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.