A Rising Tide of Digitization

By Kupfer, Shannon | Computers in Libraries, November 2010 | Go to article overview

A Rising Tide of Digitization


Kupfer, Shannon, Computers in Libraries


-The Ohio Memory Project

How could we honor our commitment to our users, continue to provide promised services, and maintain the integrity of our projects under such tight budget restrictions?

in 2009, after a year of planning and preparation, the second generation of Ohio Memory was launched. A collaborative effort of the Ohio Historical Society (OHS) and the State Library of Ohio, Ohio Memory is a repository for more than 75,000 digital items, including photographs, journals, and other manuscript materials, as well as print documents and archived web content. Since its launch, numerous other cultural heritage institutions in Ohio have contributed to Ohio Memory as well, resulting in a rich source for reformatted primary Ohio documents of interest to researchers of all types in Ohio and beyond.

This was not the first time Ohio Memory went live; in 2002 an early version of Ohio Memory debuted as part of Ohio's bicentennial, which took place in 2003. The new Ohio Memory, however, is far larger in scope and content and has become a hallmark for partnerships between cultural heritage institutions. How Ohio Memory was built, why it was built, the challenges faced along the way, our plans for sustainability, and our vision for the future of our digital repository are the focus of this piece.

Background

To understand how we came to be where we are now, a bit of background on both the State Library of Ohio and OHS is in order. The State Library of Ohio, where I serve as digital and tangible media cataloger, was established in 1817 to serve the information and research needs of the state government. Our present-day mission is more expansive, however: to lead and partner in the development of library services throughout Ohio; to promote and enable resource sharing among libraries and library networks; to provide access to information for Ohio's state government; and to provide specialized services to Ohio's residents. We administer Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds; coordinate the Talking Book Program for Ohio's blind and physically disabled residents; provide access to electronic databases; and offer a host of other services generally found in a library, such as interlibrary loan and reference. We are mandated by the Ohio Revised Code to receive and distribute state government documents and are also designated by Congress as a regional depository for U.S. government documents. Government documents, both federal and state, make up a large percentage of our collection of approximately 2 million items, which also includes rare books and manuscript materials, microformats, maps, journals and magazines, nonfiction print books, and books in a variety of electronic formats.

OHS, originally named the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, was founded in 1885 for the purpose of preserving Ohio's prehistoric resources. The society's collection now numbers well more than 1 million objects. These objects are divided into three broad categories - archaeology, natural history, and history - and include items relating to Ohio's past, both on traditional display and reformatted digitally for online access. Though OHS is a private, not-for-profit organization, it receives a portion of its funding from the state of Ohio in exchange for performing certain duties as outlined in the Ohio Revised Code including overseeing state memorials; repairing, restoring, and managing earthworks, structures, and monuments in its care; providing a location for the state archives; and collecting, preserving, and making available manuscript and print collections and artifacts that pertain to the history of Ohio and its people.

Digitization at the State Library of Ohio and the Ohio Historical Society

The State Library of Ohio has been archiving digital content, both borndigital and digitized, since 2001. Increasingly, over the past several years, the government documents that we are mandated by the Ohio Revised Code to receive and distribute have been created as born-digital rather than print materials and range from PDF documents to entire websites.

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