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Weekly update (1)

It’s quite hard in the midst of a project like this to update the blog with all of the daily activities so I will endeavour to provide a weekly update.  This is the first – so here we go.

The first steering group meeting took place on Monday with lots of useful ideas being produced.  It was good to meet representatives from most of the initial partners and having so many groups on board means there is a huge amount of experience to draw on.

This week has been very much about bringing the set-up strands together.  We have now got the appropriate CONTENTdm licence in place.  CONTENTdm had been identified as the software of choice for this project at an early stage.  The bid justified this as follows:

 “OCLC’s hosted CONTENTdm software was selected over open source alternatives to manage the digital archive because of its rich functionality including full-text searching, faceted search results and the availability of Web 2.0 services in a forthcoming release scheduled for testing in Autumn 2010”

We are now underway configuring the admin side of the CONTENTdm interface, and pursuing some of the technical issues that arise when implementing a new piece of software.

The other technical issues that are foremost at the moment are the file types required in the archive for both preservation and delivery purposes, and the metadata templates to be associated with each collection/item type and how these will be cross-compatible (more on this soon).

Meet the project team (pt1)

After a rather extended and unscheduled hiatus on this blog I think it is an appropriate time to introduce ourselves, and what we are doing on this project.  Look out for posts from each member of the team in the next few days.

My name is Ed Kirkland. I’m the project manager.  I have already broadly outlined the project  but will add a bit of detail now. 

The intention of the project is to create a sustainable digital archive to aggregate historical materials of relevance to Leicestershire.  We have an initial batch of materials in mind to establish the archive.  These materials have been selected form the archives of MACE, EMOHA and the University of Leicester library Special Collections.  They have been selected using usage data showing that there is high demand for them.

One prominent item identified from the library Special Collections is John Nichol’s work “The history and antiquities of the county of Leicester” which is not freely available online at present and is regularly consulted in the reading room.  This book is 5,500 pages in 4 quite large volumes hence we are talking to a variety of companies about the requirements we have for digitising it – more on that in a future post.

The real key to this project however will be building relationships with our user community.  We are hoping that as the project becomes established community groups who have collections relating to Leicestershire will upload their collections.  A large part of my role on the project will be to foster these relationships and to provide training and support to assist the community partners to scan, edit, and upload (with metadata) their materials.

I would imagine that I’ll be writing the majority of posts on this blog so if you want to contact me please either leave a comment or e-mail me at ek159@le.ac.uk

The project…

Now that we’ve cleared up what this blog is for perhaps it would be a good time to say something about the project.

This project has been initiated because the special collections managed by the University of Leicester Library (UoL), the Media Archive for Central England (MACE) and the East Midlands Oral History Archive (EMOHA) are not readily available to the general public. The reasons for this include the frail condition of rare texts or in the case of videos or oral histories, intellectual property rights. To access these resources individuals must visit in person and request access on an item by item basis. Providing public access to these materials in digital form is a key aim of the project.  However the sheer scale of these collections makes it unrealistic to expect the entire collections to be digitised in the near future.

Within the project public engagement will be encouraged by the active involvement of community organisations in the identification and prioritisation of the material which will be added to the My Leicestershire Digital Archive.

In addition, two community organisations – the Leicester Industrial Heritage Society and Rothley Heritage Trust – which have collected unique resources on their own, will be provided with the training and infrastructure required to add their own digital content to the archive.

As the material is digitised and becomes available community engagement is further planned with the availability of Web 2.0 social tagging, comments and ratings functionality in the user interface.

In the beginning…

This is the first post on the My Leicestershire Digital Archive (MLDA) project blog. The purpose of this blog is to act as a team diary recording our travails setting up the archive and working with community partners to select and digitise items to be prioritised for inclusion.

We hope that as the project progresses towards completion next March this blog will stand as a record of what we are doing and how we did it, answering the questions what did we learn?  And what would we do differently next time?

So expect a variety of contributors and please contribute yourself with comments or an e-mail to ek159@le.ac.uk