RBMS: day two

Susan Allen opened the second day by picking up Gary Strong’s (by now) much repeated “it’s our time.” It’s our time, yes, said Susan, but we must be vigilant. Sentiment is not enough for asserting that books and special collections are important. Susan has started a list of reasons and has 17! Send her more (I’ll see if she will share them, and if so, I’ll post them here or point you to them).

Karen Calhoun, my colleague at OCLC gave the first of two presentations on access. Some take aways include: library search environments invite defection; our materials need to be highly visible, and available for remixing; discovery happens elsewhere, so we need to make delivery our key area of focus; preserve your right to remix (citing Good Terms again). Karen made numerous references to the Greene-Meissner report, More Product, Less Process, likening it to the Calhoun Report for archives. Karen said, “I was referred to as ‘that woman.’ Do you refer to Mark Greene and Dennis Meissner as ‘those men’?” (For those who are interested in following more of Karen’s ideas, she has started a new blog called Metalogue).

Karen’s presentation was followed by one from Tom Scheinfeldt (Center for History and New Media at George Mason University) on Omeka, open source software for creating exhibits. He described it as a low cost, easy to use system to present and expose data and allow for interaction. Tom provided some interesting ideas: the internet opens us (and our collections) to audiences we don’t know very much about; “users” is a lazy term, because it doesn’t help us think about a variety of uses (he prefers consumers, which I have to admit I don’t like much).

I was unable to attend the seminar on blogging that I was interested in (the room was quickly filled with 100 people who also were interested), so I sat out on the Getty terraces with other blogging refugees and compared notes (gossiped). I later attended a discussion group sponsored by the Digitization of Special Collections Task Force (I am a member) which focussed on how “mass digitization” efforts are impacting special collections.

The final plenary for the day was on selection. Rich Szary (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) spoke quite eloquently about needing to diversify: building highly curated, selection intensive resources is one model — he’d like to find ways to build much larger pools of content and outlined some of the ways that both UNC and the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian are doing just that. Rich cited many of the recommendations from Shifting Gears. Rich also cautioned that digitization is but one of many priority functions we need to pursue: acquisition, description, preservation. In thinking digital, we are largely forgetting about media materials and born digital.

I gave the second presentation in this session, and have no perspective on it right now, so I hope someone else shares notes, or I’ll type it up another time (my presentation was based on Powerpoint slides from Barbara Taranto, NYPL Labs).

Today we’re back at the Luxe hotel for two more plenary sessions and the wrap up. Then on to Anaheim.

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