Even publishers can get in on the act. Monday, Nov 24 2008 

Random House has decided to digitize thousands of books due to high demand.  The story credits Amazon’s Kindle device and growing user demand.  This could be a great development for both readers and libraries everywhere.

The link: Random House Digitizing Thousands of Books


What I really learned from building a digital collection. Monday, Nov 24 2008 

I decided to continue my discussion of what I learned from building a digital collection from my one page paper we had to turn in.  I think what I really learned is that building a digital collection is not really that hard.  I was so scared about trying to put stuff together and trying to figure out how to link things and group them. Granted I built a collection of documents, but even so I would have been able to build one with images without a great deal of difficulty.  I ended up using OMEKA because almost everyone else was going to use it and I thought to myself, oh yay built in tech support.  The instructions were step-by-step and errors were fairly easy to correct.  I was amazed.  It was as simple as filling out forms and uploading data files.  With these fantastic platforms to build from even the least tech savvy among us should no longer be afraid to try their hand at building a digital collection.  Hopefully soon there will be innovations in layout and theme, but as far as physically putting together the collection OMEKA couldn’t be easier to use.  It literally took me half of the time I had allotted to build the collection.  Amazing. Maybe my fear of building a digital collection is akin to library use anxiety.  People just don’t want to appear dumb. I think that I had built up digital collection building as some difficult thing that I could never learn.  I’m so  technologically inept it’s really sad.  I don’t use RSS, I don’t use Digg, I hate Facebook, and I really prefer to read paper copies of anything.  After actually building the collection however, the mystique is gone. I know that it isn’t really all that hard and even someone who has an aversion to technology can make a digital collection.

Proof that if you build it they will come. Monday, Nov 24 2008 

European library site crashes hours after launch

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) — European culture went digital — but it only lasted a day.

A massive online library and museum project crashed within 24 hours of its launch after millions sought to view treasures collected from museums, national libraries and archives, the European Union said Friday.

“We are doing our utmost to reopen Europeana in a more robust version as soon as possible,” the http://www.europeana.eu site said. “We will be back by mid-December.”

The crash was an anticlimax to a heralded launch. The EU blamed overwhelming interest, saying more than 10 million hits per hour late Thursday overburdened the computer system.

Instead of the rich color-and-light texture of a Vermeer painting, there only was a stark black-and-white page, saying: “The Europeana site is temporarily not accessible due to overwhelming interest after its launch.”

A subsequent EU statement said “this is an unexpected difficulty, but it is also an encouraging sign that citizens in Europe and around the world have great interest in Europe’s digital library.”

The Web site collected some 3 million artifacts — including books, maps, paintings and videos — from some of Europe’s top museums, such as the Louvre in Paris and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. It will be available in 23 languages including English, French, German and Spanish.

Source: ResourceShelf

I think this development is amazing!  Here we have major proof that people are hungry for a digital library and are excited about the idea.  Ten million hits per hour..those are YouTube or Facebook style numbers being achieved by a library!  Perhaps this is a motivational story for all of those frustrated librarians out there trying to create digital collections.

A digital library involving an entire continent? I’m so there!! Thursday, Nov 20 2008 

Europeana: digital paintings, books, films and archives

Europeana – the European digital library, museum and archive – is a 2-year project that began in July 2007. It will produce a prototype website giving users direct access to some 2 million digital objects, including film material, photos, paintings, sounds, maps, manuscripts, books, newspapers and archival papers. The prototype will be launched in November 2008 by Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and Media.

Overseeing the project is the EDL Foundation, which includes key European cultural heritage associations from the four domains. The Foundation’s statutes commit members to:

  • Providing access to Europe’s cultural and scientific heritage though a cross-domain portal
  • Co-operating in the delivery and sustainability of the joint portal
  • Stimulating initiatives to bring together existing digital content
  • Supporting digitisation of Europe’s cultural and scientific heritage

Source: http://dev.europeana.eu/about.php

Here’s another large collection from across the pond.  Maybe American consortia, libraries, and other entities can take a cue from the Europeans and work together for a huge collaborative project.  I love that the mission statement talks about preserving Europe’s cultural and scientific heritage.  Hopefully other groups will be able to tackle projects of this size and scope.  It would be really refreshing to see a digital collection aiming to preserve India’s scientific heritage, or Brazil’s scientific heritage.  I also love that they are trying to create a plan for sustainability.  So many initiatives fail because they don’t plan for the future of the collection and the business of its upkeep.

Google hosting a digital collection. Wednesday, Nov 19 2008 

Source: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/11/life-photo-archive-available-on-google.html

It’s official, Google is hosting the LIFE photo archive at images.google.com.

From the blog, “The Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination; The Mansell Collection from London; Dahlstrom glass plates of New York and environs from the 1880s; and the entire works left to the collection from LIFE photographers Alfred Eisenstaedt, Gjon Mili, and Nina Leen. These are just some of the things you’ll see in Google Image Search today.

We’re excited to announce the availability of never-before-seen images from the LIFE photo archive. This effort to bring offline images online was inspired by our mission to organize all the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. This collection of newly-digitized images includes photos and etchings produced and owned by LIFE dating all the way back to the 1750s.

Only a very small percentage of these images have ever been published. The rest have been sitting in dusty archives in the form of negatives, slides, glass plates, etchings, and prints. We’re digitizing them so that everyone can easily experience these fascinating moments in time. Today about 20 percent of the collection is online; during the next few months, we will be adding the entire LIFE archive — about 10 million photos.”

What an amazing venture from an amazing company.  This digital collection will be a treasure for educators, history buffs, and pop culture junkies alike.  Utilizing Google is a great way to get this information out to the masses.  No library would have the time and resources needed to put this together by itself, it’s amazing to think what might be done if Google and various libraries and consortia teamed up to release heretofore unpublished materials.

A joint venture between the Library of Congress and the National Library of China…and a bunch of other organizations! Tuesday, Nov 18 2008 

Library of Congress, National Library of China Sign World Digital Library Agreement

The Library of Congress and the National Library of China have concluded an agreement to cooperate in developing the World Digital Library.

Signing the cooperative agreement in a brief ceremony on Sunday in the Asian Reading Room at the Library of Congress were Zhan Furui, General Director, National Library of China, and Librarian of Congress James Billington. The signing took place in the presence of the Minister of Culture for the People’s Republic of China, Cai Wu, on the occasion of the meeting of the U.S. President’s Committee for the Arts and Humanities.

The two libraries agreed to provide content to the World Digital Library and to cooperate in such areas as the development and maintenance of the Chinese-language interface, the convening of international working groups to plan and develop the project, and the formation of an advisory committee of leading scholars and curators to recommend important collections about the culture and history of China for inclusion in the World Digital Library.

The Web-based World Digital Library, slated to launch in April 2009, is an initiative of the Library of Congress and other cultural institutions around the world in cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Other institutions participating in the project include major libraries from Brazil, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Russia, Serbia, and Sweden, the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, the John Carter Brown Library, and the libraries of Brown and Yale Universities.

The goal of the World Digital Library is to represent major world cultures in a way that contributes to better understanding among different cultures, as well as to serve the needs of scholars and researchers. The project will digitize and make available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials of many cultures, including manuscripts, maps, rare books, musical scores, recordings, films, prints, photographs, architectural drawings and other materials of interest both to scholars and the general public.

Additional information about the World Digital Library can be found at www.worlddigitallibrary.org.

Source: http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2008/08-217.html

What an amazing project.  I love intercultural exchange, and as a semi-historian I can see this being a potential goldmine for researchers too poor to travel halfway around the world to go digging in an archive. Joseph Needham would be so very proud.  I also love that they’re putting these bits of information up in multiple languages, adding another layer of accessibility.  So save the date, April 2009 for the World Digital Library.

Preservation! Tuesday, Nov 11 2008 

HP Labs has introduced a service designed to maintain content integrity for long-lived digital documents, especially for those in repositories.  The paper is titled “A Content Integrity Service for Digital Repositories” and was published by Stuart Haber, Pandurang Kamat, and Kiran Kamineni.  In it they describe how they would use their service to maintain long-term digital documents.  They have even developed a prototype for D-Space.  This issue concerns me greatly as I am working on digitizing my department’s syllabi.  How can you make sure that these documents will last? This service is one answer to a tricky problem.  This article is definitely worth checking out.

The Link:  http://www.hpl.hp.com/techreports/2008/HPL-2008-177.pdf

Finally, a search engine designed by librarians. Tuesday, Nov 11 2008 

Librarians Want to Out-Google Google With a Better Search Engine

Have you ever wished for a personal reference librarian, an information guru to point you to the most reliable sites whenever you search the Web? A new search-engine project aims to simulate something like that. The trick? Weighting search results so that librarians’ picks rise to the top.

Called Reference Extract, the project is being developed by the Online Computer Library Center and the information schools of Syracuse University and the University of Washington. OCLC is an international cooperative that shares resources among more than 69,000 libraries in 112 countries and territories. A $100,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is covering planning costs.

According to the project proposal, the search engine “will be built for maximum credibility by relying on the expertise and credibility judgments of librarians from around the globe.”

Source: Wired Campus/Chronicle of Higher Education

Reading my favorite blog, ResourceShelf, I came across this little entry.  All I can say is that it is about time librarians stepped up to the plate concerning search engines.  Google is wonderful and I love it, but sometimes we all long for better results, not just millions of results.  Of course this project brings up a whole host of issues, is a librarian-run search engine just federated searching with lipstick?  Also, how do you judge the credibility of an individual librarian? Who chooses these librarians?  Though I am inclined to go with everything OCLC wants to give me, sentences like “Users will enter a search term and get results weighted towards sites most often referred to by librarians at institutions such as the Library of Congress, the University of Washington, the State of Maryland, and over 1,400 libraries worldwide.” make me a little nervous.  Is this an effort to improve the Internet search environment or a desperate ploy to make libraries more relevant? Now you can do exactly as we do. I’m not saying that libraries are not relevant, but it seems a little peculiar to make all searching point only to websites used by libraries. Sometimes librarians are the last to know about hot new sources of information. I’ve been guilty of this myself a few times. I’m sure time will tell how this project works, and I will be happy to be one of the first to try it out.

A pretty cool resource for computer people. Monday, Nov 10 2008 

Running around, I stumbled upon a digital library put together by the Association for Computing Machinery. It contains the full text of every article ever published by the ACM.  Not only that, it has two features of interest to scholars:  a “my binders” and a “toc service”.  The TOC service is nothing new, but is uncommon for a digital library to create and send out.  The my binders feature is pretty cool, you can compile citations, share them with colleagues and create mini-bibliographies.  You also get some other cool things for a digital library:

Generally, this is a one stop shop for people interested in computers and computing.  I think this model would be wonderful to spread to other disciplines and professional societies.  It could foster the creation of new and interesting knowledge simply by having the binder features. Understanding how scholars keep information stored for their personal use might lead to the development of better databases, searching functions, etc.

The link: http://portal.acm.org/dl.cfm

BitTorrent in a Library?! Monday, Nov 10 2008 

Apparently Stanford university is giving learning away!  Always wanted to learn more about Robotics, Linear Dynamical Systems or Programming Paradigms? Now you can, for free, thanks to Stanford Engineering’s online courses.

The University not only gives away videos of lectures, but also syllabi, handouts, homework and exams. In addition to offering torrents, the courses are also available on YouTube, via iTunes and Vyew. With the project Stanford aims to spread knowledge on technology worldwide.

Thus far, the online courses have been a great success. Over 200,000 people from all over the world have visited the site already. Most foreign visitors come from Canada, according to a recent news release, followed by Brazil, China, Italy and the UK.

For now, only the 10 most popular computer science and electrical engineering courses are published online, but additional courses will be added later. All course materials are published under a Creative Commons license, which allows others to adapt, remix and share them as long as it is for noncommercial use, and if they link back to the university.

This has clear implications for academic libraries, despite the fact that this story doesn’t mention the library.  Who is hosting all of this information and who will keep it going beyond the tenure of those who started this project?  The library, that’s who.  Who else is equipped to store and disseminate information like this on such a grand scale?  Why not tag these courses with links to RSS feeds of new books purchased by the library that are course related? Why not create wikis based on these free courses?  Perhaps we can use these and other technologies to come up with Library 2.0.

Link to the full story:


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