Dec 262012

Any list obviously reflects the interests of the compiler, as well as the source and scope of the information considered.  In this case, I turned to Slideshare and searched on “digital preservation.” Filtering by “this year,” yields the following, ranked in order.

  1. Digital Preservation and Social Media Outreach. Presentation given during the 17th Brazilian Conference of Archival Science in Rio de Janeiro, June 21 2012, by Bill LeFurgy.  Seems vain, I know, but see above.
  2. Digital Preservation Perspective. How far have we come, and what’s next? by Jeff Rothenberg from FuturePerfect. Insights from one of the people who originally framed the digital preservation issue.
  3. Digital Preservation: A Wicked Problem. AIIM Ottawa presentation by Ron Surette, DG Digital Preservation and CIO, Library and Archives Canada. Wicked: a problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete,contradictory and changing requirements.
  4. Assessing Preservation Readiness Webinar. Presented on February 7, 2012 as part of the DuraSpace Curated Webinar Series, “Knowledge Futures: Digital Preservation Planning” Curated by Liz Bishoff, The Bishoff Group, LLC. Note this is a recording of the webinar and may load a bit slowly.
  5. Workshop 4 audiovisual digital preservation strategy. Now that you have digitised your audio and video, how to you keep the files — forever? by Richard Wright. Choices involved when moving from analog to digital, dealing with born digital and developing cost estimates.
  6. Getting the whole picture. From the National Library of Australia. Finding a common language between digital preservation and conservation.
  7. Bit Level Preservation. Assessing and Mitigating Bit-Level Threats, DigitalPreservation 2012, Washington, DC, from Dr. Micah Altman.  A framework for addressing bit-level preservation risks.
  8. In Search of Simplicity: Redesigning the Digital Bleek and Lloyd.  DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology: Special Issue on Digital Preservation original submission. The Bleek and Lloyd is a collection of digitized historical artifacts on the Bushmen people of Southern Africa.
  9. Digital Preservation: caring for our data to foster knowledge discovery and dissemination. From Claudia Bauzer Medeiros. Given at Institute of Computing, UNICAMP.
  10. Digital Presevation: An Overview.  From Amit Kumar Shaw. Given at Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata Library, India.

The National Library of Australia deserves special consideration in that, in addition to coming in at number 6 in the top 10, they also scored at number 11, with Digital Preservation for Ongoing Access, and at number 12 with What is the Mediapedia.

Mar 222011

I assembled an archive of the great #nytmuseums tweet chat held last week; it’s a 49 page PDF document (over 1400 tweets), 522kb.  I can’t guarantee that I got everything, but it looks reasonably complete.

The chat covered all kinds of things, but focused largely on how cultural institutions can use social media to meet their missions, especially engaging with users.

RT’s have been excluded from the archive.  The tweets are listed chronologically starting from 3/16/2011 through until 3/19/2011.  The event was billed as a “lunch time chat” and officially kicked off at 1pm on 3/17/2011.  Lunch is relative, I suppose.

For background information, see The New York Times special “museums online” article that kick started things.  Hyperallergic also covered the event extensively.

I use this blog to write about culture, technology and preservation.  I also tweet about the same @blefurgy.

The chat archive file is located here.

Jan 132011
His Master's Voice by Metrix X, on Flickr
His Master’s Voice by Metrix X, on Flickr

If you are the keeper of important audio recordings—grooved disks, magnetic tape, CD-ROM and the like—you may wish to carefully assess their physical condition at some point.  This assessment can be for the purpose of a basic inventory, identification of preservation needs or setting priorities for activities such as creating digital copies.

Before you get started, you may wish to consult Issues and Answers in Digitization: Audio: Digitizing for the Future, which summarizes a Library of Congress workshop held in December 2010.  This document describes four preservation assessment tools.  The tools are designed identify preservation issues for various types of recording media.

  1. Visual and Playback Inspection Ratings System (ViPIRS), New York University Libraries.  For magnetic media (videotape, audiocassettes, and 1/4″ reel-to-reel). Assesses the condition of the item, the item’s ability to be played back, and the ease or difficulty of conserving/preserving/reformatting the item. The accumulated score at the end of the inspection generates a numerical rating that informs the user on what steps need next be taken in the preservation process.  For basic to intermediate users.
  2. Audio/Moving Image Survey Instrument, Columbia University Library.  Provides a mechanism for setting preservation priorities based on (1) quantities and types of audio and moving image materials, (2) the physical condition of the media and their housings based on visual inspection, (3) information about existing levels of intellectual control and intellectual property rights, and (4) the potential research value of each collection. .  For basic to intermediate users.
  3. Field Audio Collection Evaluation Tool (FACET), Indiana University Digital Library Program.  Ranks audio field collections based on preservation condition, including the level of deterioration they exhibit and the degree of risk they carry. It assesses the characteristics, preservation problems, and modes of deterioration associated with the following formats: open reel tape (polyester, acetate, paper and PVC bases), analog audio cassettes, DAT (Digital Audio Tape), lacquer discs, aluminum discs, and wire recordings.  For advanced users.
  4. Audiovisual Self Assessment Program (AvSAP), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library. Helps identify format type, physical condition, and storage conditions.  Available either as web-based software or as part of a larger Archon software package, which calls for some technical knowledge to install and configure.   For basic to intermediate users.
Jan 042011

I recently taught a class of library school students about digital preservation.  On the plus side, they were a bright lot, many already knew something about the subject and I could inflict some advance reading on them.  The flip side is that this was a single class lasting only two and half hours, which is a short time to cover a broad subject.

I’ll go over what I tried to cover in the class in a later post (quite a lot, actually).  For now let me share what I sent out as a reading list with the intent to prepare students for our face-to-face encounter.

Preparing the list was a challenge.  I wanted sources that covered issues of current importance, were succinct and that were reasonably friendly to the non-expert.  I did find plenty of good information, but was surprised how few sources fit this particular need.  In fact, one could argue that no source currently meets the need.  Many focus on a particular program, approach or issue.  Many drill down into very granular details that can overwhelm the novice.  Others are a bit long or a bit old.  After much hunting and culling, the best I could find turned out to consist of 15 items, as noted below.

I’d like to hear about other sources that I might have missed.

Update: I clarified that the selected sources were the best I found, not that they all met the three criteria listed.

Let me add my usual full disclosure notice: I work with the NDIIPP team at the Library of Congress.

Update: I clarified that the selected sources were the best I found, not that they all met the three criteria listed.

Dec 262010

Lots of people who work in libraries, archives, museums and other cultural heritage organizations need to become more familiar with Information Technology.  While some staff are well-grounded in the subject, many have gaps in knowledge of fundamental terms, concepts and trends.

This is a problem.  The pressure is on to implement social media services, put holdings online, develop innovative websites and manage digital collections.  Organizations—and staff—that lag in this area run the risk of losing relevancy.  And loss of relevancy can have an unfortunate economic impact.

Organizations need to have staff who are familiar with IT basics.  Doing this is tricky.  What exactly are “the basics”?  How are they best explained?  And most importantly, to what end is this knowledge supposed to be put?

I know of one pretty good example:  Technology Made Simple: An Improvement Guide for Small and Medium Libraries, by Kimberly Bolan and Robert Cullin.   The American Library Association published this book in 2006.  It looks pretty good, but in full disclosure I haven’t actually read it.  But I have browsed the “web extra” page for it, and can say the online information provided is worthwhile (not to mention free).

Before I list some of the details on the web, it is useful to consider what the authors say about their intent:  “…librarians need a how-to technology manual for vision, planning, and understanding, not a how-to manual for configuring a router and server.”  Just right.  Add to that a starting place to learn foundational information needed for working with vendors, selling ideas to funders and positioning themselves for taking quick advantage of the next new tech wonder.

The web content covers a range of topics:

  • Worksheets and More
  • Resources
  • Resource Libraries
  • Job Descriptions
  • Publication and Marketing Ideas

All of these topics are useful, but a highlight is the worksheets section, which has all sorts of checklist templates that can be used to do a variety of self-assessments.  My experience is that these kinds of tools are very useful for staff to gain quick (and relatively painless)  insights about institutional capacities and areas that need improvement.  Checklists are not a silver bullet, but they can put an organization on the road to meaningful improvement.

The resource does have some limitations.  It is going on five years old, and that is a long time in Internet years.  There is no mention of Facebook, Twitter or any other social media service.  Same for mobile Internet, Flickr, YouTube or other Web 2.0 tools.  Plus the book itself appears to be only available as a physical object, not as a downloadable file or e-book.  The resources web page alone has about 30 dead or broken links according to the W3C Link Checker.  While not unusual for information this old, still is a big problem.

Here’s an idea for ALA and other professional organizations that cater to cultural heritage professionals: produce more of this kind of basic help and keep it current.  There could even be a some kind of centralized resource for archivists, librarians and museum staff to cover common areas—and there are many—with more specialized information for each kind of institutional type.   That would be an efficient, collaborative way to maintain a useful resource.