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Digitizing On A Shoestring Budget

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A presentation given on May 1, 2009 at the Saskatchewan Library Association Annual Conference. The presentation examines how the Prairie History Room at Regina Public Library in Regina, Saskatchewan, …

A presentation given on May 1, 2009 at the Saskatchewan Library Association Annual Conference. The presentation examines how the Prairie History Room at Regina Public Library in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada hosted a scanning party and uploaded the community photos to Flickr.

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  • 1. Digitizing on a Shoestring Budget May P. Chan Regina Public Library © May 2009
  • 2. Objectives
    • Talk about Regina Public Library’s digitization experience in 2007
    • Dispel the notion that you need very expensive equipment, software and highly trained personnel to digitize your content
  • 3. I. Background
    • June 24, 2007, Stephen Abram gave a session on "10 Cool Technologies and Library PR” at the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.
    • Idea that resonated the most with me was the concept of “scanning parties” whereby institutions were scanning in photos from members of the community and uploading them to create a community scrapbook
  • 4. “ This Scan’s For You” Program
    • Regina Public Library was celebrating its centennial in 2008
    • One of the proposed projects was to create a physical display celebrating the Library’s history
    • Prairie History Room (PHR) hosted a scanning party on December 7, 2007 where we invited the public to bring in their historic photos of Regina for us to scan in and upload into Flickr.com for our online photo album http://www.flickr.com/photos/reginapubliclibrary/
  • 5. So what’s the big deal?
    • Overall cost: under $100
    • Overall timeline: 6 months
    • Utilized Flickr.com , a popular online photo-sharing website, and took advantage of its Web 2.0 features (e.g. RSS feeds, geo-tagging and comments)
    • Public program – invited the public to share their photos with us
  • 6. So how did Prairie History do it?
  • 7. II. Project Planning
    • Once we came up with the idea, we had to ask
    • ourselves these questions:
      • Did we have the proper resources (e.g. money, equipment, staff, etc.) to mount such a project?
      • If not, what do we need to get?
      • Could we draw on other institutions’ experiences and expertise?
      • What was our budget?
      • What was our projected timeline?
      • Who needs to be involved in this project?
  • 8. Taking Stock at RPL
    • Plus Side
    • Scanners
    • Computers
    • Access to knowledge base
    • Willing staff members
    • Negative Side
    • Lacked a photo collection
    • Lacked digital repository/content management software
    • Lacked the technical expertise
    • Lacked a significant budget
  • 9. Lacked a photo collection
    • Solution : Invite members of the community to bring in their historic photos for us to scan in and upload onto the website
    • A small collection of Library photos (dating back to the 60s and 70s) that we could scan in
      • Advantages:
        • Participants got to keep their photos and receive a memento (DVD of the scanned images)
        • RPL did not have to worry about organizing, providing access to and preserving a large historic photos collection
      • Disadvantage: no control on what type of photos would be brought in
  • 10. Lacked digital repository software, technical expertise and a significant budget
    • Solution : Utilize Flickr.com, a popular online photo and video-sharing website
      • As of November 2008, it claims to host over 3 billion photos
      • Advantages:
        • Free to set-up an account
        • easy to upload, organize and tag photos
        • geo-tagging feature--linking photos to Yahoo maps
  • 11.
      • Advantages:
        • online photo editing feature courtesy of Picnik (www.picnik.com)
        • connect with other users--individuals, libraries and professional associations, etc.
        • equipped with its own RSS feed
        • also boosts video-hosting capabilities
      • Disadvantages:
        • searching for specific photos can be difficult--dependent on how photos are described and tagged
        • free account limits how many photos you can upload and how you can organize them
  • 12. Research
    • Posted a message to the genealib listserv on Aug. 14, 2007 soliciting libraries, archives and museums for advice
    • Contacted Vancouver Island Regional Library about their Flickr account (http://www.flickr.com/photos/virl/)
    • Created a personal Flickr account and uploaded my vacation photos
  • 13. My Personal Flickr Account http://www.nowpublic.com/wish-you-werent-here-top-10-most-disappointing-tourist-spots http://www.schmap.com/washingtondc/tours_tour2/#p=12182&i=12182_17.jpg
  • 14. III. The Set-up
    • Equipment:
      • Borrowed 3 different scanners
      • Access to 3 laptops with DVD burners
      • Downloaded Nero burning software onto the computers
      • Spindles of DVD-R
    • Forms:
      • Registration Form
      • Photo ID Forms
      • Photo Permission Form (RPL already had one)
    • Miscellaneous:
      • Cotton gloves and acid-free photo sleeves
  • 15. Training Session—November 30, 2007
    • Staff members got a chance to work with the 3 different scanners by scanning in some of RPL’s historic photos and learned how to use the burning software Nero
    • Focus: utilize the various scanning equipment and minimize some of the technical difficulties we could encounter on the day of the Scanning Party
  • 16. Advertising the Program
    • November/December 2007 issue of the @ the Library program guide
    • Distributed the posters throughout the systems
    • Advertised the program on the Prairie History blog (www.reginalibrary.ca/prairiehistoryblog)
    • Program was advertised in the Regina Community Sun newspaper
  • 17. IV. Scanning Party--December 7, 2007 from 1 pm to 5 pm
    • Step 1: Registration – Get the contact information and permission to upload the images
    • Collected $1/DVD and item for food bank
  • 18. Scanning Party…
    • Step 2: Scanning – directed to one of the 3 scanning stations; photos to be scanned were placed in acid-free photo sleeves and then given an ID number to help the scanner keep track of the photos
  • 19. Scanning Guidelines
    • Criteria—photos relating to Regina’s history
    • Scan resolution: 600 dpi
    • Images were scanned as TIFF files
    • Scanned both black & white and colored photos but not negatives, slides or anything that was encased/mounted
  • 20. Scanning Process…
    • As the image was scanned, staff member was gathering the info about the image --subject matter & dates if known
  • 21. Scanning Party…
    • Step 3: Saved the images to the desktop and then burnt them onto the DVD for the patron
    • Step 4: We also burned a copy of the images onto a DVD for ourselves so we had a backup of our work
    • Step 5: We then manipulated the TIFF images (e.g. sharpen, brighten & reduce size, etc.) before uploading them to Flickr as a JPEG
  • 22. Uploading & Organizing Photos
    • Uploading process was relatively simple because we downloaded Flickr Uploadr (free application) which enabled multiple uploads
    • Registration process provided us with the image number and information about the picture
    • Most complicated process was organizing the images
      • Discovered we need to upgrade to Pro account so we could have “collections” and “sets”
    • We don’t allow users to download photos--global privacy setting within Flickr, which you can change at any time
  • 23. Results of “This Scan’s For You!” Program
    • 3 community members coming in that day with their photos
      • While attendance was low, a staff member pointed out that it was the right 3 people that showed up
    • We scanned over 200 images, about ½ of them we had to do over the next couple of days after the party
    • Majority of photos dated to 1910
    • Biggest success: engagement of staff with the public—history came alive that day
  • 24. http://www.flickr.com/photos/reginapubliclibrary/
    • RPL’s Flickr page was officially launched on Jan. 21, 2008
    • Included current photos from the scanning party and some miscellaneous shots from around Central Library
    • Promoted on the Library’s home page
    • Part of Prairie History Room’s website
  • 25.  
  • 26. EDavidson07-002
  • 27. EDavidson07-010
  • 28. LGibson07-007 LGibson07-017
  • 29. RPL07-001
  • 30. JSlough07-017
  • 31. JSlough07-015
  • 32. EDavidson07-038
  • 33. Geo-Tagging Feature
  • 34. V. Feedback
    • As soon as we launched the Flickr page, we received an email from a non-Regina resident who congratulated us on our site
    • Within the first six months, our Flickr site received over 8000 hits
    • Received emails inquiring about our scanning party, more info about the people in the images, even suggestions about where the photo may have been taken (e.g. Regina Tornado images), and permission to use the photos from our Flickr site
  • 35. Feedback…
    • Joel Ralph’s (Education and Outreach Coordinator of Canada’s National History Society) blog post (http://digitalhistoryeducation.blogspot.com/2008/06/regina-public-library-goes-web-20.html):
    • "There are not a lot of organizations in Canada really pushing the edge of what you can do with web 2.0. So that's why I was so excited to find that a hot bed of work is being done at the Regina Public Library. Not only are they on Facebook with a pretty sharp looking page, but they are also on Flickr with great sets of images available for use in the classroom. They even have a nice little RSS feed and Blog on Prairie History with updates on new books and events.”
  • 36. Spinoffs
    • Our experience with hosting a scanning party enabled us to offer:
      • Digitizing Your Photos workshop on May 24, 2008
        • http://phr-digitizingyourphotos.pbwiki.com/
    • RPL’s Flickr account is also used to tell the Library’s story—our account has photos of current staff members, our facilities and past public programs
  • 37. Overall Costs
    • 2 packages of 30 DVDs = $30
    • 3 year Pro account for Flickr = $90
    • **cotton gloves and acid-free photo sleeves came out of a different budget line
    • **does not include labour costs for staff members
  • 38. What could we have done differently?
    • More publicity was needed – we just had a public service announcement in the Leader Post & usual program posters distributed throughout the Library system
    • Picked a better date: temperature on Dec. 7, 2007 was -40° C with the wind chill
  • 39. Doing Things Differently…
    • Doing too much at once – tried combining a scanning party with collecting goods for the Food Bank
    • Should have an MP3 player/tape recorder to record some of the participants’ memories
    • Limit the number of images we would scan in for the participant
  • 40. Most importantly…
    • Biggest regret has been not hosting another scanning party since 2007!!!
  • 41. VI. Acknowledgements
    • Special thanks:
      • Scanning Staff: Shiela Ahmed, May Chan, Meagan Dillen, Laura Duguid, Patti-Lynne McLeod and Tony Neal
      • Technical Support: Jaret Selinger and Erika Wittlieb
  • 42. VII. Additional Resources
    • http://rplweb2-staff.pbwiki.com/Flickr
    • Email: maychan@reginalibrary.ca
    • Powerpoint presentation, scanning guidelines, forms, handy tips, etc.