Resource Sharing: Phase one prototyping
Part I: General Overview
UVa Library is dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of its materials. This is evident from its history of supporting and developing “electronic centers” that were put in place to provide faculty support and work directly with library materials. These centers have evolved over time to become loosely arranged around specific data types. Currently there is the Electronic Text Center, the Geospatial and Statistical Data Center, the Robertson Media Center, and Rare Materials Digital Services. There now exists a more generalized Digital Library Production Services within the library that though neither a center nor a public service, works to fulfill its mission of digitizing the library's holdings.
Two common elements emerge from this history: not all library materials can be treated in the same fashion and experts are required to specialize in a specific type of library material. Rare Materials Digital Services (RMDS) is a digital unit who must train its staff how to digitize and handle Special Collections material. Special Collections are unique in that they cannot be accommodated in high production workflows due to their delicacy and value. They require a separate workflow that reflects their artifactual nature.
The unique nature of these materials calls for different hardware that can digitize special collections materials with minimal wear and tear to the original. RMDS employs four individual Phase One cameras to handle the material that cannot be placed on a flatbed scanner. To operate these cameras, students and staff have to undergo a lengthy training process. This process involves both an in-depth training on digital preservation methodology as well as the intricacies of handling rare materials. The cost for both the cameras and the staff time are high. Given the general need for specialized digital equipment and expertise across the University of Virginia other libraries and centers seek to develop their own digital centers. Recognizing this, RMDS, is now working to implement a prototype project that will allow other units within the university to digitize their materials under the auspices of our unit.
This is a general prototype to verify both the need for such resources and the library's ability to meet that need. There are several goals to this effort:
- Test RMDS's ability to centralize digital services for rare materials.
- Unify digital production and metadata creation standards for rare materials that will eventually be ingested into the library's central repository.
- Allow other units to “test” our hardware in order to determine whether or not they want to purchase their own. Given that the hardware can cost up to $40,000, this is an excellent means to “try before you buy” and make an informed decision.
- Provide units who do not intend to purchase such expensive hardware the opportunity to share expenses with existing digital units in a mutually beneficial manner.
- Identify a need within the library system for such services and include in resource planning for possible additional hardware.
- Revisit the library's digital services support model in terms of specialized services.
- Give people who do not have access to resources required to digitize such materials the ability to do so in a standardized manner and provide them with the training and expertise they need to use these resources.
Part II: Methodology
This section describes the details and specifics of workflow management that this prototype seeks to solidify. The issues can be organized in terms of administrative and technical concerns. The main administrative issues are scheduling and tracking use of the resources. The technical concerns deal with the implementation of digitization standards and metadata creation. Initial discussions centered primarily on ascertaining the availability of hardware, training of staff, and storage of each unit's materials.
Availability of resources . Given that the current members of the prototype group are all affiliated with the university, we will use Corporate Time to both schedule and track use of the resources. A separate resource was created in CTime for RMDS and each of the cameras. RMDS students have priority in scheduling time. Each student books with both the RMDS resource and “invites” a camera resource to that booking. This enables RMDS staff to see who will be using RMDS on any given day as well as which individual camera is requested for use. This system is currently being tested by RMDS staff. One benefit is that CTime resources cannot be double booked. CTime will not allow a resource to have overlapping scheduling. These bookings will need to be monitored and kept up to date.
Tracking use of resources . We will be using the CTime listings to demonstrate use and need for hardware. Statistics will be gathered as needed.
Training . This aspect will be undertaken by RMDS staff
Digitizing standards . The standards that will be applied to the creation of digital objects will be those already in use by RMDS. Particular attention will be paid to using this prototype as a means to test those standards with a variety of rare materials.
Metadata creation . This will primarily be the responsibility of the unit creating the digital content. Workstations are available for this to occur concurrently with scanning. The prototype will also test current digital library metadata standards with respect to non-standard materials and types.
Materials . Initially the selected materials should be fairly limited in scope to test the workflows. Participants are expected to handle their own storage needs for the digital objects and transfer them themselves.
Part III: Assessment
The participants will plan to meet regularly to discuss ongoing concerns. Participation will be solicited from digital library specialists with respect to adapting workflows and metadata where needed. The assessment strategy will be developed further as the prototype progresses. The group participants will decide on benchmark goals for each unit and then the overall scope will match it.