I was fortunate to attend some of the CONTENTdm User Group conference held at The Seattle Public Library this week. Here are some summaries and links to resources from the presentations I found interesting. I think the presentations will eventually be linked to the website for the event, but in the meantime, I wanted to share my notes.
CONTENTdm is digital collection management software used by many libraries and institutions to allow access to digital collections.
Keynote Speaker – Stephanie Chase, SPL Director of Library Programs and Services
The main event kicked off with an inspiring presentation by Stephanie Chase of The Seattle Public Library. With experience everywhere from NYPL to the Multnomah County Library system in Oregon, Stephanie had many ideas to share regarding user experience in a time of information parity versus scarcity. An interview with Ms. Chase can be found here. There is also a paper called Digital Isn’t Working (Yet) which brings up many relevant points.
Stephanie spoke a lot about the fact that libraries and institutions can have all this cool stuff, digitized or not, but if users do not know how to find it or even that it exists, it is not useful. When serendipity (i.e. a patron doing research) causes an intersection with something the library owns or has online, they meet an exact need. However, taking cues from the advertising industry to promote the items can be key.
Stephanie also quoted one of my favorite librarians turned UX gurus, Aaron Schmidt (weareinflux.com/ux), to talk about how a site or experience needs to be useful, usable and desirable. Creating that experience digitally and in the physical library requires a talent for connecting people with information with a human element, an enthusiasm for the material and asking what experience can users have regardless of format? All in all, some very intriguing points.
The presentation also used this example from Google Analytics UK of a poor guy trying to find skim milk in a store. Think about this next time you think about your website.
Automated or Nothing: Large Textual Projects in CONTENTdm, Utah State Archives
The Utah State Archives digitized an enormous amount of content in a short time with few staff resources. Gina Strack gave an overview and shared some helpful hints on tools she uses to automate parts of the digitization and metadata processes.
From using Microsoft Access to create tab delimited files and demonstrating how the container list plus the digitization data can be integrated to form the final collection metadata on giant compound objects, Ms. Strack highlighted several useful tools such as Quick File Rename.
In addition, there is a treasure trove of resources in the Best Practices section of the Utah State Digital Archives site on everything from building good digital collections to metadata and imaging guidelines.
Washington Rural Heritage: Collaborative Digitization in Washington State
Evan Robb of the Washington State Libraries talked about the Washington Rural Heritage project, a statewide collaborative digitization initiative. The feature of this presentation was an example of how the Sno-Isle Library System partnered with the South Whidbey Island Historical Society to get an invaluable local history resource digitized and accessible. Becky Bolte and Colleen Brazil, who I met at InfoCamp last year, got into the nuts and bolts of working on a unique collection in a collaboration with the historical society.
This was inspiring to me as I work with the Ballard Historical Society and something like this could help take collection access to a new level.
The project involved selection for scanning, descriptive information supplied by the experts at the historical society, confirmation of permissions for usage of materials, scanning, a Google form to collect metadata, and catalogers at Sno-Isle vetting the metadata, cleaning it up and making it into Dublin Core compliant values for ingestion into CONTENTdm.
Ultimately, photos and videos are displayed on this wonderful site. Some of the tools used or mentioned included Viewshare which is a free platform for customizing views of collection items and the resources found on the project page at the Olympic Peninsula Community Museum site.
From Boutique to Mass Digitization: Metadata Description Using Existing Finding Aids, Brigham Young University
Marisa Snyder and Becky McKown from BYU described some amazing efficiencies they created when converting finding aids to more useable interactive online records. From making the finding aids DACS compliant to using Archivists’ Toolkit and prioritizing which collections to process based on patron driven input, their mode of mass digitization embodies More Product, Less Process in a big way.
Their team worked collaboratively with the collection curators to turn static finding aids into more easily searchable CONTENTdm items with links to the materials. You can see an example here as well as many more on the site for the collections.