Digital Preservation

I recently talked with a coworker about digital preservation and preservation policies. The department that she works in is getting ready to acquire some new preservation software. More specifically, they are going to use Rosetta by Ex Libris. Rosetta completely covers data asset management and preservation for several types of institutions including museums and libraries. Seems like a great piece of software to implement into a library. Since my department wasn’t part of this process, we won’t be involved in using it. Why isn’t the digitization lab I work in part of this new endeavor? This wasn’t much of a surprise, the library I work at has a bit of a communication issue. I ranted about this in my last post if you need some back story, no need to repeat it here. Digital preservation combines policies, strategies and actions to ensure access to content that is born digital or converted to digital form regardless of the challenges of file corruption, media failure and technological change (American Library Association, 2010). I wanted to understand more about digital preservation policies and have an understanding how those policies are put into action.

It seems that having a preservation policy in place before starting down the long road of the actual preservation part would make everything run smoother. There are many examples to look at when researching different policies.  A few policies among many worth mentioning are Dartmouth College Library, Yale University Library and North Carolina Digital Preservation Policy. These policies follow a similar structure. They encourage access, sustainability, rights information, best techniques and collaboration. This is far from an exhaustive list. The policy gives the underpinnings for a preservation process. The collaboration part of the policy caught my attention, mainly because it is lacking in my place of employment. A successful example of this can been seen in the Smithsonian’s Time Based Media and Digital Art group. They came up with a plan and combined resources with several other branches in order to facilitate the best conservation practices for these digital materials. The list of contributors working on the same project is impressive. Research by Cote and Mannheimer (2017) show the co-implementation of a digital preservation service allows for cost sharing, collective training, collective trouble shooting and development of administrative expertise (pg. 110). Their research stems from four Montana librarians taking the initiative to develop a digital preservation strategy that would benefit libraries statewide. Collaboration is at the core of this process in order to help libraries that have little guidance and resources.

There was a slide in class during week eleven that focused on the levels of the preservation process. One level in particular that I took note of was the bullet point about the agreed upon actions throughout the cultural institutions. This point is another example of forming partnerships to achieve a goal. Finding ways to work with other departments and institutions would benefit everyone, it seems simple enough. Dempsey and Lavoie (2004) state that digital content must be easily shred between services or users; usable without specialist tools; surfaced in a variety of environments; and supported by consistent methods for discovery and interaction.

A final example of partnership in digital preservation is a newspaper digitization project in North Texas. Ana Krahmer (2016) suggests starting small, this way both groups can get a sense for what each will contribute to the overall project and each group can see how their contributions represents a portion of the sum of all parts (pg.85). The examples of collaboration I gave above involve several large institutions on one project. I believe it is beneficial to see this idea of partnership on a smaller scale. It may give rural communities the confidence to start a preservation initiative.

I like the idea of laying out a strategy so everyone is completely aware of how a project is going to develop. This seems easy enough, right? I suppose the way my library works leads me to being so intrigued with a fairly straightforward idea such as this. The same applies to metadata. Since both of these elements are missing from our workflow, it’s no wonder I’m fascinated by them. In the future, would be interesting to propose a digital preservation policy for my department and see how people react to it. Actually, the entire library would benefit from it. A future project maybe?


American Library Association. (2010, January 18.) Definitions of Digital Preservation. Retrieved from

Krahmer, A. (2016). Digital newspaper preservation through collaboration. Digital Library Perspectives32(2), 73–87.

Lavoie, B. & Dempsey, L. (2004). Thirteen Ways of Looking at…Digital Preservation {computer file}. D-Lib Magazine10(7/8).

Mannheimer, S. & Cote, C. (2017). Cultivate, assess, advocate, implement, and sustain. Digital Library Perspectives33(2), 100–116.


Shared Metadata with a Rant

We read an article about shared metadata a few weeks back that peaked my interest a bit. I’d like to look a little deeper into this process and think specifically about local or community involved metadata. During the two weeks of metadata conversation in this class one major thing that stuck with me is the lecture slide describing the functions of metadata, specifically discovery and interoperability. The article, Moving Towards Sharable Metadata, describes what it means to have sharable metadata with positive reasoning and some challenges that coincide with it. It explains that having a simple metadata structure is conducive to aggregators easily retrieving data to share. This obviously has its benefits for searching as it pulls from the standardized metadata that is available. The article also mentions local highly detailed metadata being a problem.

Unfortunately, many libraries, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions have treated a metadata record as a monolithic item-a single record with all descriptive, technical, and administrative information about the resource included-and share this single record rather than a version of it most appropriate (Shreeves, Riley, & Milewicz, 2006).

This led me to think about local metadata benefiting the community but not these search aggregators, thus limiting shareable metadata. If the local metadata is formulated under a standard schema, then both communities and search engines might benefit. The article, A Community-Driven Metadata Framework for Describing Cultural Resources: The Digital Library North Project, takes a look at locally influenced metadata. Digital Library North is a project between the University of Alberta and the Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Center (ISR) in Canada. Their mission for this digital library was to bring the community into the process of applying metadata that was appropriate to their culture. Which can be specific at times. We also attempt to include both standards terms and local dialect variants in the metadata, for example, boots and nalluutik/kamikpaak/an’ngikpaak (Farnel, Shiri, Campbell, Cockey, Rathi, & Stobbs, 2017). By applying a basic schema and incorporating specifically focused metadata a lot of area can be covered. This facilitates the concept of discovery and interoperability through metadata.

What about the people involved with creating metadata that have little experience? There was a brief discussion in class near the beginning of the semester about how much work experience is beneficial when it comes to issues like this. I found an article that encourages cross employee training as a way to combat a lack of knowledge in certain areas. Making Lemonade: The Potential of Increased Peer Metadata Training among Cultural Heritage Professionals is an insightful look at how fellow employees can guide each other in understanding and implementing metadata. This cross training is an easy way to save money on professional training and workshop. According to Schneider (2012), having trainers from the same peer group and who are closer to the learner’s level of experience can make better training for both the trainer and for the learner (pg. 55). I like this idea of having people that you can relate with aiding in the process of learning. This way, if there were specifically localized metadata, you can work with someone familiar with both metadata and the structured schema.

I believe that by understanding the basic concept of sharable metadata and using the community as a resource will benefit a much larger number of people.

Time to gripe a little. I found these articles interesting because we use no structured metadata in the digital imaging lab that I work in, none. The lab is basically a silo when it comes to storing our images, no one has access to them or can even search them. We don’t converse with cataloging or IT which is in charge of the digital library projects here. Other departments are working closely IT and cataloging to guarantee their items are stored properly and have the metadata that ensure them to be searchable. Local Records for instance uses a FIPS code (apologize for the Wiki link) along with a local barcode and metadata enabling the material to be accessed for future use. We use a numbered filing system that incorporates the fiscal year and an ascending number to attach to an image. So, if we scanned something this year it could look like this 19_0252 depending on what order it came down to the lab. Make sense? It doesn’t to me either. There are a number of things wrong with this system and I could be here all day telling you about it. The bottom line is that there are over 16 terabytes of scanned images that have no search function, other than the search box that is akin to finding a file on ones hard drive.  It is disheartening to think that the images scanned are for one time use then lost to oblivion. I reason to think that is why I am both intrigued and terrified of metadata, I have no experience with it. Unfortunately, with some state agencies, nothing will change until someone retires. Sorry for the rant, let me know if you’d like to hear further about the debacle going on at my job.


Farnel, S., Shiri, A., Campbell, S., Cockney, C., Rathi, D., & Stobbs, R. (2017). A Community-Driven Metadata Framework for Describing Cultural Resources: The Digital Library North Project. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 55(5), 289–306.

Schneider, I. (2012). Making Lemonade: The Potential of Increased Peer Metadata Training among Cultural Heritage Professionals. Collaborative Librarianship, 4(2), 53–59. Retrieved from

Shreeves, S. L., Riley, J., & Milewicz, L. (2006). Moving towards shareable metadata. First Monday, 11(8), 1. Retrieved from

Collaboration & Community Archives

When the idea of quality versus quantity came up in class the other day, in reference to digitizing material, I was intrigued. I believe a few others were as well. I digitize material on a daily basis, all sizes of art work, documents, land plats, maps, and architectural drawings. Most of them need to be high quality for reproduction requirements of the patron or local agencies. I also rarely digitize whole collections, unfortunately because of staffing issues and time, there are two of us here. What can we look at to enhance the digital collection and make it accessible? In the article we read, Shifting Gears by Erway and Schaffner, they mention focusing on understanding what the users want as part of the process. According to Erway and Schaffner (2007), “To help establish priorities, those describing the collections should engage in public service discussions, put in some time on the reference desk, and analyze requests received via e-reference” (pg.5). This led me down a path of thinking about how we can get the community involved with digitizing material that they are interested in. Since funding and personal can be limited in scope when it comes to digitizing material, why not see what type of civic engagement the libraries and archives can advocate for?

The Library of Virginia has an ongoing project called Transcribe, that involves volunteers transcribing large batches of pre-scanned material for inclusion online. This is a funded project, but the people who commit their time are doing so because of their genuine interest for the project. I realize that these images are digitized in house, but the project relies heavily on crowd participation to get the readable material out on the library’s web site, making them accessible. This allows many, the current running total is 64,434 pages, items that have been transcribed to be available online. Without the help of the community this process would be long and arduous. This can be looked at as a positive aspect of getting the a large amount of material to a mass audience.

Amy Williams describes the advantages of community archives in her article, Participation, Collaboration, and Community Building in Digital Repositories. Community archives according to Williams (2015), “have the added advantage of disseminating information more quickly and reaching a wider audience that traditional communication outlets” (pg. 371). One example Williams gives is a project that the Black Archives History and Research Foundation of Southern Florida undertook. It brought detailed records together from the seldom heard African American community of South Florida during the time of discrimination. Ongoing projects like these bring a communal voice to the question of inclusion in digital archive projects.

Another community archive I looked at was the Community Archives and Heritage Group. It deals with communities in the UK and Ireland. It’s an extensive site with a great interactive map that lets the user pick out which area to explore. Again, an example in favor of disseminating local historical material to be accessed by the public. The involvement of these types of archives really lets the user become immersed in what they want at the same time exposing others to communities that they might not have been aware of.

If the argument is to provide as much material as possible on the web, these projects may serve a vital purpose. There is however the issue that some people involved are not  professional archivists, and are the proper guidelines being followed to preserve this heritage being considered. Would the quality be compromised? These were some thoughts of mine when it was brought up in class and the readings. But after exploring the idea further through these examples, I can see the need for it getting a mass amount of material digitized. It also adds to the point of community collaboration bringing their history and material to a broad audience.


Erway, R. & Schaffner, J. (2007). Shifting gears: Getting up to get into the flow. OCLC Programs and Research. Retrieved from

Williams, A. (2015). Participation, collaboration, and community building in digital repositories. Canadian Journal of Information and Library Science 39, 368-375. Retrieved from