New Book: Digital Preservation for Libraries, Archives, and Museums

A few weeks ago a new book I co-authored with Heather Lea Moulaison was published by Rowman and Littlefield. The book is titled Digital Preservation for Libraries, Archives, and Museums. Initial reaction has been extremely positive. It is available through all of the major book sellers such as Amazon where at one point it was #7 in one of its categories! If you interested in digital preservation, please consider purchasing the book or borrowing it from your local library. Below is the publisher’s description of the book:

Digital Preservation in Libraries, Archives, and Museums represents a new approach to getting started with digital preservation: that of what cultural heritage professionals need to know as they begin their work. For administrators and practitioners alike, the information in this book is presented readably, focusing on management issues and best practices. Although this book addresses technology, it is not solely focused on technology. After all, technology changes and digital preservation is aimed for the long term. This is not a how-to book giving step-by-step processes for certain materials in a given kind of system. Instead, it addresses a broad group of resources that could be housed in any number of digital preservation systems. Finally, this book is about “things (not technology; not how-to; not theory) I wish I knew before I got started.”

Digital preservation is concerned with the life cycle of the digital object in a robust and all-inclusive way. Many Europeans and some North Americans may refer to digital curation to mean the same thing, taking digital preservation to be the very limited steps and processes needed to insure access over the long term. The authors take digital preservation in the broadest sense of the term: looking at all aspects of curating and preserving digital content for long term access.
The book is divided into four parts based on the Digital Preservation Triad:

  1. Situating Digital Preservation,
  2. Management Aspects,
  3. Technology Aspects, and
  4. Content-Related Aspects.

The book includes a foreword by Michael Lesk, eminent scholar and forerunner in digital librarianship and preservation. The book features an appendix providing additional information and resources for digital preservationists. Finally, there is a glossary to support a clear understanding of the terms presented in the book.

Digital Preservation will answer questions that you might not have even known you had, leading to more successful digital preservation initiatives.

Two new tracks this weekend: Richmond Coliseum and Charlotte Legends Road Course

After looking at various ice racing and weather reports on the morning of Friday, Jan 17, I decided to head to Richmond, Virginia for the ArenaRacingUSA mini-cup racing. I heard good things about these indoor mini-cup races on high-banked tracks but I have never seen a race. While they used to race in multiple locations, it appears the Richmond Coliseum is the only place they still race. Admission was a reasonable $14 and I paid $6 to park in a parking garage nearby. Some people saved the $6 by parking on the street but I couldn’t find a legal place. The track is pretty high-banked with a wooden surface. The track is a good size for the cars and they can pass and they get around really fast. I had an enjoyable time. The biggest downside was the volume of the announcer (too loud), but I guess that is better than none (see below) an the kids in attendance seemed to like it. I liked that they started on time and moved the show along.

My original plan was to start heading home after the race but I knew the Legend Cars were running on a road course in the infield of Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina on Saturday, Jan. 18 with the drivers meeting scheduled for 8:30 AM. I figured that would mean I could get out of there in a reasonable time to still make it home Saturday night so I went for it. There was no admission charge – I just had to sign a waiver. I showed up after the driver’s meeting and the first round of practice was just starting. They had two rounds of practice (with the second round setting the lineups for the heat races). It was about 34 degrees and when someone saw my New York license plates they accused me of bringing the cold. I managed to find a parking spot were I could see part of the course and sat in the car for the most of the practices. It was sunny so the car was pretty warm. Once the heat races came out, I braved the cold and saw some pretty good although I still prefer oval racing -especially for these types of cars. Really, the only downside was the lack of a PA system. They did “tweet” out and place some things on facebook, but not really enough to keep me as informed as I would like. In that way it definitely wasn’t designed for spectators .Still, I managed to get out of there at a reasonable time after seeing some enjoyable racing and make it home without having to find a place to sleep on the way home. This was my fourth countable track at the Charlotte Motor Speedway speedway, having previously seen racing on the big oval, the paved inner- short-track, and the dirt track,

New Tracks this weekend:

Richmond Coliseum, Richmond VA (mini-cups) (1/17/2014)
Charlotte Motor Speedway (Inner Short Track) (1/18/2014)

2014 Stats:
Total Tracks: 3
New Tracks: 3
States I saw new tracks: 1 (North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia)
Countries: 1 (USA)
Total Races: 3

Total lifetime TrackChaser countable tracks: 295

BMI Indoor Speedway – 2014-01-11 (Track #293)

On Saturday, January 11, I headed with Mike K. do the BMI Indoor Speedway kart complex in Versailles, Ohio to attend our first race in 2014. When we got there we met up with 4 other TrackChasers who were in attendance. On tap were a few different classes of karts, with Champ Karts being the countable class for TrackChasers. The track was a 1/10 mile high banked concrete oval costructed inside of a large building. I was surprised about the banking. I was expecting the typicall flat concrete track you get indoors. The biggest disappointment was the lack of cars, but there were 3 or 4 other indoor kart races within 3-4 hours so that probably didn’t help any. The Champ Karts only had 3 karts. At least that is enough to be countable! It would have been quite disappointing to drive all the way to western Ohio and not get a countable race in. The Champ Karts ran 4 7-lap heats (with inverts between them) and a feature. The feature was 12 laps and took under a minute and a half according to Guy Smith.

Not the most exciting race ever but seem good bench racing was had and my first TrackChaser countable track is in the books for 2014!

2014 Stats:
Total Tracks: 1
New Tracks: 1
States: 1 (Ohio)
Countries: 1 (USA)
Total Races: 1

Total lifetime TrackChaser countable tracks: 293

Closed Stacks

There is an interesting post on the Oxford University Press’s blog by Michael Levine-Clark, “An academic librarian without a library.” In truth, Michael does have a library, but it is being renovated and what he means is he doesn’t currently have a library with open stacks. In Europe, closed stacks are a more common occurrence then in the United States. In the U.S. people have become accustomed to being able to browse open stacks and many faculty, students and librarians think going to closed stacks would be a loss. However, with many academic librarians being on prime campus real estate and the needs for the library to serve other uses, such as being an Information Commons, moving a portion of the physical collections off-site is becoming more and more common. It is a trend I don’t see going the other way anytime soon.

At the University of Denver where Michael Levine-Clark as Collections Librarian and Professor, the library is closed for renovations. Originally up to 80% of the psychical collections was to remain off-site but after an uproar from students and faculty 50% of the collection is set to return after renovations. Michael’s blog post details how “every comment I’ve heard from faculty and students about the temporary dislocation [of stacks] has been positive” and “raises the question of what exactly a library is.”

While browsing may not be, as Michael says, “an ideal way” of finding books no one single way is and no amount of technology will change that. The serendipity of finding something you are not looking for is far less likely in online environments and I think that is a big loss. I wonder if the lack of access to the physical collection via browsing is not getting as much negative reaction because faculty and students know that the library is being renovated and that it is a temporary inconvenience and when the renovations are done half of the collections will return to open stacks? Browsing stacks might not be the best way to find ALL books on the topic you can get, but it is probably the most efficient way to find and access SOME physical books on a topic. Depending on the users’ needs at the time, that is often just what they want. It certainly works for the cook book and travel sections at my local Barnes and Noble and unless they typical undergrad is different then i was in college (which they may very well be the case but I’m skeptical) it serves there purpose most of the time.

Worldcat record use policy causes National Library of Sweden to end negotiatons with OCLC

The National Library of Sweden has decided to end negotiations with OCLC about uploading their union catalog, Libris, into WorldCat as well as using WorldCat as a source of records in Libris. According to the announcement, Libris is and needs to remain an open database and OCLC’s WorldCat Rights and Responsibilities for the OCLC Cooperative does not make that possible. The National Library also believes that the record use terms would make it impossible to contribute biographical data to Europeana and the European Library. As Karen Coyle mentions in her blog post about this decision, open data (or the lack of it) is not just an idealogical stance: it “has real practical applications.” Whatever good the WorldCat record use policy has had, this is a real-world example of how it can (and in this case, has) also harm libraries – including OCLC member libraries who will not be able to access Libris records via WorldCat.

Library Journal contacted OCLC about the announcement, but they did not immediately respond to LJ’s request for comment.

What I did on my September Vacation

Last week I took off from work for some vacation, but I didn’t leave the library world behind. In fact, I co-presented a Webinar, “Cloud computing and libraries: The view from 10,000 feet, with Dr. Heather Lea Moulaison that was put on by Education Institute (Canada) and the Neal-Schuman Professional Education Network (USA), talked to an LIS class at the University of Missouri (incidentally, I was very impressed by the students), and attended and co-presented a session with Dr. Moulaison at the LITA National Forum.

I skipped the last couple of LITAs National Forums as in the past I have not found them as useful for me as some other conferences I go to. With limited travel budgets, you need to look for value. LITA does not appear to be highly subsidized by sponsors and isn’t a cheap conference compared to other library conferences and the content has been a little weak in my areas. However when an opportunity to present with my co-editor, Heather Lea Moulaison, of Getting Started with Cloud Computing: A LITA Guide in her home state emerged, I figure, hey, why not? What else am I going to do with these vacation days? If I don’t use some, I’ll lose them, so I might as well hang out with some library peeps.

I am not going to review the whole conference but I was happy to see what seemed like an increase in sessions that were more advanced (technology-wise). It isn’t that past Forums were bad, I just wasn’t the proper audience. Kudos to this year’s program planners. I’d like to see less long breaks and it seemed odd that the posters were at the end of the day Saturday with no food or refreshment, but oh well. While I am on it, this isn’t just a LITA thing, but I think at most conferences sessions are too long. I’d much rather see two 25 minute presentations then one fifty minute one. I think this is were Code4Lib with it’s 20 minute time slots does a real good job. Library Journal has a good review of the 2011 LITA National Forum (and I’m not just saying that because they liked our presentation, although I’m pleased that they did.

The slides from our LITA presentation, Practical Approaches to Cloud Computing at YOUR Library, are available on CodaBox.

Webinar on Digital Preservation tommorow

Tomorrow (Tuesday, September 20, 2011) I will be one of two people presenting a Library Journal Webinar called Low Maintenance, High Value: How Binghamton University Libraries Used Digital Preservation to Increase its Value on Campus. My Co-presenter is Ido Peled, Rosetta Product Manager, Ex Libris Group. Ex Libris is also a cosponsor. The abstract of our talk is:

Is end-to-end Digital Preservation here today? Does it require an army of staff to manage? Is it a library function or a central IT function? Answer these questions and more while hearing Edward Corrado tell the story of turning the Binghamton University Libraries into the university’s identity and heritage storehouse.

Apparently you can register now and they will send you a link to the webcast is archived for your viewing pleasure.

Library Linked Data

Carl Grant has an excellent blog post about a vendor’s perspective on the case of the Library Linked Data Model. It is well worth a read if you are interested in Library Linked Data or how any other new idea/concept/profuct/service gets implemented by a vendor. Carl says that before vendors can invest (heavily) into Librry Linked Data the need to have some questions answered:

It includes a lack of clear understanding of what exactly are the problems being solved for the profession by this technology that can only be solved with the Library Linked Data model or that can’t be otherwise solved? Are these problems shared across the profession, across institutions? Is it agreed that the Library Linked Data model is the solution? If so, how many institutions, or even personal services, are in production status using this model to solve those problems?

This are interesting questions and ones I don’t have any answer for. The idea of Linked Data in the library world has been pushed around for a while, but it has only been recently that I have seen any working prototypes and implementations. While I am impressed with what some people have done and I understand some of the potential benefits, I don’t think any of the above questions have been answered. I’d really like to see some answers to the first one – especially what benefit will our users gain from it. I really want to be convinced that any significant investment in Library Linked Data will benefit our end users and I don’t see it (yet). I have never heard a student or professor come to me with a problem that linked data will solve more completely or more efficiently then other solutions. I imagine that will come with time, but until it does it is hard to make the case to go all-in on linked data.

There may be some benefits (mostly in the form of efficiency) from a staff point of view, but I am still not sure that at this point they outweigh the costs of implementation. Also, as Carl asks in his post (question #3), “How do we see this data being maintained? ” Unless you can give me a clear plan that shows sustainability, again it is hard to get behind the linked data model.

What does this all me? The proponents of Library Linked Data need to get out and show some real world examples on how it will help end-users and/or how it will create efficiencies that can not be seen by other solution. For example, if you are talking about bibliographic and related data, how would linked data be better then OCLC’s centralized Web Scale Management Services or Ex Libris’s Alma (assuming for Alma that the community zone is populated with the appropriate data).

Will these answers come? I believe so. The Library Linked Data Incubator Group is a good start — especially if they can provide examples as to how linked data will efficiently benefit end users in ways other technologies can not — but it will be a while before we see any signs that the “Early Majority” are ready to jump on board,

New Book: Getting Started with Cloud Computing

If you are looking for some fun and educational reading, why don’t you pick up a copy or two of Getting Started with Cloud Computing: A LITA Guide? I’d give a review, but I am biased since I am one of the co-editors along with Dr. Heather Lea Moulaison, I’ll just say that I think the book came out great and the author chapters did an excellent job. A million thanks to all of the authors and to Roy Tennant for writing the foreword. Neal-Schuman was great to work with as well.

Editing a book was a lot of work (more than I thought it would be, to be honest) but it was a rewarding experience and I leaned a lot along the way – both about the topic, and about editing a book.

By the way, if you happen to be in Europe, don’t fret, you can head over to Facet Publishing and get the UK imprint of Getting Started with Cloud Computing.

RDA and transforming to a new bibliographic framework

I haven’t had the opportunity to work much with RDA records yet, however I’ve been following some e-mail lists, blogs, and other commentaries where people have been discussing there experiences with it. The Library of Congress , the National Library of Medicine (NLM), and the National Agricultural Library (NAL) organized testing to evaluate whether or not they will implement RDA.

Out of this testing experience (which is still being analyzed), the Library of Congress issued “Transforming our Bibliographic Framework: A Statement from the Library of Congress” on May 13. According to the statement, “Spontaneous comments from participants in the US RDA Test show that a broad cross-section of the community feels budgetary pressures but nevertheless considers it necessary to replace MARC 21 in order to reap the full benefit of new and emerging content standards.” Therefore, Library of Congress is going to investigate, among other things, replacing MARC 21.

From what I have heard of the RDA testing, I think this makes sense. The general feel I get is that RDA by its self is not enough of a change to make libraries expend the resources necessary to implement it. Sure there are some improvements over AACR2, but there are also many things I read that are not improvements. This is especially true if you agree with the Taiga Forum 6′s 2011 Provocative Statement #2 that libraries will need to participate in radical cooperation. RDA offers a bit too much flexibility to insure that bibliographic records created by one library will fit well for other libraries. For example, the Rule of 3 is gone which on the cover is an improvement since it allows for more then 3 authors to be included as main or added entry. However, as discussions on the RDA-L list, it requires only the first author and illustrators of children’s books as author main or added entry. Local choices are great if you are only working for the local and not “radically cooperating.”

I won’t go through the list of complaints (and, to be fair, some complements) of RDA I’ve seen, as you can find them yourselves. I think my takeaway though is RDA on top of our existing bibliographic infrastructure is probably not going to make a monumental improvement for our patrons while at the same time it will be costly to implement (especially retroactively). RDA might be better than AACR2, but is it better enough that migrating to it is worth the time and costs? I am not so sure. Maybe simple changes to AACR2 would be just as good and more practical?

Some people I talk to think moving to RDA is a necessary first step that will make more significant or radical changes easier in the future. I, however, have a underlying fear that if libraries implement RDA in the current environment they will be stuck with it for a long time and it will actually make it harder to implement something different in the future. I hope the others are right and I am wrong since I believe in the short to medium term, RDA will be implemented on top of our existing bibliographic infrastructure – for better or worse.

If we replace our underlying bibliographic infrastructure with something else and change to RDA, say maybe something based on RDF or some other standard model for data interchange, we might actually get a significant change that will help expose our bibliographic data to the greater world of linked data while at the same time making it easier for libraries to take advantage of linked data.

One thing that the Library of Congress needs to take account in this process is the economic realities of implementing something new. I don’t see this specifically mentioned in the issues they plan on addressing. I assume that it will be part of the underlying discussions, but I would like to see it more prominently mentioned. Part of this is also involving vendors as well as open source developers of systems such as Evergreen and Koha. If LoC makes a change, it will effect libraries throughout the US (and probably the world). If the systems libraries use can’t function withing this new bibliographic framework, it will be a difficult and extremely expensive transition.

I think this is something librarians, especially those in systems and cataloging, should follow closely. I know I will be doing so.

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