Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wayback Wednesday & Digitization 101 2010 Year In Review

New Year's Eve BallAs I do at the end of each year, I want to spent time looking back at the last 12 months with a few lists and more.

I see four trends as I scan the horizon:
  1. Digitization is no longer an exceptional activity. While digitization is not a normal activity still for many organizations, it is much more mainstream that is was several years ago.  Look around...can you find a workshop on digitization or on scanning?  Yes, they still exist, but they are definitely not as prevalent as they were before.  Those that haven't jumped on the "digitization train" yet are finding themselves left behind.  (I should note that universities are offering courses on digitization, digital libraries, etc., which go into more depth and which are attracting a high number of students. These courses prepare the students for the growing number of digital library positions that are being advertised.)

    In the same vein, one thing to notice is that digitization is no longer in the news as it has been. It is no longer that shiny object that captures the media's attention.  For a while, Google Book Search kept digitization in the news, but even that story is no longer capturing headlines as the sides work toward an agreement.
  3. Digital preservation is where most of the action is in terms of conversations, conference sessions, research, etc.  This is true because we are a digital society and if we cannot ensure long term access to our digital content, we're doomed.  Losing digital content could mean losing the data and information that we need to run our governments, businesses, academic institutions, etc.  It could also mean losing our history.

    If you are not thinking about how to ensure long-term access to your digital content, please begin thinking about it now. You might even make it a New Year's resolution. (Yes, do jump on the digital preservation bandwagon.)
  5. Institutional repositories are where many are focusing their energy. Whether it is a repository of preprint material, course material, lab notebooks or other content, many organizations are creating institutional repositories.  These repositories include digitized and born digital material that require many of the skills we've been fostering in our digitization programs.

    If you haven't heard about a repository in your organization, check to see if one is being built that you don't know about, and then see if you can get involved.  If one hasn't been started in your organization, be sure to position yourself so you will be involved in it.  They will need your skills.
  7. Collaboration is still very important.  I know that there are some institutions where it is difficult to build external collaborations, but those institutions are rare.  If at all possible, reach out and build collaborations with other cultural heritage organizations, schools, and even businesses.  Also build internal collaborations whenever possible.  Remember that collaborative programs are more successful.
As you know, I am a full-time professor, which means that I not only look at what's happening in cultural heritage institutions with my "gee how can I use this in my practice" hat on, but I also think about what I should be introducing to my students.  This year, one of the technologies that captured  my imagination was QR codes.  I've begun to use them personally, as well as give assignments about them.  If you know nothing about QR codes, check out:
Undoubtedly, you are looking at that two-dimensional thing that looks like modern art and wondering if you really need to know anything about it.  QR codes are being used all around you, even if you are unaware of it.  Manufacturers are using smaller versions of these codes to track inventory.  I've found a QR code on cold medication, for example. Someone spotted a QR code in an airport that would provide access to two free ebooks.  Lots of organizations are using QR codes to deliver content to people on their cell phones quickly and easily.  Imagine, for example, having a QR code in an exhibit that linked the person to online content about each specific item exhibited.  As part of an assignment, my students found ways of using QR codes to link people with library content from a wide variety of locations.

That QR code above contains my basic contact information.  If you have a camera phone and QR code software (e.g.,  i-nigma), you should be able to read it and add me to your contacts.

I have three posts that were the most read Digitization 101 blog posts of 2010. Each received an amazing amount of attention:
What I want LIS students to know was mentioned in a number of locations on the Internet and sparked a few similar posts by others.  In addition, I received tweets, emails and other communications from LIS students who valued the advice.  From the sounds of it, my post reached some students when they needed the advice the most.

This blog post may not have received a high number of hits yet, but it is one that I think is worth highlighting:
When a student's work intersects with copyright, integrity and ethics (Opinion/Rant)
Cafe au lait and Beignets at Cafe du MondeIn September, I began a series called Wayback Wednesday, which I hoped would facilitate me resurrecting worthwhile posts from the Digitization 101 archives.  As my fall semester as a professor got busier, my time for blogging grew shorter, and Wayback Wednesday didn't become a weekly feature.  I do, however, intend to produce more of them in 2011 and on a more regular - but not weekly basis.

Here's a list of the Wayback Wednesdays to date:
Jill Hurst-WahlA Moment About Me - My days have been very full this year and one of my goals has been to find a better balance, and to not be over-committed.  However, I enjoy making a difference if at all possible and being involved, which does lead to me having a very full plate of activities...and I enjoy them all!

Two things from my very full plate that I want to highlight are:
A Moment About Digitization 101 - In May, I updated all of my web sites to have a consistent look and feel.  An unintended consequence is that the archive of Digitization 101 is difficult to access.  The labels on the right side of the blog will show you recent posts on that topic, but may not go back far enough.  I didn't think this would be a problem, but I've received a few emails from people who want to be able to search the archives and so I'll have a search feature implemented in 2011.

By the way, you can use your favorite Internet search engine to search this site (e.g, plus whatever terms are relevant to you).

Blountstown High School Class of 1979 30-Year ReunionThat's it until 2011!  Wherever you are, I hope that 2010 is ending on a positive note. I know that some of you have been adversely affected by budget cuts, unusual weather, and personal/family hardships.  Ending 2010 on a positive note may just been that you have survived the year.  If that is true, do take a moment to look ahead to 2011 as a new year and a fresh start.  Remember that you have friends and colleagues that are their to listen, to help, and to send positive energy your way.

Related blog posts:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

When a student's work intersects with copyright, integrity and ethics (Opinion/Rant)

This blog post reflects my opinion and not the opinion of any organization that I am associated with.  I look forward to comments on this, especially from those who deal with copyright, ethics or academic integrity.

Wowza that's a lot of PaperRecently, I spoke to someone who had been hired to write papers for a university student. I knew that there were services available that would either resell older student papers or connect a student to someone who will write their papers for them, but I never expected to interact with someone who had participated in this industry.

You will wonder if the person felt that the work had been wrong.  I didn't ask that that exact question, but sensed that earning money trumped that concern.  In reality, it is the student who would get into trouble if it was discovered that the work was not his/her own and not the person who has been hired to do the work.

This is a topic that is discussed in the news on occasion (e.g., Chronicle of Higher Education, Nov. 12, 2010 and Nov. 22, 2010 which call these writers "shadow scholars"). In the past few days, I've talked about this with a few colleagues/friends and concerns regarding copyright, integrity and ethics have arose, as well as detection.  That had led me to writing this blog post in order to share some thoughts on this more publicly.

Areas of Concerns:

Copyright - One person's immediate reaction was that there was a copyright violation; however, I would argue that paper was a work-for-hire.  In this case, the writer has been paid to write the paper for the student, and the copyright becomes owned by the student.  Therefore, there isn't a copyright violation.

Integrity - One concern is that the student is not representing his/her abilities honestly.  This means that the grade for the work does not reflect what the student can honestly do, nor does it mean that the professor has a correct impression of the student's abilities.  The professor may offer a recommendation for the student based on the work, and thus unknowingly misrepresent what the student is actually capable of.

Ethics - Most, if not all (at least in the U.S.), academic institutions have rules of conduct, which include rules about the student's work being the person's own work. These rules and expectations are often in the student handbook as well as on course syllabi.  Professors may even spend time during the class discussing this expectation.  And universities have processes in place to handle students who break these rules of conduct (e.g., judiciary boards).

Yes, the student has acted unethically and so has the "shadow scholar", whether that is someone hired to do the work or a parent who is trying to be helpful.  For parents, I can see how the lines between being supportive and doing the work for the student can get blurred.  Parents often read their children's papers and offer feedback.  However, wouldn't it just be simple to go and fix paper for the student?  And then wouldn't it be helpful to do some of the research?  And...  Yet being helpful isn't teaching the student anything except that it is not necessary for the student to do his/her own work.

I can imagine that the shadow scholar, who is hired to write papers, sees an opportunity for making money that can't be turned down.  The person will gladly tell you that the work isn't against the law, even if it is unethical.

What Causes Things to be Blurry - A number of years ago, I heard a professor speak about plagiarism and how it is a more blurry subject that we imagine.  Students plagiarize for a number of reasons including:
  • Not having the language skills necessary to write original text.
  • Not having a deep understanding of the topic in order to write original text.
  • Coming from a culture where copying text is not seen as being wrong (in fact, it may show respect to copy what others have said).
  • Not knowing how to edit or reword text in order to give it an original spin.
  • Being overwhelmed with work and thus looking for an easier way of getting some of the work done.
  • Seeing others plagiarize where it is deemed to be "legal" and not knowing when it is not okay to plagiarize.  For example, an business executive takes text prepared by employees and uses it as-is in a report that he puts his name on.  Although he would see text as a work-for-hire, he has not acknowledged that the work is not his own.
Things also get blurry when we tell students to get help with their writing. For undergraduate and graduate students, we may tell them to go to a writing center and ask for help. Campus writing centers do not rewrite papers, but do offer advice on how to make a paper better (e.g., spelling, grammar, focus).  Someone who uses a campus writing center will get better grades because the papers will be better constructed. 

Doctoral students are sometimes counseled to hired an editor in order to fix grammar problems, etc., in a dissertation.  This is seen as acceptable.  The student's doctoral committee would be intimate with the topic and the student's work in order to detect if the student hired someone to do more than just edit. 

It is the ways that things get blurry that could lead to copyright, integrity and ethical concerns, and perhaps cause a student to hire someone do his/her work. As we might say...a slippery slope.

Detection - Did the student do original work?  Internet searches on text, looking at the language usage in a paper, and tools like Turnitin will help a professor understand how original a student's work is.  However, if a student hired someone to write the paper, the paper should be original so these tools/techniques would be meaningless.  (If the student brought a paper that had been used previously, Turnitin might detect that the work is not original.)  [I must note here that have a digital repository of papers - whether those papers were born digital or digitized - helps professors and services locate text that is not original. Yes, even in this post, there is a spot to mention digitization!]

As other professors have noted, understanding what has been discussed in class and in the readings can help you detect papers that do not reflect what is occurring in the class.  Looking at the person's writing style can also help you detect work that is not theirs (e.g., word usage and sentence construction), although it might also indicate that the student went to the writing center for help.

Another solution is to give student's assignments that require that they use what they are learning in class and which requires them to do work that would be difficult to outsource.  I know...not all assignments are like this or should be like this (e.g., literature reviews), which means that professors are always opening themselves up to receiving work that is not the student's own.

And What About Prospective Employers? - Does this mean that a prospective employer should view all applicant grades with suspicion?  If the employer wants to be sure that the grade and degree reflect what the person knows, should the employer ask more detailed questions?  ("Tell me about...")  I can imagine job applicants being annoyed with detailed questions about what they learned, yet that would be one way of ensuring that the person has the necessary knowledge.

By the way, we don't always think about what it means once the cheating student is out of school.  Will the person continue to hire others to do his/her work?  Will the person make bad or inaccurate decisions because of knowledge never gained?  Will the person empower another generation of students who don't do their own work?

As I sit here, my mind turns to the spring semester, which will start in a matter of weeks.  The questions above swirl in my mind and I wonder what should I do differently?  What can I do differently?  I have no perfect answers, the same predicament as my peers.  (Actually, the "perfect" solution would be to have each student meet with the professor individually to discuss/recite what he/she is learning, etc.  But it would be much too time intensive for most classes to be practical, due to the number of students.)  If my wondering leads me to a workable solution, I'll let you know.

If you have thoughts, comments, concerns, solutions, etc., I hope you will share them with me.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Book: Preserver Son Patrimoine Numérique

I received a brief email announcement that a new book entitled Preserver Son Patrimoine Numérique has been published.  The 325-page book (available only in French) focuses on digital preservation for individuals and families.  The book is also available in a digital version (16,90€).  The book was written by Claude Huc, a former engineer at the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales. He was also the founded and leader of Pérennisation des Informations Numériques (PIN), the French national digital preservation group.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Quote about an emerging theme in digital asset management

From the Henry Stewart Events  DAM newsletter article about emerging themes:

No matter what the industry, or if the consumers of digital and media assets are internal or external to an organization, there are ever increasing expectations that content will be available anytime, anywhere and on any device.
If you don't believe that people want access to content anywhere and at anytime, just watch the people around you on the bus, subway, or train...or on a college campus or in an airport...or at a cafe.  If you are not creating content that can be viewed/used on multiple devices, you may become irrelevant.

Report: Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content in Cultural Heritage Collections

The press release below is from the Council on Library and Information Resources.

December 14, 2010-The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) today released a report examining how the cultural heritage community can benefit from methods and tools developed for work in digital forensics.

The report, Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content in Cultural Heritage Collections, was written by Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, Richard Ovenden, and Gabriela Redwine, with research assistance from Rachel Donahue.

Digital forensics was once specialized to fields of law enforcement, computer security, and national defense, but the growing ubiquity of computers and electronic devices means that digital forensics is now used in a variety of circumstances.

Because most records today are born digital, libraries, archives, and other collecting institutions increasingly receive computer storage media-and sometimes entire computers-as part of their acquisition of "papers." Staff at these institutions face challenges such as accessing and preserving legacy formats, recovering data, ensuring authenticity, and maintaining trust. The methods and tools that forensics experts have developed can be useful in meeting these challenges. For example, the same forensics software that indexes a criminal suspect's hard drive allows the archivist to prepare a comprehensive manifest of the electronic files a donor has turned over for accession.

The report introduces the field of digital forensics in the cultural heritage sector and explores some points of convergence between the interests of those charged with collecting and maintaining born-digital cultural heritage materials and those charged with collecting and maintaining legal evidence.

Kirschenbaum is associate professor in the Department of English at the University of Maryland and associate director of the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH). Ovenden is associate director and keeper of special collections of the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, and a professional fellow at St Hugh's College, Oxford. Redwine is archivist and electronic records/metadata specialist at the Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin. Donahue is a doctoral student at the University of Maryland's iSchool and research assistant at MITH. The authors conducted their research and writing with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content in Cultural Heritage Collections is available electronically at Print copies will be available in January for ordering through CLIR's Web site, for $25 per copy plus shipping and handling.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Event: Aligning National Approaches to Digital Preservation

As received via email.

Aligning National Approaches to Digital Preservation

May 23-25, 2011
Tallinn, Estonia

We are pleased to announce the “Aligning National Approaches to Digital Preservation” conference. This conference will enable preservation programs from different countries and regions to share information with each other for the purpose of building strategic international collaborations to support the preservation of our
collective digital memory.

The outcomes for the event will be a strategic alignment of national approaches to enable new forms of international collaboration and an edited volume that documents an action plan for building collaboration among interested digital preservation initiatives.

Keynotes and Panel Chairs include:
  • Laura Campbell, U.S. Library of Congress
  • Gunnar Sahlin, National Library of Sweden
  • Inge Angevaare, Netherlands Coalition for Digital Preservation
  • Joy Davidson, HATII, University of Glasgow
  • Maurizio Lunghi, Fondazione Rinascimento Digitale
  • Adrienne Muir, Loughborough University
  • Raivo Ruusalepp, Tallinn University
  • Michael Seadle, Berlin School of Library and Information Science, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Please visit to register or for more information on participating in or sponsoring this conference.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Report: The Survey of Library and Museum Digitization Projects, 2011 Edition

I received an email about this report -- The Survey of Library and Museum Digitization Projects, 2011 Edition -- and thought it was worth mentioning. I don't know anything about it, except what is below.

ABSTRACT: The nearly 200 page report looks closely at how academic, public and special libraries and museums are digitizing special and other collections. The study is based on detailed data on costs, equipment use, staffing, cataloging, marketing, licensing revenue and other facets of digitization projects from nearly 100 libraries and museums in the United States, the UK, continental Europe, Canada, and Australia. The study covers and presents data separately for digitizers of photographs, film and video, music and audio, text and re-digitization of existing digital mediums. Data is also broken out by budget size, region of the world, type of institution and other factors.  Data presented separately for academic libraries, public and government libraries, special libraries and museums.

COST: $89.00 print or PDF; $189.00 for a multi-site license

James Moses, Research Director for the Primary Research Group, has circulated the information below about the report on the Digital-Preservation discussion list:

Just a few of the study’s many findings are that:
  • Digitizers whose primary medium was music and audio spent 56.25% of their total digitization staff time on cataloging and metadata related issues.
  • Digitization budgets come largely through non-budgetary allocations. The library or museum annual budget accounted for only a little over 35% of the overall digitization budget.  
  • Prospects for digitization funding in the United States were much better than prospects outside of the USA; about 28.6% of US survey participants considered the outlook pretty good or excellent while only 5.88% of those from other countries shared this optimism.
  • The mean annual number of staff hours expended per institution on digitization projects was 2,272 with a range of 0 to 24,000 (or about 12-13 full time employees spending all of their time on digitization projects).
  • Only 3.45% of institutions sampled have outsourced rights, permissions or copyright management to any third party.
  • Overall survey participants say that over the past three years they have outsourced close to 27% of their overall digitization work.  
  • Close to 54% of the organizations sampled have some form of digital asset management software and an additional 8.3% share a system with another department or division of their institution.  
  • 14.61% used the servers of some kind of third party service; this was most popular in the USA, where one sixth of respondents used a third party server service for digital content storage.
  • 16.05% of organizations surveyed license or rent any aspect of their digital collection to any party.
  • Data is also broken out by budget size, region, type of institution, and other factors.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Article: Stolen artifact returned to Historical Society (and how digitization helped)

Although museums have been collecting items since the invention of photography, it has been rare for a museum to photograph its entire collection.  Photography, however, helps staff distinguish between two similar pieces, conduct an inventory after a disaster, and identify a piece that has been stolen.

This is a wonderful story of where photography/digitization helped a museum locate a stolen items.  Over 100 items were stolen from the Wisconsin Historical Society in the 1990s by one of its employees.  Most of the items have not yet been located.  One - a beaded knife sheath - was returned this year.  The sheath had changes hands several times since it was stolen and ended up in a collection that was photographed and placed online.  Staff at Wisconsin Historical Society recognized the sheath from its image, and have been able to get it returned to their collection.

We think of digitization as increasing access, but we also need to remember that it increases the documentation that we have available on our collections.  This story proves that photographic documentation can be very, very important.

Thanks to Peter Kurilecz for ensuring that I saw this article!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

For New Yorkers: Report on the Meeting of the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries, Dec. 3

Wordle: Libraries: 2020 visionDue to my teaching schedule, I was unable to attend the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries meeting this past Friday in New York City (either in person or by phone).  Thankfully, Bridget Quinn-Carey, chair of the Council, provided some quick notes about what was discussed. 

The biggest topic on the agenda was discussion of the 2020 vision; a topic that was brainstormed at the NYLA conference in November (notes).  The Council "wants to gather more information and engage even more creative thinking (not just planning for where we are or should be today, but where we want and need to be in 2020); best practices vs. vision – need both, but want to be inspired." (Quinn-Carey)  The Council wants to engage in discussions with:
  • Library schools (faculty and students)
  • Foundations (e.g., Robin Hood Project, Gates)
  • Futurists
  • The public
  • Library systems
Because there is no funding for this effort, the Council recognizes that logistics will be challenging and thus will look for creative ways of gathering input.

If you have input on this topic - or ideas how the Council can gather input - please email your suggestions to

Other topics discussed included:
  • Commissioner Steiner's willingness to learn more about libraries. How can we (libraries) capitalize on this opportunity?
  • Attending the Cultural Education Committee meeting on Dec. 13 or 14 in Albany. Someone from the Council will report on the planning project.
  • Discussion of the report the Council will present in April 2011 to the Cultural Education Committee, which will be a continuation of the 2020 process.
  • Brief discussion of the Shubert Committee: Sara Kelly Johns to Chair with Louise Sherby and Mary Muller as committee members. 
  • An update on the State Library - both the Research Library and Library Development.
I know that I missed a very lively discussion.  I look forward to our next meeting, which should be a conference call in January.

Codes of Best Practices for Fair Use

Bryan M. Carson on the digital-copyright email discussion list pulled together a list of best practices for Fair Use from the Center for Social Media at American University web site (either ones they have created or point to).  This is a useful list and I thank him for pulling it together!

Article: How to Fail in Grant Writing

These are obviously things you don't want to do, yet many people do them when writing a grant.  A quick read...and worth reading!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Follow-up to "What I want LIS students to know"

100_0488My blog post - What I want LIS students to know- has circulated far and wide since Nov. 23.  Thanks for the comments that have been posted here and elsewhere about it.  I appreciate the feedback and am heartened to know that so many were touched by it.

Since Nov. 23, there have been two blog posts by colleagues that you should know about...

First, Bobbi Newman wrote Is She Crazy to Want to Work in Libraries? Advice for a Potential Librarian, which is an excellent blog post AND links to other relevant blog posts of advice for LIS students and those that are new to the profession.

Second, Roy Tennant wrote his own version of What I Want LIS Students to Know and it is well-worth reading.

Finally, if you have written a blog post of advice for LIS students, please let me know.  I'd like to promote it.

Addendum, Feb. 21, 2011: Here is a recent blog post from Roy Tennant that should also be read: An Open Letter to New Librarians. Jan. 12, 2015: Updated the URLs.