Posts Tagged ‘digitization



04
May
10

Creating a digitization task force

Just over a month ago, I asked my colleagues at the NC Digital Collections Collaboratory about ways to formulate a digital collections program at my institution. I got some great feedback and this morning, I was able to wrangle in the eight very important technology, metadata, and special collections staff that could create a sustainable digitization “task force.”

I was fairly nervous about my attempt to gain consensus among this mixed, highly trained, busy group. Without a director of special collections, our ragtag task force became more of a brainstorming session. I brought everyone a copy of Suzanne Preate’s “Digital Project Life Cycle” slide from the 2009 NNYLN conference and allowed for a little storytelling about the history of efforts to create a digital collections program. Once everyone had a chance to express their past frustrations and concerns, we began to ponder the idea of a digital collections process that would work for our institution.

Everyone immediately agreed that special collections alone should have final say about what is selected for digitization, since our staff should have the best idea of what is in our collections. I mentioned that our manuscript collections are not processed to the point where potential digital projects could be created, but our rare books librarian could likely make decisions about rare books that could be digitized. At the same time, everyone wanted to be a part of the creation of a digital collection development policy (also known as selection criteria), which was a relief. I was asked to draft the policy and email the group for feedback and suggestions.

The remainder of the meeting was spent discussing issues with post-production, such as user interface and what the tech team called the “discovery layer” for DSpace. It turns out there is a possibility of creating a new portal for digital collections that pulls from DSpace, without having to use the standard DSpace interface templates. Basically, DSpace and Encompass are the databases, and our new digital portal and VuFind (our catalog) will be the discovery layers. I am still learning about this. Our head tech programmer mentioned that we could use VuFind or a blog (catablog?) as our special collections interface, with MARC records mapped from Dublin Core records that are in DSpace. Of course, this would not work with our finding aids, since the majority of the information therein would not be fully searchable as a MARC record. Our tech team asked special collections to send examples of best practices of how a DSpace portal could look (I did not find many good examples online) as well as any examples we could find of interfaces that may have DSpace as a backend (this is in the works).

We then turned back to the need for a project process. Our copyright expert librarian chimed in to mention a need to document efforts to determine copyright status for orphaned and unpublished works. She urged us to consider creating a standard rights statement for our digital objects. I gave her a copy of the “Well-intentioned practice for putting digitized collections of unpublished materials online” document shared in the recent post from hangingtogether.org entitled “Archivists: be bold and do your job.”

We closed with a few goals in mind: meet again in June after our visit to ECU’s Digital Collections team, and for me to draft a digital collection development policy/selection criteria. My initial thoughts? While disorganized, our meeting established our group’s commitment to a long-term digitization program. We will need to work on a project life cycle of our own in the near future.

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25
Nov
09

Preservation and digitization for all

First off, a few words of gratitude in this season of thanks-giving. I am thankful for my job, where I learn every day about public service, local history, and get to use my skills as an archivist. I am grateful that our county finally decided to upgrade our outdated county website (including the public library) to CSS, and that it will be coming out in early 2010. Finally, I am grateful for the grants my department has received, most recently the NC SHRAB’s Traveling Archivist Program.

Speaking of grants, my library (in partnership with Wake Forest University) recently received an outreach grant from the State Library that provides digitization equipment and preservation training in locations throughout our county. This grant is unique to North Carolina and is being watched carefully by the State Library due to its somewhat unusual concept. Put simply, we are putting expensive scanners “out there” for the general public and providing preservation education for nonprofit groups and individuals.

This Saturday was our first workshop, which was focused on local nonprofit organizations. From genealogy clubs to food banks, churches to social clubs, we sent emails and postcards to as many groups as we could find. Our workshop’s limited RSVP list was filled within a week, and I began hearing from groups that I know I had not yet invited! We are having three more rounds of workshops in 2010.

On Saturday, we brought in Rachel Hoff, preservation expert from UNC Chapel Hill, as well as Barry Davis, multimedia coordinator at Wake Forest, to teach our community partners about preservation, repair, and digitization of their organization’s archives. The enthusiasm of our participants was absolutely contagious. Not only were they fully engaged from 10 am to 5 pm, but they were thrilled to learn about book repair, archival housing, and the steps to use our VHS-to-digital, cassette-to-digital, slide scanner, and flatbed scanner!

We need to get all of the public library staff involved with the equipment to the point where they are comfortable showing a customer how to use the scanners. At a small public library branch with a few full-time staff, it is hard enough to get the staff trained on the equipment, let alone ask them to spend time with a customer who is just getting started! So we’ve decided to expand our training on the digitization equipment to become part of our regular computer training classes, allowing for small seminars.

While it sounds simple, the grant is compelling in its implications. This equipment will be open to the public. There are no restrictions as to what can be digitized, and no requirements that digital objects be shared with our libraries or hosted on a designated server. It is empowering for community-based archives to be provided with training and resources to preserve their history their way. I will post more in the future as our project develops.

In related news: the NC Digital Heritage Center is coming…!