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CNI Spring Task Force Meeting – April 6-7, 2009

I attended the CNI Spring Task Force Meeting in Minneapolis, April 6-7, 2009. Below are some takeaways that I found noteworthy, especially as they relate to repositories.

Keynote Address – David Rosenthal, Chief Scientist, LOCKSS, Stanford University: David challenged some of the prevailing thought on digital preservation regarding format obsolescence.  He stated that incompatibility is not inevitable, rather that “creating incompatibility = reinventing the wheel”.  He argued that format obsolescence never happens.  He backed this up with evidence from the last few decades.  The moral of the story: If we go ahead and just collect the bits, we will be fine.  A rather freeing thought, given that the perceived complexities often make digital preservation a non-starter.

JPEG2000 is a viable alternative: Ryan Chute, from Los Alamos National Library, demonstrated the Djatoka (pronounced jay-too-kay), which is an open source JPEG2000 image server, built with the Kakadu software library.  The Djatoka server now has two client implementations (IIP implementation at the Biodiversity Heritage Library, and Open Layers at UNC).  Conceivably, JPEG2000 could be used as both a presentation format and as a preservation format (lossless compression around 2:1 and visually lossless compression around 10:1 from tiffs).  Demonstration looked very sharp, will need to pay attention to how it performs in production environments.  Discussed with Ryan the plans for integration with Fedora, and there are a few implementation paths to evaluate.

Preservation services in the clouds, Duraspace: Sandy Payette and Michele Kimpton discussed the joint venture between Fedora Commons and Dspace Foundation.  Duraspace will be a service (eventually a set of services) as well as open source software.  The initial use case will allow for a preservation based service in the cloud.  They have identified a few sites that they will be piloting these services with.  By Q1 2010, they expect to have extensions available for Fedora and Dspace to plug into these cloud services.  I asked about a scenario where we might store preservation copies in the cloud and store derivatives locally, and have Fedora and Akubra broker the data to the right store; they said this is a scenario they are planning for.

Cool Book Digitization Workflow at Northwestern: I attended a presentation by Claire Stewart and Steve DiDomenico from Northwestern on their web-based book digitization workflow, codename “crabcake”.  They are digitizing books and ingesting into Fedora.  Their Fedora implementation is similar to ours with an atomistic content model and use of METS for structural metadata.  Very clean set of workflow tools.  The most impressive part of their presentation is their GUI for manipulating the METS structure for a book digital object.  This interface is built heavily with Ext JS.  Their project is grant funded, and they will be releasing as open source in the summer.  From what I can tell, installation of their tools may require some adoption of their local practices, at the very least, their interpretation of METS.  Regarding their digitization/QC process, they have a lot of throughput, they push things into Fedora with very little human intervention and fix later, in essence getting things online with very little impediment.

Trident project report: I gave an update on the Trident project.  The presentation was well attended, and the project was well received.  There was good discussion around the metadata application profile, its possible extension to different metadata schemas, and general use cases for the Editor.  There was a general validation that our project continues to head in the right direction.

Taking the blog for another spin

Since we are on a roll with team member introductions, I’ll take the blog for a spin and introduce myself.

I’m Thomas Crichlow, a Digital Projects Consultant/Web Designer at Duke University Libraries. I’ve worked with various portions of the Libraries’ websites since October 2005 and with the new Digital Collections system since October 2007.

My contributions to the Digital Collections Implementation Team are focused on the contextual pages that provide some of the background information related to each digital collection. I meet with the collection sponsors and help them develop and present their content.

Overall, the team has worked hard to create a common look and feel for our Digital Collections system while preserving the unique identity of each collection.

My favorite activities have been creating collection icons (how hard can it be to convey a collection’s identity in 60×60 pixels?) and creating slide shows on collection home pages highlighting compelling images (kudos to Joaquin Bueno for his contributions to slideshows).

Working with such great colleagues makes the job much easier and very enjoyable.

Keeping coordinated

Little Katie Chewing Tobacco, Duke Digital Collections

Will’s introduction of himself and of “megadata” inspired me to do an introduction, too. I’m Jill Katte, Coordinator of the Digital Collections Program in the Duke University Libraries. The Digital Collections Program currently focuses primarily on digitizing and publishing on-line our unique manuscripts, rare books, documentary photographs, historic advertisements, popular music, and much more, primarily from Duke’s Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library and University Archives (where I worked from 2002-2007). My main role is to move these digitization projects from the idea phase all the way through to completion. I serve as a planner, project manager, liaison, communicator, negotiator, and cheerleader.

Most of the digital collection project ideas come from curators, but some have been submitted by Duke faculty, staff, and visiting scholars. I collaborate with these folks to develop their ideas into project proposals. Once the proposals get approved, production of the digital collections is accomplished by a cross-functional group called the digital collections implementation team. Team members represent several departments in the Duke University Libraries: Mike Adamo and Brian Davis (Digital Production Center), Noah Huffman (RBMSCL), Rich Murray (Metadata & Cataloging), Will Sexton (Information Systems), Sean Aery and Tom Crichlow (Digital Projects), and me (Collections Services). It is truly a dream-team, and I’m so lucky to be a part of it.