deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I like those rare moments when children's literature overlaps with digital archiving and preservation. Do you children's literature people remember Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Mary Azarian's beautiful Caldecott winner Snowflake Bentley? The University of Wisconsin at Madison has digitized the Bentley collection!

Wilson Alwyn Bentley (1865-1931), famous for his photomicrographs of snow crystals, prepared sets of glass lantern slides of dew, frost and ice crystals. ... Shortly after, the Library obtained partial funding through the Friends of the Libraries, University of Wisconsin-Madison, to preserve the physical collection and provide web access.


Gorgeous pictures of snowflakes made available through a dspace repository.

And what about those moments when my obsession with accessibility overlaps with my profession? Disruptive Library Technology Jester posted on Friday "UDL: Universal Design... for Libraries?" There's not much meat to that post, except an encouragement to think about universal design in a library environment. Maybe we can start a trend!
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In "Descartes Letter Found, Therefore It Is", I learned that a long-lost stolen letter of Descartes' has turned up in my alma mater's archives:

If old-fashioned larceny was responsible for the document’s loss, advanced digital technology can be credited for its rediscovery. Erik-Jan Bos, a philosophy scholar at Utrecht University in the Netherlands who is helping to edit a new edition of Descartes’s correspondence, said that during a late-night session browsing the Internet he noticed a reference to Descartes in a description of the manuscript collection at Haverford College in Pennsylvania. He contacted John Anderies, the head of special collections at Haverford, who sent him a scan of the letter.
...
Scholars have known of the letter’s existence for more than 300 years, but not its contents. Apparently the only person who had really studied it was a Haverford undergraduate who spent a semester writing a paper about the letter in 1979. (Mr. Bos called the paper “a truly fine piece of work.”)


Guys, this is awesome. This is why I do what I do! Putting collection guides online is a royal pain (ASK ME HOW I FEEL ABOUT THE EAD STANDARD), but this is the kind of story that makes it all worthwhile. Archival collections are full of hidden treasures the archivists themselves don't know about. It takes a dedicated scholar to find these lost and hidden (and rarely digitized) gems, and digital collection guides, followed up by e-reference, followed up by spot digitization, solved the puzzle.

Viva la Ford!

On a more somber note, from "Why diversity matters (the meritocracy business)":

Now, whenever I screen resumes, I ask the recruiter to black out any demographic information from the resume itself: name, age, gender, country of origin. The first time I did this experiment, I felt a strange feeling of vertigo while reading the resume. “Who is this guy?” I had a hard time forming a visual image, which made it harder to try and compare each candidate to the successful people I’d worked with in the past. It was an uncomfortable feeling, which instantly revealed just how much I’d been relying on surface qualities when screening resumes before – even when I thought I was being 100% meritocratic. And, much to my surprise (and embarrassment), the kinds of people I started phone-screening changed immediately.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Yesterday, in the Tufts Digital Collections and Archives blog ([livejournal.com profile] tufts_dca), I talked about our newly-launched institutional repository, Tufts eScholarship. I'm very optimistic about the success of our IR, though there has been a lot of conversation in the IR world about what makes institutional repositories fail. The number one reason I'm optimistic about our IR: it's not what purists would call an institutional repository.

I'd like to buy university digitization efforts a Coke and teach everyone how to work with each other: cut for length )

The decisions leading to this wonderful conjunction of circumstances all predate my presence here at the university by many years. I'm talking about this not to toot Tufts' horn, but to push this vital idea of collaboration. Even now, I see so many institutions in the repository space that have entirely orthogonal approaches within their own organizations. The people digitizing images aren't talking to the people digitizing texts aren't talking to the people dealing with digital records aren't talking to the people doing institutional repository. Sure, maybe you would never use the same software platform or workflow approaches for all of these efforts. But maybe you will. Maybe instead of getting six different perfect software packages, you will find something that is good enough for all of you, and uses only one license, a smaller number of technical support staff, and something which will continue to be supported by your university even if hard economic times make some of the digital collections look less important.

Heck, I'm looking at this entirely selfishly, and you should too. In tough economic times, digital archives might go by the wayside. Open access institutional repositories are still untested. But management of the university's digital records is never going to be unnecessary. Work with other people instead of merely alongside them, intertwine your jobs, and you will not just save your institution money and resources, but you will increase the number of ways in which you are vital. Job security FTW.
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Some library, book, archives, records, baseball fandom, and government information musings and links just so I can clear the tabs out of my browser again: Cut to save your screen real estate )
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I've been getting increasingly concerned about what I see as a too-shallow view of sustainability in digital preservation. There's been a lot of lip service paid over the last few years to preservation, and I have certainly heard talks by grant-funding agencies in which they explained that they are now only funding grants which have sustainability written into the grant structure. Yet time and time again, I see soft money being awarded to projects for which the project administrators clearly have only the vaguest idea of what sustainability really means in a software environment.

I don't see this as anyone's fault, mind you. Software developers and IT folks aren't used to thinking of software projects in terms of Permanence. In the traditional software world, the only way something is going to be around forever is if it's going to be used all that time -- for example, a financial application which is in constant use needs to be constantly up. But archival digital preservation has a very different sense of permanence. For us, permanence might mean that you build a digital archival collection once, don't touch its content again for 10 years, but can still discover all of its preserved content at the end of those 10 years.

Meanwhile, in Internet time, a project which has been around for two years is clearly well past its prime and ready to be retired.

Repository managers are putting all of this great work into the repository layer* of preservation: handles and DOIs, PRESERV and PRONOM, JHOVE and audit trails and the RLG checklist. But meanwhile, all of these collections of digital objects -- many of them funded by limited-duration soft money -- are running on operating systems which will need to be upgraded and patched as time passes, on hardware which will need to be upgraded and repaired as time passes, on networks which require maintenance. Software requires sustenance and maintenance, and no project which doesn't take into account that such maintenance requires skilled technical people in perpetuity can succeed as perpetual preservation. Real sustainability means commitment from and communication with the programmers and sysadmins. It requires the techies understand an archivist's notion of "permanence", and the librarians and archivists (and grant agencies) understand how that a computer needs more than electricity to keep running -- it needs regular care and feeding.

(This, by the way, is one of the reasons I'm so excited by the OTW Archive of One's Own and the Transformative Works and Cultures journal. The individuals responsible for the archive and the journal *do* have a real understanding of and commitment to permanence down to the hardware and network provider level. Admittedly, it's a volunteer-run, donation supported organization, so its sustainability is an open question. But it's a question the OTW Board is wholeheartedly investigating, because they understand its importance.)

*I'm somewhat tempted to make an archival model of preservation that follows the layered structue of the OSI model of network communication. Collection policy layer, Accession layer, Content layer, Descriptive Metadata layer, Preservation Metadata layer, Application Layer, Operating System layer, Hardware layer. Then you could make sure any new preservation project has all of those checkboxes ticked. Sort of an uber-simplification of the RLG Checklist, in a nice, nerd-friendly format.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Just a quick note: I have a big girly crush on Brewster Kahle, and he's not even here.

Opening Plenary on getting books online )

Interoperability panel )

Jonathan Zittrain on privacy )

Joanne Kaczmarek on the RLG Audit checklist )

This isn't every presentation that I liked, but most of the others I enjoyed were displays of clever software products, hardware display, or metadata tools (though I am fasincated by the project of "Exploring Erotics in Emily Dickinson’s Correspondence with Text Mining and Visual Interfaces") and I'm not sure how much there is to blog on them.

Oh, also, to my fellow presenters. If you are going to do a demo, get some capture software and make a video of yourself doing the demo. You're all either computer or library professionals, and should know better than to trust internet connections, computers, and A/V systems to work on demand. The demos that were pre-recorded went smoothly, and for many of the live demos we lost any real understanding of the software because you gut hung up on the failing demo.
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