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Friday, March 26 • 11:00am - 12:00pm
Best Practices in Digital Collections

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Shannon Willis & Marcia McIntosh, "The perils of complexity: A multi-stage study to determine necessary images for digitized scrapbook representation" The digitization of complex scrapbooks is a common problem faced by cultural heritage professionals. Unlike more standard bound works, scrapbooks are highly complex objects with multiple moving parts and numerous special features. Their makers attach a wide variety of material types (photographs, pamphlets, newspaper clippings, letters, ribbons, etc.) to the pages; many of the items attached to the pages fold out or can open to reveal more information, and some items are left unattached between pages. Given their complexity and variability, determining digitization standards for scrapbooks that will hold up across all manner of collections and accurately represent their unique elements in an understandable way in a digital environment can be challenging.     In order to answer the question of how to best represent scrapbook materials in a digital environment, librarians at the University of North Texas conducted a multi-stage study to assess national trends and user preferences for scrapbook representation. The stages of this study included a review of national trends in scrapbook digitization, as seen in the Digital Public Library of America; a paper-prototyping-inspired, in-person user study; and an online survey of user preferences. The results of this research have enabled the implementation of clear guidelines at the University of North Texas for scrapbook digitization that accounts for the user experience rather than strictly relying on personal opinion or local librarian consensus. The insights gained from this study can help other institutions working to digitize scrapbook materials or other complex items, as well. 

Maggie Downing, "Creating Digital Preservation Policies and Procedures" According to the IMLS 2019 report, “Protecting America’s Collections,” 84% of institutions preserving born-digital collections had no plan for digital preservation. This paper will discuss the importance of creating and maintaining digital preservation policies and procedures.     As a result of consistently changing standards, hardware, software, and file formats, digital assets are at a much higher preservation risk than conventional analog resources. New technologies and advancements require active organization and administration to preserve digital objects, particularly since the field is still developing. A digital preservation policy should state an institutional commitment to preserving digital objects, identify challenges and preservation goals, outline staff roles and responsibilities in digital preservation. Digital preservation procedures can the be developed based on the goals outlined in the policy.    This paper will discuss several procedural steps to consider in digital preservation, including: Creating a digital asset register; creating a plan for migration from old media; establishing a storage and backup plan; establishing standardized file formats and file naming protocols; and establishing metadata vocabularies and ingest workflows. 

Sarah Coe, "When to Say When" an imminent professor of architecture donated tens of thousands of his photographs to be digitized and made available to the public, along with the funds to pay for it. Because of inconsistencies in filenaming conventions and organization, automation was difficult, but a workflow was established, and the collection was ingested. He then dropped off another hard drive of images. Hierarchical organizing principles in the first batch were often missing in the second, and integrating them presented a new crop of challenges. Through collaboration and the use of tools like OpenRefine, our own XML based tool, and a crowd-sourcing project, we are making progress, but with 18,600 folders and sub-folders and 340,000 images, when do you decide when to say "when"?

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Shannon Willis

Digital Projects Lab Manager, University of North Texas
Digital Projects Lab Manager
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Marcia McIntosh

Digital Production Librarian, University of North Texas
University of North Texas
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Maggie Downing

Manager of Digital Imaging, Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts
Maggie Downing manages all digital imaging projects at CCAHA. She also works with institutions to conduct digital preservation assessments and planning for large-scale digitization projects. Maggie is a member of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) and the Philadelphia Area Conservation... Read More →
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Sarah Coe

Visual Resources Support Specialist, Yale University

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Owner, vrcHost LLC
vrcHost specializes in installation, integration, customization, and feature development for the Madison Digital Image Database (MDID) project - an open source digital content management system used at hundreds of institutions worldwide for teaching and scholarship in the visual arts... Read More →

Friday March 26, 2021 11:00am - 12:00pm CDT