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Posts Tagged ‘Digital Collections’

Digital projects

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on June 8, 2011

Since I started this blog, I have been adding digital records to our library catalog (OPAC for all you librarians out there). When I was a library assistant, or technical worker, I added batches of e-documents that I got from Dataminer. I would filter records that were created in a previous month and then process them into our OPAC.

In our department, we tried several methods to upload them. Student workers checked to see if they were already cataloged and adding 856 fields with URLs. We tried dumping in the entire batch filtered for our library. We tried variations on the same idea. We still weren’t satisfied.

When I got to be in charge of the department, I experimented some more and now have a different variation. I filter the records at Dataminer by our depository number and then download the batch. Since some of the links include records to the GPO catalog, but not to the digital item, I don’t want to include those records. I use MarcEdit to make batch changes to the entire bunch and then upload them into our OPAC. It is not quite that simple, but it is not that difficult either. It takes some tweeking of the records and of the holdings codes, and I am done.

I used a similar process to batch load e-journals and ERIC records. I may write about them another day. Hope this jogs someone into thinking about a better way than I am now using and that they let me know. Until then, it is the best that I have come up with.

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A Selection of Web-Accessible Collections–Harvard

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on December 4, 2008

One of my classmates blogged about Harvard’s open access database for faculty. This site is a different effort. A Selection of Web-Accessible Collections is a fine example of digital efforts. Chinese Rubbings is one such collection, but on that caught my attention, and I don’t know why Is Contagion: Historical Views of Diseases and Epidemics. As I started looking at it, I saw the Spanish Influenza in North America, 1918-1919.

This was a pandemic and killed over 500,000 people during World War I. The collection is organized around other major outbreaks of disease worldwide. Obviously there was a real fear worldwide. According to the website the flu broke out at Ft. Riley, Kansas.

Cover up your cough and sneeze, Otherwise you’ll spread the disease.” From the U.S. Public Health Service, “Spanish Influenza” Three-Day Fever” “The Flu”, Supplement No. 84 to the Public Health Reports, September 28, 1918: 4.

Other diseases include Cholera, Plague, Smallpox, “Pestilence,” Syphilis, Tropical diseases, Tuberculosis, and Yellow Fever. What makes this a great digital collection, are the grouping of items that are digitized and the connections to the time are shown.

It is a great example of a digital library, in my opinion.

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Country Profiles and Country Studies

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on December 3, 2008

Believe it or not, the US government has lots of digital collections. Since I work with government documents everyday, I probably have a different perspective than many SLIS students. Government documents are not what you think they are. Yes, there are plenty of dull and dry and statistical docs, but there are plenty that are interesting. Take for instance the Country Studies. This is a “digital collection” of 101 countries that have been arranged, digitized and searchable through the Library of Congess. Since I am an armchair traveler, I enjoy browsing through this collection. Another link is the home page at: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/cshome.html.

While they were published during the years, 1988-1998, they still occasionally appear in print. For example, this year the Country Study of Iran was published. Our depository recently received our copy. Some countries changed names during that timespan and some countries disappeared and others emerged. This is an interesting series because of the information about the countries tha is covered. There is more information in these pages than would normally be found in an Encyclopedia. The Country Studies digitized text in the Library of Congress and in Google. (Google’s has advertisements inserted)

Shorter and probably more interesting are the Country Profiles. Click on a country you want to know more about. There are maps and text in these profiles. They are fully digitized and are truly a “digital collection.”

As many of you know, government documents set the goal of becoming a digital collection. In many ways they have succeeded. Most new docs appear online and not in print.

As a depository, we struggle to identify our selections and provide links from our catalog, OPAC, to the new publications online. (That is our metadata to the digital depository collection!). We use a PURL (Rersistent Uniform Resource Locator) that keeps the link alive to the doc, even if it moves. The PURL is a service of OCLC. As most people know, web pages move around. Metadata such as a PURL keeps the links alive. This is the PURL to the Country Study of Iran http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS40299. That PURL probably will not work without the referral from the library catalog where it was taken. However, thanks to PURLS we can keep links to the government documents digital collection alive.

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NPS digital collection

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on December 3, 2008

The National Park Service is one of my favorite Web site and digital collections. Yes, I think it is a digital collection. Lots of images, mingled with text. Interactive. Seems to be intuitive, so that I don’t have to think about what to do. (Another good resource—Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug.) With your mouse, hover over a state and see an image of Federal Park Service land in that state. I think digital collections should be that way, easy to manuver.

Here is a little tour I took. The resources on these pages are set up for educators, but are interesting for all to see. The Website is transitioning, so even more digital images should soon be available.

For other learning styles (think Dr. Lester’s class 5053), there are sounds of nature.

Click on the picture to hear the sound.

Bringing it back to the NPS page and then home to Oklahoma.

Chickasaw National Recreation Area

National Trail is the Trail of Tears, National Historic Trail.

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Washita National Battlefield

This digital collection is interactive and interesting. Since I like the outdoors, it is fun to see (and hear).

The National Park Service has done a great job in setting up this site. Makes me wish they would include even more for me to see.

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Privacy and digital collections

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on December 1, 2008

This semester I have been inundated with articles and WebPages. I am not complaining, because I found a lot of useful information in the deluge. One such article proved more thought provoking than anticipated. This article is about privacy and research on health conditions that may exist in family groups. My paper was about genealogical files, so this article didn’t seem to relate at first glance.

Yet something compelled me to read it, and I could not put it down. Cook-Deegan discusses the issues of confidential information being disclosed about family to researchers. As the family files were built, secrets were disclosed about family lineage. Since the research was being conducted about a condition, the researchers hoped to publish it. Some family members objected to publication for various reasons, even though the persons who were actually involved in the situation gave their permission. It becomes a matter of ethics and privacy when disclosure is sought. How that question is answered depends upon the researcher.

Genealogical files that are”simply family history,” if there is such a thing, contain gems like Cook-Deegan describes. Some examples: Children who are adopted and don’t know it. Previous marriages that have not been disclosed. Other “family secrets” that might be OK to tell in a family gathering, but not broadcast in a global forum such as the Web. These are important issues that digital collectors should think about when writing about family history. There are no easy answers.

Cook-Deegan, Robert Mullan. 2001. Privacy, families, and human subject protections: Some lessons from pedigree research. The Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions 21: 223-237.

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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:

Introduction

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!


Posted in Digital Collections | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

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.

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~kyallen/calendar.htm

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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.

 http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/science/09/16/smithsonian.online.ap/index.html

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

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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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