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Making progress

We’ve just had one of our regular project team meetings and spent some time checking progress against all our ‘workpackages’.

It was good to note all the things we’ve achieved or made progress on to date.

Our major milestones include creating our ‘base’ collection by the end of October and to have community contributed content added by the end of February.  We have had delays on some issues but think we are still pretty much on course to meet both of these deadlines.

Our Metadata expert moved to a new job in July which has slowed things down in making some final decisions on metadata standards and starting full cataloguing of resources.  However, I’m very pleased to report that Laura Unwin has recently joined the project on secondment from our Library’s cataloguing team and is now addressing these issues.  We plan to finalise outstanding points by the end of  August.

We know what we are doing and by when in adding the different resources that will make up the base collection.  Colin has already posted on the work he is doing to digitise oral history interviews from the East Midlands Oral History Archive.  This has required careful purchasing, testing and fine tuning of the necessary equipment – and considerable work to identify interviewees and seek permissions to digitise (on a ‘best efforts’ basis).  The rare books from the University of Leicester’s Special Collections to be added to the archive will be digitised by the end of October.  We’ll soon be adding a collection of digital photographs of ‘ghost signs’, videos are arriving from the Media Archive for Central England and we are on course to add historical Leicestershire directories by about the end of October.

Members of the Rothley Heritage Trust have started to identify items to add to the archive and will be trained to contribute content during September.  We are meeting members of the Leicester Industrial History Society this week to plan their work with the project in detail.

A major focus of our next project team will be ‘dissemination’ with various ideas on things to do in the run up to Christmas – when the base collection will be a reality – and then in the spring when more content has been added, we hope to have the new ‘Web 2.0’ interface in place for CONTENTdm (the system we are using) and we are very much in a user evaluation phase.

Weekly update (2)

The past seven days have flown by and here I am writing a weekly update again. 

At the beginning of this week I attended a course at JISC Digital Media in Bristol.  The team there seem to be a good bunch and are incredibly knowledgeable and well prepared for the training they deliver.  They have been great in talking through the whole process of building this type of collection whilst highlighting best practise in areas such as digital image capture. One of the key ideas I took from the day was the concept of producing digital images to fit the purpose that they will be used – and a mathematical way of quantifying this.  It’s another strand to add to the discussions we are having about workflows and standards.

After that useful start to the week I have spent some time configuring CONTENTdm to the point where I can talk to our technical guy next week and go to the next step – which is to have a working demo “view” for a particular collection.  We’ll be showing this to the project team at the next meeting.

Before that meeting the key task will be to bring all of the ideas, discussions and plans together into a report/presentation to inform the group about the options we have.  Hopefully the group will then be able to make some big decisions about the technical side of the archive.

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).

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