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Libraries are not just a place or a thing. Libraries are evolving!

Archive for November, 2008

Online family files–who should be included?

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on November 30, 2008

Digital collections in the genealogical world have a lot of issues. There are copyright, privacy, accuracy, and preservation issues; just to name a few. All digital collections have these problems, but in genealogical files they seem to be at times overwhelming. It makes me wonder why people put collections online, except for maybe 5 minutes of fame. 🙂


As family historians struggle to make their records more accurate, they encounter even more problems. Much misinformation is available in family trees that are placed online, and family stories abound. While some family stories may be true, others were told to build a “better pedigree” than what they found.

Yet there are reasons not to include those who might be an embarrassment to the family. Privacy issues may prevent those family secrets from being shaken loose. For example, if someone is adopted and doesn’t know it, the last place they would want to discover it would be in a family online file.

Policies of online providers, such as Rootsweb.com to limit family files to those who have “passed on,” is a good rule. It saves embarrassment, preserves privacy and saves feelings of those who might be harmed. It just makes good sense.


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There’s plenty of room at the bottom

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on November 26, 2008

Where do we keep all these digital collections? Where will we find the space for the mushrooming digitizations?

Maybe the answer is in nanotechnology. When Feynman talks about putting 120,000 volumes of a library on a library card and mailing it out; it is still mind boggling. Feynman delivered this speech in 1959, yet it still not entirely realized. What we still haven’t accomplished is the miniaturization of the the machines, or have we? I wonder about the web and the exponential growth. Maybe shrinking it is the answer?

If we miniaturize our collections, then storage won’t be a problem. While we can compress files, this is something entirely different. Sounds like something out of the movies, yet physicists are working with nanotechnology, today. Feynman is another forward thinker like V. Bush and his memex

R.P. Feynman. 1959. There’s plenty of room at the bottom: An invitation to enter a new world of physics. Transcript of his talk is available online and is published in Caltech’s Engineering and Science 1960 issue.

Feynman’s Talk “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom:An Invitation to Enter a New World of Physics” .

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Handbook for Digital Projects

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on November 21, 2008

I came across this online book with a lot of helpful information. Handbook for Digital Projects: A Management Tool for Preservation and Access, edited by Maxine K. Sitts. Northeast Document Conservation Center, Andover, Massachusetts, 2000.

This is the Table of Contents for the book:


Overview: Rationale for Digitization and Preservation

Considerations for Project Management

Selection of Materials for Scanning

Overview of Copyright Issues

Technical Primer

Developing Best Practices: Guidelines from Case Studies

Vendor Relations

Digital Longevity

Scholar Commentary: An end-user speaks up

This book is online and provides much thoughtful information and practical information about building a digital collection. This collection is about preservation and not about creation of digital collections. Considerations include longevity, selection, quality, integrity, and access that are transformed by the process. Worth your time!

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Ethics and online family histories

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on November 19, 2008

Early in my online quest for family history, I was surprised to find my personal information on the Internet for all to see. For the most part, it is not as easily found now, since major family history sites have been more vigilant and removed personal information about living individuals. The information was initially shared by a “helpful first cousin.” Our information, along with a lot of other individuals who do not know this happened, was burned into cds and sold by family history software manufacturers. When I confronted the individuals who included me and my immediate family in their family web pages, I was met with anger. They addressed my concerns by saying I should be glad that I was listed on their pages and then blocked my e-mail address from communicating with them. These people are only remotely related to me, if at all. I was shocked at their response.

Even at that time, family history collections usually excluded living relatives from online access. Of course, there are those who believe that if information is known, it should be shared. Pictures of people are still placed online and along with family trees with family gossip. As some people would say, just because you know something doesn’t mean you have to repeat it. However, repeating information about living relative involve privacy issues and the ethics of disclosing personal information.

Why does it matter? When we place things online, they are there forever. Correct or incorrect, personal, private or public. It may be retrievable through archival files, even though it was deleted. My intentions with my family history collections that I am publishing for private groups, will protect living family information. Our little secrets won’t be shared to the world by me.

For more on this topic and sharing collection information, Steve’s Genealogy blog along with the comments are worth reading.


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Copyright, yes I said copyright!

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on November 19, 2008

I am working on sources for my paper, and I have been exploring copyright. Since it is a bit fuzzy to me, I was happy to find a source that makes things clearer to me. Yes, I know there are lots of good websites that I have seen posted by others in my class and by my professor. I still like a tangible material to look at and examine. This book is illustrated and thin. (More points in its favor!)

Some information that I gleaned from its pages:

The 3 parts that are essential for copyright are: it must be original, it must be a work of authorship, and it must be fixed in a tangible medium of expression. (Waxer & Baum 4-5).


Somethings are not protected by copyright. Things like slogans, discoveries, etc. If an idea and its expression can’t be separated, it cannot be copyrighted. Standard or stock features, scenes, etc. cannot be copyrighted. Works in the public domain, cannot be copyrighted. (Waxer & Baum 12-13).


Waxer, Barbara M. and Marsha L. Baum. 2007. Copyright on the Internet.Thompson Course Technology: Boston.





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Three historical photo collections

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on November 16, 2008

Collection #1—A global collection of photographs. It is arranged by years and locality. This collection is for users to build. Seems a bit like a wiki, but not everyone can edit. The most recent photos are 1982, that I found. Not a large collection, yet. I enjoyed looking at the historical photos. I was disappointed that there were no Civil War photos in the US. Photography was used a lot in the Civil War and appears in many books. However, this should be an interesting collection to watch it grow.


Collection #2—This site is arranged by themes. American photos and it is more of a cultural commentary. People, animals, fashion, old cars. This site is a lot of fun. Check out American Princess 1922.

  Shorpy in HD

Collection #3—The Digital Collections of BYU are quite interesting. I selected search “all collections” of the Historical Photographs collection. I typed in the word America. Many portraits of Native American chiefs and others. What I enjoy about browsing this collection are the thumbnails combined with the descriptions. It is a large collection that will be fun to continue to browse. 

Digital Collections at BYU

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Why Bother?

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on November 8, 2008

What a negative!! Arrrggghh!! Why do I bother going to library school?? Ever since I first started working in libraries in the 90s, there have been those who have predicted and called for the end of the library. From the so called “wall-less” (http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/AboutLibrary/CUNews/cu_101697.html) libraries to libraries are disappearing and are irrelevant. What is the point if the professionals of the discipline do not see value to libraries and buy into the current trends that all information is available online, so who needs the libraries! While there is some truth to this supposition, it is too simplistic!

Articles such as Ross and Sennyey’s The Library is Dead, Long Live the Library! The Practice of Academic Librarianship and the Digital Revolution, are part of this long trend of devaluing librarianship, and the librarians who buy into it. While this article makes some excellent points about the necessity for libraries to change with the new trends in technology, they make me feel like I should just roll over and play dead and forget library school.

Fortunately, I don’t buy into their total package deal. Under all that hype about publishers and the Internet being all that users care about, I think they miss several important points. With the rapid development of information being available online, it rapidly changes and sometimes disappears. Information on the Web is here today and gone almost as quickly.

Service, is one of the major aspects of librarianship. Filtering all that information for people is part of library services. Whether it is done personally, or through a well designed web page is part of that service.

Collections, is another part of librarianship. Collections are being redefined in the digital age, yet what is here today may not be here tomorrow. Using one of their examples of government documents. Ask most government documents librarians about purls (http://purl.oclc.org/) and document availability. Docs are replaced at the whim of the agencies and may appear, move and disappear as pages are re-designed. Ask about what happened in post 9/11 and the Department of Interior(http://www.doi.gov/)

pages (http://www.ombwatch.org/article/articleview/213/1/104/). Like much of information that libraries provide, the most current information is not always what is needed. Sometimes previous documents are necessary for users. The philosophy being presented in this article and others, is that only the most current information is ever needed. That philosophy defies scholarship and research goals. Changing government information at the whim of the agency director flies in the face of “Freedom of Information” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_Information_Act) and (http://www.usdoj.gov/oip/index.html), critical to open records access to government in the US.

Additionally, collections should not be totally in the hands of commercial entities as this paper seems to suggest. Commercial entities will provide what is profitable, not what is needed. The “long tail” or “just in case” collections are needed for scholarship and research.

Library as Space, is about the building and its uses. While the authors make some valid points that using the space in different manners call into question the existence of keeping the building, again they do not understand the changing nature of users. Those students who use the library for “study hall” also use the services of the building. By my own observation, users will browse the collection searching for ideas and alternative solutions to their information quests. Granted my experience is in an academic library, haunted by undergraduates, for the most part.

So what is the point? The point is that information professionals are important if they take themselves seriously. While Ross and Sennyey make some valid points about the necessity for changes within the field, they miss the point about what librarianship is all about!

Article cited: Ross, Lyman and Pongracz Sennyey. 2008. The library is dead, long live the library! The practice of academic librarianship and the digital revolution. The Journal of Academic Librarianship 34 no. 2: 145-152.

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Allen County Digital Calendars Collection

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on November 2, 2008

Family history has always interested me, but I never pursued it until I started using the Internet. Now it is easier, and cheaper, to travel across country and view information about people who lived in other locations. Since I am interested in Allen County, Kentucky to research my family history, I discovered this site several years ago. It is still available through Kentucky GenWeb, although it has recently changed servers.

This digital collection is a set of calendars depicting the local landmarks of Allen County. While most digitization projects include photographs, this collection is drawings and captions. Local students of Scottsville High School drew the pictures for selection in calendars for the years 1976-2001. When I searched the Allen County, Kentucky genealogy page I discovered my ancestor, David Harris’s name and property as the April 1993 entry. Joe Murray drew a picture of the existing home, and a caption gives general information about David Harris, the property and the heirs who have inhabited the property. David Harris received the land as “compensation” for 3 years service in the Revolutionary War. Additonally, there is a reference to another property, Old Buck Creek Methodist Church, that another ancestor helped to establish. Digital collections like this make exploring historical roots more interesting.


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