Professional Development

In the 'Preservation' Category...

Intro to Digital Preservation #1 — Steps to Identify and Select Content

Tuesday, February 7, 2012 2:10 pm

Today, Vicki, Patty, Mary Beth, Steve, Susan, Rebecca, and Molly sat in on the ASERL webinar Intro to Digital Preservation #1–Steps to Identify and Select Content, facilitated by Jody DeRidder, Head of Digital Services, University of Alabama Libraries. John Burger of ASERL said that more than 150 people were registered to listen in on this session. This is the first of three sessions on digital preservation.

The content of this webinar comes from the Library of Congress Digital Preservation Outreach and Education Modules. This consist of 6 modules covering: identify, select, store, protect, manage and provide. The goal is to provide a collaborative network to enable us to work together and face the challenges ahead.

This Intro #1 covered the “Identify” and “Select” aspects of the 6 parts. In order to identify materials for digital preservation, DeRidder suggests identifying the scope of materials eligible by creating an inventory. She suggested that “good preservation decisions are based on an understanding of content to be preserved.” Content categories include institutional records, special collections, scholarly content, research data, web content, and digitized collections. She stressed that the content of these materials is more important than format, but the format may make preservation more of a challenge. An inventory should be simple in format that is general with reiterations that become more focused on details.Inventory results should be: documented, usable, available, scalable, current (incorporated into current workflows). Sorting by content and file type will help prioritize equipment, planning, and future priorities. The process of selecting involves these steps:review the potential digital content, define and apply selection criteria, document and preserve, implement. Thinking about the mission of the institution, the collection development policy, the priorities, the uniqueness will allow the selection process to conform with the rest of the institutional standards. DeRidder stressed that this process is facilitated by open communication and knowledge withe incoming collections and donors. Starting the dialog early with potential digital contributors will allow you to block any incoming materials that do not warrant digital preservation. In the case of materials that are already in one’s holdings, selection for digital preservation begs the questions:does it have value? fit your scope? can you do it?

This webinar focused on the importance of putting a structure in place with the right people, clear policies and procedures, and organization. Open communication with the digital curator will answer the questions :does the content have value? Does it fit your scope? Whereas a conversation with an IT person will allow you to know ifit is feasible for you to preserve the content? Or is it possible to make content available?

DeRidder made a clear outline of how to go about identifying and selecting materials for digital preservation, but the prospect of actually implementing these steps is daunting. I am looking forward to the next to two webinars.

 

The Preservation Institute at the Library of Congress

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 2:44 pm

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To borrow and slightly change a line from Ben Stiller in Meet the Parents, I’d say this workshop was “strong… to very strong.” The Preservation Institute is taught by top specialists from the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress brought out some of their big guns for this week-long workshop. The sessions were held in the James Madison Building, with tours to the Jefferson and Adams Buildings as well.
The institute is geared towards federal institutions, but there were non-federal libraries there as well (University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Public). The first day was great. Diane van der Reyden, Director of Preservation of the Library of Congress discussed preservation management. Some of her more interesting points were that the Library of Congress is still working on digitization solutions and have no definitive method. What!? That makes me feel a lot better as we at ZSR still try to improve digitization and incorporate best practices as we do this activity. Diane said the LOC doesn’t particularly like “machine dependent” formats-because without a specific machine, access in the future might be difficult. They have, however come up with some ingenious ways around this problem. IRENE is a machine which reads broken or damaged vinyl, acetate discs or wax cylinders and coverts this into an image which can then be converted into sound.
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We also had presentations on pest controls, the environment, and disaster recovery from Nancy Lev-Alexander and Ben Bahlmann from the Preventive Conservation section and along the way, we got a tour of the LOC stacks (crowded with book trucks and books on the floor) and a balcony view of the circular LOC Reading Room. The Library of Congress has the same problems ZSR has: leaky pipes and a faulty HVAC system. Day one finished with a hands on disaster recovery exercise with Alan Haley, Senior Rare Books Conservator and Andrew Robb, coordinator of the LOC’s Emergency Response Team.

Day two featured a group of presentations on collections care, library binding, fundraising and exhibits.
IMG_1048We got a behind the scenes look at the Collections Care lab and various enclosures-such as one for a piggy bank from Lexington NC. A new Civil War exhibit called The Last Full Measure: Civil War Photographs (http://myloc.gov/exhibitions/civilwarphotographs/pages/default.aspx) features hundreds of ambrotypes and tintypes of soldiers. The exhibit is very poignant and has the feel of a shrine. An exhibit specialist described mounting The Last Full Measure and showed us samples of book cradles and document mounts we could make ourselves.

Day three saw us tackling digitization. We began with a presentation from the managers of the LOC remote storage facility at Fort Meade, Maryland. They have about six high bay facilities-each larger than ZSR’s one. We followed with a visit to the LOC Internet Archive project where they have 10 Scribe book scanners churning out digital copies of pre-1922 titles from their general collections.
IMG_1134 So far, they’ve scanned over 93,000 titles. It was an amazing operation to see. They confirmed that standards for resolution are in flux, something we’ve begun to realize at ZSR. They’ve abandoned using uncompressed TIFF files ( a heresy they admitted, but they insist it is a good heresy) in favor of RAW files which they convert to the jpg2000 format. In the afternoon, we had presentations about Rare Book Conservation and had a visit to their lab where we saw samples of supported (case bound) and unsupported (Ethiopian) binding styles, leaf casting and numerous other unique treatments.
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Day four was focused on paper and photographic conservation. We heard a presentation from Susan Peckham, Paper Conservator in the Conservation Division. Susan discussed paper history, paper composition, sizing, inks and printing methods. Susan also described problems with paper based collections such as foxing, light damage, ink burn-through, and the “inherent vice” of the wood pulp papers manufactured from 1850-1900. We also heard Dana Hemmenway, Senior Photographic Conservator. Dana described the structure of photographs, a history of photo types( daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes and paper photographic prints). She had examples of paper photo prints as well: salted paper prints, albumen prints, collodian, and silver gelatin prints. We also discussed their hazards and inherent problems over time. In the afternoon, both Susan and Dana held problem-solving sesions in the paper lab.
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During the paper session, I was at a station with a 1780 letter written to George Washington. I was amazed at it’s great condition (which had been prolonged by a Library of Congress repair a hundred years ago called “silking”).
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The final day I heard a talk on Digital Preservation from Leslie Johnston, Chief of Repository Development at LOC. Leslie defined digital preservation as “the broad range of activities meant to extend the usable life of machine-readable computer files.” Leslie was quick to point out the different between digitization-an activity primarily focused on access-and digital preservation. She made the pitch to replicate files in geographically dispersed locations, and on different storage media and systems in order to have the best chance for these files to survive. Leslie was all business. They use Jhove in the scanning and preservation of files by using format validation. Leslie also outlined how the University of Maryland is spearheading an area called “digital forensics” at their center which insures the security of digital materials that are transmitted. Matthew Barton from the Packard Campus of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpepper, Va spoke on audio and sound preservation. Matthew’s presentation was delightful in describing their attempts to conserve audio recordings on was cylinders, lacquer discs, wire recordings, tape recordings and digital audio tape.
Amy Gailick, also from the Packard Campus, presented on moving image preservation and care. She described the film types and the very advanced cold storage area at the Packard Campus in Culpepper, VA. The have storage areas for some film materials at are held at 25 degrees.

In the afternoon, I met the closest thing to a Preservation Rock Star there is: Dr. Frenella France. Dr. France uses hyper-spectral imaging to examine documents and highlight early versions or corrections.
IMG_1267She has isolated a change Thomas Jefferson made to the rough draft of the Declaration of Independence and many other discoveries, such as Abraham Lincoln’s thumbprint on the Gettysburg Address. We also got a tour of the mass deacidification unit. IMG_1254 This unit takes acidic books and ‘washes’ them in an alkaline solution which neutralizes the acidic materials in the paper. They were washing comic books the day we were there! As we were leaving the lab, we paused in the hallway by a bunch of old card catalog units. I glanced down and recognized a familiar last name…WOW!
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One thing I was in awe of was the beauty of the Jefferson Building. Every inch is covered with hand-painted niches, tiled vaults, coffers with gold leaf, stained glass, sculpture and even WPA paintings.
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What were the take-aways? I was able to have some of the staff read the ZSR Disaster Plan and COOP Plan and get constructive feedback. A discussion with the Internet Archive manager told me that the standards for digitization are in flux (something we suspected). Digital preservation will be more important as time goes on for all institutions as born digital material accumulates. I learned some easy-to-do techniques for preserving photographs and paper materials and got some great ideas for exhibits. And…..I’m glad I don’t live in Washington!

All in all, it was a very fruitful week.

CERT Training

Monday, May 23, 2011 10:19 pm

Wanda and our tower of paper

Wanda and Craig ready to go

Wanda and Craig put out a fire

From Monday through Thursday of this week, several ZSR Staff (Wanda, Mary Beth, Travis, and Craig) are participating in CERT Training. CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team. The concept for this group was conceived after 9/11. The idea is to have a cadre of trained individuals prepared to respond in times of need. The CERT group is part of an outreach program from FEMA called the Citizen Corps. CERT groups are trained to increase community involvement and to assist first responders. Community groups are trained in basic fire safety, disaster preparedness, search and rescue, etc. in order to be available to a community in need. Wake Forest has, for some time, wanted such a team-and after this week, this team will exist.
On our first day, we received an overview from Darrell Jeter (Forsyth County Emergency Management) and Fire Safety from Jim Young, a Forsyth County Fire Educator. We touched on subjects such as tornado and flood safety, disaster preparedness and basic fire safety, In the afternoon, we all had the chance to extinguish a fire under the supervision of the WFU Police and our local WFU Firemen. It was fun to watch each group of two “buddies” approach a fire together and put it out using a fire extinguisher (watch Travis and Cindy).

The rest of the week, we’ll continue to learn and practice basic safety and disaster response techniques followed by a concluding ‘disaster exercise’ on Thursday. I’m sure others will post about this educationally active week.

GBW Standards of Excellence- Presentations

Monday, October 18, 2010 12:05 pm

I attended three sessions this year and was delighted that these focused on binding and books.

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Martha Little spoke on “Evidence of Structure and Procedure in Books.” Martha has been the Head Conservator at the University of Michigan Libraries and Book Conservator at Yale. Her presentation was a kind of deconstruction of the historical book. It was partly taking books apart to understand them and partly examining stains, sewing and even pest damage. She literally took historic structures apart to understand them. This included a two-volume set of Homer which had been sewn together and a new leather cover applied to hide the fact. She told how two book scholars (Roger Powell and Berthe van Regemorter) examined an identical Ethiopian binding and came to very different conclusions about how it was made. Little made models of both these books to show us who was likely more correct in their theory (Powell). Martha tested adhesives using the reagent potassium iodide to show the presence of starch adhesives. She also made cord using linen thread which she plied together using a hand drill to make a heavy cord that could be used to sew signatures onto. Martha also examined how books were put together and successively re-sewn over time. She did this using a guide developed in England at Trinity College, by mapping sewing holes, saw kerfs, and tackets on the text block and book boards. Martha made a diagram from the sewing holes which showed the binding and re-sewing over time. A real lesson in book construction history!

Martha Little’s models of Ethiopian binding

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Jeff Peachey gave a great presentation on Late 18th century French binding structures. Peachey is a book conservator in NYC and the inventor of several machines for binding and also makes a variety of well-respected leather paring knives. Jeff is also a book conservator of the first order-hence, his project was bolstered by historical research and hands-on knowledge of binding. Peachey conducted research of the Diderot Encyclopedie (we have a complete set in our collection) to determine how bindings were constructed in 18th century France. The Diderot is not a traditional encyclopedia, but a how-to manual complete with diagrams and illustrations of various processes. During his session, Jeff demonstrated how to construct one of these bindings taken from the pages of Diderot. He used demonstrations and pre-made models to do this, along with illutrations from the pages of Diderot. It was fascinating to see Jeff, demonstrate binding, tool sharpening, ploughing (plowing) and leather paring, as well as his model of 18th century binding.

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Michael Burke presented the third session on Byzantine Binding. Michael currently teaches binding in England, but has also been involved in the San Francisco Center for the Book. His presentation used historic books from the Byzantine period (circa 300-1200 AD) to construct a model of this style of binding. The book has wooden boards, quarter-sawn and drilled. The text block is sewn up in halves and then joined together. This style of binding is beautiful, but and Michael was unsure why it was sewn in halves-no doubt a question lost to history.

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I had several meals with Tony Gardner, President of the GBW California Chapter and former Head of Special Collections at Cal State, Northridge. Tony has experience working with his library development officer and shared how his institution conducted outreach using their collection.

I also had the opportunity to meet several suppliers:
Marge Salik and her daughter from Talas.
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Nancy Morains from Colophon Book Arts Supply.
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All in all, I attended a great series of sessions on book structure and history, made a number of good contacts and had some invaluable discussions with other professionals interested in binding.

Leather Bookbinding Finale

Saturday, March 28, 2009 12:58 pm

I was able to complete two re-backs from start to finish this week. The two leather spines had dried over night. On the final morning, I still needed to paste down the inside joints or hinge of the books. I had lifted the paper a day earlier. so I tore strips of Japanese paper which I glued underneath the paste down on the covers. I overlapped this paper onto the text block. When both joints were set, we cut a piece of card with a notch in it and used this to hold the boards open while the joints dried.

joints drying

When both joints were repaired with Japanese paper(Okawara), a piece of card held the boards open to dry.

Drying Joints

A finishing touch was to tool the spine. A heated metal tool is rocked across the spine to incise a “blind stamped” line which makes the spine lok more finished.

Blind stamping on the spine

My books are now done! It feels really good to have slogged through all these steps and have a good final result that will last for years to come.

Finished books

Preparing the Leather – Day 4

Thursday, March 26, 2009 7:23 pm

We’re almost home-honest! This stuff takes time folks- I mean it is important, one of a kind, historical material and must be treated like your pet bunny rabbit when you were 6. The first order of business today was to sew the headbands. To do this, two colors of silk thread are sewn around a core of twine. This stabilizes the the text block to which it is sewn, and forms a very attractive counterpoint to the text.

Sewing headbands

When the sewing is completed, the ends of the cord are trimmed and the headband is glued down. A piece of Japanese paper covers the sewing.

Finished headband

I cut pieces of leather to match the tone and the size of each book it will be used to repair. Using leather dye and cotton balls, the leather is dyed to match the existing color of the book boards and allowed to dry.

Leather Dyeing

Using a very sharp “skiving knife”-the edges of the pieces of leather are pared down very thin. This is hard, very hard-no amount of holding you mouth in a certain way will help. Practice, practice, practice!

Paring Leather

The leather spine piece is then put on the book and reinforced by string, which reinforces the raised bands.

Pressed book drying

After a half hour, the ends are turned in and the book is left to dry under a weight.

Leather spine drying under a weight

Leather Bookbinding – Getting Close on Day 3

Wednesday, March 25, 2009 9:58 pm

Fraying the ends of the cords

This morning, we used a small tool to fray the ends of the cords we glued to the spines of our books yesterday. The tool is a small wooden peg with 3 sewing needles attached which separates the strands of the cords. These frayed ends will be glued to the boards of the book later.

Making paste

Then, we mixed paste to use for the days work.

Glued down frayed cords to boards

The ends of the frayed cords were then glued down onto both book boards. I slid a piece of release paper on top of it and pressed the books for about 20 minutes.

Lifting leather from the cover

I used my lifting knife to lift the leather off the cover boards of the book.

Applying Japanese paper and pressing

All the books were then placed in a press. The spaces between the cords were lined with two layers of Japanese paper and allowed to dry.

Attaching a leather lining

A leather lining was made and pasted to the spine. This leather piece was pressed onto the spine and the space around the raised bands on the spine reinforced with string tied to the press.

Tomorrow-rebacking the spine with new leather.

Leather Workshop – Day 2

Tuesday, March 24, 2009 10:43 pm

Glueing out the spine

I’ve lifted the spine of my leather books and cleaned off all the residue. Next, the spine is glued out and either cords or tapes are glued onto the spine as sewing structures. This allows you to re-sew the parts of the book that are weak or broken-and let’s face it, after 300 years, you’d be a little worn too!

Books with sewn cords

Sewing is done inside the signature sof the book, and when you reach each cord or tape, you exit the interior of the book and sew out and around the tape or cord.

Cords sewn onto the spine
Next, paper tears and loose signatures are also re-attached to the text block. Tomorrow, we’ll fray the ends of the cords and attach them to the boards with glue. This will make a very strong bond which will hold the boards onto the book. All of the books I brought to the workshop had loose boards-which means, the were not attached to the book at all. When I’m done, they’ll not only be well bonded to the book, they’ll look good too. Stay tuned!

Leather Bookbinding, day the first

Monday, March 23, 2009 10:46 pm

A removed spine

Wilkes-Barre(bear), PA…not your idea of a fun spot, eh?Mine either.This is a place that did have a thriving economy, but that was when coal was king.It’s located on the Susquehanna River in central Pennsylvania, and now it is definitely a city struggling to make it.I drove 8 hours up I-81 to spend aweek learning leather book conservation from Don Rash, a seasonedbookbinder, calligrapher and letterpress printer who studied with Fritz and Trudi Eberhardt, two well respected binders.Don owns 3 houses, all adjacent to each other: one is Don’s home, one is his workshop and the third is used for student housing.I have the luxury of coming to Don’s school- The School of Formal Bookbinding-on a slow week-so it’s just me and one other student.

We began the first day by discussing each book we’d brought and how we would approach the repair.I brought nine books from Special Collections dating from the 17th-19th centuries.Immediately. I realized I needed a tool which I didn’t have-a lifting knife.Don had a new one which he sold me.The lifting knife is used to “lift” the old leather spine from the book.Before we tackled lifting spines, we learned to sharpen our leather skiving knife and my new lifting knife on wet Japanese stones while Bill’s numerous cats watched.

Books with clean spines

First all the books were ganged together in a large “lying press” with wooden boards separating them.We then took each book and lifted the spines of each one-trying to keep the fragile leather in-tact if possible- if not possible, we tried to save the labels.This required running the lifting knife along the outer edges of the spine and gently encouraging it to release itself.Unless you were really lucky, you just ended up with leather crumbs.When most of the leather was removed, we applied a poultice (glop) of corn starch paste and let it sit for 15 minutes.Then, we used a bone folder to get the remaining leather bits off the spine.Finally, we let the spines dry then removed them from the lying press. Tomorrow…paper repairs, sewing and headbands.

Leslie at MLA 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009 7:59 pm

I’m back from this year’s annual conference of the Music Library Association, held in Chicago (during a snowstorm) Feb. 17-21. This year I also attended the pre-conference hosted by MOUG (Music OCLC Users Group). Some highlights:

Sound Recordings and Copyright

Tim Brooks of the Association of Recorded Sound Collections described the ARSC’s work lobbying Congress to reform US copyright law on pre-1972 sound recordings. These recordings are not covered by federal law, but are often governed by state law, which tends to give copyright holders, in Tim’s words, “absolute control.” Tim cited some startling statistics: of all recordings made in the 1940s-70s, only 30% have been made available by the copyright holders; of recordings made in the 1920s-30s, only 10% are available; and of the enormous corpus of ethnic and traditional music from all over the world that was recorded by Columbia and Victor in the early years of the 20th century, only 1% is available. Because US copyright law for sound recordings is the most restrictive in the world, early recordings of American artists are currently legally available in other countries but not in the US — which means that American libraries and archives are unable to preserve this portion of our own heritage.

In response, the ARSC has made the following reccomendations:

  • Place pre-1972 recordings under a single federal law.
  • Harmonize US copyright law with that of other countries.
  • Legalize use of “orphaned” works (whose copyright holders cannot be identified).
  • Permit use of “abandoned” works, with compensation to the copyright holders.
  • Permit “best practices” digitization for preservation. Libraries and archives are the most likely to preserve early recordings (they have a better track record on this than the recording companies themselves) and the least likely to re-issue recordings (so they’re no financial threat to copyright holders).

Of ARSC’s experiences lobbying Congress members, Tim reports that many were simply unaware of the situation, but were sympathetic when informed; that libraries are seen as non-partisan and a public good, “the guys in the white hats”; and that there is now much “soft” support in Congress. Other ARSC activities include a “white paper” for the Obama administration, and the establishment of an organization called the Historical Recording Coalition for Access and Preservation (HRCAP) to further lobbying efforts.

In another copyright session, attendees and speakers offered some good tips for approaching your legal counsel re digitization projects:

  • Present your own credentials (copyright workshops you’ve attended, etc.) pertaining to libraries and copyright.
  • Cite specific passages of the law (section 108, 110, etc.)
  • Show you’ve done due diligence (e.g., you’ve replaced LPs with CD re-issues where available; you’ve determined other LPs are in deteriorating condition, etc.)
  • Try to persuade counsel to adopt a “risk assessment” approach (i.e., just how likely is it that a copyright holder will challenge you in this case) versus the more typical “most conservative” approach.
  • File a “contemporaneous writing” — a memo or other document, written at the outset of a digitization project, in which you explain why you believe that you are acting in good faith. This will go a long way towards protecting you if you are in fact challenged by a copyright holder.

Is the Compact Disc Dead?

This was the question addressed by a very interesting panel of speakers, including a VP of Digital Product Strategy at Universal Music Group; the CEO of the Cedille recording label; a concert violinst (Rachel Barton Pine); a former president of the American Symphony Orchestra League; and a music librarian at Northwestern U.

The panel quickly cited a number of reasons to believe that the CD remains a viable format: among these, the universal human desire to own a physical artifact “to give and to show”; the ability to listen on room speakers, not just earbuds; violinst Pine noted that she sells and autographs some 40-70 of her CDs after each performance, that people enjoy the personal contact with the artist, and relish being able to take home a souvenir of the concert. Flaws of downloadable releases were cited in comparison: garbled indexing, making identifying and retrieving of classical works difficult; frequent lack of program notes to provide historical context; the inferior audio quality of compressed files. Changes in student behavior were also noted: in online databases, students tend to retrieve only selected works, or excerpts of works; there doesn’t seem to be the inherent incentive to browse like that offered by physical albums, with the result that students don’t develop as much in-depth knowledge of a composer’s works. On the other hand, the reduced cost of digital distribution has enabled smaller orchestras and other groups to reach a larger audience.

Concern was expressed over an increasing trend among major labels to release performances only in the form of downloadable files, often with a license restricted to “end user only” — preventing libraries from purchasing and making available these performances to their users. The panel proposed that performers and IAML (the International Association of Music Libraries) put pressure on the record companies. Alternative approaches? CDs-on-demand: Cedille’s boss sees this as a growing trend. Also, consortial deals with individual record companies: OhioLink has recently done one with Naxos.

Finally, a concern was expressed about the aggregator model of audio-steaming databases: that these hamper libraries’ responsiveness to local user needs, and the building of the unique collections important for research. The music library community needs to negotiate for distribution models that enable individual selection for traditional collection development.

How Music Libraries are Using New Technologies

  • Videos demonstrating specific resources, such as composers’ thematic catalogs (similar to Lauren’s Research Toolkits).
  • “Un-associations,” in informal online forums like Yahoo or Google groups. There are currently groups for orchestra libraries, flutists, etc.
  • Use of Delicious to create user guides.
  • Meebo for virtual ref.
  • Twitter for virtual ref and for announcements/updates.
  • Widgets and gadgets to embed customized searches, other libraries’ searchboxes, and other web content into LibGuides, etc.
  • ChaCha (a cellphone question-answering service) for virtual ref. Indiana U is partnering with ChaCha in a beta test.

JSTOR

A JSTOR rep presented palns to add 20 more music journals to the database, including more area-studies and foreign-language titles. Attendees pointed out that popular music serials (Downbeat, Rolling Stone, etc.) are becoming primary source material for scholarly research — would JSTOR consider including them? The rep replied that JSTOR originally required that journals be peer-reviewed, but had recently begun to relax this rule. A dabate ensued among attendees as to whether the pop publications were sufficiently relevant to JSTOR’s mission — some believed that JSTOR should stick to its original focus on scholarly literature, and that others could preserve the pop stuff.

Bibliographic Control and the LC Working Group (or: Music Catalogers Freak Out)

The MOUG plenary session gave catalogers a forum to discuss ramifications of the LC Working Group’s recommendations on bibliographic control (see my blog posting for RTSS 08). Concerns expressed:

If collaboration is properly defined as “doing something together for a purpose,” then the disparate (and sometimes opposing) purposes of publishers, vendors, and libraries means that LC’s vision of collective responsibility for metadata and bibliographic control will not constitute true collaboration, but merely exploitation.

The Working Group appears to some to harbor a naive faith in digital architecture to meet all discovery and retrieval needs (it reminded one attendee of predictions that microform would solve all our problems). This is perceived to cultivate a gobal, generalist, one-size-fits-all outlook divorced from existing patterns of scholarly communication and “communities of practice” (e.g., the subject specialist and the community of practitioners that he/she serves). Bibliographic control should be “a network of communication between communities of practice.” An MLA liaison to ALA’s RDA committee noted that the RDA folks expected local catalogers to help fill in the gaps in the currently-vague RDA code — but when specialist communities actually propose details (such as a list of genre terms for music), they’re “dissed.”

Others fear that if LC backs away from its historical role as national library, relying on the larger community of publishers, vendors, and libraries to collaborate in bibliographic control, the actual effect will be that library administrators will think: “If LC isn’t doing this work, then we don’t have to either” — and collaboration will disappear.

Yet others fear the “commodification of cataloging.” With the increasing availability of MARC records and other metadata from third-party sources, there seems to be a growing perception that all metadata is the same — and a concommitant decline in willingness to investigate its source and quality. Administrators increasingly speak of metadata as a commodity.

Remember Katrina?

I’ll close with an item from the business meeting of SEMLA (the Southeast chapter) which was a cause of great celebration: our colleagues from Tulane University in New Orleans, whose music collection was flooded in Hurricane Katrina, announced that 70% of their collection has successfully been restored, and the last portion of it recently returned to them. They brought along a few representative items for show and tell — including a score died pink by its red paper covers. Recalling photos of the original damage, a 70% recovery rate seems a miracle!


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