Choosing a Vendor Extremely Important -- Perhaps the most important decision you can make since these are the folks who will be handling your priceless stuff. It's worth investing some time in up-front research. Existing/Previous projects Direct contact with sales staff References -- We considered their client lists and contacted several to make sure their materials were handled with care and the turnaround time was reasonable. Scanner types -- We wanted to confirm that overhead or planetary scanners would be used for books and bound materials. Image resolutions -- We looked at their products for good resolution and sharpness of text, balanced color and accurate searchability if applicable. File outputs -- We were interested in what kinds of files they would output and return to us, to confirm they were standard and aligned with best practices. Samples -- We had also done two small one-off, relatively simple digitization projects with them and appreciated their careful handling of our materials and how easy it was to work with them. These successful projects, though small, tipped the scales in their favor and afforded us the opportunity to develop our relationship further. I might recommend taking the same approach with vendors you're considering as a good trial method. Price Quotes -- after narrowing the field to three or four vendors, we obtained price quotes for a small variety of parameters. It turned out that among our top choices there were no price differences significant enough to influence our decision, so it became a non-factor. Why -- Initially we chose Northern Micrographics because to a great extent we liked the quality of their work on the Making of America projects done with Cornell and the University of Michigan. They were responsive to our questions. We had also done two small one-off, relatively simple digitization projects with them and appreciated their careful handling of our materials and how easy it was to work with them. These successful projects, though small, tipped the scales in their favor and afforded us the opportunity to develop our relationship further. I might recommend taking the same approach with vendors you're considering as a good trial method.
Macbeth Project as Pattern I'm going to walk you through the Macbeth Project because it exemplifies the methods we've used so far for these projects. Call to Libraries -- After we decided to digitize our holdings of the Macbeth gallery - an extremely important gallery in American Art history as well as New York - we sent out a call to ARLIS-L seeking to find out if anyone else was working on or planning to work on the same material. We also checked with the Archives of American Art, since they have in their repository the records of the Gallery. We heard from the Frick, only 10 blocks south of us, and we began to explore the idea of a joint project. Arrangement with the Frick -- Out of just over 457 items between the libraries, you can see in this graph that the Frick uniquely held about two-thirds of the Macbeth materials between us, with a little less than a twenty percent overlap in holdings. The agreement we put in place after some negotiations with the Frick was that we would send our entire set of Macbeth holdings and pay for the project since we had about half as many catalogs to contribute. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement since we each enriched our holdings. MARC record loading -- We loaded the Frick's MARC records into our catalog, keeping them suppressed from public view. This allowed us a base of records to search against locally, and copy catalog if necessary, when we began cataloging our own materials.
Cataloging We then cataloged our holdings since we only had a collection-level record for our Macbeth Gallery holdings. Mark for scanning -- Over at our place, we marked each catalog at its place in the volume with a strip of paper including the intended filename (bibliographic record number) and title. Supply list of catalogs to partners -- once we were finished we supplied to the Frick a list of their unique materials so they could gather together their holdings.
Condition report Condition reports -- One of the most important things you can do is to compile a basic condition report for what you're sending out, noting any preexisting damage or related concerns you may have for each object or volume, before you pack and ship. If the condition of your stuff is documented you have evidence to stand on if something should happen. The report can be written and/or photographic, and we now do them in consultation with our Book Conservation staff. Wear & tear on material [Damaged volumes] -- is one of the costs of these projects and sometimes, things don't work out. These two examples are reasons why condition reports are essential. We are sure that we did not send volumes to this unnamed vendor in this condition, but at the time we hadn't thought to write condition reports before we shipped out the material. If you're interested in finding out who this vendor was, I'm glad to tell you over coffee or drinks.
Packing & Shipping Export data to vendor -- As we were closing in on shipping, we exported another set of information from the MARC records, building a spreadsheet like this, so data from the MARC record like title and keyword could be embedded in the file metadata by the vendor. I also sent a separate file for the materials shipping from the Frick. Track materials -- We checked everything out in our ILS's circulation system so it would be represented accurately in the OPAC. This helped too because we had a recorded check out date, so we could estimate the return time of the material if necessary based on our vendors' estimate for turnaround time. Pack & ship to vendor -- So then we packed and shipped our stuff, and the Frick did the same on their end. With some stuff, no matter how much you insure it for it can't be enough. Much of what we sent out for the JSTOR projects and for our projects with Northern Micrographics was irreplaceable. So you have your conservation staff or someone who has good hands pack up the stuff safely and securely, you ship it and you pray that it returns.
Scans Return Receive final scans, distribute, and approve/QC -- Once the vendor's done the scanning and we got the page scans back, it was time to do some thorough spot-checking and verify that everything looks good. We had to look at a high enough sample to give us confidence that the scans were done correctly, and it was a very large sample. Report Problems Now, as soon as you come across them. You may even be able to get to the vendor before the materials are sent back to you.
Load files When we all finished examining the returned goods and everyone was happy, we moved the files into what passed for a content management system so they could be presented to our patrons. So far, we've used a remote hosting service where we dump the files, linking to them from the OPAC. CONTENTdm is a digital content management software administered by OCLC and at the Metropolitan we have been working on an implementation that will eventually serve as the delivery platform for our digitized and other born-digital materials.
Modify MARC records, link to files/activate links As far as MARC records for the collection are concerned, we decided to stay consistent with our decision to have separate bibliographic records for electronic resources, which meant that we'd need to create a duplicate of each record and modify it to reflect the aspects of the electronic copy. For that we exported a copy of the records from our database and used a combination of MarcEdit, a free and powerful program you can use to batch-edit MARC records outside of your ILS, and the global update functionalities in available in our Innovative system. MarcEdit can do some things that Innovative can't so we often use it for more perform complex batch operations. Once these changes were made we loaded the file of new e-resource records back into our catalog, making the links live and completing this phase of the project.
Set of MARC records for entire collection So in addition to loading the set of MARC records for the digital collection in our catalog, we also passed a copy along to the Frick for loading into the NYARC catalog, Arcade. Additionally we made the set of records available to the community in case other libraries wanted an easy set of records for their own catalogs. This was one step in the marketing of the collection.
Announce and promote Once you're all set, we let everyone know.
TGFI = Thank God For Interns
Divide and Collaborate Building Digital Collections One Piece at a Time "Pie-eating 20090620-151209" by bowler1996p, http://www.flickr.com/photos/colley/3963923318/ Dan Lipcan Thomas J. Watson Library - The Metropolitan Museum of Art - ARLIS/NA 2010, Session L -
Collide and Deliberate From "Slapstick Mayhem," Old Tyme Fun Films, http://oldtymefunfilms.com/doublepieinface.jpg