Special Collections in ARL Libraries: A Discussion Report from the ARL Working Group on Special Collections

The Association of Research Libraries has released Special Collections in ARL Libraries: A Discussion Report from the ARL Working Group on Special Collections.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Working Group on Special Collections, formed in 2007, has released a discussion report that identifies key issues in the management and exposure of special collections material in the 21st century. . . .

The report includes overviews of and recommendations in three areas:

  1. Collecting Carefully, with Regard to Costs, and Ethical and Legal Concerns
  2. Ensuring Discovery and Access
  3. The Challenge of Born-Digital Collections

It highlights the need for research library leadership to support actions that will increase the visibility and use of special collections and promote both existing and developing best practices in the stewardship of special collections.

World Digital Library to Launch on April 21, 2009

The World Digital Library will launch on April 21, 2009.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

UNESCO and 32 partner institutions will launch the World Digital Library, a web site that features unique cultural materials from libraries and archives from around the world, at UNESCO Headquarters on 21 April. The site will include manuscripts, maps, rare books, films, sound recordings, and prints and photographs. It will provide unrestricted public access, free of charge, to this material.

The launch will take place at a reception co-hosted by UNESCO Director-General, Koïchiro Matsuura, and U.S. Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington. Directors of the partner institutions will also be on hand to present the project to ambassadors, ministers, delegates, and special guests attending the semi-annual meeting of UNESCO’s Executive Board.

Carolina Digital Library and Archives Fall-Winter 08/09 Newsletter

The Carolina Digital Library and Archives at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library has sent its Carolina Digital Library and Archives Fall-Winter 08/09 Newsletter out as an e-mail message on the DIGLIB list. It is not possible to directly link to this message; however, you can access the DIGLIB archive, and, after clicking the "I am not a spammer button," find the message "CDLA's Fall-Winter 08/09 Newsletter announcement."

Here's an excerpt:


Carolina Digital Library and Archives (http://cdla.unc.edu) is the UNC Library's major new department established to improve Web access to the Library's rich collections and to help faculty with new digital projects, services, and tools, with the common goal of advancing scholarship. Among major highlights of our first year are establishment of three new units—the Digital Publishing Group, which includes the award-winning digital publishing program Documenting the American South (DocSouth); the Digital Production Center; and the Research and Development Group–as well as investigation of opportunities in large-scale digitization and implementation of the Scribe program. Most importantly, from our perspective, is that the initial organizational and technological infrastructure was built which now provides increasing digital support to UNC faculty, the Library, and other cultural institutions in North Carolina. We plan to keep friends informed about new digital collections, services, and opportunities through this newsletter, our renovated Web site (coming this spring), and other channels.

Digital Collections/Exhibitions Software: Omeka 1.0 Alpha Released

Omeka 1.0 alpha has been released.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

This version of Omeka includes:

  • New helper functions and updates current helper function;
  • Enhancements and fixes bugs throughout the admin panel;
  • An autocompleter to the tags field for items;
  • Filtering for the users list in the admin;
  • An upgrade notification to admin dashboard if you're version of Omeka is older than the latest stable release.
  • A "Remember Me" checkbox to the login.
  • A global view page and helpers for file metadata, which will allow you to edit file metadata and display it in public themes.

Max Planck Institute Releases Best Practices for Access to Images: Recommendations for Scholarly Use and Publishing

The Max Planck Institute for the History of Science has released Best Practices for Access to Images: Recommendations for Scholarly Use and Publishing.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

The recommendations were prompted by the barriers encountered by those who wish to use and publish images of cultural heritage objects. High licence fees and complicated access regulations make it increasingly difficult for scholars in the humanities to work with digital images. It is true that the digitization of image collections has acted as a catalyst for scholarly research. However, archives, collections and libraries differ greatly with respect to the question of how, where and on what basis images may be used for scholarly purposes. Moreover, their policies in this regard are becoming increasingly restrictive, especially when it comes to new forms of e-publishing.

The MPIWG drew up its recommendations for facilitating the scholarly use of digital images following consultations with international experts which took place in January 2008. The recommendations call on curators and scholars to develop a mutually binding network of trust. The aim of the initiative is to encourage stakeholders jointly to address the current and future challenges raised by the digital age. The document urges curators to refrain from restricting the public domain arbitrarily and calls on them to accommodate the needs of scholars for reasonably-priced or freely-accessible high-resolution digital images—both for print publications and new Web-based forms of scholarly publishing. It exhorts scholars to recognise museums, libraries and collections as owners and custodians of physical objects of cultural heritage and to acknowledge their efforts in making digital images available. Moreover, it urges them to take their role as guarantors of authenticity and accurate attribution extremely seriously.

Archival Management Software: A Report for the Council on Library and Information Resources

The Council on Library and Information Resources has published Archival Management Software: A Report for the Council on Library and Information Resources by Lisa Spiro, Director of the Digital Media Center at Rice University.

Here's an excerpt from the report's Web page:

With generous support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Council on Library and Information Resources has launched a multiyear program that addresses the challenge of cataloging hidden collections—those materials held in special collections, archives, and other restricted or relatively inaccessible settings. The program has two major dimensions: first, to identify hidden collections of potential value to scholars; and second, to address the thorny issue of cataloging such materials efficiently, effectively, and in such a way that the catalog records are available to scholars through the Web. In this paper, Lisa Spiro describes and analyzes some of the major technologies that are available to librarians, curators, and archivists and the implications of deploying these systems for existing workflows.

Folger Shakespeare Library Provides Free Access to 20,000+ Images

The Folger Shakespeare Library is now providing free access to over 20,000 images.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

The digital image collection includes books, theater memorabilia, manuscripts, art, and 218 of the Folger’s pre-1640 quarto editions of the works of William Shakespeare. Users can now examine these collection items in detail while accessing the Folger’s rare materials from desktops anywhere in the world. . . .

The Folger’s digital image collection provides resources for users to view multiple images side by side, save their search results, create permanent links to images, and perform other tasks through a free software program, Luna Insight.

The Folger is also collaborating with the University of Oxford to digitize 75 quarto editions of Shakespeare’s plays and create the Shakespeare Quartos Archive, which will provide free online access to interactive, high-resolution images of the plays. The Shakespeare Quartos Archive is funded by a new Transatlantic Digitization Collaboration Grant awarded jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Joint Information Systems Committee. In addition, Picturing Shakespeare will make 100,000 images from the Folger collection—including prints, unique drawings, and photography relating to Shakespeare—available to teachers, scholars, and the general public in 2010 through an initiative from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Both projects join a fast-growing body of podcasts, videos, and other online content produced by the library.

Library of Congress to Scan 25,000th Book in Digitizing American Imprints Program

The Library of Congress will scan the 25,000th brittle book in its Digitizing American Imprints Program, which is supported by a $2 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

The Library, which has contracted with the Internet Archive for digitization services, is combining its efforts with other libraries as part of the open content movement. The movement, which includes over 100 libraries, universities and cultural institutions, aims to digitize and make freely available public-domain books in a wide variety of subject areas.

Books scanned in this pilot project come primarily from the Library’s local history and genealogy sections of the General Collections. For many of these titles, only a few copies exist anywhere in the world, and a reader would need to travel to Washington to view the Library’s copy. . . .

All scanning operations are housed in the Library’s John Adams Building on Capitol Hill. Internet Archive staff work two shifts each day on 10 "Scribe" scanning stations. The operation can digitize up to 1,000 volumes each week. Shortly after scanning is complete, the books are available online at www.archive.org. Books can be read online or downloaded for more intensive study. The Library of Congress is actively working with the Internet Archive on the development of a full-featured, open-source page turner. A beta version, called the Flip Book, is currently available on the Internet Archive site.

Open Source Archival Software: ICA-AtoM 1.0.4 Beta Released

ICA-AtoM 1.0.4 beta has been released.

Here's an excerpt from the What is ICA-AtoM? page:

ICA-AtoM stands for International Council on Archives—Access to Memory. It is a web-based, open-source application for standards-based archival description in a multi-lingual, multi-repository environment.

ICA-AtoM comprises:

  • HTML pages served to a web browser from a web server. Apache is used in development but ICA-AtoM is also compatible with IIS.
  • A database on a database server. MySQL is used in development but ICA-AtoM uses a database abstraction layer and is therefore also compatible with Postgres, SQLite, SQLServer, Oracle, etc.
  • PHP5 software code that manages requests and responses between the web clients, the application logic and the application content stored in the database.
  • The Symfony web framework that organizes the component parts using object-orientation and best practice web design patterns.
  • The Qubit Open Information Management toolkit, developed by the ICA-AtoM project and customized to make the ICA-AtoM application.

Manuscript Collections on the Web, SPEC Kit 307

The Association of Research Libraries has published Manuscript Collections on the Web, SPEC Kit 307.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

This SPEC survey investigated how many manuscript collections are held in ARL member libraries; what percentage of these collections are represented on the Web; what types of information about the collections are available in finding aids and on the Web; what formats are used for finding aids on the Web; how many library staff are working on manuscript collections; the challenges and benefits of migrating collection information to the Web; and whether and how usage of manuscript collection information is tracked.

Of the 123 ARL member libraries, 72 completed the survey by the March 2008 deadline for a response rate of 59%. All of the survey respondents indicated that they are managing to post at least some information about their manuscript collections on the Web. Most of the comments indicated that the respondents want to post more information online, but are unable to do so for a variety of reasons, primarily staff and time constraints. Almost all respondents are creating MARC records for their collections; fewer are creating EAD finding aids. A select few represent all of their manuscript collections on the Web in some way, either as MARC records, brief blurbs in HTML, or EAD finding aids.

The survey results also show that librarians and archivists squeeze arrangement and description duties in between a multitude of other responsibilities. They are not the only staff in these institutions who perform these tasks, but they do spend larger percentages of their time than anyone else on actually adding information to the Web.

This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents in the form of manuscript collection Web sites, finding aid Web sites, Web sites of collaborative online resources, arrangement and description guidelines, and Web processing procedures.

The table of contents and executive summary from this SPEC Kit are available online at http://www.arl.org/bm~doc/spec307web.pdf.

Digital New Zealand's Coming Home Memory Maker: Users Remix Media to Create Digital Videos

Digital New Zealand has released its Coming Home Memory Maker, which allows users to remix historic digital media.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

The Memory Maker is an interactive online video remix tool, that lets people mix historical film footage, digitised photographs and objects, and music/audio clips into a 60 second video that can then be saved, shared, and embedded on other sites.

Archivists' Toolkit Version 1.5 Released

The Archivists' Toolkit version 1.5 has been released.

See "New Features for AT Release 1.5" for details.

Here's an excerpt from the home page that describes the software:

The Archivists' Toolkit™, or the AT, is the first open source archival data management system to provide broad, integrated support for the management of archives. It is intended for a wide range of archival repositories. The main goals of the AT are to support archival processing and production of access instruments, promote data standardization, promote efficiency, and lower training costs.

Currently, the application supports accessioning and describing archival materials; establishing names and subjects associated with archival materials, including the names of donors; managing locations for the materials; and exporting EAD finding aids, MARCXML records, and METS, MODS and Dublin Core records. Future functionality will be built to support repository user/resource use information, appraisal for archival materials, expressing and managing rights information, and interoperability with user authentication systems.

Digital Collections/Exhibitions Software: Omeka 0.10b Released

The Center for History and New Media at George Mason University has released Omeka 0.10b.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

Omeka 0.10b incorporates many of the changes you asked for: an unqualified Dublin Core metadata schema and fully extensible element sets to accommodate interoperability with digital repository software and collections management systems; elegant reworkings of our theme API and plugin API to make add-on development more intuitive and more powerful; a new, even more user friendly look for the administrative interface; and a new and improved Exhibit Builder. While the changes are extensive and represent a next-to-last step forward toward a 1.0 release in early 2009, existing users of Omeka should have little trouble switching to 0.10b. New users should have even less trouble getting started. Meanwhile, visitors to Omeka.org will find a new look, a more intuitive information architecture, easily browsable themes and plugins directories, improved documentation and user support, and new ways to get involved in the Omeka community.

Digital Collections/Exhibitions Software: Omeka Package from OKAPI Released

The Open Knowledge and the Public Interest has created an Omeka package that "bundles together their custom theme, plugin modifications and additions to the 0.9.2 version."

Here's an excerpt from the Omeka announcement:

The Okapi theme enables Omeka users without expert web design skills to create polished multimedia exhibits and collections. The home page features a cinematic 980×500 pixel main image and up to four featured exhibits. Exhibit pages include new layouts for articles, themed collections and embedded multimedia. The bundled Multimedia Links plugin enables embedding of HTML code, flash video (flv), and many other formats supported by the included JWplayer. The theme displays accessible Flash-based typography and is W3C CSS and XHTML compliant.

Beyond the Silos of the LAMs: Collaboration Among Libraries, Archives and Museums

OCLC Programs and Research has published Beyond the Silos of the LAMs: Collaboration Among Libraries, Archives and Museums.

Here's an excerpt:

The project that forms the basis of this report began in 2007, when RLG Programs initiated work on the program, Library, Archive and Museum Collaboration. The goal of the program was threefold: to explore the nature of library, archive and museum (LAM) collaborations, to help LAMs collaborate on common services and thus yield greater productivity within their institutions, and to assist them in creating research environments better aligned with user expectations—or, to reference this report’s title, to move beyond the often-mentioned silos of LAM resources which divide content into piecemeal offerings.

At the heart of the program was a series of workshops designed to be both exploratory and outcome-oriented. Workshop participants were asked to identify motivations and obstacles in the collaborative process and plan new collaborative projects and programs that addressed needs at their own institutions.

Five RLG Programs partner sites were selected to participate in the workshops: the University of Edinburgh, Princeton University, the Smithsonian Institution, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Yale University.

Omeka 0.10 Alpha Released

The Center for History and New Media at George Mason University has released Omeka 0.10 Alpha. Omeka is used to provide access to digital collections and exhibitions (see the About page).

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

In this version we’ve updated to a powerful new data model based on an unqualified Dubin Core standard. We’ve also improved the theme and plugin APIs to work with that data model and make it easier for plugin and theme creators to work with Omeka.

JISC Digital Repositories and Archives Inventory Project Catalogs 3,707 Free Digital Collections

With the completion of phase two of the project, the JISC Digital Repositories and Archives Inventory project has cataloged 3,707 free digital collections. The phase two records will be added to the JISC Information Environment Service Registry (IESR), which already contains the phase one records.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

The brief of the inventory was to identify all the repositories and achives in the UK that are relevant to UK higher education and are free at point of use. For the purposes of this project a very loose definition of repositories and archives was used. The only sites that were excluded were those that restricted access and those with little or no structure.

Phase 1 of the project discovered 1,924 resources and phase 2 discovered 1,783. The records from phase 1 are already in the IESR and records from phase 2 will be added soon.

Phase 2 also enriched the metadata collected about all the resources and contacted resource owners to approve or extend the data collected about their resources. This produced a very positive response with approximately 800 resource owners providing extra information about their collections.

The project has released its final report, JISC Final Report—Digital Repositories and Archives Inventory Project.

Five TexTreasures Digitization Grants Awarded

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission has awarded digitization grants to five TexShare member libraries.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

TSLAC received 28 TexTreasures grant proposals. The exciting projects that have been funded are:

  1. "Houston Oral History Project" ($17,474)—The Houston Public Library is partnering with Mayor Bill White to preserve and make the video-recordings of significant Houstonians available on the web.
  2. "Early Texas Newspapers: 1829-1861" ($24,637)—The University of North Texas Libraries and the Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin will partner to microfilm, digitize, and provide free public access to the earliest Texas newspapers held by the Center for American History.
  3. "The Witliff Collections" ($20,000)—The project creates an online exhibit accessing the primary source materials of researcher Dick J. Reavis held by the Southwestern Writers Collection at the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University about the siege of the Branch Davidians at Mount Carmel outside of Waco in 1993.
  4. "Austin History Center Glass Plate Negatives" ($12,889)—The Austin History Center, a division of the Austin Public Library, will digitize the complete Hubert Jones collection of 471 glass plate negatives containing subjects local to Austin and Texas.
  5. "Tejano Voices Project" ($20,000)—The University of Texas at Arlington Library will digitize and describe 60 of the 174 oral history interviews with notable Tejanos and Tejanas from across Texas conducted in 1992-2003 by Dr. Jose Angel Gutierrez, associate professor of political science at UT Arlington.

OpenCollection Version 0.54-3 Released

OpenCollection version 0.54-3 has been released.

Here's an excerpt from the Overview page:

OpenCollection is a full-featured collections management and online access application for museums, archives and digital collections. It is designed to handle large, heterogeneous collections that have complex cataloguing requirements and require support for a variety of metadata standards and media formats. Unlike most other collections management applications, OpenCollection is completely web-based. All cataloging, search and administrative functions are accessed using common web-browser software, untying users from specific operating systems and making cataloguing by distributed teams and online access to collections information simple, efficient and inexpensive.

See the Features page for more details about this open source software.

The Impact of Digitizing Special Collections on Teaching and Scholarship: Reflections on a Symposium about Digitization and the Humanities

OCLC Programs & Research has released The Impact of Digitizing Special Collections on Teaching and Scholarship: Reflections on a Symposium about Digitization and the Humanities.

Here's an excerpt:

University faculty and scholars demonstrated their uses of rare books and archives—in both digital and physical forms—to an audience of RLG Programs partners at a symposium in Philadelphia on June 4, 2008. Tony Grafton's recent article in The New Yorker provoked the theme of the symposium: we'll be travelling both the wide smooth road through the screen and the narrow difficult road of books and archives for a long time to come.

The audience of librarians, archivists, museum professionals and senior managers discussed administrative issues and opportunities for the use of digitized special collections. The academic speakers, however, spoke to us directly about their expectations of special collections and proposals for collaboration with scholars. These scholars emphasized the critical roles rare books, archives and other materials play in both teaching and research, and called for specific directions for libraries and archives to take in the near future. The primary users of primary resources presented clear imperatives for collections and custodians: work with faculty to understand current research methods and materials; go outside the library or archive to build collections and work with faculty; and continue to build digital and material collections for both teaching and research.

Oxford Releases Report on Digital Repository Services for Research Data Management

The Oxford University Office of the Director of IT has released Findings of the Scoping Study Interviews and the Research Data Management Workshop: Scoping Digital Repository Services for Research Data Management.

Here's an excerpt from the report's Web page:

The scoping study interviews aimed to document data management practices from Oxford researchers as well as to capture their requirements for services to help them manage their data more effectively. In order to do this, 37 face-to-face interviews were conducted between May and June with researchers from 27 colleges, departments and faculties. In addition to this, the Research Data Management Workshop was organised to complement the findings of the scoping study interviews.

Critique of the National Archives' The Founders Online Report

Peter Hirtle has posted a sharp critique of the National Archives' The Founders Online report on the LibraryLaw Blog that, among other points, questions whether the digitized works that result from the project will be free of copyright and access restrictions.

Here's an excerpt:

5. Perhaps the most problematic issues in the report surround its use of the term "open access." For some, open access means "digital, online, and free of charge." The report, while saying it wants to provide open access to the material, appears to recommend that all material be given to UVA's Rotunda system for delivery. Rotunda follows a subscription model—not open access—that is remarkably expensive considering that citizens have already paid for all of the editorial work on these volumes. How could this be open access? Apparently Rotunda might be willing to give up its subscription approach if a foundation were willing to pay for all of its costs. Unless such a commitment is in place, I find it disingenuous to describe a Rotunda delivery option as "open access." There is no discussion of other, free, delivery options, such as the willingness expressed by Deanna Marcum of the Library of Congress at the Senate Hearing to make all of the Founding Fathers papers accessible through LC (which already has a good site pointing to currently accessible papers).

6. Others argue that for true open access, information must be accessible outside of specific delivery systems (such as Rotunda) and made available in bulk. Open data and open interfaces allow for all sorts of interesting uses of material. For example, someone might want to mashup George Washington's papers to Google Maps in order to be able to easily visual geographically the spread of information. Others might want to mesh manuscript material with published secondary literature. Rather than anticipating the widespread dispersal and re-use of the Founding Fathers papers, however, and hence the need for harvestable data, open APIs, distributed access, etc., the report calls instead for "a single, unified, and sustainable Web site"—apparently the locked-down Rotunda system.

Omeka Version 0.9.2 Released

Version 0.9.2 of Omeka has been released. This is a bug fix release.

Here's an excerpt from the About page that describes Omeka:

Omeka is a web platform for publishing collections and exhibitions online. Designed for cultural institutions, enthusiasts, and educators, Omeka is easy to install and modify and facilitates community-building around collections and exhibits. It is designed with non-IT specialists in mind, allowing users to focus on content rather than programming.