<$BlogRSDUrl$> Marcus P. Zillman, M.S., A.M.H.A. Author/Speaker/Consultant
Marcus P. Zillman, M.S., A.M.H.A. Author/Speaker/Consultant
Internet Happenings, Events and Sources

Sunday, October 19, 2003  

Special Digital Collections: An Analysis of Practice

To better understand the issues involved in collection description and access, a study interviewed people responsible for digital collections. "We wanted to find out what people were really doing and hoped to get insight into the reasons behind the choices that were being made," wrote project leader Lorraine Normore. It is important to realize that the goal is not just preserving a set of items, but our cultural heritage, the story of our past, reflected in the things that were made by natural or social forces. Metadata is needed to preserve both information about the thing and about its physical and cultural context. Metadata provides needed information and a way to support access to the material and to its framework of knowledge. The value of a collection's content derives from access, Normore points out. If people don't know the content is available, it won't be used. If it's not used, it won't be valued. Yet, effective access demands both metadata creation and preservation, both of which are costly. Funding agencies can help; they should demand that supported projects create usable metadata and appropriate access mechanisms as an inextricable part of the process. While the institutions studied shared a common culture, no solid body of standards or tools were widely used. Without standard procedures, there were frequent duplication of effort and a failure of interoperability of access mechanisms across institutions. Funding agencies should support the development of these tools and procedures, and demand that funded projects use them. Finally, the study concludes that the task is simply too big for any single institution. Large-scale cooperative ventures stand the best chance for success, although cooperation is difficult.

posted by Marcus Zillman | 9:51 AM
subject tracers™