Draft Discussion Paper: The New York Digital Collection Initiative

March 9, 2008, Draft | comments on March 9 Draft

This new April 10, 2008, draft discussion paper represents the thinking to date of the members of the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries, the State Historical Records Advisory Board and others about the "New York Digital Collection Initiative" concept as a 2009 budget and legislative initiative.

This draft paper is being widely shared with the library, archival, museum and public broadcasting communities for review and further comment. RAC is actively seeking partnerships with statewide organizations representing libraries, archives, museums and public broadcasting and others. Additional partners are welcome.

Reader comments have helped to inform this new April 10 version of the discussion paper. Comments on the earlier March 9 draft discussion paper are now posted here.

Readers are encouraged to share their ideas about this 4/10 proposal, to better state core concepts and objectives, and in any other way recommend ideas to strengthen this proposal. Readers are also encouraged to provide their vision of what the resultant Initiative will entail once completed.

This document is also available in .PDF pdf icon [42k]

Discussion Paper; The New York Digital Collection Initiative. April 10, 2008, Draft

A Collaborative Project of New York’s Libraries, Archives, Historical Records Repositories, Museums, and Public Broadcasting
“New Yorkers preserving the past and creating the future”

Goal

To create a statewide digital collection of cultural heritage resources and a framework to promote the use of digital technologies to broaden and enhance access to New York’s approximately 10,000 local, regional, and state cultural heritage institutions, including those located in colleges, universities, and local governments.

Partners

This project, under the leadership of the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries, currently is seeking full project partnership with the following groups: The State Historical Records Advisory Board (SHRAB), the Museum Association of New York (MANY), the Association of Public Broadcasting Stations of New York (ABPSNY), and the NY3RS. Additional partners are welcome.

Background

At present, New York has a number of excellent local and regional digitization models, such as The New York Public Library’s Digital Library (www.nypl.org/digital/digital_about.htm), the Hudson River Valley Heritage, Suffolk Historic Newspapers, University at Buffalo’s UBdigit, and Westchester County’s Virtual Archives. New York also has a number of institutions with long and valuable experience with digitization, such as Cornell University, that can help to ensure the model built for the New York Digital Collection meets current and developing standards. Models in other states and regions around the nation include North Carolina’s ECHO, Exploring Cultural Heritage Online; Ohio Memory; MOAC: Museum and Online Archives of California; the Collaborative Digitization Program (www.cdpheritage.org); Calisphere; and The Portal to Texas History.

Project Benefits

Teachers, students of all ages, parents, college faculty, scholars, businesses, government officials, health care professionals, historians, genealogists, authors, community planners, hobbyists, and all New Yorkers will benefit from 24/7 access to quality, state-of-the art digital collections and resources in New York State’s cultural institutions. Librarians, archivists, museum curators, local historians, and public broadcasting staff will benefit from high-quality consultation services, training, standards, and best practices, and will acquire the collaborative tools they need to digitize and share local collections.

The New York Digital Collection Initiative will also reveal the treasures of the state to the general public through the Internet. Researchers of all ages will be able to make connections between collections never evident before, breaking down barriers that may exist between cultural collecting agencies. The potential for linking digital collections with online tools to help teachers, parents, and students support New York State Learning Standards and improve student achievement is limitless.

Project Scope

Numerous aspects of such a project each require thoughtful consideration and elaboration. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Access: (Question for discussion: What are the technical considerations involved in making the digital collection readily accessible in a range of institutions that may have varying levels of sophistication in technology?)
  • Content Creation: (Questions for discussion: What are the appropriate specific topical areas to focus on in building a rich resource, particularly to support the P-16 curriculum, other educational uses, and lifelong learning? How much should be defined in advance, and what “local choices” should be possible, particularly for grant-funded projects?)
  • Collaboration: (Questions for discussion: How can libraries, archives, museums, historical repositories, and public television most effectively interact in building the digital collection? What means of organization and management are needed? How can statewide and regional partnerships enhance the digitization effort?)
  • Standards and Guidelines: (Questions for discussion: What types of technical and content standards are necessary to ensure the quality of images, their retrievability for users, and the facility of sharing and maintaining information?)
  • Training: (Questions for discussion: What types of training will potential contributing institutions need, e.g., how to select items for inclusion, digitize, select vendors, create metadata? What types of training will users need, e.g., teachers, scholarly researchers, genealogists, community historians?)
  • Funding and Sustainability: (Question for discussion: What are the extent and types of resources needed to create the digital collection, support its growth over time, and ensure its development and viability as technology changes?)
  • Marketing and Advocacy: (Questions for discussion: To whom should this resource be marketed? What are the best routes for reaching appropriate audiences? What is the best way to promote the initiative to achieve funding and support and make the case to resource allocators?)
  • Preservation: (Question for discussion: What are the best means of ensuring that the digital images created will be maintained electronically and remain usable over time?)

Core Concepts

The New York Digital Collection Initiative is based on a number of collaborative, coordinated approaches to digitization throughout New York State. These concepts and initiatives include the following:

  • Increasing access to local, regional, and state history to support P-16 education and lifelong learning.
  • Expanding access to materials in New York’s cultural institutions through the creation of online content.
  • Helping cooperating institutions to create online content; prepare online finding aids; establish partnerships; incorporate Web cataloging or metadata into digitization projects; develop curricula related to digital collections; and showcase projects for replication.
  • Providing an online compilation of licensed authoritative research resources and collections, including educational video titles and clips.
  • Encouraging partnerships among cultural institutions throughout the state in a statewide initiative to create the New York Digital Collection.
  • Ensuring compliance with and dissemination of information on existing or emerging national and international standards and other appropriate quality benchmarks.
  • Serving as the platform for State Library, State Archives, State Museum, and Public Broadcasting digitization projects and training.
  • Providing direct training and training grants for a full range of continuing education opportunities for participating institutions throughout the state.
  • Serving as a portal and clearinghouse for related training, funding, and other digitization opportunities.
  • Providing a funding source to support digitization efforts by local cultural institutions as well as major research institutions.
  • Marketing the project to educational and cultural institutions, other repositories related to cultural heritage, funding agencies, and the general public.
  • Establishing a means and a system for long-term preservation of digital collections, assuring access to New York State’s history in digital form.

Project Structure

The New York Digital Collection will build on successful local and regional digitization work, pulling together diverse collections for easy access and use through a user-friendly Web portal. State investment in this ambitious new program will provide all New Yorkers with quick, easy, and free digital access to rare and unique historical treasures and documents, a vast online collection of authoritative research resources, a wide assortment of educational video titles and clips, and related online teaching tools for teachers and parents.

To proceed in a systematic way, the initiative will be implemented in multiple phases.

Phase One, “A Sustainable Digital Collection Model for New York State,” will include the following actions:

  • Meetings of project partners and key stakeholders with national experts to obtain guidance, stimulate innovation, and identify possible models for the initiative.
  • Designing and implementing a flexible and collaborative framework that can incorporate and interconnect a variety of different platforms (e.g., CONTENTdm and DSpace), commercial digital resources, and existing local and regional digital resources and collections. The model for the New York Digital Collection should support multiple text, graphic, and video formats, and should enable the long-term preservation of digital collections for future generations.
  • With the assistance of national experts and a newly established advisory group, development of statewide standards, sharing of best practices, and training.

Subsequent phases will include grants to local and regional entities to add new digital content and conduct training, the purchase of additional statewide licenses for authoritative content and video materials, development of online teaching tools tied to the state learning standards, and web archiving.

Draft April 10, 2008, for discussion purposes only. This document also available in .PDF pdf icon [42k]


Reader Comments on April 10 Draft

Kathleen M. DeLaney, Archivist at Canisius College

I've been reading with deep interest the April 10th Draft Discussion Paper for the New York Digital Collection Initiative. Like many of my colleagues before me, I applaud the effort. Like my colleagues, I find it curious that the effort continues to by-pass so many of us who have successfully mounted, use, and collaborate with others on digital initiatives. It may be worthwhile for some of the small institutions and organizations to hear how RAC arrived at its decision to pursue this type of project. This would be a very critical effort in the marketing scheme. You'd also do well to tell some of the smaller organizations whose staff is primarily volunteer. Just what RAC does.

New York State continues to be behind for so many of these important library, archival, museum and other cultural initiatives. Ohio, California, Minnesota, Texas, etc. all have had saw much earlier than New York why these projects are worthwhile. Academic institutions have been doing these for almost 10 years.

My past experience with funding and grants from private sources is that when a small library or organization proposes a project, it doesn't take long for the NYS to notice and take it on as its own. How many of us have had our work diminished by the last-minute, Herculean effort of NYS projects that beg our input for funding because we've been resourceful enough to recognize and just do the work? I've attended conferences at which state initiatives are described, and know full-well that the State has had nothing to do with the actual work.

The last several years of DHP funding has been laughable, so in this respect, if the Digital Initiative can succeed; that’s good.

The issue, however, continues to be that the State fails to recognize how much planning goes into successful projects. And that these are expensive, without dedicated funding, not only for salaries, but for the actual software, training and equipment.

Academic institutions are often the places you will find inventive people, people curious enough to think of the front-end of projects, and not just the back end. There is a lot of "scut" work to get to the beauty of a Hudson Valley or Cornell Labor History project. The Ohio Memory Project is on-going, yet the inclusive standards established at the beginning make are successful.

Canisius College, a Jesuit institution in Buffalo, where I work has been involved with a collaborative CONTENTdm project with other Jesuit institutions for the last three years. The word "collaborative" is big. We each learned about CONTENTdm on our own, and shared. Looking solely for partnerships in umbrella organizations is not going to make the NYS Digital Initiative succeed. You need us. The people actually doing the work. The cheerleaders who come from Albany to communities to promote the work need to understand what it takes to get the work done. We want our collections represented, but you do have to reach out much more broadly...with training AND with funding.

WNYLRC has a digital legacy project underway; however, it has not begun to take advantage of those in the WNY area who actually already have CONTENTdm or digital collections. The closest NYLINK has come to offering a CONTENTdm workshop is Rochester. For a statewide initiative to succeed using what most of us believe to be the standard bearer for digitization projects such as the one proposed...there has to be much fuller access to programs that can be used to make them happen. CONTENTdm is not cheap.

You must consider the impact on institutions who will participate in this program. So many archives, even at colleges and universities, are one person shops. What kind of assistance will there be for those who want to participate, but fear if they do, they won't have time for any other part of their work?

And, the all important New York State Learning Standards??? Who do you think is going to write lesson plans, teach the courses for using the collections? Simply linking the collections is not a fail-safe answer. When a researcher has a question about something that has been digitized...is a state employee going to field the question? Or is that going to rightfully go back to the originating institution?

Although the questions I raise may have a negative ring, I do support this, and would very much like to become involved. Given the State budgetary issues, it would seem a large infusion of private funding may be necessary for this to really take wing.

My one solid suggestion here is to get the standards from every large state or provincial digital collection and really spend time seeing what works. The actual digitization may be further down the road, but if you have good standards to start, it will ensure much more success.

John Thorn, New World Sports

Thanks for including me in this discussion. I live in the Hudson Valley and have been frustrated by the weak range of digital offerings available to me via the Mid Hudson Library System, which state of affairs I take to be typical statewide. Particularly grievous was the absence of historical databases.

I was so envious of what three counties in Missouri had succeeded in doing for their patrons through the Mid-Continent Public Library that I applied for remote access privileges and now pay $20 to use their databases. Their offerings seem to me a model for what a regional library system in New York might be in this regard. See: http://www.mcpl.lib.mo.us/

Let me point also to the efforts of a single individual to do what libraries should be doing: digitizing from microfilm the wealth of nationally important as well as regionally interesting newspapers, from the entertainment bellwether The New York Clipper to the Syracuse Post Standard. The interface is poor, the user experience frustrating, but the range of papers is admirable. See: http://www.fultonhistory.com/

Newspaperarchive.com provides a more professional but still second-rate interface, and it does offer some off beat New York papers. Will New York wait for the Library of Congress to digitize the great papers of nineteenth century New York--the Sun, World, Tribune, and others--and content themselves with the Times and (partially) the Herald, via Proquest and Gale? What about the wealth of short-lived NYC papers that are so important to historians (The Whip, The Aurora, The Statesman, and so on)?

Lucy Harper, Librarian/Webmaster at the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester

For an excellent example of what is possible, I strongly suggest a close look be taken at the experience of the Canadian Information Heritage Network (CHIN) http://www.chin.gc.ca/English/index.html. They have made amazing content available from very small to very large institutions, and have dealt with the training and standardization challenges in the process. Their Artefacts Canada site http://www.chin.gc.ca/English/Artefacts_Canada/index.html and the Virtual Museum of Canada initiative http://www.virtualmuseum.ca/English/Gallery/index.html are just two of the sites that have resulted from this work. They also share information through their Knowledge Exchange and Best Practices tutorials (see http://www.chin.gc.ca/English/Knowledge-Exchange/e-tutorials.php). CHIN has been a worldwide leader in museum digital initiatives for decades.

The more funding can be used to support infrastructure (local and statewide), training and standards, the more useful the end product will be, particularly if participating institutions are free to put up content they feel is important and not constrained by overarching statewide goals that emphasize only certain areas of content. I would suggest that the model of the Documentary Heritage Program's funding, where only certain very narrow categories of subject content are funded, is not a helpful one. Diversity of content from institutions of all sizes across the state will be most useful.


March 9, 2008, Draft

This March 9, 2008, draft discussion paper represents the thinking to date of the members of the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries on the "New York Digital Collection Initiative" concept as a 2009 budget and legislative initiative. Members of the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries met with members of the State Historical Records Advisory Board on February 27 to discuss the proposal and the possible inclusion of a broad range of cultural institutions, including archives, historical societies and museums. This draft paper reflects the outcomes of that discussion.

The March 9 draft articulates core concepts and is intended to promote discussion and input from the library, archival and museum communities. Readers are encouraged to share their ideas about this proposal, to better state core concepts and objectives, and in any other way recommend ideas to strengthen this proposal. Readers are also encouraged to provide their vision of what the resultant Initiative will entail once completed.

This document is also available in .PDF pdf icon [34k]

Goal

To create a statewide platform to promote the use of digital technologies to broaden and enhance access to our local, regional and New York State cultural heritage institutions.

Background

At present, there are a number of excellent local and regional digitization models in New York State, such as The New York Public Library’s Digital Library, the Hudson River Valley Heritage, Suffolk Historic Newspapers and University of Buffalo’s UBdigit. National models include North Carolina ECHO -- Exploring Cultural Heritage Online and the Collaborative Digitization Program.

Project Scope

Numerous aspects of such a project each require thoughtful consideration and elaboration. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Access
  • Content Creation
  • Collaboration
  • Standards and Guidelines
  • Training
  • Funding and Sustainability
  • Marketing and Advocacy
  • Preservation

Core Concepts

The foundation of the New York Digital Collection Initiative is based on a number of collaborative, coordinated approaches to digitization throughout New York State. These concepts and initiatives include:

  • Increasing access to local, regional and state history to support P-16 education and lifelong learning.
  • Expanding the role of New York’s cultural institutions from providing access into creating online content.
  • Helping cooperating institutions to create online content; prepare online finding aids; establish partnerships; incorporate Web cataloging or metadata into digitization projects; develop curricula related to digital collections; and showcase projects for replication.
  • Encouraging partnerships among cultural institutions throughout the state in a statewide initiative to create a New York Digital Collection.
  • Ensuring compliance with and disseminating of information on existing or emerging national and international standards, e.g., Open Archives Initiative (OAI) and other appropriate quality benchmarks.
  • Serving as the platform for State Library, State Archives, and State Museum digitization projects and training.
  • Providing direct training and training grants for a full range of continuing education opportunities for participating institutions throughout the state.
  • Serving as a portal and clearinghouse for related training, funding, and other digitization opportunities.
  • Providing a funding source to support digitization efforts by local cultural institutions as well as major research institutions.
  • Marketing the project to educational and cultural institutions, other repositories related to cultural heritage, funding agencies, and the general public.
  • Establishing a means and a system for long-term preservation of digital collections assuring access to New York State’s history in digital form.

Draft March 9, 2008, for discussion purposes only. This document also available in .PDF pdf icon [34k]

Reader Comments on March 9 Draft

John Hyslop, Assistant Division Manager, Long Island Division of the Queens Library:

This is a great idea. I've been thinking about this for awhile and wishing New York State would do something akin to what people are doing in California, Colorado and North Carolina.

I believe this initiative should lead to a New York State Digital Repository where NYS institutions can deposit their digital resources into one database allowing researchers one portal to access the resources. All of our resources are related directly or indirectly making those connections is important.

I have a few suggestions (dreams).

This should develop into a central repository with standards based digitization and metadata. The initiative should set standards for digitization and metadata creation. Those standards should be set first because institutions are digitizing stuff now. Once those are set the initiative should work with institutions to ensure they follow those standards. The advantages to this are:

When this central repository is created it can ingest these digital resources.

Funding sources will appreciate the use of standards.

Institutions will know what to do.

This central repository should be interactive so that participating institutions and the public can interact with each other and the material. This central repository should have an encoded archival context (EAC) component. Researchers should be given extensive control over how to search this central repository. Any metadata standard should include the ability to geo-code. This central repository should have the ability to link like material automatically and/or the ability for researchers to link material.

Thanks for doing this and hopefully my ideas prove useful.

Sara T. Chevako, Treasurer of the New Woodstock Regional Historical Society:

The New Woodstock Regional Historical Society applauds the concepts expressed in the March 9 draft of the NY Digital Collection Initiative. We are a very small, volunteer organization which embarked on a digitization project two years ago. With a grant from the CNY Community Foundation, we obtained a computer, scanner, camera, and PastPerfect software, and we embarked on a project to transfer our handwritten accession list to computer, with photographs or scans, descriptions and locations of all of the artifacts in our collection. It is an enormous project, and we are "making it up as we go along."

It would have been really helpful for us to have been able to refer to a statewide-applicable document with standards, procedures, etc. for our planning and execution. I spent many months with the help of a lot of friends, in the project research and hardware/software selection process.

I would hope that considerable thought would go into the hardware and software recommendations, for optimal "internal" use as well as for website creation and use. For example, I understand that OCR software is not yet sophisticated enough to scan and convert reliably newspapers, scrapbooks and old documents to searchable digital documents, but what a research tool that would be! We must plan both for next year and for a hundred years from now. Your last "Core Concept" says it all.

John Shaloiko, Director, Southeastern NY Reference and Research Library Resources Council, on behalf of the New York 3Rs Councils:

As it has been expressed to you from other people, there are a variety of individual and collaborative digital initiatives that are under way in this state. We applaud the fact that the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries recognizes that there should be more of a coordinated and collaborative statewide approach, building on existing initiatives.

Additional Suggestions:

Include in a few paragraphs in non-technical language what the vision is for this initiative.

Who is the intended audience? If it is primarily for teachers and students, a single platform approach similar to Calisphere (see below) is probably more appropriate. However, if the intention is to provide access to current and future digital collections on multiple platforms, the OAI protocol and consistent metadata is critical to harvesting these collections.

Scope of content? Is it relating to history and heritage only, or will other digitized content be included?

Need to agree on consistent metadata best practices to ensure quality search results when searching among multiple collections.

Recognize that training, although very important, is not enough. Smaller organizations that have not previously undertaken digital initiatives require ongoing consultation and support.

Recognize the role of and the expertise gained by the larger research libraries and the New York 3R's in current digital (individual and/or collaborative) efforts and bring these key players together to incorporate what has already been accomplished.

Identify existing digital access management systems (platforms) that are currently in place in the state i.e. CONTENTdm, Fedora, Luna, etc.

Implement OAI harvesting to provide a single access point to current digital collections, whose organizations have implemented the OAI harvesting protocol; consider ways to "normalize" existing metadata in these collections to improve search accuracy.

Ensure the compliance to appropriate scanning standards.

Identify appropriate digitizing vendors, both with in and outside of the state, that are appropriate for the outsourcing of digital initiatives.

Recognize that content selection must precede content (digital) creation in the project scope.

Goal is confusing...Revised Goal: to create a statewide platform to broaden and enhance web access to materials within our local, regional, and the New York State cultural heritage institutions. Note: not sure if the original goal was about creating a technical platform, or was it proposing to create an infrastructure (not technical) that will lead organizations to properly digitize their collections to improve access -- or both?

We suggest that planners look at Calisphere, the state of California's portal to primary source documents incorporating a thematic approach http://www.calisphere.universityofcalifornia.edu/ Sponsored by the California Digital Library, this site is closely tied to the teaching standards for that state.

Carol Kadamus, Librarian at Voorheesville MS-HS Library:

Suggestions for the NEW YORK DIGITAL COLLECTION INITIATIVE

To ensure that the general public will actually use the digital collection: Provide ongoing training for all types of librarians and the general public. Develop a marketing campaign aimed at the general public.

Regina Feeney, Librarian & Digitization Coordinator at Freeport Memorial Library:

The Freeport Memorial Library has been working with the Freeport Historical Society since 2004 on the digitization initiative sponsored by the Long Island Libraries Resources Council (LILRC). http://209.139.1.182/ Our project includes 900 images and six newspapers. Digitization in Freeport has been enormously successful. Since the site is Google searchable, we have been getting calls and email from across the US from people who just "found" images we loaded.

I strongly suggest that any project that you sponsor includes newspapers. Since most local newspapers are not indexed, digitization makes newspapers a powerful research tool.

Kevin J. Gallagher, Director of Middletown Thrall Library:

The idea looks good. However, I would ask that if this moves forward, efforts should be made by RAC to look at ways that a statewide project could build on the excellent projects that have emerged around the state. Rather than start with an entirely new project, maybe something could be developed to expand existing projects to cover greater geographical areas and more materials.

Ernest Scribner, an MSLIS Student at Syracuse University:

I am an MSLIS student at S.U. Currently, I am working on a digital libraries project (research, at this point) at Utica College for my internship work. I have spent some time getting to know their special collections with the goal of selecting a collection for digitization. I have found excellent examples of New York State cultural heritage. Most notably, UC houses a large collection of Welsh newspapers and monographs (published in Central New York), and the books and papers of Walter D. Edmonds (known for his book, Drums Along the Mohawk). Both collections would benefit from the Goal and Core Concepts put forth for the Initiative.

Jean Currie, Executive Director of the South Central Regional Library Council:

The brief proposal for the NYS Digital Collection seems fine as far as it goes. But we do have some concerns.

Suggestions:

It needs way more information for it to be a real plan - vision, mission, audience, scope of content, and a financial plan are just some of what is missing.

Our first reaction is that all of this is currently underway by the NY3Rs and major libraries in NYS. The planning and implementation for platforms, standards, collaboration, involvement of other cultural institutions, training, funding and sustainability, marketing, preservation etc. is happening now! Most of the efforts in NYS use CONTENTdm, so a defacto platform choice may have been made.

There are already many good models for statewide digital collections - these should be thoroughly checked so that NYS builds on existing best practices.

Much of the document seems fuzzy and not very clear - as an example, there is to be a platform for the NYSL, NYSA, and NYSM and yet the document implies that other institutions would participate. The core concepts need a lot of work!

We urge you and RAC to immediately bring together the major players (NY3Rs, the major academic and other institutions already doing digitizing, NYSL, State Archives etc.) to work on a statewide proposal. If they are not included very soon, it will be hard for them to get behind a legislative proposal for which they had no input.

Debra Kimok, Special Collections Librarian at the Benjamin F. Feinberg Library:

While I do think a New York State Digital Repository would be very useful and a great boon to access to collections throughout the state, the document is unclear about whether the project would aim to collaborate with other local and regional digitization projects that have been going on for years. What will happen to these excellent projects once a statewide repository is created? It seems that many institutions would perceive the larger state repository as more advantageous for access and use of collections. Has any thought been given to incorporating all of the existing collections in the larger one?

I think there are several more digital collaborations going on in the state than what is cited in your document--one example is the North Country Digital History Project (http://history.nnyln.net/), for which guidelines and standards have been created (adapted from the Hudson River Valley Heritage Project), as is the case with other projects in the state. Has any consideration been given to consulting with the people who have already done much of this work?

Don't get me wrong. I think this is a great idea and I'd be very interested in participating.

Virginia Antonucci-Gibbons, Regional Archivist at the Long Island Library Resources Council and Project Manager of the LILRC Regional Digitization Program.

The LILRC Regional Digitization Program, begun in 2002, is a separate program from the Suffolk Historic Newspaper project done by the Suffolk County Library System, which you mentioned in Regents Advisory Council on Libraries Discussion Paper of 3/09/08. The first program of this nature on Long Island, the LILRC Regional Digitization Program has trained several hundred librarians, and others who work with historical materials, in the process of digitization. The LILRC Board of Trustees opened membership in LILRC to historical societies and other organizations that maintain historical materials. This collaboration has made materials available, which were heretofore not accessible. The Program now has 20 organizations who have contributed digitized materials and consists of 38 collections. One collection is the Freeport Newspapers Collection which consists of over 16,000 pages of local newspapers. The total number of items in the Program is 22,903 and growing daily.

There are presently an additional 13 organizations that have joined the Regional Digitization Program. These organizations have only begun or are beginning a project. LILRC worked collaboratively with Stony Brook University Libraries to provide a Scan Center for those working with historical materials to either make surrogate copies or prepare them for entry into the Regional Digitization Program. LILRC has also worked collaboratively with several other Library Councils by sharing information about establishing a digitization program. Metro Council provided LILRC with a survey form that they had created through the use of grant money. Thus, LILRC was able to use this form to survey Nassau and Suffolk County libraries and historical organizations about their plan, or lack of plan, for digitization of their materials.

LILRC was the intermediary between Queens College and OCLC in arranging for Contentdm Management software to be used to train library school students. LILRC is working with several school districts to provide materials to teachers for working with DBQ's following New York State Guidelines.

The Program will soon be providing audio and video formats for historical materials. LILRC will be presenting the Sixth Symposium on Digitization, and the standard series of workshops necessary for participation in the Regional Digitization Program. Other workshops pertaining to any new issues in digitization, or which are requested by participants, will be provided. LILRC is meeting with a Working Group of participants to review the Program, and make any necessary changes and updates to Program Guidelines. LILRC is planning a second local newspaper digitization project working from hard copy newspapers. The program has been sustained through the use of grants and member maintenance fees for licensing of the management software. LILRC will continue to seek grants and other sources of funding for the program. Preservation of digital and born digital materials is, and will continue to be at the forefront of the LILRC Regional Digitization Program.

My point in providing this information is that training and collaboration are primary in making this Program work. Most of the work done in this Program has been done by those trained in the process of digitization by LILRC and by sharing resources. The Freeport Newspaper project was out-sourced. Collaboration between the State and all organizations maintaining and digitizing historical is the only way to achieve success.

Janie Kaplan, Library Director at the New York Academy of Medicine:

As a library with a resources in History of Medicine and cultural heritage, The New York Academy of Medicine was most interested in your posted document on the New York Digital Collection. The proposal itself fosters collaboration and partnership and will assist individual institutions in identifying partners and working together. I circulated the document to my staff and it was met with a most positive response.

Response and Comments:

This looks like it would be great for us if it goes through.

--where they talk about "Establishing a means and a system for long-term preservation of digital collections ..." could be very good for us (eg if they end up providing us with permanent server space), at least for our state and local history collections.

--where they talk about helping establish partnerships and collection-related content. It looks like more than just providing access, they want to help market collections and make related materials to support education, which would expand our user base and bring our digitization program up to the next level.

Someone who knows more about digital rights may want to get involved in this because they're not mentioned in the draft. Since we charge for image rights and reproductions, those elements may be a deciding factor for us getting very involved.

Marie K. Kinneary, Reference Desk Clerk at Rogers Memorial Library:

Professionally, I am still in awe of the information now available to us digitally. In my efforts to share this information, I am a bit frustrated. I feel what has held held us back the most is the lack of standards and testing within school systems. I realize this may not be a very popular opinion; we have heard a lot of complaints from teachers having to teach to the test. My position is that we should be testing what we feel is important. From my limited viewpoint of school systems I do not see any standards or curriculum for information access. While librarians try to share these techniques and resources, they do not give grades or tests. Students need to be taught how to access and search their public library catalogs and databases. They need to integrate this material into their research projects at appropriate levels. I feel that much of the information we have offered in untapped. The NYS Regents test many other things. I'm hoping information skills may soon be one of them.

Peter Hess, President of Albany Rural Cemetery:

I was forwarded a copy of an email on your New York Digital Collection. I have been promoting something similar to this for several years.

Albany Rural was founded in 1841, 20 years before the Civil War, at a time when the US had 26 states. When Albany Rural was founded, 17 city cemeteries and a burial ground that became Washington Park were emptied of burials and moved to Albany Rural. As a result we have people buried at Albany Rural who were born and died in the 1600s. Two of the 17 cemeteries were Black cemeteries.

Albany Rural has an extensive record system, all maintained on paper. These records contain much information that exists nowhere else. The state Health Department did not start maintaining records until the late 1800s. Notations such as "a black Revolutionary War soldier", "served in the 25th NYVI in the Civil War", "murdered at Cherry Hill", died of cholera, "Albany's Oldest Resident," Born on the Isle of Bert in the Kingdom of Ireland, as well as ages, dates of death, causes of death, relationships between people "cousin of author Henry James", and, I'm sure, many other facts are contained on these records. When families come in to do research, we have no other alternative but to hand them our card file and let them look for relatives. These paper files are getting very worn and can easily be stolen or altered. I am sure we have Civil War casualties from other states and their families don't even know it. I'm sure we have a lot of people buried here, unknown to their descendents.

If the Education Department developed standard software and gave Periodic grants to load information, this could all be accessible from the internet and our records could be safeguarded, but accessible to all. In the meantime, pray we don't have a fire.

Jean Armour Polly, Assistant Director & Administrator of Systems and Technology at Liverpool Public Library:

Here are some of the challenges we have:

-- We were somewhat early adopters in getting scanned images online. Our database is now getting creaky and we need to replace it. Many options exist but wouldn't it be more cost-effective and useful if everyone in the state used ContentDM or something like it, and it were free to participating libraries or very low cost and hosted by the state library. I know that NYLINK does have 3R councils that have subscriptions to it: Western, Northern, Southeast, Metro, Long Island, South Central, and Capital District. It would be great if we had one in the Central Region too and better yet, if all the ContentDM databases in the state talked to each other.

--We used to have someone to scan images and describe them and put them online. We experienced layoffs and this position was cut. Now there is no one to assigned to get additional material scanned and into the digital collection. Would there be some way to provide state funding for tiger teams of library students to scan and describe? Or maybe make this a student project to get library school credit or something?

--Remember, too that it's not all about scanning paper, or just creating access to other people's content. History is really happening every day. Our Liverpool Legends video project is very popular--we spotlight people and places who have made an impact in the development of our area. We'd like to get these videos online. We have digitized them so we are part-way there.

Could there be some way to fund videos for little libraries-- "History of... X Village"--- We work with Moore Multimedia http://www.mooremultimedia.com/ in Liverpool and outsource everything- preproduction planning, art, scanning included, dvd copies--to them. You might want to talk to them about this on a statewide level. Be sure to also offer all of these videos over the Internet. See http://www.electronicspark.org for info on a couple of our recent productions.

Diane Holliday, Assistant Professor & Librarian at Dowling College Library:

I read the Draft Discussion Paper for the New York Digital Collection Initiative with great interest. My only comment is to be explicitly inclusive of Academic Library Initiatives. I heard about this Initiative through a public library listserv, but not through any academic library channels. In the Draft document, you mention UBdigit but nothing about The Cornell University Libraries Initiatives. (http://www.library.cornell.edu/about/digital.html for example - one of many academic library projects in the state.) Our institution is days away from launching a digital project about Long Island South Shore History: http://lisshistory.dowling.edu/. As that project's curator, I would be interested in hearing about any further developments with this Initiative.

Last Updated: August 26, 2009 -- asm