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It's not just about curators anymore


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Barbara Taranto presentation for RBMS 2008 preconference Rare and Special Bytes: Special Collections in the Digital Age. Presented by Merrilee Proffitt

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It's not just about curators anymore

  1. 1. it’s not just about curators anymore Special Collections in the Digital Age ACRL RBMS Preconference Los Angeles, CA June 26, 2008 Barbara Taranto New York Public Library Managing Director, NYPL Labs
  2. 2. Change <ul><li>… is good </li></ul>Four butterflies with eggs, larvae, and moths.] ([1850?])
  3. 3. The Mission of the Library
  4. 4. Early adopters of digital technology 1995-98
  5. 5. Since 1998 <ul><li>~ 1,000,000 digitized images </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>650,000 in Digital Gallery </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>100,000 in Yizkor Büchen – Holocaust Memorial Books </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>110,000 Chronicling America – Historical Newspapers </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Digital Archives of Recorded Sound </li></ul><ul><li>Theatre on Film and Tape </li></ul><ul><li>Google and MSN – pre-1923 content </li></ul>
  6. 6. Most frequently asked questions <ul><li>How do you manage such large projects </li></ul><ul><li>How do you select what you are going to digitize? </li></ul>
  7. 7. Most frequently asked questions <ul><li>How do you manage such large projects </li></ul><ul><li>Punt </li></ul><ul><li>What is the selection process? </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>The selection has already been done </li></ul><ul><li>Best practices already established </li></ul><ul><li>Strengths of organization already in place </li></ul>Red Herring Herring. (ca. 1885-1895)
  9. 9. Emerging Practices <ul><li>Leverage existing collection organization </li></ul><ul><li>Leverage subject areas of expertise </li></ul><ul><li>Leverage reputation of institution </li></ul><ul><li>Leverage years of expertise represented in the catalog </li></ul>
  10. 10. That said <ul><li>Collection development that is much broader and distributed than curator driven selection </li></ul>Work with schools, 67th Street Branch : books on display, 'A children's librarian talks about books like these,' June, 1... (1938)
  11. 11. Distribute the process <ul><li>Allow all levels of staff to contribute to repository </li></ul><ul><li>Open up digitization queues for discussion </li></ul><ul><li>Consider UGC streams </li></ul><ul><li>Allow a variety of digital formats, not just preservation quality materials </li></ul>
  12. 12. Some not so subtle tips So obvious. (ca. 1911-1917)
  13. 13. Play to existing strengths <ul><li>Digitize according to mission and conspectus </li></ul><ul><li>Digitize based on strengths </li></ul><ul><li>Digitize according to existing processes and procedures </li></ul> Circus: Equilibrists
  14. 14. Add complementary materials <ul><li>Fill out existing digital collections </li></ul><ul><li>Fill out subject areas </li></ul><ul><li>Fill out user generated areas of interest </li></ul> [Interior work, Astor Hall : construction of arches and walls.] (1905)
  15. 15. Digitize comprehensively <ul><li>Consider digitization a collection development decision </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Build out collections </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Be comprehensive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Be authoritative </li></ul></ul>A chicken ranch in California. (ca. 1905)
  16. 16. Digitize on demand <ul><li>Take every opportunity to get content into the repository </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Public order </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ILL </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>UGC </li></ul></ul>Aguilar F. C. L., 59th St. Branch, circulation desk
  17. 17. Decouple selection from presentation <ul><li>Make presentation selections from a pool of digitized materials </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid the roadblock of indecision </li></ul><ul><li>Enlarge the pool of options </li></ul>THANKSGIVING DINNER [held by] QUINCY HOUSE [at] &quot;BOSTON, MA&quot; (HOTEL;) (1899)
  18. 18. Avoid discussions of audience <ul><li>Good enough to collect >> Good enough to digitize </li></ul><ul><li>Fool’s Game to over worry the audience </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Unpredictable and may prevent work from going forward that will become useful because it will become “used” </li></ul></ul>Four Useful Knots. (ca. 1903-1917)
  19. 19. Digitize unprocessed materials <ul><li>Inventory rather than process </li></ul><ul><li>Consider the purpose of archival organization – ‘Access’ – what if access is not the last word in the story </li></ul>Love will find a way / words and music by Chas. Shackford.   [May Mooney.] ([c1900])
  20. 20. Reduce full force OCD ( Obsessive Compulsive Description) <ul><li>Use paraprofessionals to do brief record creation </li></ul><ul><li>Use professional staff to add value to records such as subject tracings, item level descriptions, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Use machine generated naming schemes </li></ul>A Lasting Machine.
  21. 21. Access in not King (It is not even Prince) <ul><li>Access is the beginning </li></ul><ul><li>Using, repurposing, “doing” should be the goal </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It is no longer good enough to make materials available – we must now consider how our readers want to use our materials and whether we are providing the most that we can to make this happen </li></ul></ul>Di balade fun a &quot;kinder-kemp&quot;. (1926)