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Posts Tagged ‘Digital Libraries’

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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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!


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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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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.

Posted in Digital Collections | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

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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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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