collections


We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations. -Anaïs Nin

I am certainly not inherently prescient, but I think there may be assumptions made about the future of digital collections. Here, a classmate offers some insight to their future. My viewpoint is informed by the SCONUL (The Society of College, National and University Libraries) vision 2010 that I read while studying for comps. In particular, I believe that their forecast of personalization and collaboration can be applied to digital collections and that personalization is somewhat adjacent to my classmate’s third point. He states, “the survivors [surviving digital collections] will serve specific needs.” SCONUL envisions:

“There will be a continuing trend towards the personalisation of systems and services (to the individual and to communities of users). This trend will be influenced and assisted by better customer relationship management and by the facilities offered by ICT. Individuals will have better access to electronic content, with access centred on communities of interest based on work, leisure, formal and informal e-learning and lifestyle. People will move seamlessly from one community to another…A pro-active approach to service delivery will seek to meet individual profiles and to push services out to users.”

On this basis, digital collections may become more focused, centering on and serving a niche audience, an audience that designates an interest in certain materials and a desire for their ongoing, personalized delivery.

And, as we see today, collaboration is increasingly important in the digitization and presentation of objects. SCONUL recognizes that:

“There will be greater collaboration across sectors and domains and between global communities. Resources for lifelong learners will be in increasing demand and will be facilitated by this collaboration. Increased emphasis will be placed on providing support for those who have difficulty accessing digital resources, and smaller organisations will collaborate with each other and with larger organisations in order to ensure that they have the capacity to develop ICT services and infrastructures.”

In this way, collaboration enables both digitization and discovery. By working together, we are able to increase access to and use of our collections.

My final digital library collection resource is NYPL’s Planning Digital Projects for Historical Collections. This site provides information about the purpose of digitizing historic materials, the planning of a digital project, the selection of materials, the organization of information, and the effective delivery of the materials. It’s an older site, but I found much of the information relevant today. In particular, I agree with the statement, “Preserving and presenting the true context of the materials are critical in delivering digitized materials on the web.” Last semester, I wrote a digital project proposal for a local history collection. The physical collection consisted of hierarchical vertical file folders. Another intern and I looked for similar collections online and found this one at the Fayetteville Public Library significant as the online collection represented the structure of the physical collection.

I have posted before about library buildings and design. Yesterday, I was rifling through suggested bookmarks on Diigo and came across a few sites that I’d like to mention including a post on Curious Expeditions titled, “Librophiliac Love Letter: A Compendium of Beautiful Libraries.” Some of these I have seen, many I have not, but there are some amazing libraries pictured. Who knew Portugal harbored so many beautiful libraries? Well, I bet many of you did, but I didn’t. I think my favorite is still the Rijkmuseum in Amsterdam that I’ve pointed to before.


Libsite.org is a recommendation service for library-related websites. Here you will find annotated links to library websites and online collections. In some cases, they describe any notable features or collections. In other cases, they indicate the content management system or provide a general description. Sites can be recommended by registered users, so if you want to promote a site/collection, this is one avenue.


The National Archives Experience lets users build their own collection, create pathways denoting the relationship between items, and create posters and videos with their collection materials. The materials are from the National Archives, and they include pictures and documents. They provide tags and links to related resources and media as well as lesson plans and teaching tools. I don’t usually share collections with my family unless relevant, but I did this one because it’s so cool. AND, not only did their eyes not glaze over, they wanted to see more- remarkable…

Either a classmate or my professor recently linked to an article about the inclusion of online, freely available books in library collections and their catalogs. Unfortunately, search in our online education environment is difficult, and so I’m not able to credit the referrer or reference the article at this time. My impression of the article was that libraries are not consistently incorporating these resources into their collections and catalogs. I am not aware of any central location that libraries might find these resources, in all their forms (i.e. Open Access, Public Domain, Creative Commons licensed, etc.), facilitating their inclusion. Selection aids exist for other resources and assist librarians in the time-consuming task of selection. Perhaps, selection aids for freely available digitized books would be helpful.

I searched online a bit to determine if the libraries that I use are incorporating some of these books and to see if I could find any selection aids specific to this group of resources. I looked for three books, that I found freely available online, in my local library catalog, in my university catalog, and in WorldCat.

All three catalogs offered online access to Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (found in the Open Library, Project Gutenberg, and HathiTrust) that is in the Public Domain. I then looked for Cory Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (found in the CC Wiki). The physical book was cataloged in my local library, it was not in my university library (though another book of Doctorow’s was available in print), and WorldCat linked to an e-book in Library and Archives Canada Electronic Collection. Finally, I searched for the book, Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution, freely available from O’Reilly Open Books. WorldCat was the only catalog with the title, and it had an e-book listing. Open Library, HathiTrust, nor Project Gutenberg provided access to this book. Of course the exclusion of any of these materials from my local public library and from my university library could be attributed to other reasons. It is possible that the books did not meet other selection criteria.

The Hilton C. Buley Library at Southern Connecticut University lists Open Access resources including books. Several of the resources, such as Project Gutenberg, the Internet Archive, and The Online Books Page, provide RSS feeds that might be useful to any librarians interested in adding these books to their collection. The Internet Archive Text allows user ratings that could aid in selection. Project Gutenberg lists the top 100 most downloaded books and authors. And, some of the resources are subject or area specific. Librarians working in areas like young adult or children might select resources available from Literature for Children. Librarians selecting for particular subjects like agriculture or environment and sustainability could find materials in the United Nations University Publications.

There may be some copyright issues to consider with some forms of these freely available books, though. Looking at the University of Michigan’s treatment of the O’Reilly book mentioned earlier, it looks like this issue may be avoided by merely linking to the online version, thus avoiding the “copy.”

I wandered over to the Design Observer last night and followed a long trail of cool collections. These design collections were interesting not only for their content, but I also thought about the way non-librarians (assuming that they did not enlist a librarian’s help) addressed metadata and copyright issues.

A Brooklyn design firm, Fwis, has created an online collection of book covers. This collection focuses on the design of covers. They include the designer in the metadata and the subject of comments are mainly design related. Certainly before the Internet but also sometimes now, I have chosen books based on the cover design. Some of these books I now consider favorites. Their copyright statement is a blanket one: “All covers posted are the copyright of their respective holders.”

An online archive of communication design is presented by the professional association for design, AIGA. The collection includes AIGA competition selections from categories like advertisements, commercial printing, communication graphics, and book design in the years 1924-2008. They provide a lightbox and allow users to annotate and share items in the collection. The collection can be filtered by category. Book design metadata differs depending on the item but can include information about the typographer, the printer/binder, paper, jacket designer, and engraver. I could not find any copyright statements here.

Not coming to a theater near you” presents a collection of movie credit sequences by Saul Bass. He designed the credits for movies like Goodfellas, The Age of Innocence, and a few Hitchcock films. The credit images from each film are accompanied by a short description of the credits and the film itself. I found this copyright statement, “All images, unless otherwise noted, are taken from a Google image search and are used in accordance with the Fair Use Law. When optional, screen captures are taken from DVDs. Some images taken with consent from DVDBeaver.”

A collection of book trade labels is available from Seven Roads. Information about the labels include: institution (publisher, printer, binder, importer, distributer, seller), location, size, contributor, and occasionally, the history. The collection can be browsed by geography or topic. Topical collections include bibliomorphic, fauna, ships, and readers. I did not see a notice of copyright or use.

Randy Cohen and Nigel Holmes of the New York Times have created a literary map of Manhattan, indicating the location of book settings and passages on the map. There are 99 books indexed and marked from authors like Edith Wharton, Johnathon Franzen, and Mark Twain.

Lastly, I learned of an open access design journal, International Journal of Design, for anyone interested.

I need to catch up on my digital collection resources. I have a few resources to list today. The Archives Association of British Columbia provides an online toolkit for archivers. Intended for small to medium archives, this toolkit provides information on many archival aspects such as policy guidelines, description, standards, database systems, preservation and conservation, appraisal, grants, and ethics. There are sample forms and mailing list suggestions. Though there is some specific information about digitization, I think all the information here could inform a digital archives project.

Has anyone mentioned the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) advisory service, Technical Advisory Service for Images (TASI) yet? TASI provides digitization case studies, theoretical and technical papers, as well as planning and problem-solving information. There’s a mailing list here, too. Many topics are covered including: using images in teaching and learning and finding images, managing projects like workflows and staff training, selecting and preparing images, and considering necessary hardware and software.

Emory University has published a collection of essays titled, “Strategies for Sustaining Digital Libraries.” It’s available online (free!), using the Creative Commons, Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License. Essays are written by “leaders in major digital libraries,” contributing from universities across the U.S. Some of the essays are broad, considering the history of media and organization, technology, economic, and collection sustainability. Some are more specific, looking at sustainability from open access educational digital library and digital repository perspectives. If you are thinking about the ongoing maintenance of a collection, you might take a look at this.

Public broadcasting is one of my main methods for keeping up with the news and current events outside of my very library-centric universe. I listen to local radio programming, and I listen to NPR via satellite (was there life before satellite radio?) and online. I know that many people have used public radio as an information resource in the past as well. What is happening with all the archived programs from the local stations? While researching my proposal, I discovered Pacifica Radio online. An excerpt from their website reads:

Chronicling the political, cultural and artistic movements of the second half of the 20th century, Pacifica radio programs include documentaries, performances, discussions, debates, drama, poetry readings, commentaries and radio arts.

The collection contains interviews with individuals like John Coltrane and Alan Arkin in the 1960’s and FDR’s fireside chats in the 1940’s. Unfortunately, these resources are not freely accessible. CDs and tapes of the programs are for purchase. They also have a unique Adopt-a-Tape program where individuals can select a program and donate funds towards its restoration. With these contributions, individuals receive three copies of that program.

I recently watched a fascinating PBS Frontline documentary on the two main presidential candidates this year. Though I have been monitoring their positions on topics that are meaningful to me, there was a lot of background information on these two men in this presentation- information that I had not gathered elsewhere and information that I think informs who they are today. I couldn’t find this one, but Frontline does have a collection of videos online (for free!).

And, just for fun, I caught a reference to this library book domino collection from a Stephen Abram podcast.

While researching my project proposal, I found several best practices and standards for the preservation of sound resources. Although different organizations will have varying resources and skills available to assist in preservation of audio materials, these practices and standards can help guide an organization in these efforts.

The Association of Research Libraries Sound Savings: Preserving Audio Collections details their project at the Library of Congress. Significant points made here include: the lifespan of media, copy quality (loss), and obsolescence. They remark on the short lifespan of magnetic tape, the loss of quality with analog to analog copying, and the decline in manufacturing of analog-tape media and recording devices. Their work involves the production of digital masters stored, not on CDs or DVDs, but in “media-less” digital repositories. Based on six factors, they decided on PCM sampling, uncompressed and WAVE file format for audio file masters. They discuss “word length,” or bit depth, and sampling frequency and arrive at 96 kilocycles and 24-bit word length for their audio masters. And, they outline the equipment and professional skills as well as the descriptive, administrative, and structural metadata used in the project.

The Arts and Humanities Data Service Creating Digital Audio Resources A Guide to Good Practice is another resource for audio collection preservation information. There is an overview of audio file formats and storage media that includes strategies for back-up.

The Library of Congress National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) has a collection of resources for sound (and other digital formats) at their Sustainability of Digital Formats web site. The sound resources are divided into quality and functionality factors, preferences, curation, and format description. Rendering, bit stream encoding, and file types are considered in these sections.

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