Archive for September, 2007

A gallery of endpapers

Friday, September 28th, 2007 by Merrilee

I always loved endpapers (who doesn’t?) so it put a smile on my face to see this endpaper gallery. Something for a rainy Friday afternoon (from a northern California perspective).

mp3′s from Digitization Matters forum

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007 by GĂĽnter

Not only do we have a new web-presence (as Merrilee has noted below), now we’re actually stuffing it with neat content. The mp3 files from the recent Digitization Matters forum just went live – download them to your iPod from here.

And soon there’ll be more – we’re all spending the week in Dublin, Ohio to rev our agenda and make progress on individual projects in face-to-face meetings. Updates coming to a website near you as soon as we get around to writing everything up!

Conference wishlist?

Friday, September 21st, 2007 by Merrilee

Lorcan forwarded a pointer to this blog posting by Pete Johnson, which enumerates desirables in a conference or event. I agree with Pete, I’d like to have wireless at all conferences, I always appreciate varied (and vegetarian) food options, I’d like a minimum of paper (a lot of it does seem like junkmail or spam, in the end), and if I never get another conference bag, it will be too soon.

As we are planning more and more events, it would be useful for us (me!) to hear more about the little things that make events work. Leave a comment or send an email.

Across the Tasman Sea

Thursday, September 20th, 2007 by Roy

For the last week or so I’ve been visiting RLG partner institutions in New Zealand and Australia: National Library of New Zealand, National Library of Australia, University of Sydney, and University of Melbourne. I’ve also met with a couple other institutions who we feel could both contribute to, and benefit from, RLG partnership.

It’s been an extremely interesting and useful visit for me. I’ve learned more about these institutions, the issues they are facing, and how we may be able to both learn from their initiatives as well as to help them be more effective. I’m coming back with a list of items to follow-up on, and even before my plane touches the ground my amazing colleagues are reading my trip report and beginning to follow-up on specific action items.

The night before last I flew across the Tasman Sea that separates Australia and New Zealand. Tonight I fly across the Pacific, arriving home before I leave as only a traveler across the International Dateline can. Although these geographic barriers are still problematic for in-person collaboration, the Internet has dramatically reduced or eliminated these barriers to virtual collaboration. We’re all in the same boat, both figuratively and virtually, and we have an unprecedented opportunity to collaborate deeply to solve common problems.

This was no clearer than when I participated in a Victoria University library school class in Wellington while on this trip. Not only were there students in that course from all over New Zealand, but in fact from all over the world — the UK, for example, and a couple from the United States. Sure, this meant getting up at 3am in some cases to participate, but they did, and with virtually no delay in receiving their spoken or written comments. What a wonderful world that allows people to leap across the Tasman, across the Pacific, across virtually any barrier, to come together and share and collaborate.

A new website for RLG Programs

Thursday, September 20th, 2007 by Merrilee

A very quick post to announce our migrated location on the web.

Approaches to Metadata Creation: Survey says…

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007 by Karen

In July and August RLG Programs conducted a survey among 18 RLG partners we had selected because they had “multiple metadata creation centers” on campus that included libraries, archives, and museums and had some interaction among them. Our objective was to gain a baseline understanding of current descriptive metadata practices and dependencies, the first project in our program to change metadata creation processes.

We received 88 responses in all. We expect to issue a report analyzing the responses next month, but the preliminary look is intriguing indeed.

First, we wanted to have a variety of perspectives represented, even within one institution. The responses are dispersed among those who characterized their immediate work environments as digital library production (38%), archival collections processing and library technical services (33% each) followed by museum collection descriptions (19%) and institutional repositories (14%). Three-quarters of respondents deal with both published and unpublished materials. The respondents describe information resources that are reformatted into digital form, born digital, and analog, in that order. The types of materials described include still images, text, moving images, audio, cultural objects, computer files, Web sites, maps, and natural history objects.

With that kind of diverse representation, it is no surprise that the number of different systems used was also diverse. 76 listed the tools they used to create metadata. Guess how many tools were named? Over 270 in total, 88 different ones. And the most common? A custom system. Besides an integrated library system, the tool most frequently cited was MS Access. In several cases, a single institution used more than a dozen different tools.

That’s fine as long as systems output standard formats. But as the old saw says, “the great thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from”, and more than a dozen are used, with MARC, Encoded Archival Description, and Dublin Core Qualified the leaders. For the data content standards, 80% use the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules with DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard) second with 39%. Among those that characterized themselves as processing archival collections, DACS is used by almost 60%. Respondents reported using more than a dozen different controlled vocabularies – and almost half build and maintain one or more local thesauri. There was strong support for user-supplied tagging in addition to controlled vocabulary; a small minority (less than 10%) thought user-supplied tags obviated the need for controlled vocabularies.

Just over a third of the respondents do not create any MARC metadata; for those that did, the most common way to expose their MARC metadata to others outside the institution was through a Z39.50 server, with OAI-PMH (Open Archives Initiative – Protocol for Metadata Harvesting) a distant second. About 40% make at least some of their non-MARC metadata available to OAI harvesters. A little more than that expose their metadata to search engines.

Just under half of the respondents are able to keep up with additions to the information resources/collections they describe, but almost 90% reported backlogs. Almost half estimated that the percentage of their collections not adequately described – and unlikely to be described without additional resources, funding, or both – was over 30%. 35% reported ways that they generate some metadata automatically.

We were also interested in seeing the degree to which the different metadata creation centers within a campus worked together. Large majorities reported that there were other units within their institutions describing the same or similar types of materials and that staff worked with these other units. But there is less sharing when it comes to technical infrastructures, discovery environments, descriptive strategies, and metadata creation guidelines.

Is your interest piqued? Stay tuned – we’ll tell you here when the report is available!

On the Road Again

Thursday, September 6th, 2007 by Roy

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the Fall travel period for me. I head off for New Zealand and Australia to visit our colleagues “down under”. Down under is actually a term that displays a hemispheric bigotry. The third rock from the sun has no “up” or “down”. Particular map projections may make it seem that way, but we could just as easily talk about going “up over”. But I digress.

I will be speaking at the LIANZA Conference, which looks like a great time and something I’m very much looking forward to. But even before the conference begins I decided I had to run the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world. Call me crazy. But again I digress.

Since I’ll be in the area already, I’ll be taking the opportunity to visit our RLG Programs partners in New Zealand and Australia:

  • The National Library of New Zealand, Wellington, NZ
  • The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
  • The National Library of Australia, Canberra, Australia
  • The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

In addition, I’ll be talking with colleagues at various other institutions such as the Australian National University and the University of Auckland. I’m looking forward to meeting new people and renewing old friendships and acquaintances. If you’re in the area, track me down. And this time I really do mean down.

More Consensus; Less Controversy

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007 by Jennifer

A graduate student in history from UIUC told an audience of archivists at SAA that, because she begins her research on the web, she wants to know all the collections we have, and what we archivists did to them. Historians have not abandoned material archives, rather they are instilling a critical analysis of primary sources. Attention in the archival profession seems to me to be shifting toward focus on use and research. “Let’s be honest about what people want.” A well-known author and champion of archival description remarked that “our users don’t care about our precious standards.”

The annual gathering of archivists surprised me with more consensus and less controversy. EAD finding aids are traditional; many archivists experiment with much-admired minimal processing; let’s digitize as much as possible and never mind item-level description; we want EAC to share expertise; the public and scholars may be nearly one and the same.

Both archivists and researchers value the “stuff,” and want to find out about it on the web. We and they are calling for us to provide both context and content.