Digitizing Hidden Collections: Success Stories from Small and Medium-sized Digitization Projects

Webinar Archive | Original Nov. 2, 2011 | Based on OITP Perspectives paper “Digitizing Hidden Collections in Public Libraries, (pdf)” | Webinar and PPTs available Online

First Speaker – Erin Kinney, Wyoming State Library, discusses the Wyoming Newspaper Project (.pptx or .pdf)

  • Digitize all newspapers published in Wyoming from 1849-1922 and make the “easily accessible on the Internet.”
  • 8 million clippings and Master microfilm reels from the State Archive, got $940,000 from State gov in 2007.
  • Metadata workers provided by the State Historical society (hired 70 remote workers, $15/hr)
  • Use Archivalware by PTFS
  • Search terms help overcome some challenges of OCR text.
  • Huge storage requirements – 10 Tb server.
  • Looking for Orphan papers from dead towns and other hard-to-find papers.
Second Speaker – Larry Carey, Tompkins County Public Library, discusses the library’s local-history digitization initiative (.pptx or .pdf)
  • Local history collection one of the most-often used collections in the library.  2,400 items.  Heritage Quest and Ithaca Journal on microfilm – most used database.
  • Needed to learn about copyright law “Copyright in cultural institutions” (243 pages, but very good!)
  • Reviewed the collection and selected un-copyrighted books and post-1923 copyrighted books to find releases.  Obtained for 3 local publications…and 50 more from historical society.  Directories – also needed to copyright releases.
  • Cost to digitize themselves – too expensive.  Outsourced to a local business (90 minutes away).
  • Organizing the information – purchased Adobe software.  Also did their own Web site.
  • Four librarians required!
  • Digitized: Atlases, biographies, Birth/death records, Directories, narratives & memoirs, etc.
  • City Directories – very important, so went through the process of getting copyright releases.  Year-long search to obtain the releases!  Just trying to determine who owns the copyright took much investigating.  72 year old son of the last publisher “Manning Company” – learned that fire burned all the records. Happy to grant permission!
  • 230 books = 250,000 digitized pages, including 1864-1986 City Directories
  • Access has increased – 1,500 page views per month
  • Labor-intensive and technically difficult project.
  • Little libraries need to be set free of the technical challenges and expense.
  • Outsourcing?  Would universities and colleges take the lead?
Third Speaker – Beth Goble and Devra Dragos, Nebraska Library Commission, discusses The Nebraska Memories Project that provides access to important collections held by libraries and historical societies in Nebraska (.pptx or.pdf)
  • No one person can handle the project – Share the Work!
  • 5 people in 2 departments help with this project!
  • Background – Western Trails grant-funded digitization project.  Several workshops throughout the state, with continued popularity.  How do you make those digitized photos available to the public??
  • 2004 Shannon White – arranged a state-wide license to ContentDM software. Server maintained at Library Commission.  LSTA priority to digitization projects for a few years.
  • No newspapers for this project, but postcards and photos
  • Need Flexibility – ContentDM customized so much that the new version isn’t usable yet.
  • Great browsable topics and Locations map that cross collections – Our Kete Users Group needs to look at this.
  • Polley Music Library – grants helped pay staff time for digitizing. Learning opportunity
    • Scores and concert programs digitized as PDFs, but not OCR’d
    • Great for students and local history researchers
  • Partnership with Phelps County Historical Society – worked with local library
    • 1880’s to 1950’s photos
    • Metadata standards, with some customization
    • Rights Statement – and all participants have to prove copyright
  • Cheyenne County Historical Society and Museum –
    • Staff with a mobile scanning unit will scan 50 items for free
    • Cheyenne took advantage of this option
    • Created an Easy Metadata Form (GET A COPY)
    • Sometimes the form wasn’t filled out, but instead there was an interview, leading to interesting historical notes.
    • Write down the stories as soon as possible!
  • Be clear to share HOW long it takes to gather information and then digitize the item.
  • Butler County Gallery
    • Volunteers went above and beyond to gather additional information:
      • Rad local histories, census searches, Visited cemeteries, and interviewed older people of the community
      • Added these historical notes to the metadata
    • Promote their collection at Family reunions in the area!
    • Collection went up in 2005, still get emails with corrections and additional information after Family reunions.
  • Ongoing Promotion – conferences, webinars, reach out to librarians, Postcard take-aways
  • Weekly blog post highlighting something found in the archive
  • Work with teachers – 3rd and 4th graders have local history units.  Include lesson plans!
  • Includes  a short survey
  • Also used by reference librarians
  • Copyright, best practices, etc. on their About page and Background info and how-tos available, too.  The EZ metadata form is great!
Fourth speaker – Natalie Milbrodt, Project Manager for Queens Memory Project, discusses her recent work on a collaborative digitization project (.pptx or .pdf)
Questions:
  • Tags or Comments? – Nebraska will add that feature when they upgrade ContentDM
  • Copyright Release form?  Larry drafted a personal letter rather than use a standard form.
  • Outsourcing v. In house?  Erin said their Wyoming project was so large that they outsourced from the start.  Devra – some libraries outsourced large maps, for example.  Up to the individual participants.  Natalie has an inhouse digitization lab – only 300 records and 1/2 were ‘born digital’.  They use the library’s digitization team of two.
  • Funding? – Thompkins uses their Library Foundation to locate additional money.
  • Mobile Lab – Scanabago…HP Laptop, HP ScanJet 8300, 1 Tb external harddrive, HP software built into the scanner, the files are brought back to the library commission and manipulated with Adobe Photoshop and converted to JPEG/PDF.
  • Metadata – who does it?  Nebraska recognizes that volunteers aren’t catalogers.  Ask for the basic information and then they make the data fit their standards.  Queens is creating skeleton records and using crowdsourcing to draw out additional information (Comments).
  • Standards – Federal Agency Digitization Guidelines Initiative
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