“If it isn’t online, it doesn’t exist”.
This phrase is becoming more and more commonly heard. With the increasing trend to move towards electronic format as the new norm, libraries play an even more important role of ensuring equitable access to all information and resources especially for the traditional print formats. Local histories, newspapers, heritage, archives and many small but valuable collections are all at risk and may soon become lost treasures if libraries are not able to provide them with a visible online presence. The question is no longer one of need but how?
. Which collection do we digitize (relevance and priority)?
. Do we need to seek copyright clearance before digitizing?
. What resources (manpower, hardware, software) do we need?
. Do we do it in-house or outsource to external experts?
. Where do we find the funds for these projects?
. What metadata standards do we use?
. What kind of information do we collect?
. How do we deal with the multiple different formats (prints, oral history, videos, etc.)
. How do we store them?
. How do we make them accessible?
. How do we promote them? …
The list of questions to be answered seems endless and the journey, as some libraries have found, may not be an easy one, given the extent of issues wrapped around digitization. Luckily, the Library community is one that advocates sharing and collaboration, one that encourages learning from the experience of others. And initiatives such as the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative” are excellent help in providing a common set of guidelines and resources to encourage common digitization benchmarks.
Here’s a 90-minute webinar which was held on 02 November 2011 sharing the experiences of 4 public libraries with regard to their digitization projects (this webinar was spurred by ALA’s OITP Perspectives paper – “Digitizing Hidden Collections in Public Libraries“):
Digitizing Hidden Collections : Success Stories from Small and Medium-sized Digitization Projects