Posted by: photokjc | December 4, 2008

Blogging in libraries

I’ve been reading several articles about blogging for one of my other classes, articles that I find to be more interesting now that I have been blogging for almost an entire semester.  I think it’s interesting all the different ways that blogs (and the digital archives they leave behind) can be beneficial to different libraries, be that they are public, academic, special, etc.  I have read how some public libraries have used blogs as a Reader’s Advisory tool to get to those who cannot physically visit the library.  A librarian chooses a week and enters five entries of any library material that s/he chooses and writes a review of this item.  By posting this information on this blog, users can post their comments and link to other library blogs and other information pertinent to libraries.

While these digital collections of Reader’s Advisory can help libraries to get their services and information to more and more people.  The only problem being that information professionals and librarians who maintain these blogs must find new and different ways to make sure that people are aware of the blogs and the information they provide.  The library must take steps (sometimes these steps may be drastic, if technology isn’t quite up to speed) to advertise their blogs by sending newsletters by email, posting on the library’s homepage, and advertising by any other means they can to get their blogs ‘out there’ and noticed.

This blog – bfgb.wordpress.com – is a good example of a library using a blog as a Reader’s Advisory tool to get their reviews to more and more readers.  The tags allow for the different books to be catergorized into genres as well as by what librarian has recommended what books.  I think digital collections such as this allows for more people to become interactive with books and a library even though they may not be in the same geographical location.

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Posted by: photokjc | December 4, 2008

National Archives and Records Administration

I was looking at a classmate’s blog earlier and found this digital collection that I thought was really cool – The National Archives at archives.gov.  One aspect that I really liked was the links to the various Presidential Libraries.  I’ve never entirely been big on listening to audio/video clips because I usually go straight to anything relating to photographs, but I really liked being able to hear the presidents give various speeches and just to hear what they sounded like.  Without digital collections, many people would never be able to access these audio and video collections.  And because users are playing and replaying duplicates, the originals are not being damaged with each play – another advantage of having and using digital collections.

One problem I encountered with this collection is simply how much information there is.  Not all the information is presented directly to the user on the very first page.  Which in a way, I like because I have to delve deeper and deeper to fully understand and use the site, but not every user will continue to search if the information s/he wants is not plainly visible on the very first page.  One thing I think that is always important in libraries and their collections, I think it is important to know who the users are.  Knowing the users gives the library/collection builder a base for what information and links should go on the first page because they know what information the users are interested in and what they want.  I think successful digital collections are built around the users and their wants/needs.

Posted by: photokjc | December 4, 2008

Building my own digital collection

In an assignment for class, I had to build my own digital collection.  After finally figuring out what the collection would be about – photographs from a course I took in college – I thought that the hard part was finally over.  But of course, I was wrong.  The hardest part (maybe because I found it to be slightly irritating) was trying to figure out how the technology involved would affect how my photos were displayed in OMEKA.

After uploading several of my photos in OMEKA and getting them to look just right, I noticed that other items in other digital collections looked slightly different than mine.  Because the whole class was using OMEKA, I didn’t really know why someone else’s would look different than mine…  So when I asked, it was because other people were using Firefox to upload photos instead of Internet Explorer.  When I did download and start using Firefox, I found that it gave many more options for uploading my photos.  Which I liked.  A lot.  Until I had to go back and upload most of my photos into my collection for a second time.  But it was worth it in that I was pretty happy in how my final collection looked.

What I learned throughout building my own collection is how different technologies can affect how one builds, updates, preserves and provides upkeep for a digital collection.  I think in order to be successful, digital collection builders must do some research before they begin so they will not have to go back and redo their work because another provider would fit their purposes better.  The builder must also be aware of the changes in technology and that will/could possibly affect their collection – will older items disappear or become inaccessible if not updated frequently?  Will updated technology affect how users can navigate from item to item?  Research, constant updating and tweeking and the ability to adapt will help anyone who is building a digital collection for personal or professional use.

Posted by: photokjc | November 28, 2008

Oh how I love baseball…

So in trying to fill out one more post, I turned back to America’s pastime – Baseball…  Surprised?  Me too. MLB.com is almost the perfect digital collection for baseball.  They have MLBlogs, Message Boards, Photos, Videos, RSS News Feeds and links to many other areas of information relating to baseball.  They are the ultimate baseball Internet site for the 30 team sites, scoreboard, standings, stats, schedules, players and news.  They also have information about organizations such as the MLB Players Association and the Players Alumni and events such as the World Baseball Classic.  While the main MLB.com is in English, but users also have the option to change the language to Chinese, Japanese or Spanish.  There are also links to tributes to different players and teams, the history of various awards given over the years, Winter Leagues, Milestones and any other possible piece of information a baseball nut could ever want to read about.

One problem that I have encountered with MLB.com is the fact that one cannot find all the old articles the site has links to.  There have been many times that I would like to access the articles relating to Cal Ripken’s final All-Star game in 2001 or the articles surrounding when he broke ‘The Streak’, but the links only lead to an error message saying the article cannot be recovered.  Sure the technology has changed since 1998 and 2001 and maybe the articles weren’t saved or archived correctly.  There are many possibilities that could have happened to why some articles cannot be recovered by users such as myself.  But maybe there’s someone out there with more computer skills as myself.  Or maybe those digital records of yesteryear are really gone forever.  Articles that obviously were only recorded digitally and were never put onto paper and physically archived.  But oh how I wish I could read and look through all the old articles that I didn’t pay close enough attention to when they first came out…

Posted by: photokjc | November 28, 2008

Equal Access

One thing I seem to often hear about in my classes is the idea of allowing for users to have equal access to collections and materials.  But try as we may, I’m not sure if digital collections will be easily accessible by all.  The problems of software, hardware, speed of computers, knowledge and understanding of the materials, etc. all can have an effect on whether or not everyone has equal access.  Those who do not have a high-speed connection or the newest technology may not be able to access and/or download all the appropriate information.  Users who have physical access to the library and librarians may have an advantage over those who do not have that extra face-to-face help that the librarian can give.  There is also the simple fact of a language barrier that can keep users from being able to access the digital collections.

So, maybe the only thing we can do is to make as much information as accessible as we can?  There are too many factors out there for us to really pretend that everyone will be able to access and understand all the information we put out there for our users.  I don’t think we can not digitize information just because of a possible lack of equal access.  There is no way that every single person or company will be able to keep up with every advance in technology so we’ll just have to do our best to allow as many people as we can to get the most information.  But like many of the services that libraries and information professionals have access to, we must make sure that the users and potential users know about the digital collections.  There is no point in putting the information out there if we don’t let the users know it is there…

Posted by: photokjc | November 25, 2008

How quickly can we get the information?

So I’m reading this Western by Mike Blakely called Come Sundown and the other night when they were talking about newspapers in 1865ish, one of the main characters was happy that he was reading a newspaper that was only 4 weeks old.  It kind of just made me think of how much the sharing of information has changed, even in the last couple of years.  With the high-speed Internet and cell phones that allow people to check email from anywhere, information can be shared instanly and it’s surprising not to hear about major events within minutes.  I sometimes hear people say things like ‘What did we do before we had cell phones?’  Or Tevo?  Or Blu-ray?  Or the Internet?  Well, maybe we had to wait a couple of hours to hear/learn new information.  Or maybe we had to read books instead of obsessively checking our email.

Not that I don’t like having high-speed Internet and being able to hear/read about information and events as they happen.  I check my email and Facebook everyday.  Sometimes more than once.  I sometimes just think that people go somewhat crazy with the digital world.  But maybe that’s just me.  We will survive without giving and getting digital updates every fifteen minutes.  Sometimes I try to boycott the Internet, but with taking two online classes this semester, it doesn’t seem like that plan would really benefit my learning or my grades.  Maybe one day?  Probably not.  I think our world revolves around digital information to pretend like it’s not there or important.

Posted by: photokjc | November 21, 2008

Photograph Preservation

Last week Roy and I both went to a photography preservation workshop at the Oklahoma History Center.  Because i have taken various photography classes since I was 14, I know much of the background of various types of photography…  I went into the workshop expecting to learn a lot about preserving the physical and digital photographs, but instead heard presentation after presentation about the history of photographs.  Really, if I had wanted to learn about the history of photography, I would have talked to my old photography professors.  For free.  I mean, it was a good workshop, the presenter really knew what he was talking about, but I guess I went into the conference expecting something completely different.

Maybe since the title of the workshop was ‘Identification, Digitization, Preservation of Photographs Workshop’, I guess I was leaning more toward learning about the digitization and preservation part.  Digitization and digital preservation is a topic that is already looming over us, partially due to the fact that the technology has not been around long enough for us to really know how it will act/be preserved 50 years from now.  I was really hoping that the main presenter would talk about the ideas that he had about the digitization process and where it is going from here, but I think he said that most of his digital information came from the top digital guy where he works – the Image Permanence Institute, which is a part of Rochester Institute of Technology and the George Eastman House in Technology. 

Maybe since the intro to the workshop materials names the presenter as ‘the authority on nineteenth century photographs,’ he knows more about the physical photos instead of the digital part.  I guess I set my expectations about getting more information about preservation and digization were set a little too high, but I guess knowing the history of photographs will help in preserving the physical photos that I will work with…  But aren’t the physical photos quickly being replaced by the digital photos??

Posted by: photokjc | November 18, 2008

New Zealand

One digital collection that I found that interests me is a site that contains facts, maps, photos, videos, news, travel and the culture of New Zealand.  Maybe it’s due to the fact that I went to school on the south island for a semester and didn’t watch a baseball game for the entire five months, but I think it’s amazing the information about different cultures and lifestyles that you can find out about at anytime because of the digitization process.  Digitizating this information can make more people aware of the Maori culture where before, searching for New Zealand may have brought up many more hits on Lord of the Rings than the culture that has existed far longer than the hobbit movies.

Maybe if I had been more aware of the vast amount of information found in solid and well made digital collections, I would have realized some of the small intricacies of the islands instead of the larger picture.  So maybe one thing we can do as librarians is to be sure to push these digital collections to the public.  While we want them to still visit the physical libraries, maybe with our title of ‘information professionals’ we should make sure that the public knows about all the collections that are available to them, whether they are physical or digital?  I maybe would have entered New Zealand with a deeper appreciation of the culture, history and beauty of what happened around me every day if I had accessed these digital collections…  I should probably lay most of the blame on myself for not searching out the possible digital collections about New Zealand, but as an undergrad who still wasn’t sure I where I was going to end up after Austin College and as someone who really only used the Internet to check email and baseball scores, I didn’t know these collections existed….

Posted by: photokjc | November 18, 2008

Minimal Processing

One thing about Archives that I’m not sure that I’ll ever completely understand is the idea of Minimal Processing put forth by Meissner and Greene.  I read this article by Claire McFarland about her experience with Minimal Processing and how it impacted her first archivist job.  Facing a 100% backlog, she chose Minimal Processing so it would not take her a full 27.8 years to get through the 3500 linear feet of materials; instead it would only take her about 2.5 hours per foot.  While she was able to get through the collection much faster and make it accessible to users, will minimal processing make it easier for users to access the information they want/need?

Because the processing is minimal, users only have the least amount of information possible.  The archivist does not take out newspaper clippings, metal or even separate out photographs.  One problem is that because none of the documents are actually looked and/or taken out of the folder at during the processing, the archivist does not even know what information is held in each folder.  So, while the collections are now available and open to the public, the users do not really know what information is in the collection.  So why is this a good course of action?

While archivists can use minimal processing to make the potential users aware that the information is available, the users will have to search through the documents in each box to find potentially useful information.  Maybe the archivists can use minimal processing to digitize the basic information so the users know it is there, and then can go back through and really go through the boxes.  What’s the point of doing minimal processing if you can’t even tell the users what’s in the collection?  And why would the patrons waste their time coming to look through boxes and boxes of unorganized materials that will continue to detriorate, not knowing if the materials and information will even be useful to their research?

Posted by: photokjc | November 13, 2008

September 11

I found this digital archive of information about September 11 and found it to be very interesting.  While the event has always been in the back of my mind due to the fact it was such a major event in history and the fact it was the day before my 18th birthday, I never considered searching online for a collection and I’m not entirely sure why.  I’ve always been interested in history and the photographs that document history.  I also like the artwork that is included on the site because I think the pieces are representative of how individuals around the country responded to the attacks.  The amount of links they give pertaining to September 11 is pretty amazing.  Users can search through by type – personal, corporate, media, etc – or by content – stories, discussion, still images, audio, etc.

The purpose of the site is to “collect, preserve, and present the history of September 11, 2001 and its aftermath.”  Users can upload information as well as look through the information on the site.  What I found to be interesting is that people can upload their own information, artwork, sights and sounds about what happened as well as their impressions about the attacks.  The creators also mention that even though they are still collecting different accounts and information about September 11, they are no longer updating the site.  I kind of wish they would keep updating the site so people can see how others have reacted and allow for each person to heal.  I think sharing and seeing how other people heal can also help each person learn and grow.

 http://911digitalarchive.org/

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