Posts Tagged ‘archives’

My friend Cat is working on her Scientific Illustration degree at the University of California Extension in Santa Cruz, and she recently sent me a link about the Orphan Works Act of 2008 (H.R.5889), introduced April 24, 2008.  According to the Illustrators’ Partnership of America (IPA), this Act defines the term orphan work to mean:

“any copyrighted work whose author any infringer says he is unable to locate with what the infringer himself decides has been a ‘reasonably diligent search.'”  

The IPA says:

“the bill has a disproportionate impact on visual artists because it is common for an artist’s work to be published without credit lines or because credit lines can be removed by others…”

Digital editing software makes this easy to do with any images available online.  (Unless perhaps an application like copyright monkey can protect the image from being copied and edited?)

This Act will force visual artists to subsidize registries using image recognition technology, and register all of the images they wish to protect as their intellectual property, at considerable cost to the visual artist.  According to the IPA:

“These databases would become one-stop shopping centers for infringers to search for royalty-free art. Any images not found in the registries could be considered orphans.”

Here is the U.S. Copyright Office’s information on Orphan Works.  On the one hand, defining orphan works and allowing works to be declared “orphans” after performing due dilligence toward locating the creator will allow libraries, museums and archives to create digital copies of works to which access must otherwise be extremely limited–works that may be disintegrating and require digital preservation, or works that could be extremely valuable to globally dispersed information seekers, but cannot be digitized due to unknown intellectual property rights.  My instinct is to support legislation that will facilitate preservation and increased access to valuable resources that are stuck in a legal limbo.  But it appears that the legislation, as it stands, could create some significant problems for visual artists.  Illustrators of children’s books are just one of the groups potentially impacted by this bill–a population in which I have some interest as a children’s-librarian-in-training.

The Illustrators’ Partnership of America has a blog about the Orphan Works issue here.  I’m grateful to Cat for directing my attention to this angle of the issue.

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Today I spent five and a half hours sifting through photographs with my mother and grandparents, selecting content and collecting metadata for my digital collection.  I think I ended up with about 25 photographs taken by my grandfather or a deceased family member.  I couldn’t believe how many albums and boxes of photographs my grandparents have!  I’m really developing an appreciation for the meticulousness of this kind of genealogical data collection.

After reading this blogpost and exchanging collection plans with my classmate Vernell, I’m finding my understanding of copyright to still be a little fuzzy in some areas.  If a photograph is taken by a professional photographer, do the rights to that photograph pass into the public domain 70 years after the creator’s death, or do the rights to the photograph belong to the studio indefinitely?  If the photography studio no longer exists, do the rights belong to the inheritors of the studio for longer than the 70-years-after-creator’s-death time period?  I found professional wedding photos of my great grandparents, circa 1910, and while I’m certain that the photographer has been dead for 70 years or very close to it, I’m not certain if the rights to these photos still belong to a studio or not.

Another interesting case: I found a newspaper article published circa 1950, including a photo that belongs to my great grandmother.  The photo is of my great grandmother and her classmates outside their school house, taken in 1900 or 1901, according to the newspaper article.  I did not find the original photograph in my searching, just the newspaper copy.  So I wonder, can I include this article and photo copy in my collection, since the original photograph would be in the public domain?  Or would this be an infringement, since the newspaper article may still be under copyright?  I will post these questions on our class website to see if any of my clever classmates can help me answer them.

I will have to set another date to collect audio recordings of family members’ oral history.  I figured out how to use my new digital recording device (despite the fact it came with no instructions! Ha!), and I managed to install the Audacity audio file editing software on my computer, along with the required LAME code needed to convert files into mp3 format.  As clueless as I feel about so many technological applications, I’m very proud of myself today!

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Here’s something from an online discussion I’d like to preserve here.  I’m not posting it for class credit–just for my own interest (or vanity).  These thoughts stem from reading Anthony Grafton’s article, “Digitization and its Discontents,” The New Yorker, November 5, 2007.

I agree with Grafton that humankind has struggled with information glut and access difficulties since the stone tablet libraries of Nineveh and the scrolls of Alexandria were in circulation.  True, there is more information floating around today than ever before, but that was true in every age (except maybe the dark ages, but that’s another discussion). 

I think digitalization is our newest method of coping with our informational growing pains.  It’s not perfect, but I’m not sure any of our previous methods can be characterized as perfect either.  There were access issues in ancient times in the form of illiterate populations, access issues throughout history in terms of specific populations being denied access to information (slaves in ancient Greece, Christians denied access to biblical texts in the vulgate, women and African Americans denied access throughout history).  There were access issues with microfilm and microfiche in that very few people had personal microfilm and microfiche readers.  I think this demonstrates that in the interest of the democratization of information, libraries must extend outreach efforts and strive to provide access to everyone through literacy programs, tech assistance programs, and efforts to connect the unconnected countries of the world to libraries both physical and digital.

I also think Grafton is right that all human information is not going to be captured and digitized any time soon.  Information has been “left out” throughout history, from books left out of the Christian Bible to texts overlooked for conversion to microfilm.  It is troubling to think about who is making the decisions today as to what will be digitally preserved and what won’t be.  But do we preserve everything, down to the last child’s coloring book?  One man’s trash is an archeologist’s treasure in 500 years.  But I guess that passes into archival territory.

Still, as long as people prefer reading print on paper to text on screens, as long as parents want to take their children to story-time, as long as digital information is vulnerable to a powerful electromagnetic pulse, as long as people seek that Third Place for democracy and community, libraries must persist in bricks as well as bytes.

Anyone interested in the history of libraries in greater depth should check out Library: An Unquiet History, by Matthew Battles.  It’s a facinating account.  Thanks to Doc Martens for introducing me to it!

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Okay, so, more about the Knowledge & Project Management (KPM) Symposium.

The panel discussion on Digital Libraries featured Anne Prestamo, Associate Dean for Collection and Technology Services at Oklahoma State University, and Gina Minks, Imaging & Preservation Service Manager for Amigos Library Services.  Prestamo discussed the definition of “digital library,” and provided some examples of digital collections, including organizational intranets, Google Books and the Valley of the Shadow digital archives, for example.  Prestamo discussed how digital collection curators should consider the organization and presentation of a collection in terms of prospective users.  She offered the SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System as an example of a collection that may be organized in a way that is intuitive to astrophysicists, but less so for non-astrophysicists.  Other collections mentioned included Purdue’s data curation projects and institutional repositories as a means of capturing university output such as white papers, conference presentations and theses.

I never thought of it this way before, but I guess one might say that in my last job I developed and maintained a digital collection of grant applications, including profiles of and correspondence with local foundations.  It was a collection only accessible to the administrative staff, but it fits the criteria as a collection of information objects, organized to support access and usage, and available via digital means.  I maintained folders on the server for each foundation, including gift history, Form 990s, giving guidelines, and grant proposals organized by year of submission.  My collection provided the historical data needed to inform future requests for funds, proposals more likely to be accepted because of similarity to past requests that were granted.

Gina Minks discussed digital collection details including standards, quality assurance, file formats and preservation.  Dennis asked a question about where to draw the line in terms of preservation through digitization—how do we determine whether a piece of information is worth digitizing and preserving.  I think that question is too situational for an easy answer.  As Ruth shrewdly pointed out, what is garbage to one person may be an informational jackpot to someone else—quite literally if the audience happens to be the FBI.  The topic of preservation and born-digital information (like this blog) got me thinking about how archives are changing.  I remember how awe-inspiring it was to see rough drafts of Emily Dickinson’s poems in the University of Tulsa’s special collections, and I wonder how many rough drafts will be preserved in the next fifty years?  I used to write everything on paper and transfer it to the computer later.  Now so much is born digital, drafts overwritten and lost as the newest version is saved.  Again, Ruth said it best: we are losing the process of writing.  Or at least evidence of that process.  Unless overwritten data is preserved beyond my knowledge, like some digital palimpsest.  They say nothing deleted is ever totally gone.  But if it is inaccessible to all but a few technical gurus, the data seems as good as lost.  I wonder what archives will look like in the next century?

Back to the KPM Symposium, Martha Gregory of the Tulsa Library Research Wizards provided some excellent resources in the panel discussion on Strategic Intelligence.  Dun & Bradstreet, economic census, PIERS, Plunkett and many more provide a variety of information about corporate undertakings.  On a side note, Dun & Bradstreet and the Central Contractor Registration have given me quite a headache in the last few months as I struggled to procure and register a DUNS number for The Salvation Army’s federal grant application process.  I think the numerous territories, headquarters, outposts and area commands of The Salvation Army really threw D&B for a loop in terms of DUNS number assignments and appropriate affiliations.  Miraculously, everything finally passed D&B, CCR and IRS approval on my last day of work.

While we manned the information/registration table, Dennis gave me his sales pitch on the value of podcasting, and how it could benefit OU and the School of Library & Information Studies.  I have to thank him for turning me on to iTunes U—I had no idea so many free lectures were floating around out there.  Yesterday I downloaded a lecture series on open source software from UC Berkeley.  The sound quality’s not perfect, but it’s interesting stuff.  I found a podcast audio tour of the Yale library, which is interesting, but I think an audiovisual version would be more effective.  In any case, I agree with Dennis that podcasting selected OU lectures and conferences would be an excellent educational and marketing tool for OU and the SLIS.  What if the OU library websites had a podcast library orientation new students could download?  Podcasts for how to use the catalog or how to conduct research in ESBSCO databases and online journals?  I’m going to try to find opportunities to promote and support podcasting efforts through OLISSA and the student association, if I can.

Well, that’s all the musings my muddled mind can muster for this evening.  To bed, to bed, to bed.

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Interim Reading

So I had a lot of plans for the intercession between the spring and summer semesters.  Reading articles, blogging, all sorts of productive things.

But instead I loafed around and read a bunch of H.P. Lovecraft stories online.  Apparently the copyrights on most of his works have expired, because now many can be found online. 

I especially enjoyed “The Shadow Out of Time,” for library-related reasons.  The narrator suffers a sudden bout of amnesia which lasts five years, after which he regains his memory and identity, except for the last five years of his life.  After his recovery from the amnesia, he is plagued by strange dreams in which he roams through the halls of immense cyclopean buildings, populated by strange, tentacled creatures.  In his dreams, these creatures are known as the Great Race, which lived on Earth 150 million years prior to humans.  These creatures had the ability to “mind-swap” with other creatures in the past, present and future, creatures on other planets as well as on Earth.  While members of the Great Race studied alien civilizations by temporarily assuming the identity of one of the creatures studied, the mind of the switch subject resided in the body of the member of the Great Race.  The subjects of the mind-swap were encouraged by the Great Race to chronicle their experiences and the history of their culture for preservation and future study within the archives of the Great Race.  This practice enabled the Great Race to capture knowledge of past and future from civilizations throughout the universe.

As you might expect, if you are familiar with Lovecraft, the narrator’s dreams become even more disturbing when he learns that a group of archaeologists discover the ruins of cyclopean strutures, over 150 million years old, in the desert of Australia.  When the narrator explores these ruins, and finds them familiar, the truth of his amnesia and dreams becomes horribly clear!

…and yet, as I read, knowing I am expected to be overcome with horror at this astonishing discovery, all I can think of is how much I’d like to get my hands on those archives…

I also read The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat in the last month.  Interesting accounts of various neurological disorders.  Currently reading Women Who Run with the Wolves.

And now for a comic.

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Dreams of Flight

For anyone interested, I attended the first meeting of the nascent Student Archives group, initiated by George Gottschalk last Wednesday.  I believe we decided that the best way to conduct business will most likely be online through our listserv or through a blog, for which OLISSA is donating the website space.  We discussed scheduling archivist speakers and/or field trips to archives in Tulsa and Norman, both of which will be interesting and informative, I think.  I know nothing about archives, really, so I thought this group would be a good opportunity to learn more.  I will post more about this group and its doings as information develops.

And on a completely unrelated note, I’m glad I’m not the only person who daydreams about things like this.

Someday, Rita…  Someday…


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