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Archive for October, 2008

After further discussion with Doc Martens, I have more confidence in my digital collections project.  My plan is to create a collection of photographs and sound recordings of my maternal relatives, along with a family tree going back to my great-great grandparents (if possible), to capture genealogical information and some of the oral history of my family.  For a while I was afraid I would be unable to use some of my grandparents’ most interesting photographs, such as my grandfather and his classmates standing in front of their one-room Pennsylvania school house, circa 1925.  According to Copyright.gov, all works created prior to 1979 are under copyright until 70 years after the creator’s death.  Since we don’t know who took some of my grandparents’ pictures, or when the photographer died, I was afraid they would be unusable.  But Doc Martens said that orphan works created by someone most certainly dead would be acceptable to include in my collection.

I have three CDs of my grandfather and his cousin Lyle telling stories from their childhood and some experiences from WWII that I want to harvest for my collection.  Since Lyle died several years ago, again I was concerned I couldn’t use his stories for my collection, being unable to ask his permission.  But since I asked my grandfather and Lyle to make the recordings for the purpose of preservation and to collect facts for a book I hoped to write one day, Doc Martens felt using the sound recordings would be admissable.  I couldn’t find any guiding information on the matter on the Oral History Association website, but I’m certain Lyle wouldn’t have minded me using his stories for this purpose.  He shared them with me because he wanted to share them with the world.  This project will allow me to do more towards that end than I have in the last ten years.  I haven’t given up on writing the book, but I’m not sure I have enough material.  All the more reason to encourage my grandfather to record more stories.

I bought a cheap mp3 player with a built-in microphone that will supposedly allow me to record and transfer the audio files to my computer for editing.  I need to break it out and see if I can figure out how it works.

Having played with the collection platform Omeka a bit more, I’m a little disappointed that one can’t apparently view the photograph and the associated metadata in the same screen.  Unless I’m missing something.  I’m not certain that Omeka is going to allow the organization scheme I had envisioned, but I don’t know everything about how it operates yet.  Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.  If not, I’ll at least learn something from my frustration, I’m sure.

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Reading the article “Digital Collection Management through the Library Catalog,” by Michaela Brenner for my Digital Collections class, I got to wondering if applications like NoveList could be integrated into a public library’s OPAC.  Say a customer pulled up a record for a certain novel in the OPAC, and wanted to search for similar novels.  Instead of having to go looking for NoveList under the “Books and Reading” tab on the TCCL website (assuming the customer knew it was there), and then having to search for the first novel, and then search for similar novels, what if there was a hyperlink on the book’s OPAC record that said something like, “Find similar books with NoveList”? 

Clicking on the hyperlink should probably first notify the customer that they are navigating away from the library OPAC, then ask for the customer’s library card number if not already provided.  Then NoveList should open not on its home page, but on the page listing characteristics of the first book, where the customer can select which characteristics they are looking for in another book.  The hyperlink would provide a shortcut for customers, as well as promote an often overlooked resource by listing it at the bottom of every record for every work of fiction.  I wonder how complicated that would be to set up? 

What would be the drawbacks of such an arrangement?  Would providing a link to NoveList be similar to providing a link to Amazon?  I think it’s different because NoveList is not a vendor like Amazon.  NoveList may suggest books that are not in the local library system, but customers could still request them through interlibrary loan.  Plus it seems many public libraries have already aligned chosen to promote NoveList over other applications by offering NoveList on their websites.  Perhaps because NoveList was developed by librarians.

Subject Switch:  While thinking about my digital collection project, I’ve been looking at the Walter Stanley Campbell collection of Native American photographs in OU’s Western History Collections.  I wish the photogrphs could be viewed larger, and I wish there was more detail about each picture, such as where the photo was taken, who took the photo, and some details about the subject of the photo.  I mean, who was Arapaho sub-chief Yellow Bear?  Maybe this information is available elsewhere, but more detail or a link to additional information might improve accessability.  My goal is to collect as much information as I can about my grandparents’ photographs, but of course, there is much they may not remember.  Guess we’ll see what happens.

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In chapter 5 of Lesk’s Understanding Digital Libraries, Lesk mentions that in cataloging systems such as the Dewey Decimal System and Library of Congress, each book can be placed in only one catagory “since the shelf location is determined by the class number” (p. 121).  Even if a library has multiple copies of a book, collocation is important because users will be annoyed if they have to look in multiple places for a certain book.

We were talking about collection organization in my Readers Advisory class, as far as the pros and cons of separating or integrating genre fiction from/with the general fiction.  Customers who never browse in certain sections, like the sci-fi/fantasy section, are more likely to expand their reading horizons and check out a previously untried genre when the books are intershelved.  However, other readers who want to browse in a specific genre are frustrated when they have to search for their desired genre among other genres.  Several Tulsa Public Libraries are intershelving westerns with general fiction.  It seems that I read about users being frustrated with this arrangement in another library system–I wonder what Tulsa’s customers think about this intershelving?

It strikes me that a benefit of digital libraries is that one resource can be accessed under a number of subject headings, and the location of the information package online is less likely to hinder access.  A link to a western mystery story can be placed under westerns and under mysteries.  The story is never checked out (unless perhaps it’s an ebook with limited access), so users do not have to look in multiple places; it’s always in both places.  This may seem exceedingly obvious, but it hadn’t occured to me until the Lesk chapter, our Readers Advisory discussion, and the difficulty of my latest library search triangulated in my brain.

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Surprise Inside

For those of us with fond memories of Richard Scarry‘s Lowly Worm.

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