Digitising someone else’s collection by Enzo Accadia


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  • Good afternoon everyone My name is Enzo Accadia, I’m the Library Manager at Coffs Harbour City Council and the coordinator of the Picture Coffs Harbour project. Thank you to Ellen Forsyth for having me along to talk about one of my favourite topics … I hope you find it useful.
  • The Road Map for the next 20 minutes. The back story – essential background information Forming a partnership – issues around partnering with our local museum Making it work – issues around branding, different staff & locations Doing it right – quick look at our standards & technical stuff Outcomes of the project What next? … and hopefully time for some questions at the end.
  • Coffs Harbour LGA: Situated at the top of the Mid-North Coast, with approx 70,000 residents, a typical regional coastal city with a growing population putting pressure on infrastructure and services. Library: Has a central library in Coffs Harbour CBD and branches at Toormina and Woolgoolga. Has 17.4 FTE staff, a collection of nearly 90,000 items, 400,000 loans per year, 15,400 active members, around 275,000 visits per year. Museum: Originally owned and operated by local historical society until it dissolved and Council assumed control in 2006. It’s staffed by a P/T coordinator, Terrie Beckhouse, a P/T technician and is supported by a dedicated band of volunteers. The museum is currently without a permanent home due to flooding in 2009 and has very limited resources.
  • In 2006, the Library had successfully embarked on an oral history digitisation project, converting 150 analogue recordings into digital format. This included using the library’s Spydus OPAC to search and display content, including links to selected online MP3 audio snippets. This project brought home the value of digitising local heritage material and so we were keen to embark on another project. For more info on the Voice of Time project visit: http://library.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/voice-of-time
  • A conversation with Council’s IT section who were inspecting the hard drives of the museum PCs that Council had just acquired, drew my attention to hundreds of photo scans – most were very poor quality JPEG images with no consistent file naming scheme or matching metadata record. I then physically inspected the museum’s photo collection to find a fairly extensive collection of photos that were stored in subject folders. Our original estimate was nearly 4,000 photos however this has since proved to be an underestimate – they have several thousand! The library itself only has a small collection of less than 100 mounted photographs from a local photographer (John Rotar), so the treasure trove of images at the museum with poor public access presented a huge opportunity for both facilities. A real challenge in digitising them was the lack of metadata recorded on any of the photos, many accession sheets were blank and there was basically no cross-referencing to any donation forms – and these were lacking also, so we knew that copyright would be an issue as well.
  • We were also aware at the time of other Spydus libraries that had created excellent online picture libraries, using the picture catalogue interface available in the Spydus OPAC. Picture Maroochy (now the Sunshine Coast) was a particular example that had been presented on at a Spydus usergroup conference that I attended. This meant our LMS already had the capability of being an online picture catalogue, which only require commissioning work (ie money) to implement. So the library had the necessary infrastructure already in place, the technical capacity and the vision to undertake the project, while the museum had the content and the local knowledge to describe it.
  • All we needed was the money! Thanks to a Library Development Grant received in 2008 for nearly $64,000 we were able to undertake the digitisation project.
  • In forming this partnership we both had some initial concerns … Museum’s concerns – perceived loss of ownership/control over their pictures, potential loss of income from photo sales and potential lack of recognition/acknowledgement, ie being overshadowed by the library. Library’s concerns – working with a facility with less resources than our own! Working closely with museum volunteers on technical processes, maintaining standards and sustaining the project. Compromises – the image watermark (idea borrowed from AWM)! Access to Spydus by museum volunteers. Museum volunteers to produce initial critical content (however this helps to provide sustainable + meaningful work). Common ground – raising our profile in the community and within Council, preserving and organising valuable heritage material, and (in the end) providing free and easy access! Communication – regular project meetings and minutes , on-site visits , and intranet site .
  • We created an agreed partnership statement for all official correspondence, posters, forms or other published documents – denoting an equal partnership. For reference: “ Picture Coffs Harbour is a joint project of Coffs Harbour City Library and Coffs Harbour Regional Museum, and aims to digitally preserve and improve access to historical pictures significant to the Coffs Harbour region”. Picture Coffs Harbour branding – no mention of library or museum, potential for other external partners in the future. Logo derived from OPAC web design (based on CHCC logo colours). www.picturecoffsharbour.org – easy to remember URL, good for posters/brochures etc. Points to CHCC site. PCH supporting web pages published on both areas of web site (Library and Museum), ie same web pages published in 2 different locations. Includes the following pages: About the project -- Copyright & Reproduction -- Donating Pictures -- Ordering Copies -- Non-Displayed Pictures -- Physical Access – Disclaimer -- User Survey -- and Acknowledgements.
  • In working together we confirmed our similarities and our differences … which determined how we would structure the work. Museum: Scans the photo (creates the preservation TIFF), Accessions the image (their system/which becomes the filename), and Creates the basic catalogue record via a web worksheet, using their extensive knowledge of both the local area and their collections. Library: Processes the TIFF image files in batch (which includes creating web image versions), Upgrades the catalogue record (quality assurance, add missing tags and subject indexing), Maintains the online library platform (Spydus), Picture Australia interface/agreement, and Intranet support site … we essentially provide the technical know-how.
  • The elements detailed on this slide were important to ensure quality standards were met and to automate processes as much as possible. Detailed documentation and cheat sheets are critical. Customised Spydus web worksheet with maximum automated/defaulted text fields (used by museum volunteers). Used Adobe Photoshop to automate batch image processing (big time saver and ensures consistent quality).
  • Museum was 200m down the street, but has moved to temporary premises since flood in 2009 on an industrial estate on other side of town. Therefore communication, training and documentation is critical to maintain momentum and standard of work. Large TIFF files were an issue to store/move on the existing network (as the museum only has a basic ADSL connection at the moment) – Picture Box (2 x External 1 TB hard drives) swapping solution until Museum gets a optical fibre connection. There can be a long gap between the museum creating the basic record (which displays on the OPAC) and when the library upgrades it. This is a quality gap, that due to limited resources, we live with. Again reinforces the need for good communication, training & documentation. Intranet site and the Snag Log have been very useful tools for sharing information and communication – especially when library staff and volunteers don’t always work on the same days (see next slide). PCH intranet is pictured in the background.
  • This is our Snag Log (part of our PCH intranet site). It’s used by Museum and Library staff to resolve problems with PCH records and images, with both parties able to add and update the log. Hosted on Council intranet which uses Microsoft Sharepoint software, the Snag Log was designed and implemented by Library staff. A major improvement on the shared Excel spreadsheet we previously used!
  • Digital Practice – best practice options implemented and in some cases exceeded. High scanning resolution used to create the preservation TIFF – to avoid the need for re-scanning the physical photo for reproduction in larger formats. Dealing with colour photos ( scan longest side 4,000 px ) + glass plate & acetate negatives. Consistent image display in OPAC (full web display JPG: longest side 700 pixels; and thumbnails: longest side 100 pixels) – this process is automated using Adobe Photoshop. Copyright – lack of museum donation/permissions documentation – therefore non-display of post-1955 photos. Library’s John Rotar collection is the exception (photos taken in 1960s and 1970s). MARC tags used – see example on slide or check shared docs. Australian Pictorial Thesaurus (APT) is used for topical headings and LCSH is used for personal/corporate name and geographic headings (as these are not avail in APT). We also have an essential routine task to complete every week - processing image files from ‘Picture Boxes’ to synch with PA metadata harvesting schedule (so we don’t have any broken image links on PA, let alone our own OPAC).
  • We’ve shared various project documents, including all of our main procedures, on the library’s web site in preparation for this seminar. At: http://tinyurl.com/pch-docs Will probably remove this page in a few weeks time – so visit it soon if interested.
  • Speaks for itself! Over 2,000 photographs digitised ... And chipping away at it forever more! We consider it to be a flagship online Council resource – there is nothing else quite like it in our community. Improved access/awareness. Value of participating in Picture Australia – averaged 280 referrals per month last year. Digital safeguarding of our pictorial heritage. Relationship with the museum – very positive experience … willingness to work together on other projects in the future.
  • Loaned photos (a more developed museum collection policy required to enable discreet selection) – still working on documentation and processes. Flickr – for collection development (contemporary images), hard-to-identify pictures, promotion (via selection of iconic images). Research and publish biographies on notable local photographers in Picture Coffs Harbour, such as Peter Jensen and John Rotar (ie new supporting web page). OPAC enhancement – ie user comments (as opposed to reviews), user tags, geo-tagging? … and video? Google Maps – create public historical maps/layers using PCH images.
  • Clear agreed objectives from the start and if partnering with an external organisation you will need a written agreement or MOU. Maintain relationship with partner(s) – like all relationships they need nurturing, trust and honesty. Document everything – makes life easier in the long run + your insurance policy when things go wrong. Stick to standards (and you can’t go wrong) ... ie use Digital Practice. Share with others – avoid re-inventing the wheel. Just do it!
  • Thank you for listening. Are there any questions? Please contact me if you need further information.
  • Digitising someone else’s collection by Enzo Accadia

    1. 1. Digitising someone else’s collection Picture Coffs Harbour – a joint digitisation project of Coffs Harbour City Library and Coffs Harbour Regional Museum Enzo Accadia – Project/Library Manager Digitisation Seminar, State Library of NSW, 15 Feb 2011
    2. 2. Road map <ul><li>The back story </li></ul><ul><li>Forming a partnership </li></ul><ul><li>Making it work </li></ul><ul><li>Doing it right </li></ul><ul><li>Outcomes </li></ul><ul><li>What next </li></ul>
    3. 3. The back story <ul><li>Our community </li></ul><ul><li>The library </li></ul><ul><li>The museum </li></ul>
    4. 4. Oral history digitisation <ul><li>Voice of Time collection </li></ul>
    5. 5. Museum’s picture collection <ul><li>Large collection </li></ul><ul><li>Subject folders </li></ul><ul><li>Manual system </li></ul><ul><li>Some digitisation! </li></ul><ul><li>Documentation challenges </li></ul>
    6. 6. Spydus <ul><li>Picture Maroochy </li></ul>
    7. 7. Show me the money! <ul><li>Library Development Grant for $64,000 </li></ul>
    8. 8. Forming a partnership <ul><li>Concerns </li></ul><ul><li>Compromises </li></ul><ul><li>Common ground </li></ul><ul><li>Communication </li></ul>
    9. 9. Making it work <ul><li>Equal partners – joint statement </li></ul><ul><li>Branding </li></ul><ul><li>www.picturecoffsharbour.org </li></ul>
    10. 10. Library & Museum – similar but different! <ul><li>Division of work based on strengths/weaknesses & logic </li></ul><ul><li>Museum: </li></ul><ul><li>Scanning (create TIFF) </li></ul><ul><li>Basic catalogue record </li></ul><ul><li>Apply local knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Library: </li></ul><ul><li>Batch process images </li></ul><ul><li>Upgrade record </li></ul><ul><li>Maintain systems </li></ul><ul><li>Technical knowledge </li></ul>Coffs Harbour Regional Museum - mus07-7678
    11. 11. Making it work <ul><li>Detailed documentation </li></ul><ul><li>Custom web worksheet </li></ul><ul><li>Batch image processing </li></ul>Adobe Photoshop CS3
    12. 12. Tyranny of distance! <ul><li>Two work sites </li></ul><ul><li>Communication </li></ul><ul><li>File storage/delivery </li></ul><ul><li>The metadata gap </li></ul><ul><li>Intranet site </li></ul><ul><li>The ‘Snag Log’ </li></ul>Pictured: the intranet site
    13. 13. Snag Log Microsoft Sharepoint
    14. 14. Doing it right – standards & technical stuff <ul><li>Digital Practice </li></ul><ul><li>Scanning quality (6,000 pixels longest side or 1,200 dpi TIFF files) </li></ul><ul><li>OPAC consistency (fixed image sizes) </li></ul><ul><li>Copyright – non-displayed images (post ’55) </li></ul><ul><li>Glass plate/acetate negatives </li></ul><ul><li>APT & LCSH subject headings </li></ul><ul><li>Picture Australia </li></ul>
    15. 15. Doing it right – standards & technical stuff <ul><li>Shared project documentation – http://tinyurl.com/pch-docs </li></ul>
    16. 16. <ul><li>Over 2,000 photographs digitised </li></ul><ul><li>Flagship online Council resource </li></ul><ul><li>Improved access/awareness </li></ul><ul><li>Value of participating in Picture Australia </li></ul><ul><li>Digital safeguarding of our pictorial heritage </li></ul><ul><li>Relationship with the museum </li></ul>Outcomes
    17. 17. What next … <ul><li>‘ Loaned’ photos </li></ul><ul><li>Flickr </li></ul><ul><li>Photographer bio’s </li></ul><ul><li>OPAC enhancements </li></ul><ul><li>Google Maps </li></ul>
    18. 18. My advice <ul><li>Clear agreed objectives from the start </li></ul><ul><li>Maintain relationship with partner(s) </li></ul><ul><li>Document everything </li></ul><ul><li>Stick to standards </li></ul><ul><li>Share with others </li></ul><ul><li>Just do it! </li></ul>
    19. 19. Further information <ul><li>http://www.picturecoffsharbour.org </li></ul><ul><li>http://tinyurl.com/pch-docs (shared docs) </li></ul><ul><li>Enzo Accadia </li></ul><ul><li>t: 02 6648 4129 </li></ul><ul><li>e: enzo.accadia@chcc.nsw.gov.au </li></ul>