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Digital Collections

In the digital library, collections are transformed through the integration of new formats, licensed content, and third-party information over which the library has little or no direct curatorial control. Collection strategies and practices are not yet fully developed to take account of these changing circumstances, nor are their legal, organizational, and business implications fully understood.

DLF documents and promotes strategies for developing sustainable, scaleable, digital collections, and encourages the development of new collections and collection services. These pages provide information about DLF's work in this area under two heads: new online collections and services, and collection strategies and practices.

Encouraging new online collections and collection services

DLF Aquifer: Bringing collections to light

The digital library environment is evolving rapidly and libraries provide digital collections and services to their communities in a variety of ways. To develop the best possible systems for finding, identifying and using digital resources that are distributed on the network, the Digital Library Federation promotes the development of DLF Aquifer. The DLF Aquifer initiative is developing schemas, protocols and communities of practice to enable effective use by scholars, teachers and students, of digital library material in American culture and life.

DLF Aquifer puts into operation the founding idea of DLF, as expressed in the first item in our 1995 Charter: We have as our goals: (1) The implementation of a distributed, open digital library conforming to the overall theme [of America's heritage and cultures] and accessible across the global Internet. This library shall consist of collections -- expanding over time in number and scope -- to be created from the conversion to digital form of documents contained in our and other libraries and archives, and from the incorporation of holdings already in electronic form.

Registry of Digital Masters

The Registry of Digital Masters, now available from http://purl.oclc.org/DLF/collections/reg/OCLCservice, is an OCLC/DLF joint project, and is designed to record books and journals that exist in a page-image format, created in accordance with the DLF's Benchmarks for Digital Reproductions. A registry record will lead one to a use-copy (where applicable); the existence of a record gives one confidence that a preservation master exists; it does not guarantee that the master files are generally accessible.

The Digital Registry Phase One Implementation Guidelines are complete and available to testing institutions. They use MARC 21 Format for Bibliographic Data elements and OCLC current cataloging system functionality.

DLF has a growing interest in helping to define and facilitate the development of key "infrastrutural services" that are required by digital libraries but beyond the capacity of any one of them to develop. These pages introduce our work defining the need for and the requirements of a service that registers the existence of persistent digitally reformatted and born digital book and serial publications.

For more recent presentations on the scope and nature of this Registry, please see DLF Registry of Digital Masters. What is it? What is OCLC's role? and the following from the Spring 2004 DLF Forum: Kickin' It Up a Notch: Cooking with the Digital Registry (Robin Wendler, Harvard University); Carnegie Mellon University Workflow (Erika Linke, Carnegie Mellon University) and Library of Congress scenario: contributing to the DLF digital registry (Rebecca Guenther, Library of Congress).

Production workflow good practices

Collectively we know much about the design of a good digital production workflow, but there are too few places to which one can turn to learn about other people's workflow designs, file-naming choices, lessons learned, management software used or developed, etc. This new DLF Initiative (Spring 2004) has assembled a team of workflow designers and managers to articulate good practices, drawing on our collective expertise.

Guidelines for the Cataloging of Cultural Objects

DLF joined the Getty Grant Program in sponsoring the Visual Resources Association (VRA) to review and evaluate existing data content standards and current practice that has resulted in a manual (first released March 2004) that can be used to describe, document, and catalog cultural objects and their visual surrogates (the planning proposal for this project is also available).

Related earlier work was research into a shared cataloguing utility for visual resources. A planning process was undertaken to assess the significance and of develop a functional specification for a web-accessible cataloguing tool that will help minimize redundant effort involved in creating high-quality descriptions for works of art. The effort prepared a high-level rationale and functional specification for the tool. These are available in a framing document prepared to focus initial discussion at an initiation meeting held in New York City in January 2001, in a summary of that discussion, and in a reaction to and refinement of the summary as recorded at a meeting of visual resource professionals held at the Getty Research Institute.

Archivists' toolkit

Modeled in part on work to define the functional requirement of a shared cataloging tool for visual resources (see below), this initiative seeks to design and potentially develop of a suite of tools to support archival processing work. The work, initially co-sponsored by DLF and the California Digital Library (CDL), has evolved into a major, funded, consortial effort involving NYU, the five colleges, and UCSD.

In 2004, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded the Archivists Toolkit project for a two-year, $847,000 project. This funding will cover the period from 1 May 2004 through 30 April 2006. This joint project involves staff in the NYU Libraries, the UCSD Libraries, and the Five College Libraries. See http://euterpe.bobst.nyu.edu/toolkit/index.html for more information.

A summary report of the initial meeting held at UCSD on February 4-5, 2002 is also available. A follow-up meeting was held at Mt. Holyoke College in November, 2002, and resolutions developed at those two meetings informed the project proposal funded by The Mellon Foundation.

The Academic Image Cooperative (AIC)

A planning process initiated with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to develop a scaleable database of curriculum-based digital images to be used for teaching survey courses in the history of art. The planning process resulted in a prototype database and image collection. It also developed technical, organizational, and policy frameworks that have the potential for sustaining a more ambitious online service; one capable of identifying, developing, and disseminating a far large number of curriculum-based and scholarly image collections. Although work on the AIC is now completed, DLF continues to work in collaboration with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, helping it to develop circumscribed, strategically identified image collections that respond to widespread teaching and other specialist scholarly needs. It is envisaged that these collections, including the one developed by the AIC, will be incorporated into ArtSTOR. Sponsored by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, ArtSTOR 'is an independent not-for-profit organization that will develop, "store," and distribute electronically digital images and related scholarly materials for the study of art, architecture, and other fields in the humanities'. Information in these pages document the AIC's progress and include its collection strategy, business plan, technical and functional service specification, and final report to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Scholarly Internet gateways

DLF is supporting the development of a small number of Internet gateways through which users will access members' distributed digital library holdings as if they were part of a single uniform collection. The gateways will be built using a technique known as metadata harvesting. That technique is documented in a technical framework developed by the Open Archives Initiative (OAI). As such, the harvesting services developed by DLF will contribute to a practical evaluation of the harvesting technique and its application within libraries. The hyperlinked heading above points to a framing document, however an up-to-date account of DLF's current OAI work is available from here.

Collection strategies and practices

Strategies for developing sustainable, scaleable digital collections

A publication series that aims to assemble, review, and document practices adopted by libraries in developing their digital collections. Based on survey of practice at leading research libraries, titles in the series recommend strategies for developing collections from commercially supplied electronic content (Tim Jewell, University of Washington), digitally reformatted content (Abby Smith, CLIR), and links to third-party public domain Internet content (Lou Pitschmann, University of Wisconsin). The studies provide important decision tools for those developing digital collections. An early framing document that was used to initiate the series is also available.

Licensing digital materials. The LIBLICENSE web site

The LIBLICENSE web site (A Resource for Librarians) was funded in phases by CLIR and DLF. It offers a primer on licensing electronic information resources for libraries, including vocabulary, definitions, bibliographies, links to other relevant sites, a discussion list and much more. The site also includes the LIBLICENSE software. Operating with Windows and NT, this freely available software systematically queries librarians (or producers) concerning the details of the information to be licensed and, based on that input, produces a draft license agreement. The draft license agreement can then be sent to information publishers (or customers) to serve as the basis for further negotiations for license agreements with acceptable terms.

Social science and government data libraries

A workshop hosted in January 1999 to explore common needs as felt by social science data managers and other experts into: the discovery and retrieval of databases, the evaluation and interpretation of alternative data sources, and data extraction for analysis and presentation. See the report on the workshop a participant list and supplementary readings.

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