division (Blogging Section). Again, these blogs gave me outlets for other thoughts and ideas. They ensured that I stuck my head "out of the sand" on a regular basis and took account of what else was happening.
You may look back and decide that you don't see these influences when you look at Digitization 101. That may be true, but these things have certainly influenced the person behind the blog.

Well, that's the first view of 2006. We'll look at the year from a different perspective tomorrow.

12/29/2006: Copyright blog posting URLs added.

Will mass digitization projects need to be re-done?

A colleague told me about a discussion list post by Joseph J. Esposito, president of Portable CEO, where he posits about the requirements for mass digitization projects. According to Esposito, the big name mass digitization projects (e.g, Google) are not paying attention to four specific requirements:
  • ...the first requirement of such a project is that it adopt an archival approach.
  • Archives of digital facsimiles are important, but we also need readers' editions...
  • ...scanned and edited material must be placed into a technical environment that enables ongoing annotation and commentary.
  • The fourth requirement is that mass digitization projects should yield file structures and tools that allow for machine process to work with the content.
You can read the full-text of Esposito's remarks here. It would be interesting to hear from those who are "close to" these mass digitization projects about whether or not they agree. If you have a comment, why not leave it here?

BTW I was unfamiliar with Esposito's name (obviously my fault). One A German language blog re-posted Esposito's words and included a short biography (in English).

Thanks to the commenter yesterday (12/27) who corrected the information I had on the Archivalia blog. The blog is not just in German.

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In an October blog post, Lorcan Dempsey uses the word "crowdsourcing" to describe the way that the National Library of Australia is adding content to its digital collections. What is crowdsourcing? Lorcan, elsewhere, says:
According to Wikipedia Crowdsourcing is a term coined by Wired magazine writer Jeff Howe and editor Mark Robinson. Crowdsourcing relies upon unpaid or low-paid amateurs who use their spare time to create content, solve problems, even do corporate R & D. [YRUHRN? - Crowdsourcing: Many Voices]
Perhaps you should think about whether there is a way that you can use crowdsourcing to increase or improve your digitization program?

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Event: 8th annual WebWise Conference

From the IMLS web site

IMLS Announces Registration for 2007 WebWise

Conference to be Held February 28-March 2

Washington, DC--The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announces open registration for the eighth annual WebWise Conference on Libraries and Museums in the Digital World, to be held February 28 to March 2, 2007, at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The conference is sponsored annually by IMLS and is co-hosted again this year by the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) and the J. Paul Getty Trust.

This year's theme is "Stewardship in the Digital Age: Managing Museum and Library Collections for Preservation and Use." The conference will feature presentations and panel discussions by library, museum, and other information experts who will address issues and emerging practices in the preservation of digital content from digitized text to “born-digital” art. It will also provide a forum for discussing the general state of preservation and “digital preservation readiness” in the nation’s museums and libraries and the potential for technology to improve the management of physical collections and the documentation of cultural heritage. Demonstrations will feature online tools for disaster planning, projects that are addressing challenges such as preserving audio and visual media, and projects to document and preserve tangible and intangible cultural heritage.

Preconference workshops, requiring separate registration, will be offered on February 28:

1) Preserving Digital Collections (half-day)
2) Sharing Images and Data: Making Access to Collections Easier and Better (half-day)
3) Producing Broadcast-Quality, Preservation-Worthy Video (full day).

For more information about this year’s conference, including the agenda and on-line registration, visit Visit for more information on past WebWise conferences.

Article: Book-scanning agreement works for U-M

Here is a Christmas Eve feel-good story about the Google digitization project and the University of Michigan. Of course, everything is goodness and light!

The first step is to admit that you have a problem

As the year winds down, I have had to admit that some of the things on my to do list are not going to get done. More specifically, I have too many things I want to read! With new materials being published daily on digitization, digital preservation and other topics of interest to me, the pile of things I want to read is being crushed by its own weight! Over the last week, I've begun to implement my solution -- a cut-throat look at what I'm saving to read and then tossing those things that are no longer relevant, are outdated, or that I know I won't make time for. It is liberating!!! My PC desktop, which was littered with documents I wanted to read, is much cleaner. And now my Bloglines account is looking cleaner (although the progress is slow).

As you end the year, this may be a time to admit those things that are causing you problems, then vowing to do "whatever" different next year, so the problem doesn't occur again. Maybe it not the amount of material you have save to read, but whatever it is...take time to address it. 2007 will thank you for it!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Event: School for Scanning, May 1 - 3, 2007

[As posted on the DigiStates discussion list.]

The Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) presents:

The A-Z of Creating Digital Collections
Celebrating its 11th year

May 1-3, 2007
Marriott Minneapolis City Center
Minneapolis, Minnesota

This popular three-day conference takes digitization from theory into practice and is geared toward participants with a beginning or intermediate level of digital knowledge. Participants who already have experience in digitization can obtain an up-to-date briefing. From metadata to rights management, from file formats to funding, learn how to create and manage sustainable digital collections.

New format includes concurrent break-out sessions and vendor exhibits.

Watch NEDCC's Web site for complete conference details in early January:

To receive a conference brochure when available, contact: Julie Carlson,

NEDCC is grateful for support from the National Endowment for the Humanities for its field services.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Is your web site winning you business?

I'm cleaning my desk and thought these notes would be useful. They are also posted here.

Is your web site winning you business?

This was the title of a presentation done on July 26, 2006 by Brian Bluff of Site-Seekers as part of the Dollar$ and Sense Workshop, held at the Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce.

Bluff talked about the need to:
  • Drive traffic to your web site
  • Convert that traffic into contacts and sales
  • Measure the results
In his fast paced and information packed presentation, Bluff gave the audience some tips and information. Among them were:
  • He noted that the Internet is outside of most companies' core competencies. Therefore, companies may need to look to an outside "expert" to help them with their web site.
  • 45% of companies cannot measure the effectiveness of their web sites.
  • People will judge a web site in milliseconds. Therefore, it is important that people instantly be able to recognize what you do when they visit your site. He actually showed us web sites and counted how many seconds it took for us to recognize what the site did. "What" definitely should be evident in under five seconds.
  • Have your contact information on every page.
  • Keep your web site content fresh, which means updating content on a regular (frequent) basis. This will attract the search engine "spiders" that index the Internet.
  • Include a site map on your web site, since a site map helps spiders find and index all of your pages.
  • In the title tag on your web pages, place the product information first, not your company name. This helps with the indexing of your site in search engines.
  • Bold important text. Search engines assume that what is bolded is important.
  • Have target phrases for each page.
  • Make sure that there is synergy between the words in your title tags, the phrases that you bold, and the target phrases on each page. This is important so that the search engine spiders clearly understand what the page is about. It also helps with your search engine ranking.
  • Those sites that you link to should be "natural." In other words, if you are a software company, link to other web sites in your industry or in a related industry. Don't link to a site that is totally unrelated to what you do. (Of course, you should link to client sites.) Why? Because you want everything on your site to be focused on what you do and your subject domain.
  • Create your web site to be viewed on 1024 x 768 pixel size screen. Evidently, this is now the prevailing screen size.
  • Hotlink your logo so that it returns the person to your homepage.
  • Solicit and include customer testimonials.
  • Write white papers on your topic area and make them available on your web site.
  • The more pages a person has to go through to get the information they need, the fewer people who will do it. There is a 40% drop off for each page a person must go to in order to find the information he wants.
  • There is useful search engine optimization tools and information at SEO Book.

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"U" is for...

Dr. Michael Geist is the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa. He has published an A to Z year-end roundup that focuses on law and technology happenings. Many of the things he notes happened in Canada, but some (like the AOL mention at "A") did not. And, yes, one of the items is about digitization!
U is for 18 Canadian universities that established Alouette Canada, an ambitious digitization initiative that is working to digitize thousands of Canadian texts, documents, and photographs that are currently in the public domain.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

$1 million grant to digitize materials

Today the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation...

will announce a $1 million grant to the Internet Archive, a leader in the Open Content Alliance, to help pay for digital copies of collections owned by the Boston Public Library, the Getty Research Institute, the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The works to be scanned include the personal library of John Adams, America's second president, and thousands of images from the Metropolitan Museum.

The Sloan grant also will be used to scan a collection of anti-slavery material provided by the John Hopkins University Libraries and documents about the Gold Rush from a library at the University of California at Berkeley.

The deal represents a coup for Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle, a strident critic of the controls that Google has imposed on its book-scanning initiative. (Complete article)

The Internet Archive wants to build digital resources that are open to everyone, while Google is scanning materials that may have restricted access. I'm sure, though, that the difference -- between what the Internet Archive and Google are doing -- is more than access to the materials once scanned. Both may be trying to prove who can do "it" better (technology, process, etc.) as well as trying to assure their spot in history. [You may think I'm nuts for saying that, but the mummers behind the scenes point to this being a competition on various levels.]

The good news is that while Google, the Internet Archive and others try to "one up" each other, content is being digitized and we all will benefit from that.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Article: Why Digital Asset Management? A Case Study

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City began discussing a digital asset management system before 2002. Now the Met is in the second year of a planned three-year digital asset management implementation project. The project -- named Met Images -- "is one of the most expensive non-construction projects ever undertaken by the Met."

Implementing will take a shorter time than the planning did. As the article states:
The lengthy planning period was due, in part, to the Met’s commitment to asking and answering a series of questions not always built into the development process for digital asset management activities in the not-for-profit world. Our questions included quantitative ones such as: “How big is the collection of assets?” and “How much storage will be required?” We asked questions about proprietorship and access: “Who uses the assets?” and “Who will manage them?” We wondered about the quality and value of the assets: “Should images that are made available to the public be color corrected?” and “If the object’s descriptive record has not been reviewed, may it be distributed along with the asset?” and finally, “Are existing descriptions adequate to support successful searching at all?” We also asked a number of questions that forced the Met’s staff and executives to think through fundamental intellectual property policy positions: “Who decides who may use the assets, both inside and outside of the museum?” and “Is the Met’s goal to profit from the licensing of images, or to support an educational mandate for broad distribution?” All of these questions needed to be considered in light of a process that would, inevitably, seek to automate the answers. Processes and policies that had heretofore been entrusted to individuals within the organization would need to be formalized so that a system might manage them; decisions that had been made on an ad hoc basis now needed to be seen as patterns that formed policies. And as we found answers to our questions, the scope of the project inevitably grew.
To read the entire case study -- including their key concerns -- go here.

What stands out to me, as I read the case study, is that implementing such a system (and on the scale that the Met did) requires many skills and buy-in from many parts of the organization. (Of course, we all knew this, but it needs to be re-inforced constantly.) This is not something that one department can do alone and ensure that it will endure. It needs everyone from the top of the organization to the bottom to understand and support it.

As we've noted before, projects also take time. Notice that they began talking about the project before 2002 and have been formally planning it for several years. Now the implementation will take three years (if it stays on schedule). So this is a project that requires tremendous commitment to ensure that it just gets done.

This issue of RLG DigiNews is focused on digital asset management, so be sure to read or skim the entire issue.

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Presentations from iPRES online

I don't know when they became available, but many of the presentations from the iPRES conference, held at Cornell University in October, are online.

Presentation: Threats to Preservation

On Dec. 5, David Rosenthal from LOCKSS talked at the CNI meeting in Washington, D.C. His presentation was Threats to Digital Preservation. According to Rosenthal, we must guard against bad things happening and causing failures. What are the threats that he perceives?
  • Media failure
  • Hardware failure
  • Software failure
  • Network failure
  • Obsolescence
  • Natural Disaster
  • Operator error
  • Internal Attack
  • External Attack
  • Organization Failure
  • Economic Failure
How do we guard against these threats? Rosenthal's presentation does not explicitly state an answer, but you'll find on every slide the words "lots of copies keeps stuff safe." Obviously this is the tactic that Rosenthal and others believes can help guard against these threats. LOCKSS, however, is one of several preservation strategies being developed. At the iPRES conference in October, we heard of other efforts that are underway. If you were unable to attend the conference, and want more than what has been in blog postings, many of the presentations are online here.

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Time's Person of the Year: You

Time magazine ends the year by looking back and seeing who has had the biggest influence on the year. For 2006, Time found not one person, but many people who have impacted the year. The editors wrote about the story of 2006:
It's a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It's about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people's network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.
The Person of the Year is YOU! You are creating content and/or making content available on the Internet, rather than waiting for someone else (a media conglomerate, for example) to do it. You are communicating person to person, sharing information among citizens, doing things locally that impact globally.

Now that Time has recognized you, let's ensure that you continue to have a huge impact. Maybe 2007 will be the year of you, too!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Event: TAPE workshop on management of audiovisual collections

As posted on the DIGITAL-PRESERVATION discussion list:

TAPE workshop on management of audiovisual collections
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
18-24 April 2007

Introduction: Librarians, archivists and curators in charge of audiovisual collections need to know about the role of new technology in collection management. Digitisation offers unprecedented opportunities for access to historical materials. But how can it be combined with established preservation methods in an integrated strategy, to ensure optimal access today as well as in the future?

In this 5-day workshop, the characteristics of film, video and sound recordings and the different recording systems and devices will be reviewed. Specific requirements for their handling and preservation will be related to the nature and function of different kinds of audiovisual materials. The workshop will explore the different transfer and conversion methods, technical requirements in relation to quality, and long-term management of digital files. Issues will be approached as management problems, and due attention will be given to aspects like needs assessment, setting priorities, planning, budgeting and outsourcing, and project management

Participants will acquire knowledge of technical issues that will enable them to make informed decisions about the role of digitisation in care and management of audiovisual collections. The speakers will present outlines of issues and practical cases, and a substantial part of the workshops will be spent on discussions and group assignments to develop participants' skills in finding their own solutions.

Target group: All those responsible for audiovisual collections in archives, museums, libraries. For this introductory course, no specific technical expertise is required.

The workshop will be in English. Participants are expected to have a working knowledge of English in order to participate in discussions.

Organisation: European Commission on Preservation and Access, Amsterdam, the Netherlands The workshops are supported by the Culture 2000-programme of the EU as part of the TAPE project

Venue: Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Amsterdam

Registration fee: 600 euros, this includes coffees, teas, lunches and a course pack with reading materials. Participants from institutes who are TAPE partners or ECPA contributors will pay 500 euros.

How to apply: For online registration: The registration deadline is 9 February 2007. By 20 February you will be informed whether your application has been accepted. In view of the character of the workshops which require group work and active participation, the number of participants is limited. If the number of applications exceeds the number of available places a selection will be made. Preference will be given to those applicants who manage an audiovisual collection. A detailed programme will be mailed after confirmation.

For more information on the TAPE project:

For more information on the workshop contact the ECPA:

European Commission on Preservation and Access (ECPA) c/o KNAW, P.O. Box 19121, NL-1000 GC Amsterdam

visiting address: Trippenhuis, Kloveniersburgwal 29, NL-1011 JV Amsterdam, The Netherlands

tel. ++31 - 20 - 551 08 39
fax ++31 - 20 - 620 49 41

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It shouldn't be about the money

Thinking about "the holidays" is about to dominate everyone's waking hours. Part of the thinking will be about gift giving and the cost of those gifts. For many people, the amount of money spent on a gift equates to love. If I love you, I'll spend a lot of money on you.

However, in gift giving, it shouldn't be about the money. It should be about what you and the gift recipient value. Some people value simplicity, frugality, gifts from the heart, or hand-made gifts, for example, rather than spending lots of money.

In digitization, it also shouldn't be about the money -- or more correctly -- how cheaply you can have work done. Rather it should be about those things that will be meaningful (valued) long-term. Do you value the work being done correctly and to your specifications? Do you value creating an end-product that is easy for your users/patrons to use? Do you value knowing that what you have built is of high quality and that it will last?

In digitization and digital preservation, do spend your money wisely, but keep in mind that being cheap may be harmful to your program in the long run. Rather than focusing on the money first, focus on the quality that you want to produce. If you find that you don't have enough money for what you have in mind, either find additional funding or re-work your program idea so that it fits into the budget that you have. But do not skimp on quality.

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Blog post: How To Choose CD/DVD Archival Media

Ad Terras Per Aspera wrote a blog post entitled "How To Choose CD/DVD Archival Media" on Oct. 30, 2006. This is a hot topic that has generated 70 comments so far (including ones added today). You might want to go and read the post yourself, and see what you can learn.

Thanks to digitizationblog for pointing me to this!

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Monday, December 11, 2006

British Library looks at intellectual property issues

Back in August, the British Library released a manifesto entitled "Intellectual Property: A Balance." The four-page document talks about the Library's position and those areas that need to be addressed:
  • The fact that digital is not different
  • Fair Dealing (or as termed in the U.S., Fair Use)
  • Archiving
  • Term of copyright
  • Orphan works
  • Unpublished works
The document, which is the Library's input into what is called the Gowers Review, ends with a call for the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property to look at these issues. Now the Gowers Review has done just that and has released its 150-page report, which touches on a broad range of intellectual property (IP) concerns. And as you might expect, the British Library has released its response.

To those in Britain, the details of these documents will be important. For me, however, what is important is that the issues are out on the table and are being discussed. Discussion can lead to changes that will help us to harness and use creative efforts. As the the report from the Gowers Review states in its conclusion:
Creativity, innovation and investment are crucial to boosting the productivity of the UK economy. Looking forward, their importance is set to remain centre-stage as we enter the ‘third industrial revolution’. The UK must be able to harness creativity and promote innovation in order to compete in the global, knowledge-based economy. Intellectual Property creates the link in the chain which incentivises individuals and firms to innovate and create, with the confidence that their investment is protected.
Indeed, the same words can be applied to every country. Perhaps these efforts in the UK will lead others to open discussions and to think about these matters.

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Event: Best Practices Exchange 2007

From the web site:

The Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records is thrilled to host Best Practices Exchange 2007: Libraries and Archives in the Digital Era at the Crowne Plaza San Marcos Hotel in Chandler, Arizona, May 2-4, 2007.

Following the format of Best Practices Exchange 2006, this is not a conventional conference. To facilitate a true exchange of ideas, there will be no speakers in the traditional sense of the word. Instead, we encourage you, the attendees, to present your projects and experiences, successes, failures and lessons learned. Multiple small-group Exchange Sessions will be conducted simultaneously, allowing for more in-depth and intimate "round table" type discussions. These sessions will cover six broad tracks related to digital information in the government environment.

BPE 2007 is open to practitioners in government and university archives and libraries; educators/researchers in the fields of library science, information science, technology, archives, and records management; and product developers working to create systems for managing and preserving digital assets.

Registration is now open ($180).

Important Dates:
  • Submit your Presentation by March 26, 2007
  • Register for the Conference by April 2, 2007
  • Book your Hotel Room by April 2, 2007
For more information on the Best Practices Exchange, go to

Friday, December 08, 2006

Please insist that the URL for your projects be printed in the articles about them!

I'm just reading an article about photos digitized by the Berkeley Public Library. The article was published in the Daily Californian, which is published by UC Berkeley students. The article says:

The Berkeley Public Library last month added 200 photographs like these, many of which are too fragile to be publicly displayed, to an online archive.

The historical images of Berkeley, which date from 1873 to 1996, were digitized with the help of a grant from the California State Library and can now be accessed by anyone via the Online Archive of California, a statewide media center run by the University of California.

The article goes on to give more details and includes a photo from the collection. The article does not include the URL for the Berkeley Public Library or for the collection. I'm not sure how frequently this happens, but even one time where a project is mentioned without the URL is "one time too many."

Whenever your project is going to be mentioned in the press, insist that they include the URL. If they don't want to include a long, clunky URL, then have them include the domain level URL at least. Explain to them that this will ensure that the readers can make the jump from what they have read to the web site itself (and that the readers will be pleased with the media for helping them do this).

Now what is interesting about the Berkeley Public Library's 200 photos is that they are actually part of the Online Archive of California and not hosted on the Public Library's web site (although there is a link there to the collection). Yes, the URL is a bit long and ugly, but maybe they could have included a shortened URL using DigBig or TinyURL.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

New book: Web Archiving

Web Archiving
Masanès, Julien (Ed.)
2006, VII, 234 p., 28 illus., Hardcover
ISBN-10: 3-540-23338-5
ISBN-13: 978-3-540-23338-1

Description (from Springer):

The public information available on the Web today is larger than information distributed on any other media. The raw nature of Web content, the unpredictable remote changes that can affect it, the wide variety of formats concerned, and the growth in data-driven websites make the preservation of this material a challenging task, requiring specific monitoring, collecting and preserving strategies, procedures and tools.

Julien Masanès, Director of the European Archive, has assembled contributions from computer scientists and librarians that altogether encompass the complete range of tools, tasks and processes needed to successfully preserve the cultural heritage of the Web. This book serves as a standard introduction for everyone involved in keeping alive the immense amount of online information, and it covers issues related to building, using and preserving Web archives both from the computer scientist and librarian viewpoints.

Practitioners will find in this book a state-of-the-art overview of methods, tools and standards they need for their activities. Researchers as well as advanced students in computer science will use it as an introduction to this new field with a hopefully stimulating review of open issues where future work is needed."

Data Preservation, Digital Repositories, European Archive, Hidden Web, Internet Archive, OAIS Model, Web Collections

Read more detailed information (including table of contents and sample chapter):

To order from, go here.

Article: Microsoft debuts book search tool

News from the Microsoft vs. Google book digitization world:

Microsoft is releasing [today] its Live Search Books, a rival to Google's Book Search, in test, or beta, version in the US.

The digital archive will include books from the collections of the British Library, the University of California and the University of Toronto.

Books from three other institutions will be added in January 2007.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Review: Digital Preservation Management: Implementing Short-term Strategies for Long-term Problems

I wrote a review of the Cornell University tutorial -- Digital Preservation Management: Implementing Short-term Strategies for Long- term Problems -- for the Dec. 7, 2006 issue of FreePint (hot off the presses). You can read the review here.

NEDCC Persistence of Memory Conference

Random Musings from the Desert is blogging the NEDCC Persistence of Memory Conference. Go to Ruth's blog to read her notes.

BTW if you are reading this post well after the conference, you'll find Ruth's posts in her December 2006 blog archive.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Blog post: Does my Digital Archives need a Digital Repository System?

Peter Van Garderen (Achivematica) has written a long post entitled "Does my Digital Archives need a Digital Repository System?" He starts out by saying:
I have had this discussions with colleagues several times over the past couple of years. Somebody is getting ready to prototype a digital archives at their archival institution and the first question they ask is, “which open-source repository system should I use? Dspace? Fedora? Greenstone? Eprints? ”
However, as a system analyst, I believe “what are my requirements?” is the more appropriate question to ask before selecting technology and tools.
There are some interesting nuggets in his post. It's worth skimming.

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Monday, December 04, 2006

The index to history is in our heads (follow-up)

Since my post last week, I have received an e-mail from the author of the book Winning the Vote. In his message, Robert Cooney wrote:
...I actually did see the photo you mentioned but could not find the right place for it in my book (it's hard not to let New York dominate things, and the image needs a lot of explaining). I would love to include it in another...It sounded very innovative and creative, as many suffrage actions were - and probably colorful, too.
Good to know! And further proves that behind every book and article, there is additional information in the author's head. (This is why reporters and authors can make excellent sources of information.)

By the way, the web site for his book is It includes articles and a few images.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Iraq National Library and Archive

History News Network reported on Nov. 28 that the Iraq National Library and Archive has closed, due to the institution being bombed three times over a three week period as well as being subjected to snipper gun fire. We think of materials not surviving because of decay, but here the materials may be bombed out of existence.

Digitization can help to ensure access to history, IF the materials are available to digitize. Here is an institution where the materials may not survive to be used, let alone digitized. Words cannot describe how devastating it would be if the holdings of the Iraq National Library and Archive do not survive.

Report: European Digital Library Initiative -- Copyright Subgroup

The European Digital Library Initiative High Level Expert Group (HLG) – Copyright Subgroup
Interim Report is online. The 20-page report includes detailed proposals on orphan works and out-of-print works.

If anyone sees commentary on this report, please let me know. I would be interested in knowing what others think of it.

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

The index to history is in our heads

Today I had lunch with Sally Roesch Wagner, the Executive Director of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation. Matilda Joslyn Gage -- along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony -- was a founding member of the National Woman Suffrage Association. Her life was dedicated to woman's rights.

I first met Sally in 1999, when I was working on a demonstration project called Winning The Vote. (Although the project is not maintained, it still receives good usage.) As with our first meeting, today we talked about many things, sharing stories as well as pointers to information.

Above you see a photo taken of a suffrage parade in 1914 (the original is owned by the Rochester Museum & Science Center). This is one of my favorite photos because of what the women were wearing. As soon as I saw the photo, I insisted that it become part of Winning The Vote. The text from Winning The Vote says:

The women in the picture wore "dominoes." A domino is a hooded robe. These types of robes were worn by priests and other religious people, such as monks. A domino is also a type of mask that is worn at a masquerade to conceal someone's identity. In this parade, the women wore the dominoes and the masks so that the public would pay attention to their message, not to them. The placards they carried advertised an upcoming lecture by Reverend Anna Howard Shaw and others.
In the U.S., we associated this type of garb with a group that is not generally beloved (the Ku Klux Klan). The text above teaches you what the garb originally meant and allows you to understand why some groups adopted it.

Sally was very surprised when she saw the photo. She had seen none other like it. After I showed this photo to Sally, she showed me a book published in 2005 that was filled with suffrage photos and none of the photos in that book (ironically also called Winning The Vote) showed suffragists wearing dominoes. We both know that the author of that book would have wanted to have this photo included, if he had known about it.

And so here is my thought for the day...

For all that we have documented, indexed, cross-referenced, etc., it is apparent that the best index to what exists about our history is still in people's heads. Unfortunately, the index is not in one person's head, but in the heads of multiple people. Right now, there is luck involved in finding some pieces of history (like the photo above). Maybe, maybe, maybe at some point in the distant future -- when all of the holding of every historical society have finally been indexed and detailed collection information for every institution are available electronically -- we can take happenstance out of the equation. However, for now, we must rely on luck and our own wits.

Addendum, Dec.1: One reader messaged and pointed me towards this Wikipedia article on the Ku Klux Klan. For those who are unfamiliar with the KKK, this will help you understand who they are and why it would seem so unusual to see suffragist women in similar garb.

Press Release: Global Newspaper Initiative to Inventory Newspaper Archives of Developing Nations

Wow...this sounds very interesting! Quoting the press release:
Apex CoVantage, a leading provider of knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) solutions, announces the second meeting of the Apex Advisory Board for its Global Newspaper Initiative at Online Information 2006. The focus of this meeting will be to lay the foundation for the Initiative's 2007 goals in driving the preservation of the world's archival newspapers through modern digitization technology.

Foremost, the Advisory Board will map the development of a comprehensive inventory of archival newspapers in Latin America and Africa. According to board member Frank Menchaca, Senior Vice President of Thomson Gale, "The Global Newspaper Initiative's charter centers on preserving the historical newspapers that are not included in current projects, and Latin America and Africa represent regions where opportunities for success are most immediate".

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Event: Best Practices Exchange 2007: Libraries and Archives in the Digital Era

From the SIGDL-L discussion list:

The Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records is pleased to host:

Best Practices Exchange 2007: Libraries and Archives in the Digital Era
Wednesday, May 2 - Friday, May 4, 2007
Crowne Plaza San Marcos Hotel
Chandler, Arizona

Don't miss out! Online registration is now open! Registration Fee: $180

Following the example set by the State Library of North Carolina at the Best Practices Exchange 2006, the conference format will focus on small group exchange sessions where we encourage you, the attendees, to present your projects and experiences, successes, failures and lessons learned as you manage and preserve digital state government information.

Join fellow librarians, archivists, records managers and other information professionals in this two and a half day collaborative exchange.

Exchange Session Tracks include:
  • Metadata & Discovery
  • Access
  • Preservation
  • Technology
  • Project Management & Outreach
  • Emerging issues
Important Dates:
  • Submit your Presentation by March 26, 2007 -Register for the Conference by April 2, 2007
  • Book your Hotel Room by April 2, 2007
For more information on the Best Practices Exchange, visit: or contact Sara Muth at:

Sara Muth
Digital Librarian
Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Re-reading "The Digital Black Hole"

Back in April, I mentioned the article "The Digital Black Hole" by Jonas Palm. I've been re-reading the article and want to point out several of his graphics (figures).

First on page 2 (Figure 2) is "The Life Cycle of Digitization Projects." Palm has created this based on "The Life Cycle of Massive Stars." This graphic says much about how projects live and die! (And -- yes -- project do die.)

Then on page 11 are graphics that show the activities involved in digitizing materials and their percentage of the costs (Figure 13 & 14). While scanning takes the most cost, many people will be amazed at how much cost administration incurs. These graphics would be good to show project management when discussing what goes into a project and the costs associated with them. Although the graphics give no specific costs, they would help teams think about all of the costs that must be considered.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

What Is Open Access?

In February (2006), Charles Bailey Jr. released a pre-print of his paper "What Is Open Access?". The paper was later incorporated in the book entitled Open Access, published by Dr. Neil Jacobs in July. Bailey's 18-page paper does an admirable job defining open access and talking about the OA movement.

Open access is reliant on materials being available in digital form, and being adequately accessible and preserved. For those reasons, if you are not familiar with this movement, I encourage you to read Bailey's paper so that can participate in OA discussions and developments.

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Friday, November 24, 2006

100 Year Archive Task Force

The Storage Network Industry Association (SNIA) has created the 100 Year Archive Task Force. The Task Force is a global, multi-agency group working to define best practices and storage standards for long term digital information retention. It looks like the Task Force has just begun its work. Although not focused specifically on our needs (i.e., cultural heritage organizations), undoubtedly we will benefit from their work.

Thanks to David Mattison for finding this!

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Thomas Jefferson, Google & the Revolution

This blog post about the Google Book Search Project really caught my eye because of the photo and the talk of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson, who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776, was a revolutionary and a forward thinker. What image do you now have of Google when they connect this historic figure to their project? Does Google seem more benevolent? More revolutionary (in a good way)? More American? Is there a subliminal message here or am I reading too much into this?

Perhaps you should read the blog post, written by Google Book Search in celebration of the University of Virginia joining their project, and decide for yourself.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Digital preservation through emulation

The Koninklijke Bibliotheek is working on digital preservation through emulation. A recent e-mail message summarizes discussion at the Emulation Expert Meeting, held in October.

Why do emulation?
Quoting the e-mail message:
  • It preserves and permits access to each digital artifact in its original form and format; it may be the only viable approach to preserving digital artifacts that have significant executable and/or interactive behavior.
  • It can preserve digital artifacts of any form or format by saving the original software environments that were used to render those artifacts. A single emulator can preserve artifacts in a vast range of arbitrary formats without the need to understand those formats, and it can preserve huge corpuses without ever requiring conversion or any other processing of individual artifacts.
  • It enables the future generation of surrogate versions of digital artifacts directly from their original forms, thereby avoiding the cumulative corruption that would result from generating each such future surrogate from the previous one.
  • If all emulators are written to run on a stable, thoroughly-specified "emulation virtual machine" (EVM) platform and that virtual machine can be implemented on any future computer, then all emulators can be run indefinitely.
The KB has several digital preservation projects underway, including work in file formats, emulation and migration. You can view a full list here.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Article: VHS, 30, dies of loneliness (part reality, part humor)

Variety -- the premier entertainment magazine -- has published this obituary for the VHS format. Of course, there are still homes with VHS tapes and players, so even though Variety believes VHS to be died, it is not. But its days are truly numbered.

Keep in mind that as formats become obsolete, our need to preserve those materials saved in those formats becomes more important. Somethings touched upon in my other post for today.

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Webcast: Digital Preservation: An Overview

Peter Van Garderen has posted a webcast version of his presentation entitled ‘Digital Preservation: An Overview’ given at the Managing Information Assets in the Public Sector Conference. The webcast is 77 minutes in length with thought provoking images. He has also posted online the reference list from his presentation. Of course, he's blogged about it too.

As he notes, this is an introductory presentation meant to give people an overview of the problem and the solutions. And although sitting at your computer for over an hour listening/watching a presentation may not sound thrilling, this is a good way of being introduced to this important topic.

BTW one of the things I like about it is that Van Garderen introduces some of the terminology and ideas from outside of the library profession.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Copyright Management for Scholarship

This web site was mentioned recently on the digital-copyright discussion list. This web site "deals with copyright ownership in higher education, university policy on copyright and arrangements between universities, authors and publishers." The site was created as part of what seemed to be a multi-year project and was last updated in July 2006. It is now seen as a reference tool for many people to use. It includes information on university copyright policies and examples.

It always seems that we never have enough information on how reputable groups are dealing with copyright concerns. For that reason alone, this site is worth bookmarking.

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"A trip to the local library may no longer be necessary..."

An Arizona Republic article opens with those words. The article goes on to talk about local efforts to make information available to library patrons online and includes information on local digitization programs, including:
Arizona's state universities are getting involved primarily by digitizing special collections. These are collections that are unique to the university and often consist of photographs, letters, maps, manuscripts and sound recordings.

Since 1994, Northern Arizona University has steadily been converting its Colorado Plateau Archives to digital. The archives span 8 million items and focus on the Grand Canyon, Colorado River and the Native American communities...The archives get up to 2 million hits a year.
Newspaper articles like this one are great for promoting local efforts and reminding people that important work is being done by libraries in their region (and not just by the big boys like Google). Of course, I'm sure the opening phrase will send shivers down many spines, but the reality is that the library is not going away, it is morphing. It is moving from being a brick-and-mortar place to an online place. It's mission is shared by a number of non-library organizations and businesses, so the "who" behind these services we associate with the word "library" has changed and continues to change.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Book Review: Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge

This is a review of 2005 French book by Jean-Noël Jeanneney, which has been updated and translated into English. The review of Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge: A View from Europe contains interesting information (written by a Philadelphia Inquirer book critic) from the book itself. Whether Jeanneney's view of Google is correct or not can be argued, but we should be thankful that he has at least given it, so we can see Google from another point of view.

BTW If anyone has read this book, I hope you'll leave a comment with your thoughts about it.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Article: Digital Library Education in Library and Information Science Programs

This paper identifies the "state of the art" in digital library education in Library and Information Science programs, by identifying the readings that are assigned in digital library courses and the topics of these readings. The most frequently-assigned readings are identified at multiple units of analysis, as are the topics on which readings are most frequently assigned. While no core set of readings emerged, there was significant consensus on the authors to be included in digital library course reading assignments, as well as the topics to be covered. Implications for the range of assigned readings and topics for digital library education in library science education are discussed.
Most interesting to me is the list of core digital library (DL) topics and their related topics. Digitization isn't a specific topic, but you can see how aspects of it are sprinkled throughout the list.

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Moment of need

I used to go to conferences and bring back (or ship back) lots of brochures and other paper materials. In recent years, I've gotten a little better at not accepting so much paper, but still I seem to acquire brochures, case studies, etc., that are useless to me because they are on paper. I tend to look for materials online first (even if I've met the company) and often forget to check through my paper files. In my moment of need, I go to my computer and to the Internet first to check for the information these vendors want me to have.

And so here I sit with a small stack of paper in front of me, wondering if I should keep any of it. Will life end if I throw it all out? No.

And what do we likely do to our users? We either give them too much paper or not enough. If we give them too much, it is likely that they won't read it and will throw it out. If they do keep the paper, will they be able to find it when they need it? Do they have a filing system that will help them retrieve the info at their moment of need?

And if we give them too little paper, have we at least given them something that will point them towards the information when that moment of need occurs?

So here is a plea for using one tool more creatively -- the business card. The lowly business card allows us to remember who we have met. But what if you created business cards as a way of allowing people to remember your projects/programs? Create a business card for your digital collection that contains its name, location (URL), brief description, and a way to obtain more information (perhaps another URL). If you use the MiniCards, then you can incorporate photos from your digital collection on the cards. (Paul at Idea Sandbox blogs here about how he is using them.)

Or maybe you create a playing card (a la the Librarian Trading Cards) for your program. Again think about using a photo from the digital collection and adding the pertinent information to the cards. I had a librarian give me her trading card at a conference and I haven't thrown it out! It is so unique that it is a "keeper."

Now your mind might begin to consider creating magnets. Stop. Magnets passé and you can only use one side for what you are trying to say.

Okay...bookmarks. Bookmarks seem to never be passé, but people expect libraries to give out bookmarks, so why not do something different?

So think creatively about how you can provide information to your patrons in their moments of need. Can you give them something that will point them to the info the need? Something they will hold on to and that they will be able to find? I think the answer is definitely "yes."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The last 24 hours: Information at decision points

The last 24 hours have been interrupted by mis-communication, bad communication and no communication. Of course, lots of things have gone right, but as I scan back over what I've been doing, it is the communication problems that stand out to me. Of course, we (you and I) never communicate badly , but let's see what we can learn from one of the mis-communications.

Yesterday afternoon, I was driving on the New York State Thruway (a toll road) and heard on the radio that part of the Thruway was closed due to a fatal accident. This closure was going to affect my route, so I tried to keep close tabs on its status. The problem? The Thruway's notification system (AM radio) only works in specific areas on the Thruway and not everywhere, and the normal radio stations only give traffic reports during rush hour. So at my most critical decision point, I had no/bad information and ended up being stuck in traffic. A drive that should have taken me 2 - 2.5 hours took 4.5 hours instead.

The lesson: We need to provide information when people need it, which is often at a decision point. Even if the information has been provided earlier, how does the person know if it is still valid when that person gets to the decision point? At that decision point, could the person gain access to the information again (or even updated information)?

An easy library example, is telling patrons the library's layout. Often this is done at the front door or near the elevators, if there are any. Yet a person can be anywhere in a library and need to decide where to go next. Could those facility maps (or whatever you use) be placed at other locations?

Thinking about our online environment, this could translate into giving people easy access to site maps, etc., so that they do not get lost on a web site.

Another example has to do with our digital collections. When a person is looking at an image and deciding what to do next (print, save, etc.), can that person easily tell what s/he can do with it legally? Is there a link to the Terms & Conditions?

I'm sure you can think of other decision points where you could provide better information. If not, ask your users. I bet they'll have suggestions for you.

As for me, time to e-mail a suggestion to the Thruway Authority!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Blog post: Results from the DSpace Community Survey

DigitalKoans has posted summary results from the DSpace Community Survey. You can read his summary here. The complete summary of survey results is here (zip file).

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Second Life

SLLast Friday, I did a TV interview about the online digital world Second Life (SL). The reporter had learned of SL, found it interesting, and wanted to expose more people to it. You can view the video of the interview here (~2 min., use Internet Explorer).

What is Second Life? If you can't answer the question, then you're not alone. Second Life is not a game, but a three-dimensional online digital world create by its residents. Yes, residents. Currently, there are more than 1.3 million residents of Second Life. As I write this, more than 13,000 people are online interacting with each other in this world that contains buildings, restaurants, clubs, parks, libraries and more -- all created by the people who are living there. You can even buy and sell things (with real money) as well as take classes and attend lectures.

Residents? Living? Yes.

I heard about Second Life last spring and have been slowly exploring it. My interest was peaked, when I heard that librarians were going to build a library in SL in order to provide services to the people there. The blog chronicles some of the work that librarians are doing in Second Life. Tonight I attended a meeting of 20+ librarians in Second Life to talk about the work that is occurring. (Just so you know, at the meeting in the library, we communicated through our avatars by typing what we wanted to say.)

And what does this have to do with digitization? Nothing but this does relate to preserving items that are born digital (similar concerns to preserving our digital assets from a digitization program). Are things being created in Second Life that should be preserved? Are there conversations happening that should be saved? Items created that should be remembered? If yes, how do we do it?

At the moment, I only have questions and no answers. I don't even know if I have the correct questions. I do know that I'll be pondering this topic for a while and hopefully discussing it with some of my SL as well as RL (real life) colleagues.

BTW Michael Stephens posted on his blog an e-mail message I sent to him about the TV interview. You can read it here.

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BackStage Library Works Newsletter: The BackStage Star

BackStage Library Works produces a bimonthly newsletter called the BackStage Star. Anyone can subscribe for free to the newsletter and then receive it in e-mail, with links to the complete stories on the web site. However, you cannot just access the newsletter from the web site. (To subscribe, see the link on the homepage in the upper left corner.)

The current issue of the newsletter contains a short article on "Newton Rings." As the newsletter says:
Newton rings are a type of interference pattern caused by light being reflected as it passes through multiple surfaces.
The article then goes on to explain briefly how to scan materials without getting these rings. Newton rings are often associated with digitizing transparencies, so if you're doing that, you'll be interested in this article.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Describe, display, explain...

How do you describe your work, your project, or even the materials you are digitizing?

If you have watched Iron Chef America, you will have noticed that the Iron Chefs always use many words to describe their culinary creations.They will talk about the ingredients, the cooking methods, the intent, the history... You may also notice that the judges always seem to like the taste of the dishes prepared by the Iron Chefs. Coincidence? No. It is proven fact that the descriptions influence our perceptions of taste and quality.

However, we tend to under-describe what we do. We fail to use language -- adjectives, adverbs, analogies, etc., -- to our advantage. In addition, we don't show enough graphics to help with our explanations. (Think of that tray of desserts that restaurants will bring around to the tables.) We don't try to evoke people's feelings, fears, memories, or desire for nostalgia. Yet these things capture a person's attention and imagination.

Sometimes we under-describe in order to hide a flaw. However, people like designer Isaac Mizrahi have shown that imperfections can become defining, positive qualities.

When working on Winning the Vote (a small demonstration project), we under-described the region where the suffragists lived. We downplayed it because we used the region that the library council (sponsor) covered, which did not include Seneca Falls, NY. Seneca Falls is "the place" where the movement began. thus we saw our region as a flawed because it didn't include this place. In hindsight, we should have displayed a map of the five counties covered by the Council and shown its proximity to Seneca Falls. The message could have been that, "yes, Seneca Falls was important, but there were women and men in small towns and villages who were working for suffrage. You may not know who they are, so we're going to tell you." That could have been very powerful.

Giving fuller descriptions is not something that comes naturally to all of us. So challenge yourself to work on it. You might start with more fully describing what you had for lunch or how you talk about what you did over the weekend. And as you think about your work, start to collect words, images, etc., that will help you better describe what you do. Find words that will connect with the listener and draw that person in. That description will allow your listener to better appreciate what you do, how you do it, and why.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

What's going on at the Library of Congress? Part 2

After I wrote my original post, a colleague e-mailed and said, "It can be argued that the digital repository is more cost-effective than a proper bricks-and-mortar archive." And he then goes on to say, "I don't see this one item as all bad..." I can argue both sides on all of the points Thomas Mann makes. And yes, I think relying on digital formats, in this day and age, makes sense, as long at the Library of Congress employs digital preservation techniques.

And maybe that is what is important about Mann's report and the actions that the Library is doing -- you can argue about them. You can feel passionate about them. And most importantly, you can think about what they mean to you and your institution, either because you rely on the Library of Congress or because you see them(LC) as a model that you want to emulate.

By the way, my personal hot button is over the LC Subject Headings. Although they are a standard, I find them hard to use (yes, and I am a librarian). I remember filing cards in a real card catalogue and learning the rules about the LC Subject Headings, but that memory faded l-o-n-g ago. Now I like to search using terms that are more familiar to me. So I don't see moving away from LCSH as being a bad thing. I think the work that people are doing to re-think "the catalogue" (like Andrew Pace) will help us as we move away from the old standards and towards something that fits with our current and future expectations.

Digital Preservation Award

As found on the Digital Preservation discussion list:

The Digital Preservation Coalition is delighted to announce the call for entries for the third Digital Preservation Award.

Are you completing an exceptional digital preservation project? If so, why not apply for the Digital Preservation Award, worth £5000.

This is the eleventh anniversary of the Conservation Awards, sponsored by Sir Paul McCartney, and is the third year to include the prestigious Digital Preservation Award, which recognises the many new initiatives being carried out by museums, libraries, galleries and archives in the challenging field of digital preservation.

The Awards will be presented at the British Museum on the 27th of September 2007. Short-listed applicants attract significant publicity, and receive a certificate recognising their achievement at the presentation event.

To be eligible for the Digital Preservation Award, a project must demonstrate leadership and advancement in digital preservation which will benefit the UK. It must focus on preserving digital materials (whether "born digital" or digitised copies), rather than on the use of digitisation as a preservation reformatting tool. Only projects that have been completed by 31 March 2007 will be considered for the Award.

Applicants from overseas are welcomed, providing that the project can demonstrate benefit to the UK.

The deadline for applications is 31 March 2007.

To apply for the Digital Preservation Award online, please complete the DPA/07 application form on the Conservation Awards website:

Queries about the Digital Preservation Award should be directed to Carol Jackson, Administration Manager, Digital Preservation Coalition, by e-mail at or by tel. no. 01904 435 362.

Further information about the Conservation Awards is available on the website:

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Event: International Conference on Digital Preservation, Dec. 14 - 16, 2006

As found on the Digital-Preservation discussion list:

Fondazione Rinascimento Digitale, a member of Digital Preservation Europe consortium ( is organising an International Conference on Digital Preservation "Cultural Heritage on line - the challenge of accessibility and preservation" that will be held in Florence (Italy) on 14 - 16 of December 2006 ( In this event the new projects on digital preservation funded by the European Commission, namely DPE, CASPAR, PLANETS, will present their planning. On Saturday 16 December a Workshop organised by DPE will take place, entitled "Scholarly Research Citation of Web Resources and Long-Term Preservation" (

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