Digitization – Day 1

July 1, 2014 1:45-4:45

Digitization! Today was my first day with Angie, who is the Digitization Coordinator at University of Richmond’s Boatwright Memorial Library. I will be interning with Angie every Tuesday and Thursday from 1:45-4:45pm. Angie and I spent the first hour and a half talking; she told me about how she got started at Boatwright (as an intern) and details about graduate school, which I will begin attending in the Fall of 2015. What I appreciated about my discussion with Angie is that she took the time to talk to me about digital asset management systems (also known as digital content), MARC records switching from AARC2 to RDA, OCR (Optical Character Recognition), and text encoding. I have heard these titles thrown around in common conversation with different librarians at Boatwright, but I wasn’t sure what they all meant. After speaking with Angie, I have a “bare bones” understanding of what they all mean:

Digital Asset Management Systems are essentially a system that allows for digital items to be stored, but also to be found. Currently the digital items that Angie creates (using the exciting camera in the digital lab) are only able to be found by a patron if they are placed into a digital collection. These items, however, can only be found if a person knows exactly where to look – in other words a patron cannot search the library’s database and find these digital items. There are some promising rumors that Boatwright will be getting, or perhaps creating, a digital asset management system in the near future. This would be an exceptional addition to the library as it will allow patrons to have easy-to-find access of interesting and helpful digital assets.

MARC records refer to cataloging. From what I understand, MARC records are currently using AARC2 rules (?), which are somewhat antiquated. RDA is a revitalized version. I am really interested to understand more about this and plan to focus one of my article critiques around MARC records, so I will be able to understand and explain MARC better! Also, I would greatly appreciate it if someone could share their knowledge about MARC…perhaps just a concise and basic version.

OCR (Optical Character Recognition) really caught my attention! This is another area of digital content that I would like to understand better. From what I can understand it is a system that will go through digital items and “recognize” people and places. The hiccup with OCR is that – and this is an example from Angie – a document that may have a person’s name in English and the same name written in Japanese, will recognize the names as two separate people. I’m sure there are other issues with OCR, but as all things driven by technology, there are hopes that OCR will get even better with time.

My understanding of text encoding is that it is similar to OCR, but done by a physical person. This would, of course, alleviate the issue of the OCR example. Again, another area that I am interested in researching.

During the last hour and a half, Angie and I met with Lynda (from the archives) about which items we could digitize. Lynda has a lot of middle school aged children coming in for a tour of the library and had come up with some fun activities for them to do, such as taking an old handwritten letter (written in cursive), and having the students try to decipher the letter. I think the students will really enjoy doing something like that, I know I would, but instead of allowing a bunch of little hands to touch the documents at once, Lynda is going to let the students look at a copied version. These were the items that Angie and I were collecting from Lynda – we will take pictures on the library’s fancy camera and print them out. We spent about 45 minutes trying to photograph one letter; unfortunately we had a pretty difficult time getting the picture to look crisp and clear. We will spend some more time with it on Tuesday, July 8.

I don’t have much experience with cameras, but I did take a photography class last semester at University of Richmond, which helped me to understand the various things Angie was focusing on while taking pictures of the letter: aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. Basic things we should all know about our cameras, but just as we don’t remember phone numbers anymore and expect our cell phones to do that for us, we expect our cameras to come with an Auto feature that will take care of any adjustments needed.

 

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2 responses to “Digitization – Day 1

  1. Wonderful! You are going to learn a whole new area of libraries this next few weeks. Angie will be an excellent mentor!

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