Digitizing Rare and Unique Resources: The ‘Long Tail’ Role of Libraries in Digital Scholarship


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Presented at the Dilemmas of Digitisation Conference in Oxford, UK on 24 May 2008

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  • thank you ... when I spoke with Francesca and Paolo about how I felt I could contribute today, talking about the significance of marketing digital collections was something that I had both experience in and felt I could speak to.. ...but as so often happens with these sorts of things, over the course of putting together the presentation this weekend, I realized that marketing was only part of what I was interested in contributing. ... reviewing the data I am about to present and the conclusions that I was drawing from it in conjunction with the mission of COST and this working group in particular I realized that this presentation was as much about what we can learn from academic libraries as it is about a particular case study. so.. [next slide]
  • Digitizing Rare and Unique Resources: The ‘Long Tail’ Role of Libraries in Digital Scholarship

    1. 1. Digitizing Rare and Unique Resources: The ‘Long Tail’ Role of Libraries in Digital Scholarship <ul><li>24 May, 2008 </li></ul>Presented by Christine Madsen DPhil Student Oxford Internet Institute Dilemmas of Digitization
    2. 13. Strategy? <ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Digitization </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Access </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Use </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Are they being used? </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    3. 14. 3 Parts <ul><li>Status quo </li></ul><ul><li>Why focus on unique holdings? </li></ul><ul><li>Conditions for & barriers to success </li></ul>
    4. 15. Part 1 :: Status Quo :: Big Projects <ul><li>Characteristics of large-scale projects </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Size => large </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Production speed => fast </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cost => low per page </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Findability => Great! </li></ul></ul>
    5. 16. Part 1 :: Status Quo :: Big Projects <ul><li>Characteristics achieved how? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Selection by size, format, condition, proximity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Text => priority </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Images => by-product </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Understand search </li></ul></ul>
    6. 17. Big Projects: Pros & Cons <ul><li>Easily retrieved </li></ul><ul><li>Not easily used </li></ul><ul><li>Important indices, but NOT ‘digital libraries’ </li></ul><ul><li>Do not meet the conditions for the possibility of web scholarship </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Quoting § Consensus § Dissemination / Preservation </li></ul></ul>
    7. 18. Part 1 :: Status Quo :: Smaller Projects <ul><li>Characteristics of small-scale projects </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Well-crafted & thorough, browsable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Include rare materials </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Attention to ‘object’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cost => high per page </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Findability => Poor! </li></ul></ul>
    8. 19. The State of Digital Humanities: Inlink Analysis <ul><li>First, some definitions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘Inlink’ = any link to a web site </li></ul></ul>site A other sites [site A has 4 inlinks] Measuring inlinks = citation analysis
    9. 20. The State of Digital Humanities: Inlink Analysis 1. http://www.gutenberg.org Project Gutenberg 2. http://memory.loc.gov LC American Memory 3. http://gallica.bnf.fr/ BNF Gallica 4. http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/moa/index.html Cornell Making of America 5. http://www.ulib.org/ Carnegie Mellon: Million Book Collection 16% 4%
    10. 21. Part 1 :: Status Quo :: Small Projects <ul><li>Characteristics achieved how? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Understanding of users (scholars) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Understanding of materials </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Forgetting what it is to be a library </li></ul></ul>
    11. 22. <ul><li>So…what next? </li></ul>
    12. 23. <ul><li>Scholarship vs. Research </li></ul>
    13. 24. <ul><li>“ it does not matter how many books you have, but how good they are” </li></ul>- Seneca
    14. 26. 20% of collection 80% of users
    15. 27. Is the ‘Long Tail’ Applicable to Libraries? <ul><li>Yes , but … </li></ul>
    16. 28. Barriers to Success? <ul><li>ACCESS! </li></ul>
    17. 29. Amazon Model vs. the Bookstore Model
    18. 30. Amazon Model vs. the Bookstore Model
    19. 31. ‘ Google Generation’ ‘ The information literacy of young people has not improved with widening access to technology’
    20. 32. <ul><li>Books are for use </li></ul><ul><li>Every reader, his or her book </li></ul><ul><li>Every book its reader </li></ul><ul><li>Save the time of the reader </li></ul><ul><li>A library is a growing organism </li></ul>Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Science
    21. 33. Learning from Ranganathan <ul><li>BOOKS ARE FOR USE </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ no rack shall be higher than what can be reached by a person of average height, while standing on the bare floor” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>don’t make it difficult for people to get to the materials </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>build easy to use interfaces </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>understand your users </li></ul></ul></ul>
    22. 34. Learning from Ranganathan <ul><li>“ In no country where the concept, ‘BOOKS ARE FOR USE,’ has taken root in the Public Mind, will any library be allowed to close until the majority of humanity go to bed and cannot use it” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>build a stable infrastructure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>if users find a place ‘closed’ too many times, they will stop coming back </li></ul></ul></ul>
    23. 35. Learning from Ranganathan <ul><ul><li>“ The majority of readers do not know their requirements, and their interests take a definite shape only after seeing and handling a well-arranged collection of books” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Build collections that can be easily navigated </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Allow for serendipitous discovery of materials </li></ul></ul></ul>
    24. 36. Learning from Ranganathan <ul><li>“ a library that is keen about its books being fully used will plant itself in the midst of its clientele ” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Market your collection or community </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Go where your patrons are </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Understand your users </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Understanding the essential vs. the accidental </li></ul></ul></ul>
    25. 37. <ul><li>“ It is no wonder that, when the library has been extending its scope, changing its outlook and altering its very character and functions, there should not be adequate understanding among the public as to what has been going on.” </li></ul>