New & Noteworthy

Library Hi Tech News

ISSN: 0741-9058

Article publication date: 3 May 2011


(2011), "New & Noteworthy", Library Hi Tech News, Vol. 28 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

New & Noteworthy

Article Type: New & Noteworthy From: Library HI Tech News, Volume 28, Issue 3

Colorado Independent Publishers Association announces eBook partnership with libraries

The Colorado Independent Publishers Association (CIPA) and two Colorado libraries, the Red Rocks Community College Library and the Douglas County Libraries, have announced a partnership to provide access to eBooks published by CIPA to the libraries’ patrons.

Many members of CIPA have entered the world of digital publishing. By June 2011, the Red Rocks Community College and the Douglas County Libraries will not only offer eBooks from CIPA’s authors for checkout through their library catalogs, but will also allow click-through purchases of these titles.

Karen Reddick, Executive Director of CIPA, said:

For twenty years, CIPA has been one of the largest and most active independent publishing groups in the nation. This pilot program will help us introduce a new generation of writers to a new generation of readers. Some of those readers will become writers themselves; some will become the next generation of independent publishers. This partnership underscores the changing nature of publishing and distribution. Recently, larger commercial publishers have cut libraries out of the eBook market altogether or have imposed onerous new restrictions on use.

“Libraries are natural partners with independent publishers,” said Joseph Sanchez, Director of Library and Learning Services for the Red Rocks Community College:

We understand and value both copyrights and the great value of alternative viewpoints. We can easily integrate eBooks into our collections, ensuring one use at a time, but also exposing authors to precisely the people who are looking for them.“Connecting writers and readers is what we do best, through our two million visitors a year to our facilities and another two million through our catalog,” said Jamie LaRue, Director of the Douglas County Libraries:

This project will demonstrate not only that libraries are firm supporters of the independent publishers through our willingness to buy and promote their works, but also that libraries and publishers can help each other grow the still-developing eBook market.


Douglas County Libraries:

Red Rocks Community College:

Internet Archive and Library Partners launch in-library eBook lending program

In February, a group of libraries led by the Internet Archive announced a new, cooperative 80,000+eBook lending collection of mostly twentieth-century books on, a site where it is already possible to read over one million eBooks without restriction. During a library visit, patrons with an account can borrow any of these lendable eBooks using laptops, reading devices or library computers. This new twist on the traditional lending model could increase eBook use and revenue for publishers.

“As readers go digital, so are our libraries,” said Brewster Kahle, Founder and Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive. “It’s fabulous to work with such a great group of 150 forward-thinking libraries” (see the list of participating libraries below).

This new digital lending system will enable patrons of participating libraries to read books in a web browser. Linda Crowe, Executive Director of the Peninsula Library System said:

In Silicon Valley, iPads and other reading devices are hugely popular. Our partnership with the Internet Archive and is crucial to achieving our mission – to meet the reading needs of our library visitors and our community.

A recent survey of libraries across North America was conducted by Unisphere Research and Information Today, Inc. It reported that of the 1,201 libraries canvassed, 73 percent are seeing increased demand for digital resources with 67 percent reporting increased demand for wireless access and 62 percent seeing a surge in demand for web access.

American libraries spend $3-4 billion each year on publishers’ products. “I’m not suggesting we spend less, I am suggesting we spend smarter by buying and lending more eBooks,” asserts Kahle. He is also encouraging libraries worldwide to join in the expansion of this pool of purchased and digitized eBooks so their patrons can borrow from this larger collection.

Any account holder can borrow up to five eBooks at a time, for up to two weeks. Books can only be borrowed by one person at a time. People can choose to borrow either an in-browser version (viewed using the Internet Archive’s BookReader web application), or a PDF or ePub version, managed by the free Adobe Digital Editions software. This new technology follows the lead of the Google eBookstore, which sells books from many publishers to be read using Google’s books-in-browsers technology. Readers can use laptops, library computers and tablet devices including the iPad.

The reasons for joining the initiative vary from library to library. Judy Russell, Dean of University Libraries at the University of Florida, said, “We have hundreds of books that are too brittle to circulate. This digitize-and-lend system allows us to provide access to these older books without endangering the physical copy.”

Digital lending also offers wider access to one-of-a-kind or rare books on specific topics such as family histories – popular with genealogists. This pooled collection will enable libraries like the Boston Public Library and the Allen County Public Library in Indiana to share their materials with genealogists around the state, the country and the world.

“Genealogists are some of our most enthusiastic users, and the Boston Public Library holds some genealogy books that exist nowhere else,” said Amy E. Ryan, President of the Boston Public Library:

This lending system allows our users to search for names in these books for the first time, and allows us to efficiently lend some of these books to visitors at distant libraries.

Jeffrey Krull, Director of the Allen County Public Library said:

Reciprocal sharing of genealogy resources is crucial to family history research. The Allen County Public Library owns the largest public genealogy collection in the country, and we want to make our resources available to as many people as possible. Our partnership in this initiative offers us a chance to reach a wider audience.

Publishers selling their eBooks to participating libraries include Cursor and OR Books. Books purchased will be lent to readers as well as being digitally preserved for the long term. This continues the traditional relationship and services offered by publishers and libraries.

Richard Nash, Founder of Cursor said:

Libraries are our allies in creating the best range of discovery mechanisms for writers and readers – enabling open and browser-based lending through the Internet Archive means more books for more readers, and we’re thrilled to do our part in achieving that.

John Oakes, Founder of OR Books said:

We’re always on the lookout for innovative solutions to solve the conundrum of contemporary publishing, and we are excited to learn about the Internet Archive’s latest project. For us, it’s a way to extend our reach to the crucial library market. We look forward to the results.

More information, and a list of the participating libraries, available at:

UNdata – new internet data access system to United Nations databases

The United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) has launched a new internet-based data service for the global user community. It brings UN statistical databases within easy reach of users through a single entry point, users can now search and download a variety of statistical resources of the UN system.

At the occasion of the launch of this service, DESA Under-Secretary General Sha Zukang stated:

The UN-system has accumulated over the past 60 years an impressive amount of information. UNdata, developed by the Statistics Division of DESA, is a new powerful tool, which will bring this unique and authoritative set of data not only to the desks of decision makers and analysts, but also to journalists, to students and to all citizens of the world.

Since its foundation, the United Nations system has been collecting statistical information from Member States on a variety of topics. The information thus collected constitutes a considerable information asset of the organization. However, these statistical data are often stored in proprietary databases, each with unique dissemination and access policies. As a result, users are often unaware of the full array of statistical information that the UN system has in its data libraries. The current arrangement also means that users are required to move from one database to another to access different types of information. UNdata addresses this problem by pooling major UN databases and those of several international into one single internet environment. The innovative design allows a user to access a large number of UN databases either by browsing the data series or through a keyword search.

Useful features like country profiles, advanced search and glossaries are also provided to aid research. The numerous databases, tables and glossaries containing over 60 million data points cover a wide range of themes including agriculture, crime, education, employment, energy, environment, health, HIV/AIDS, human development, industry, information and communication technology, national accounts, population, refugees, tourism, trade, as well as the millennium development goals indicators. Whilst this initial version of UNdata is fully equipped with all the functionalities for data access, the development team is continuously adding new databases and features to further enhance the usefulness to users. When fully developed, UNdata will have a comprehensive array of international and national databases providing the world instant access to a wealth of statistical information.

UNdata is the brainchild of UNSD, the statistical arm of the DESA and the coordinator of statistical activities throughout the UN system. UNSD’s core mission is to advance the development of the global statistical system and promote the dissemination of statistical information. This database service is part of a project launched by UNSD in 2005, called “Statistics as a Public Good”, whose objectives are to provide free access to global statistics, to educate users about the importance of statistics for evidence-based policy and decision making and to assist national statistical offices of member countries to strengthen their data dissemination capabilities. The project is implemented in partnership with Statistics Sweden and the Gapminder Foundation with partial financial support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.


HathiTrust Digital Library and OCLC introduce WorldCat Local prototype

OCLC and the HathiTrust have developed a unique WorldCat Local user interface for discovery of items accessible through the HathiTrust Digital Library. The WorldCat Local prototype for the HathiTrust Digital Library was designed and implemented by both organizations in close cooperation as a means to further develop a shared digital library infrastructure. The WorldCat Local interface for the HathiTrust Digital Library is based on the WorldCat database, and will run along with the current HathiTrust catalog during the prototype testing period.

As a digital repository for the nation’s great research libraries, the HathiTrust Digital Library brings together the massive digitized collections of partner institutions. HathiTrust offers libraries a means to archive and provide access to their digital content, whether scanned volumes, special collections, or born-digital materials. The representation of these resources in digital form offers expanded opportunities for innovative use in research, teaching and learning.

OCLC and HathiTrust have been working together to increase online visibility and accessibility of the digital collections by creating WorldCat records describing the content and linking to the collections via and WorldCat Local. The creation of the unique public interface through WorldCat Local is the next step to offer enhanced access to this vital collection.

John Wilkin, Executive Director of the HathiTrust said:

HathiTrust benefits greatly from this partnership in that the collaborative development has enabled the creation of a new means of discovering HathiTrust holdings while simultaneously integrating these holdings into the larger world of library holdings made discoverable by OCLC.

HathiTrust Digital Library records are discoverable through the separate WorldCat Local interface, as well as through

“OCLC and the HathiTrust have been working together closely in this shared development project to facilitate access to these valuable digital materials,” said Chip Nilges, OCLC Vice President, Business Development. “This collaboration leverages OCLC’s extensive work in the area of resource discovery with the HathiTrust’s considerable expertise and infrastructure with respect to the preservation of scholarly resources.”

OCLC and HathiTrust are seeking feedback from users of the new HathiTrust public interface through WorldCat Local. Feedback from the user community and usability assessments will inform future development of the HathiTrust Digital Library catalog.

Launched in 2008, HathiTrust has a growing membership currently comprising 52 partners. Over the last two years, the partners have contributed more than 8 million volumes to the digital library, digitized from their library collections through various means, including Google and Internet Archive digitization and in-house initiatives. More than two million of the contributed volumes are in the public domain and freely available on the web.

More about HathiTrust:

WorldCat Local prototype for the HathiTrust Digital Library:

New web-based public library national union catalogue planned to launch in the UK

The Combined Regions (TCR) and OCLC have announced plans to launch Britain’s first freely accessible national public library union catalogue. Containing the bibliographic data from 80 percent of the UK’s public libraries, the service will make it possible for web users to simultaneously search nine million bibliographic records and 50 million holdings.

Leveraging information already indexed in WorldCat, the world’s largest online resource for finding library materials, this customised union catalogue will provide a view of holdings contributed by the 149 local authorities with a current full package subscription to UnityUK, the UK’s only nationwide network for resource sharing.

The initiative will make bibliographic data more discoverable on the open web. Indexing of WorldCat data through search engines such as Google and Yahoo! will vastly improve awareness of public library resources and drive significantly increased traffic back to local libraries. Requiring no other expenditure than a current full package UnityUK subscription, the service increases visibility for public library holdings – positioning them as primary sources of information alongside other web resources.

A recent agreement drafted by OCLC with input from TCR securing the provision of UnityUK and making important provisions for its future as a national platform for resource discovery and inter-lending paved the way for the development of this new union catalogue. Both organisations share an ambition to achieve wider access to public libraries. This agreement is a vital step towards that goal.

Commenting on the plans Rob Froud, Chair, TCR said:

We have long held the ambition to create a national union catalogue and we are delighted that we are going to achieve this in partnership with OCLC. It is one of the biggest developments for public libraries since the People’s Network: it’s the Big Idea that public libraries need to demonstrate their combined value, their relevance and accessibility at a time when resource sharing is more important than ever.

These are sentiments echoed by OCLC’s Robin Murray, Vice President, Global Product Management:

This is a crucial time for UK public libraries. The focus on shared services and collaboration to raise the profile of UK public libraries in the midst of declining budgets has never been more important. The need to employ technology in new ways to increase visibility and usage is key.

Robin continues:

OCLC is acutely aware of the challenges facing libraries today and we are devoted to maximising the value our customers receive from existing investments. Our strategy has always been to leverage the benefits and efficiencies of scale brought about through cooperation and the aggregation of library data – this initiative is the latest manifestation of this approach – a way to provide a simple, scalable solution to a long-standing challenge faced by the public libraries in the UK.

The first phase of this project is to produce an initial “proof of concept” which will be available for review by those UnityUK libraries with a full package subscription in March 2011.

More about TCR:

VuFind version 1.1 released

VuFind is a library resource portal designed and developed for libraries by libraries. The goal of VuFind is to enable library users to search and browse through all of the library’s resources, including catalog records, digital library items, institutional repositories, institutional bibliographies and other library collections and resources, by replacing the traditional OPAC.

The next significant version of VuFind has been released on 21 March 2011. Some of the highlights of the new release:

  • improved support for non-MARC metadata and authority records;

  • new search tools: autosuggesters, snippets, keyword highlighting, alphabetical heading browse;

  • easier and more powerful favorite list management;

  • more API integration: book previews through Google Books/OpenLibrary/Hathi Trust, cover images from B&T Content Café;

  • expanded OAI-PMH and RSS output capabilities;

  • better discovery by search engines with automatic sitemap XML generation tool; and

  • numerous bug fixes, plus better commented and standardized code.

For more information, and to download the new release, visit:

Ojax++ VRE: new tool for project management, organization and collaboration

A new virtual research environment (VRE) tool called Ojax++ was recently launched to the global e-research community. Ojax++ aims to help researchers work collaboratively by providing a project management and collaboration interface for research activity conducted using third party tools like Delicious, Gmail and MyExperiment.

Ojax++ allows scholars to organize project streams from popular web-based applications such as GoogleDocs, Delicious, blogging tools and Twitter, as well more research-specific web 2.0 tools.

A typical project stream might contain bookmarks from Delicious, calendar events from Google Calendar, tweets from Twitter, citations from Connotea and workflows from MyExperiment. Ojax++ aggregates the data from those applications so that, regardless of which web applications researchers use to conduct their research, they can organise their work and collaborate on that work in one place, using Ojax++.

The OJAX++ Project, directed by Dr Judith Wusteman at the University College Dublin (UCD) School of Information and Library Studies, is an ongoing exploration of VREs undertaken by the UCD School of Information and Library Studies in collaboration with the UCD School of Computer Science and Informatics. The Ojax++ Project was funded by Science Foundation Ireland between September 2007 and February 2011.

The tool has been made freely available to the e-research community. Further details can be found at the OJAX++ project web site:

PREMIS version 2.1 now available

The PREMIS Editorial Committee has announced the availability of the PREMIS Data Dictionary for Preservation Metadata version 2.1. Since the publication of version 2.0, implementation of PREMIS has increased substantially and experience using the specification has resulted in the need for additional revisions. The current revision includes corrections of errors, clarifications of some semantic units, changes for consistency and the addition of a few semantic units that resulted from requests to the PREMIS Editorial Committee. This revision is considered non-substantial in that there are not major changes that affect existing PREMIS descriptions, so is an incremental version 2.1. Both the full data dictionary and the schema are revised.

Highlights of version 2.1 include:

  1. 1.

    The following new elements are added to the Agent Entity:

  2. 2.
    • agentNote;

    • agentExtension;

    • linkingEventIdentifier; and

    • linkingRightsStatementIdentifier.

  3. 3.

    A new extension mechanism allows for additional information about the metadata. This technique is modeled after METS and includes:

  4. 4.
    • date the metadata was created;

    • status of the metadata;

    • internal IDs to provide links;

    • type of metadata (i.e. the metadata scheme) and version;

    • message digest and message digest algorithm of the metadata; and

    • type of location identifier when reference is to external metadata

The agent changes are included in both the data dictionary and the schema. The extension mechanism is described in general terms in the data dictionary and the new elements are added to the revised schema.

The revised data dictionary and schema available at:

Principles of open bibliographic data: supporting the advance of knowledge

Producers of bibliographic data such as libraries, publishers, universities, scholars or social reference management communities have an important role in supporting the advance of humanity’s knowledge. For society to reap the full benefits from bibliographic endeavours, it is imperative that bibliographic data be made open – that is, available for anyone to use and re-use freely for any purpose.

Adrian Pohl, Coordinator of the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKFN) Working Group on “Bibliographic Data”, posted the following summary on the OKFN Blog on 18 January 2011:

Yesterday, the Principles of Open Bibliographic Data were launched at the Peter Murray-Rust symposium “Visions of a (Semantic) Molecular Future”.

The principles’ main recommendations read as follows:

  • When publishing bibliographic data, make an explicit and robust license statement.

  • Use a recognized waiver or license that is appropriate for data.

  • If you want your data to be effectively used and added to by others, it should be open as defined by the Open Definition – in particular non-commercial and other restrictive clauses should not be used.

  • Where possible, we recommend explicitly placing bibliographic data in the public domain via the Public Domain Dedication and License or CC0.

The initial idea for something like the Principles of Open Bibliographic Data dates back to May 2010 and originated in the German OKFN chapter. Originally, they were directed at the library world. It was not before July 2010 that the OKFN Working Group on Open Bibliographic Data started work on the principles – taking ideas (and text) from the Panton Principles for Open Data in Science.

Over time, and through Peter Murray-Rust’s and Jim Pitman’s initiative, the principles also addressed the broader spectrum of producers of bibliographic data like scholars and publishers”. In addition, a definition of bibliographic data was added in the first part of the document to clarify the principles’ scope:

We are delighted that we have been able to create in a relatively short and brief period this short and clear document that will help to do much to promote the cause of open bibliographic data specifically and open knowledge more generally.

OpenBiblio Principles:

EasyBib collaborates with OCLC to build library-branded citation service

ImagineEasy Solutions, LLC is collaborating with OCLC to create a customizable library version of ImagineEasy Solutions’ service, a popular online citation site on the web. The EasyBib Library Edition service was planned to be rolled out in a beta testing phase with select OCLC member libraries in January.

EasyBib is an automatic bibliography composer, used by more than 23 million unique visitors in the past year. More than 500,000 new citations are added each day during peak periods of use, such as at the end of university terms. Students simply search or enter bibliographic data of a particular source and EasyBib formats the citation, alphabetizes the works cited list and exports it to word-processing software. Students can also use EasyBib’s notebook feature to dynamically organize their research information associated with their citations.

EasyBib, a partner site, already generates a robust traffic stream to libraries through, using the WorldCat Search API to power book search citations.

Jointly designed by OCLC and Imagine Easy Solutions, EasyBib Library Edition will provide an opportunity for libraries to reach students where they already go for help with citation formatting. The Library Edition will offer a variety of features designed to extend library reach and usage, such as:

  • library-branded interface;

  • links to library home page and catalog;

  • search box for easy discovery of additional resources at your library and beyond;

  • integration with virtual reference services;

  • IP redirects to your library’s customized version;

  • deep links into a library’s OPAC; and

  • integration with the OpenURL Gateway

Neal Taparia, Co-founder of EasyBib said:

We are excited to bring OCLC’s powerful tools to our service, which will provide not only a gateway to discover more library content, but also improve the research experience for students.

OCLC will be the exclusive provider for EasyBib Library Edition, and a provider for EasyBib School Edition, EasyBib’s standard institutional service. OCLC is currently working with a set of member libraries that will serve as test sites for the beta service of Library Edition, which is expected to be available in the USA and Canada by spring 2011.

EasyBib Library Edition:

Strategic issues for US Academic Libraries: Ithaka S+R Library Survey 2010

Ithaka S+R, a not-for-profit strategic consulting and research service for the academic and cultural heritage community, has released its Library Survey 2010: Insights from US Academic Library Directors, offering a strategic analysis on the state of the library to help library leadership plan for the future. Over 200 library administrators from US-based four-year colleges and institutions weighed in on issues related to the strategies they are pursuing for their libraries, the management of library collections, the development of new digital collections and the creation of new services to meet changing user needs.

“The survey is genuinely revelatory,” commented Charles Henry, President of Council on Library and Information Resources. “And, I also hope it will serve as a catalyst for the kind of thoughtful discussion on library strategy and leadership that is urgently needed.”

The survey findings indicated that there is a consensus on key strategic issues, including the clear shift away from print to digital journals and the prioritization of teaching and instruction as core library functions. But, some findings suggest broad divergences not only among library directors but also among library directors and faculty members, as made evident through a comparison with data from the Ithaka S+R Faculty Survey 2009.

“This is a stunning and useful set of data,” said Bill Mayer, University Librarian at American University. “From my perspective, the most important issue is the dichotomy of opinion between university faculty and library directors on the value of the librarian role in teaching and learning.”

Library directors as well as faculty members continue to emphasize the library’s role as a buyer of materials, as seen in the way library directors prioritize their spending and how faculty members view the library. However, the survey findings also reveal that many library directors are not confident they have conducted sufficient strategic planning to meet changing user needs and to optimally manage collections.

“We hope that this survey can provide the community with a way to assess trends broadly and to help generate discussion at the local level,” commented Roger C. Schonfeld, Director of Research for Ithaka S+R:

Today’s library needs to respond to rapid demand for change in information services, and we hope that this survey can help libraries understand how their peers are engaging in this process.

The Ithaka S+R Library Survey 2010: insights from US Academic Library Directors is available for free download at:

CNI Conversations: personal archiving, software obsolescence, self-destructing ebooks

The 15 March 2011 podcast of Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) Conversations includes discussion on a wide variety of topics by CNI Executive Director Clifford Lynch, including:

  • a report on peer review from UC Berkeley’s Center for Studies in Higher Education;

  • the recent personal digital archiving symposium hosted at the Internet Archive;

  • Mac OS X Lion and implications for software obsolescence;

  • auto-destructing ebooks; and

  • the Digital Public Library of America.

CNI Conversations continues to be available at: (to subscribe to the audio feed add to iTunes, or any podcatcher). CNI welcomes your feedback. For questions or comments related to CNI Conversations, please contact CNI Associate Executive Director Joan Lippincott at:


Recipients of 2011 Library and Information Science Research Grants Announced

The Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) and OCLC Research and have awarded Research Grants to Cristina Pattuelli of Pratt Institute, Chirag Shah of Rutgers University and Bei Yu of Syracuse University. The awards were presented 6 January at the ALISE 2011 Annual Conference Awards Reception in San Diego, California.

Cristina Pattuelli, PhD, of the School of Information and Library Science at Pratt Institute, will investigate the application of one of the most popular linked data initiatives, the Friend of a Friend (FOAF) ontology, to digital cultural heritage resources. The project, “FOAF in the Archive: Linking Networks of Information with Networks of People,” will use various digital archives containing materials related to the history of jazz as a test bed to explore the potential of FOAF to leverage people-centric data and metadata from multiple sources beyond the traditional repository’s walls.

Chirag Shah, PhD, of the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University, will perform a series of studies that include surveys, interviews and content analysis in the project, “Modalities, Motivations, and Materials – Investigating Traditional and Social Online Q&A Services.” The findings will provide insight into why and how people ask and answer questions on various online sources, the quality of information shared and retrieved, as well as the impact such information makes on an individual’s knowledge structure and decision making.

Bei Yu, PhD, of the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University, will explore the information-seeking behavior in virtual reference services by conducting discourse analysis and utilizing machine-learning text classification systems. The goals of the project, “Text Classification of Digital Reference Interviews: an Investigation of Information Seeking Behavior in the Social Web Environment,” are to provide a new measurement for evaluating virtual reference services, new data attributes for information extraction/retrieval algorithms and a dialogue model for fully automated dialogue systems.

OCLC/ALISE Library and Information Science Research Grants support research that advances librarianship and information science, promotes independent research to help librarians integrate new technologies into areas of traditional competence, and contributes to a better understanding of the library environment. Full-time academic faculty (or the equivalent) in schools of library and information science worldwide are eligible to apply for grants of up to $15,000. Proposals are evaluated by a panel selected by OCLC and ALISE. Supported projects are expected to be conducted within approximately one year from the date of the award and, as a condition of the grant, researchers must furnish a final project report at the end of the grant period.

More information about the OCLC/ALISE Library and Information Science Research Grant Program can be found at:

A list of previous grant recipients is at:

New eye-tracking study reports on how users process search results

As part of OCLC’s ongoing efforts to evaluate and improve the user interfaces of our services, Lead User Experience Researcher Mike Prasse, PhD, recently conducted an eye-tracking study in order to better understand how the format of search services affect how users process the results.

Results indicate that the description that accompanies the title of an entry was very important to users when looking for a book, but less so when searching for articles. Prasse discusses how subtle differences in page layout can have a major impact on what users first look at on a results page, and for how long. He also explores the idea of “thin-slicing,” where users look for key features of an object, rather than the object itself as a possible explanation of his findings. Other results include information about facets, summaries and other elements of the two services he compared, and GoogleBooks.

Read the full report:

UA Libraries Grant Project provides model for low-cost digitization of cultural heritage materials

The University of Alabama Libraries has completed a grant project which demonstrates a model of low-cost digitization and web delivery of manuscript materials. Funded by the National Archives and Records Administration National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the project digitized a large and nationally important manuscript collection related to the emancipation of slaves: the Septimus D. Cabaniss Papers. This digitization grant (NAR10-RD-10033-10) extended for 14 months (ended February 2011), and has provided online access to 46,663 images for less than $1.50 per page.

The model is designed to enable institutions to mass-digitize manuscript collections at a minimal cost, leveraging the extensive series descriptions already available in the collection finding aid to provide search and retrieval. Digitized content for the collection is linked from the finding aid, providing online access to 31.8 linear feet of valuable archival material that otherwise would never be web available. We have developed software and workflows to support the process and web delivery of material regardless of the current method of finding aid access.

The Septimus D. Cabaniss Collection (1815-1889) was selected as exemplary of the legal difficulties encountered in efforts to emancipate slaves in the Deep South. Cabaniss was a Prominent Southern Attorney who served as executor for the estate of the wealthy Samuel Townsend, who sought to manumit and leave property to a selection of his slaves, many of whom were his children. Samuel Townsend’s open admission to fathering slave children and his willingness to take responsibility for their care, combined with the letters from the former slaves themselves, dated before and after the civil war, will inform social and racial historians. Legal scholars will be enlightened by Cabaniss’ detailing of the sophisticated legal mechanism of using a trust to free slaves. Valuable collections such as this have a promise of open access via the web when the cost of digitization is lowered by avoiding item-level description.

Usability testing was included in the grant project, and preliminary results indicate that this method of web delivery is as learnable for novices as access to the digitized materials via item-level descriptions. In addition, provision of web delivery of manuscript content via the finding aid provides the much-needed context preferred by experienced researchers.

More information available at the grant’s web site:

Septimus D. Cabaniss Collection finding aid: