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Digitizing archival records of a professional association: benefits and challenges


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Digitizing archival records of a professional association: benefits and challenges

  1. 1. SEMINAR: Managing digitisation for societies, researchers, and institutions State Library User Organisation Council, 10th May 2014 Digitising archival records of a professional association: benefits and challenges Steven Chang Former research assistant at the University of Melbourne Medical Librarian at Western Health Library Services
  2. 2. What I’ll be speaking about… ✤ The project: why, how, and who...? ✤ The records: what’s being digitised? ✤ The challenges and lessons
  3. 3. The Project ✤ ARC-funded Linkage Grant ✤ CPA Australia ✤ Project partners: Australian National University, Ballarat & Deakin Universities, University of Melbourne, National Archives of Australia
  4. 4. The Project (Aims) ✤ Develop a system for appraising, digitising, and improving archival access to CPA Australia’s collections ✤ Develop guidelines and tools for future digitisation projects ✤ Create framework for a national business archive
  5. 5. The records - CPA Australia archives ✤ One of the oldest professional accounting associations in the world ✤ Significance: it highlights the social history and trends in the historical development of the discipline ✤ Broad applicability, social custodian of the accounting profession’s collective memory
  6. 6. Which file format? ✤ Industry standards ✤ Why 300 DPI resolution? Preserves detail, colour, complexities – but file sizes within reasonable limits ✤ Preservation files (TIFF) vs working copies (PDF / JPEG)
  7. 7. Appraisal ✤ Itemised appraisal = granularity down to item level ✤ Results in increased findability ✤ Enables initiatives such as “series” based classification and unique subject headings ✤ Enriches possibilities for integration of metadata
  8. 8. Retention & Disposal Authority ✤ Which records do we digitise? ✤ Selection matrix tool - criteria for selecting records for digitisation ✤ Adapt these tools to the situation ✤ Be mindful of users and usability! Consider accompanying documentation, notes, or glossary
  9. 9. Case study - historical exam analysis ✤ Objective: Mapping pedagogical trends in accounting from the 1900s to 1950s ✤ Demonstrated the power of remote access to online archival collections
  10. 10. Case study - Dead Sea Scrolls ✤ Ten Commandments, book of Genesis, oldest copies of the Hebrew Bible ✤ Access on a new scale – discoverable by web search for researchers all around the world ✤ Infra-red/multi-spectral imaging enables hidden words to be viewed, not typically visible in natural light ✤ Google Cultural Institute: Digitizing the Biblical Manuscripts
  11. 11. Case study - topic modeling ✤ Mapping colonial attitudes towards American-Indians via digitisation of 18-19th century newspapers ✤ Digital archives enable not just increased access, but entirely new methods of analysis ✤ Tracking relationship between gender and race in colonial society over time ✤ Sharon, B. "Doing More with Digitization: An introduction to topic modeling of early American sources." Common-Place 6(2). http://www.common-
  12. 12. Challenges - digital storage ✤ You WILL run out of space if you do not PREPARE your digital repository rigorously ✤ How large are your files? ✤ What is the scope of the project? ✤ KNOW these answers. Plan and calculate accordingly.
  13. 13. Challenges - staffing ✤ Avoid perils of ad-hoc staffing resources & scheduling ✤ Important to secure dedicated staffing resources ✤ Communicate and plan with relevant stakeholders about how you will make this happen
  14. 14. Challenges - technology ✤ Who can solve these problems promptly? Be prepared to dedicate resources to troubleshooting! ✤ We live in a world of continuous digital revolution ✤ So how do we “Future Proof” access to material? (Maybe we can’t. Are we asking the right question?) ✤ “Anti-fragile” environments – benefiting from technological instability and uncertainty (Nassim Nicholas Taleb)
  15. 15. Challenges - Intellectual Property, copyright, and legal issues ✤ Copyright and IP issues are one of the most potentially deadly threats to digitisation projects ✤ Can wreck projects, cost months/years of progress ✤ Communicate with stakeholders, find ways around the issue ✤ Take away lesson: consult experts, anticipate where copyright issues will spring up
  16. 16. Where to from here? ✤ Project being expanded on, into a federated national/international framework ✤ Unite disparate records ✤ Digitally fuse together physically isolated records ✤ Enrich human narratives and story-telling
  17. 17. Resources and references ✤ VALA14 conference session on the project proceedings/vala2014-session-1-ludekens ✤ VIDEO: Kerrie Ludeken’s VALA14 conference talk ✤ Kerrie Ludeken’s VALA14 paper [PDF] ✤ Australian Copyright Council:
  18. 18. Resources and references ✤ CiteULike: my collection of scholarly literature on digitisation (total of 260 citations of journal articles): ✤ Digitisation project website: Centre for Accounting & Industry Partnerships (UNDER CONSTRUCTION 18/05/14) ✤ Bettington, Jackie, 1968- and Australian Society of Archivists (2008). Keeping Archives (3rd ed). Australian Society of Archivists Inc, Dickson, A.C.T.
  19. 19. Resources and references ✤ Chang, S., Keneley, M., Potter, B. and West, B. (2014), Digitising Archival Records: Benefits and Challenges for a Large Accounting Association [to be published mid-2014] ✤ Cobbin, P., Dean, G., Esslemont, C., Ferguson, P., Keneley, M., Potter, B. and West, B. (2013), Enhancing the Accessibility of Accounting and Business Archives: The Role of Technology in Informing Research in Accounting and Business. Abacus, 49: 396–422. doi: 10.1111/abac.12009
  20. 20. Resources and references ✤ Google Cultural Instititute: Digitizing the Biblical Manuscripts scroll/ ✤ Sharon, B. "Doing More with Digitization: An introduction to topic modeling of early American sources." Common-Place 6(2). http://www.common-
  21. 21. Steven Chang Email: LinkedIn: Twitter: @InfoSeer -> Slideshare: CiteULike:
  22. 22. Image attribution ✤ [Creative Commons] Interlock MCLS Digitization Tour by bert_m_b (contact) ✤ [Creative Commons] Digitization of an unpublished manuscript of a participant of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia at the Centre for Retrospective Digitization, Göttingen, Germany by Frank Schulenburg