Treasures in the cloud


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This presentation is adapted from a poster session given at the University at Albany Graduate Information Studies poster session. The research was conducted on sight in London, England and New York, USA during the summer of 2012.

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  • This presentation was adapted from a poster presentation made for the University at Albany Student Chapter of the American Library Association Graduate research seminar. All research for this presentation was conducted at the British Library, London England and at New York Public Library.
  • Collins , Jennifer . " Bookbench at the British Library ." 2012 . TIFF .
  • Anonymous photographer. “British Library (modern building in foreground) and St. Pancras station (spires further back) with Euston Road on the right, London”. Wikipedia, creative commons license.
  • Collins , Jennifer . " Bookbench at the British Library ." 2012 . JPEG .
  • Well. Graham. “Patience or Fortitude (I don’t know which) at the New York Public Library”. Flickr, creative commons license.
  • Treasures in the cloud

    1. 1. Treasures in the Cloud: How the British Library and New York Public Library are using apps to Present Rare Materials to the World A presentation by Jennifer Collins
    2. 2. Technology is taking special collections beyond the library walls.
    3. 3. The Research: This presentation looks at the efforts to digitize collections into app formats from two of the worlds leading libraries, The British Library in London England and the New York Public Library in New York City, USA. These “treasures in the cloud” are poised to take a bold step, allowing the patron to interact with special collections content through a digital medium in ways that were not thought possible a few short years ago.
    4. 4. Benefits of Going Digital  Ability of digital technology to showcase special collections content in dynamic and vibrant ways.  Provide access to a significantly larger user base than previously thought possible. Special collections can become places of connection rather than merely being places of repository.  Raise awareness of the Special Collections in a given library.  With careful selection of which Special Collections to digitize libraries can appeal to the broadest possible audience, stir up excitement and increase demand for funding for further projects.  As tablet devices continue to gain popularity librarians have the opportunity to be a significant presence in offering content and services for these devices.
    5. 5. Downsides of Digital  Cost both of the digitizing itself and the cost of creating and maintaining software capable of meeting the needs of specific projects.  Software changes constantly. It is unlikely that any single organization will be able to keep software up-to-date as well as convert old projects once specific software or hardware has become obsolete.  Often the items selected for digitization are those considered to have the most value to scholars, this isolates significant parts of user populations.  iPad collections tend to favor a more casual user group.  Issues of Copyright and Digital Rights Management can cause significant problems in the digitizing and distribution processes. This is more problematic with modern materials than with those items outside of the terms of copyright.
    6. 6. Apps from the British Library
    7. 7. The British Library: Quick Facts  New building opened in 1997  1st Library designed with book preservation in mind.  180 million items in the collection. Ranging from modern texts to ancient documents from all over the world.  Their goals are to acquire all books published in the U.K., retain and preserve those materials, and to make all materials available to the public.  Apps from the British Library run on the iPad, iPhone, and Android operating system.
    8. 8. “Treasures of the British Library” “Treasures” is an app that features “highlights” from the British Library’s substantial collection. These highlights span great swaths of the collection and include access to literary, historical, scientific, religious and medieval manuscripts as well as music-related documents.
    9. 9. Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination “Royal Manuscripts” contains 58 early royal manuscripts and over 500 high resolution images. To round out the app there are also videos of British Library staff and historians explaining the significance of the documents and images displayed. Highlights include: • Book of Hours • Maps of an itinerary from London to Apulia and to the Holy Land • Shrewsbury book, presented to Margaret of Anjou on her marriage to Henry VI in 1445
    10. 10. British Library 19th Century Historical Collection The British Library's earliest app is the British Library 19th Century Historical Collection containing 60,000 historical titles taken from the British Libraries 19th Century book collection. The British Library 19th Century Historical Collection was the 2012 winner of the Publishing Innovation Award in the Reference/Academic category.
    11. 11. Features and Layout 12/6/12 Touch screen interface. Users select a category then items in that category are arranged in a grid pattern. High resolution images of the primary document as well as videos of scholars and historians detailing the items significance. Users can zoom, scroll, highlight, and interact with some of the entries. Users can mark favorite entries to bookmark them for later viewing and can search the app for specific materials.
    12. 12. Target Audience The British Library to create it’s apps to benefit education and learning for all age groups. The British Library strives to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. The primary goal is for users to see the apps as entertaining education tools.
    13. 13. Selecting Materials In selecting materials to be added to their Treasures collection the British Library considers the following: What are the information needs of the user? Which items from the collection will appeal to the most users? How difficult it is for the average user to access an item in person? What would be the cost of digitizing the item? This includes the initial cost, any distribution or other intellectual property licensing costs, and the cost of upkeep once the item is in a digital format.
    14. 14. Cost to User and Funding The apps from the British Library range from free to paying business models. A subscription to Treasures costs $10.00 a month and in some cases a one-time access cost of $6.99 is available for specific collections. Development and maintenance of apps is funded through the libraries budget as well as the British Heritage Council.
    15. 15. Apps from the New York Public Library
    16. 16. The New York Public Library: Quick Facts  Main branch opened in 1911  43,583,505 items in its collection as of June 2005.  Has both scholarly research items and an extensive collection of non-scholarly items for patrons to access.  Currently Biblion apps only accessible on Mac iPad tablet devices.
    17. 17. Biblion The Boundless Library: World's Fair “Biblion – The Boundless Library,” releases “issues” which allow users to explore specific themes that contain materials drawn from some of the most popular items in the books, sound, and image archives of the New York Public library The World's Fair issue of Biblion has a wealth of information including photos, videos, academic essays, commentary and other documentation about the 1939 World's Fair. All of the information is taken from the archives and special collections of the New York Public Libraries.
    18. 18. Biblion The Boundless Library: Frankenstein: The Afterlife of Shelley’s Circle. - Galleries, essays by experts on the Romantic era. - All surviving handwritten pages of Mary Shelley’s original “Frankenstein” manuscript, Toggle between the pages of this version and the complete text of Shelley’s revised 1831 edition to see how she edited the work. - Early works by the great British Romantic Poets. - Dramatic audio readings of key passages from the novel. In this edition users can browse and interact with:
    19. 19. Features and Layout Each issue has a different theme and a slightly different layout on which users navigate an “info grid” that resembles a net across the screen. It is this navigation system that primarily differentiates it from its two British peers.
    20. 20. Target Audience The New York Public Library Apps, with their academic essays and in-depth analysis are meant to cater to an academic audience. The library views these releases as “interactive magazines” rather than potential research tools.
    21. 21. Selecting materials: Each edition of Biblion is formatted as an interactive magazine with a specific theme for each “issue”. To select materials librarians must first determine what the theme of the next edition will be. Themes are chosen based on what collections see the most use by patrons. Once the theme is chosen materials are gathered from the sound, video, and print archives of the library and assessed for cost of digitization and distribution.
    22. 22. Cost to User and Funding The Biblion issues are each offered for free from the New York Public Library which uses tax payer money as well as funds raised from various events to fund its digitization and app building projects.
    23. 23. Selecting Items for Digitization and Building apps: An Overview  Do the materials that you want digitize merit the expense and time of doing so? What is the scholarly value of the material?  Is current access to the proposed materials so difficult that digitization will create a new audience?  Does the physical condition of the material limit its use?  Will the proposed digital files be of manageable size and format?  Who will create the app program? Will coding me done in house or through private contracts?
    24. 24. Conclusions Digital special collections are a means of creating webs of knowledge across the world. Through the sharing of collections on tablet computers like Apple’s Ipad, libraries and archives all around the world are giving people a way to experience their collections for the first time. Whether for education, pleasure or the personal pursuit of knowledge, the collections presented by the British Library and the New York Public Library are paving the way to what promises to be a hopeful future in digital special collections.