random quote Link: Publications Forum Link: About DLF Link: News
Link: Digital Collections Link: Digital Production Link: Digital Preservation Link: Use, users, and user support Link: Build: Digital Library Architectures, Systems, and Tools
photo of books






Please send the DLF Director your comments or suggestions.

The Making of America, Part 2

During the fall of 1996, the Advisory Committee of the DLF endorsed a proposal to build on the original work of two participants, the University of Michigan and the Cornell University libraries. The Michigan/Cornell work was devoted to the theme of the Making of America and, with the support of the Mellon Foundation, generated a collection of digital books and serials devoted to the theme of the Making of America. Planning for Part 2 of the Making of America project proceeded with DLF support and led in June 1997 to the submission of a grant proposal to the National Endowment for the Humanities

Under the leadership of the University of California at Berkeley, five DLF institutions are participating in the project. The participating institutions include, in addition to Berkeley, Cornell, Stanford, Penn State, and the New York Public Library. Their project is focused on special collections materials related to the theme of transportation during the Gilded Age. They seek to organize and develop community practices for creating and encoding the digitized versions of primary sources and enabling readers to link seamlessly to these digitized surrogates directly from the finding aid descriptions of them.

As DLF participants developed the plan for Making of America, Part 2; they realized that such seamless links require the creation and management of a complex set of "metadata." They distinguished descriptive metadata, such as the information encoded in bibliographic records and detailed finding aids, which serve to identify the contents of the special collections, from the structural and administrative information needed to organize and manage the collections in digital form. Structural metadata include information about page sequencing or other divisions that enables a reader to navigate a work effectively in a digital environment. Administrative metadata include information about the manner of creation, the provenance, and ownership of a work that enables a digital library effectively to manage the rights in the intellectual property of a work. These distinctions are incorporated in the NEH proposal, but Berkeley and its colleagues in Making of America, Part 2, are already at work in an early phase of the project, which CLIR and DLF have funded to stimulate the development of practices for encoding structural and administrative metadata.

There are four tasks to be accomplished in the work that CLIR and DLF are currently supporting:

  1. Berkeley and the four other participants in Part 2 of the Making of America project are identifying the classes of objects that they will digitize.
  2. Berkeley is drafting a white paper of system requirements. The paper will describe the expected "behaviors" that each class of digital object selected for inclusion in the digital collection needs to exhibit, the metadata needed to support these behaviors, and the best practices for digitizing the objects and creating the necessary metadata.
  3. The participants in the project and the DLF Architecture Committee will review the white paper. Upon revision from comments received, the paper will then be available for publication or dissemination in other appropriate forms as a basis for discussion in the wider community.
  4. Technical experts among the project participants will analyze the white paper and design the means of encoding the behaviors, metadata, and objects for implementation during subsequent phases of the project.

There is an ambitious timetable for the completion of these tasks. Tasks 1 and 2 will be completed by the end of February. Task 3 will be completed by April 1, and Task 4 will be completed by the end of May 1998. Whether or not NEH funding is eventually received, the completion of these tasks the Making of America project will enlarge our general understanding of the metadata requirements for digital libraries. However, in anticipation of an NEH award in the spring of 1998, the participating institutions are also engaged in other related work that is advancing the Making of America project. They are creating bibliographic records and encoded archival descriptions for the materials to be digitized, and they are training staff and designing workflows for the digitizing work.

For further information on the development of this project, see the Making of America, Part 2 website at Berkeley.

For further reading also consult the following publication:

  • The Making of America II Testbed Project: A Digital Library Service Model by Bernard J. Hurley, John Price-Wilkin, Merrilee Proffitt, Howard Besser. December 1999. pub86
  • The MOA2 home page providing links to project reports, white papers, and tools that support the capture of administrative and structural metadata during the creation of digitized archival materials, the transmission of administrative and structural metadata regarding such materials, and the display of digitized materials to archive users.

return to top >>