Where's the Library?

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

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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Book Dummies in an OPAC?

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on October 12, 2008

A recurring theme in information circles is how to provide access to the archival collection of the library. Brenner, Larsen and Weston (2006) explain their process of using Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) software to include links to digitized resources. As I read through their process, I thought about the libraries that are struggling to integrate digital collections within their own library software.

Many libraries use separate lists or software to identify digital collections. Some of these collections are direct links to images of varying sorts and the descriptions may not be concise. While MARC records work very well for monographs and other tangible products, they are not as precise as other methods. However, they made a good point that letting users know that these records exist is important. The details in MARC may not give the same levels as EAD, but they do serve as pointers.

In our library, we have pointers on the shelves, called “book dummies.” These pointers explain to library users where an expected item is actually located, rather than where they are looking. For example, we may shelve older volumes, in a series, in another location. The pointer gives the call number and location for the older volumes. The records that Brenner, Larsen and Weston describe serve as “book dummies.” Whether this is the best method of provision to digital collection, or if something else would be better, it does, at least, point the way.

Brenner, Michaela, Tom Larsen, and Claudia Weston. 2006. Digital collection management through the library catalog. Information Technology and Libraries 25(2): 65-77.

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A little bit of nostalgia

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on October 5, 2008

One of my classmates published a historical collection from the University of Missouri-Columbia. I remembered seeing a Missouri collection a while ago, and was delighted to see it was still there and has grown,  Missouri Digital Heritage Collection. This is a fun collection for me, because I love history, especially of places I’ve been (or hope to go to 🙂 I am a Missoui native, so it is nice to see some Missouri information.  http://www.sos.mo.gov/mdh/collections.asp

While I have not found the same sort of collection for Oklahoma, I do enjoy reading the Chronicles of Oklahoma. This journal has been digitized and is searchable. http://www.okhistory.org/publications/COOonline.html

Additionally, Oklahoma State University has made many Oklahoma publications available http://digital.library.okstate.edu/

It is interesting for me to see the different approaches that these two states have taken toward history and what they have chosen to digitize. Oh there is lot’s more out there, you know on the web, but this is what I found that interested me. Who knows, you might enjoy some history, too!

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A Very Big Collection, Indeed!

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on September 26, 2008

A recent article from CNN describes an ambitious project by the Smithsonian, to put its 137 million-object collection online. Wow! Their vision is to bring the museum to school children who might not be able to come to see the collection. This is a noble idea on the surface, yet there are many issues to be addressed, besides all that scanning an digitizing of images. While this article was a CNN news story, the Smithsonian has been actively digitizing images for quite some time. The Terra Project is one project that has been ongoing since 2005. http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/terra_collections_list.cfm. As an information professional, I wondered how they would treat the provenance of the articles and how they intend to use metadata to describe the objects. Perhaps this collection description is an indication of how they intend to proceed using XML EAD  data prepared by archivists.  http://www.aaa.si.edu/collectionsonline/project.htm

Of course there is a monetary side to this, grant money. In a time of declining field trips due to gasoline shortages, the Smithsonian anticipates receiving educational grant monies for this project. However, there are no estimates about time or funding necessary. One would hope that more planning is going on than what is being reported.

The news story at www.CNN.com: Smithsonian to Put its 137 million-object collection online.


The Smithsonian at: http://www.smithsonian.org/

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Buczynski, is it time?

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on September 21, 2008

As I read a discussion article this week about selling books and library services, I thought to myself, it’s about time! Buczynski proposes the idea that libraries should offer to sell books and services as a means to increase services to users. Amid all the hue and cry from some librarians, little do they realize how fees have already crept into libraries. For example, if I want to print at the public library or at OU, I must pay for the privilege. If I am not a student at an academic institution, I must pay to check out books.

Please realize that I detest paying for services as much as the next person. Yet the costs of keeping a library functioning keep escalating. As Buczynski points out, funds are diminishing and libraries are being held more accountable for the remaining funds. For example, in the library where I am employed, the budget has not increased in years. Yet the library is expected to continue adding books, serials, and databases with no understanding of the escalating expenses of providing these services. Users often feel that the services are free, because they can access them with a simple login. What is not realized that the services are not free, and are being paid by tuition and/or fees.

Over ten years ago, when I worked in interlibrary loan, it was not uncommon for some institutions to charge $20 for a copy of a journal article. Most users were appalled and did not want to pay for the service. The fee served its purpose from the other library’s point of view, if the user seriously wanted the article they would pay for the use of the libraries staff, equipment, and materials. While this is troubling to me to have to pay for articles, I know that there are fees being incurred that no one sees.

Not only are libraries becoming more commercialized, the Internet is a prime example. Only a few years ago, the Internet offered many files and much information for free. When businesses realized the opportunities available, the free sites disappeared or were pushed further back in the search engine results. Now, many people expect to pay for most of the information that they find online. They buy books, pay for articles, and purchase computer software manuals. I liked the “good-ole days.” I sometimes wish that things had stayed as they were. Yet upon reflection there is much more available online now than ever before.

In libraries, too, there is so much more available now than there used to be. Libraries scramble to acquire the best materials and access for their users, yet users will never be totally satisfied. If a user wants a book that few other people would want, or a book that is not available, why not give the privilege of purchasing and delivery? The library could profit and buy more materials and the user could be happy. If nothing else, the fees could serve as a wake-up call to those who think all information should be free and awaken support for the library.


Buczynski, James A. 2008. Looking for collection 2.0. Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship 20: 90-100.

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You asked for digital projects?

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on September 17, 2008

I came across this artile, Brad Eden’s Innovative Digital Projects. Whether all would be considered collections, I don’t know. Depends on the definition of collection. Yet, whatever they are, they are extraordinary. For those of us who are still wandering around looking for the ideal project, he has found quite a few for inspiration. Some are more repositories, others…well see for yourself.

Here are a couple of teasers for you:

This one changes on the hour: 10×10: Words and Pictures that define the time. 

On theme for digital repositories and collections is Digicult: Thematic Challenges for a Digital Culture at:  http://www.digicult.info/pages/Themiss.php.

These two are a sampling of the projects in this article from Library Technology Reports.

Eden, Brad. 2005. Innovative digital projects. Library Technology Reports 41(4): 24-44. Accessed through EBSCOhost 09/10/2008 at  http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy1.lib.ou.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=tfh&AN=17723311&site=ehost-live

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A sample digital collection policy

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on September 15, 2008

As I browsed the web, I came across the Digital Library Collection Development Policy at the Library at the University of Texas at Austin. Looking at this policy is helpful for me to see the determination for inclusion of objects in the digital collection at UT.

They have decided to use three broad areas:

  • things they have purchased,
  • things that have morphed into a new format,
  • and links to other locales away from the library.

How they selected? They used 4 areas,

  • content of “intellectual significance” Wow, I know what they intend. I wonder…
  • format is appropriate for the content. The example was a heavily used resource
  • practicality. I liked seeing this one, it asks is it financially feasible?
  • does it belong? This area is one that is often overlooked in collections. Does it fit in with the collection development plan?

There is much more, but the definitions are clear and there is the attempt to explain each step. It would be helpful if all libraries had a clearly defined collection development policy. Unfortunately, as I leaned in my collection development class, most libraries do not have an actual written policy. Scary!

This policy is helpful for my course in digital collections. It give my some criteria for evaluation of digital objects to include. This resource should prove to be helpful for my understanding in building my own collection.

University of Texas Libraries, Research Services Division, Austin, TX.

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Participatory Digital Libraries

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on September 8, 2008

While I struggle in my attempts decide how to create a digital collection for LIS5990, I rediscover information overload. There is so much information out there on the Internet, why oh why should we even attempt to add to it or make sense of it? Is a digital library the same as a digital collection? Is a repository a collection, or is a group of Web links a collection?

In retrospect, I have seen projects by librarians that claim to be bibliographies or collections or portals. Most of the time I have been disappointed. Either they were not “as advertised” or else they were simply a giant collection of links with no real focus. All too often there seemed to be a hodgepodge of links that might be found Web surfing.

I don’t think that is what is anticipated here for my Digital Libraries class. Yet I am puzzled what directions I need to go. I do know that all collections need a plan. In my collection development class, we learned that all collections should be developed according to the policy of the library. Additionally, collections should reflect the needs of the users of the collection.

As I struggle with this process, I found some articles and sites to explore. I searched Web and LORA for information to try to establish my direction for digital collecting. In the process, I discovered Peter Murry’s article that may be helpful, Creating Participatory Digital Libraries. This entry is based on a talk by Paul Jones, Director of Ibiblio.org. In this entry, there are some interesting digital collections to explore. This gives more insight as to what online collections should be.

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Digital collections!

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on September 2, 2008

So what exactly is a digital collection? I will be exploring that topic and more with additional postings. Hur-Li Lee (2000) points out that our perception of a library collection has changed with remote access. Lee (2000, 1106) asked “Does it matter where the digital files are located?” That is one essence of digital library collecting. The files may be located almost anywhere in the world that is accessible from the Internet. With that in mind, then where is the library? The library may be anywhere and everywhere. Accessibility makes the library available anywhere there is an online presence. Lee (2000, 1106) explains that the collector determines the parameter’s of a collection and how the collection is “developed, maintained and evaluated.” With that in mind, I will begin. These collections are important to me while I am becoming a professional librarian.

When I started this assignment, I began thinking practically about the day to day life of a professional. However, as I rethought my assignment, I realized that I should think about my own professional development if I am going to be an effective librarian. Where else to begin, but with our professional association and the resources there. Since I am planning on becoming an academic librarian, these tools are important for guidelines and helpful information to me as a developing professional. The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) has helpful information in accessible formats. The Webpage that I feel is most helpful to me is the ACRL – Professional Tools.

On a global scale the International Federation of Library Associations(IFLA) is working to unite libraries. The collection of resources and projects there are important for global and cultural understanding is Digital Libraries: Resources and Projects. It may be seen as many collections within one giant collection of digital documents. It is essential for a professional to seeing the global aspect of being an information professional and to see what other cultures believe is important to share about their culture.

Another essential collection for an information professional, is the ability to read current professional literature. A professional librarian needs to stay current in the field and one of the easiest methods is to read the professional literature. One way to stay current is to read publications through an aggregator, such as EBSCOhost. This is a digital collection of journals that is accessible through local libraries. The Professional Development Collection (requires OU login) contains information professional articles. Additionally, the collection of articles at D-Lib or First Monday are additionally excellent digital resources for a professional librarian.


Lee, Hur-Li. 2000. What is a collection? Journal of the American Society for Information Science. 51(2), 1106-1113.

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Where’s the library?

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on August 25, 2008

Hmm, seems pretty obvious doesn’t it? That big building over there with all the books, must be the library. Nope! The library (or a library) is not that building but it is much more than that. The library is not a place any more in the sense that it is usually thought about. I wonder if it ever was just a place. The library at OU is not just a big building, but also something that I use regularly from my home. This is only the beginning of my blog. I will post about digital collections soon.

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