Thursday, 26 September 2013

LIB 121: Week 4 (September 17, 2013)

Today in class, we were asked to work in teams and look at several archival collections and make recommendations about including them in a digitization program. Over the past two classes we talked about copyright, scanning processes, preservation, costs, research values, and digital program purposes as factors in the digitization selection process. Among the members of my group, we had very different ideas of what should make an item eligible for digitization. For a collection of romantic correspondence between two members of the Pasadena community, dating back to the late 1890s, I thought we might encounter privacy concerns, the copyright was ambiguous, making the hand written text searchable would be challenging, and the paper was relatively stable in its current state; therefore there was no urgency to digitize. One my peers insisted that the content of the letters was very important for researchers, the copyright could easily be determined, and the stability of the paper meant it was an excellent candidate for a flatbed scanner, therefore it was a high priority digitization candidate. Our group also examined a collection of annual reports from the school’s physical education department and some student scrapbooks. Throughout the lectures, we looked a flow charts and selection criteria that were designed to remove the bias and inconsistencies from the selection process, but our assignment demonstrated how difficult that could be. For the assignment, there was no concrete context, nor real budget, staffing, or equipment limitations that could help us to make better decisions. When these things are defined and the flow charts that are created with agreed upon definitions and parameters that make sense within a given institution, a set of criteria would be invaluable.        

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