The Plan: 2010-2011

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Digital Services 2010-2011 Planning Document

As always, our primary focus is the digitization of selected content from Hoole Special Collections, to both publicize their holdings and to make valuable primary source material available online for researchers and patrons.

Looking forward over the next 12-18 months (from June 2010), we expect to be involved in the following efforts and tasks:

1) Assessment of scanning equipment in terms of speed and reliability, in order to develop recommendations for updates to the Digitial Services equipment before the EBSCO funding runs out. This assessment is taking place both in-house and via a survey on overhead scanners which has already been posted and publicized to several listservs. An article on the findings is expected to result as well.

2) Develop collaborative relationships with other likely digitization partners to lay the groundwork for a successful digitization grant. This involves clarification of needs and resources, selection and adoption of digitization and metadata standards, and development of workflows and shared goals and timelines. We have already begun this process with Tuskegee and the University of West Alabama.

3) Assess our current flow of information to determine if and how best to update our tools and processes. Already we have targeted input and updating of collection information, a process which crosses 3 departments (archivists, Digital Services, Metadata Unit), as information better handled via a web interface to an existing MySQL database, which is where that information ultimately resides. We need to analyze who needs to be able to do what when with that information, adapt the database to manage the additional information required, and then specify the requested web interface interaction for web services to develop when time permits.

4) Usability studies.

a) The Cabaniss usability study is planned for early fall, under the direction of Amanda Presnell, Project Manager. Web services has been contacted about adding a message to the web interface for volunteers; Amanda is coding the study into the software, and will be distributing flyers and contacting secretaries to get postings on departmental listservs, to ask for volunteers as well. This study already has IRB approval, and is required for the NHPRC grant. Analysis of the study will take place in late fall, and a peer-reviewed article is expected to result, also required for the grant.

b) The Metadata Pilot Project usability study needs to be finalized, submitted to IRB for approval, and scheduled, hopefully for late fall; early spring at latest. After analysis, an article and/or presentation is expected to result.

c) Acumen needs usability studies as well, of the iterative sort to support the directions taken in development. It is not yet determined who will design and implement these studies.

5) Preservation software testing: we need to determine what open-source operating system and software need to be stored with our archival content to provide digital archivists of the future with the capabilities to render and reconstruct access to our digital files. OLT will provide a testing computer, and Web Services will recommend an operating system and open-source imaging software. Digital Services will select and download targeted software, identifying and filling dependencies (possibly with the assistance of Area Computing Services), and will test the software against our archival files to determine if what we've selected is sufficient. With the help of Area Computing Services, the final selection will then be imaged and stored with the imaging software in the archive. Attendant documentation gathered about the operating system or hardware will be collected in plain text and added to the archive as well. This process is to be repeated every 2-3 years.

6) Preservation metadata: with the assistance of the DigiPres group and notably the Metadata Unit, we will determine the scope of information that needs to be gathered and stored with the archival files, define how it should be captured and by whom and when, and how it will be encoded. As this process takes place, we will codify our practice and build it into our regular workflow. We have already begun to examine the policies surrounding audio files, looking at such questions as whether and how much information to store about the original analog item, the conversion process, and the digital file itself.

Additionally, we will set up a process to determine when a descriptive metadata record (MODS) for an item is finalized, and store it in the archive with the archival objects.

7) We will complete the NHPRC-funded Cabaniss grant by the end of February 2011, fulfilling all the requirements to which we agreed, including another presentation about this project at a national conference.

8) We seek to improve accessibility to our digital content over the next few months. This takes several forms:

a) Add OAI (Open Archives Initiative) repository functionality to Acumen content. This will enable other service providers, including collaborative digitization efforts such as the ASERL project, to collect our descriptions (metadata), index it with that of other institutions, and provide searching over the combined content -- linking out to the digitized content where it resides here. To support this, we also need a MODS Editor for our Metadata Unit to be able to modify existing MODS records without returning to the spreadsheet. All of this will require the OLT programmer for implementation.

b) Add full text indexing to Acumen: the entire metadata file, the transcripts, and the OCR need to be indexed. In addition, corrected transcripts should be viewable beside the digitized item. Again, this falls to the OLT programmer for implementation.

c) Google indexing. We need sitemaps for all content submitted to major web search engines and updated regularly. We hope this will be implemen ted by the OLT programmer.

d) RSS feeds on new collections as they are added. Again, we hope this will be implemented by the OLT programmer.

e) We want to add collection descriptions to the catalog, linking out to the digitized content in a result list in Acumen, with the finding aid as the first item in the list. The first step will be to determine whether the exported MARC XML from Archivists Toolkit can be transformed into an appropriate record for uploading to the catalog, with the addition of a persistent URL for the collection.

f) We intend to implement linking out to digitized items from within the finding aids, and are in the process of sorting out the metadata challenges that stand in the way of implementing this programmatically. Data entry varies from the finding aid to the item description, so this is an ongoing process. Still, by next spring we hope to have most digitized items linked into the finding aids which are already in EAD (Encoded Archival Description) form.

9) If Tom Wilson's proposed Tools Grant is funded, we will be involved in developing and supporting this effort.

10) We need to upgrade the scripts and software that we offer open-source to others, so that it is more user-friendly and adaptable. Instructions should accompany the software such as the hardware and software requirements, for example; and the user should be able to input the directories to select rather than have them be hard-coded into the scripts.

11) We will continue to digitize, digitize, digitize, codifying our practice and policies and updating workflows to continually improve our quality, speed, and competence.