Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Chapter 2: Managing Digitization

Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Chapter 2: Managing Digitization

Article excerpt

A fair measure of whether a library has, in John Price-Wilkin's terms, moved from project to production resides in its capability to undertake second and third projects, particularly of increasing complexity or scale.

Technical infrastructure is key to sustaining content. Managerial skills are essential to establishing and sustaining production operations.

Well-managed digitization operations have systems, policies, staff, processes, and procedures in place to carry out all phases of digitization efficiently and professionally.

A library planning to undertake multiple digitization projects should found its program on capabilities within the organization at large to:

* Manage risk

* Manage projects

* Manage tradeoffs

These skills should reside in-house. Many of the decision-making tasks in digitization should neither be outsourced nor delegated to consortia partners.

Library administrators and staff know their collections, their audiences, and their organization's tolerances for risk better than anyone. Even if much of the digitization work is outsourced, internal policies need to govern outcomes for original source materials and define baseline functional requirements for the digital surrogates.


Libraries committed to digitizing collections for enhanced access will inevitably select (or nominate) source materials that are not unambiguously in the public domain. Resources should be reviewed and experts consulted to understand risks and to develop policies and guidelines for investigating rights. (See, for example, links to clearinghouses and tutorials on copyright and fair use in the NISO Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections.)

Although good practice recommendations exist in this arena, the extent to which rights and permissions should be investigated is a local decision. As is the decision to limit access or provide open (that is, worldwide) access to surrogates.

Digitizing items that carry republication restrictions or otherwise expose an institution to potential risks not only increases costs for digitization but also for sustainability. Rights and permissions can change over time, so if they are gathered in today's digitization project, an organization needs to weigh the costs of recording and maintaining rights metadata against the risks of possible penalties from not doing so (including eligibility for repository services).

Producing rights metadata to manage risk

Complex and proprietary solutions have been developed by and for publishers to manage intellectual property and rights metadata. Librarians, in turn, are beginning to propose simpler draft schemas to facilitate recording and sustaining this class of administrative metadata. See, for example:

* Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (METS), Draft Rights Declaration Schema, 2003, which "allows the documentation of minimal administrative metadata about the intellectual rights associated with a digital object or its parts, and is to be used as an extension to the Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (METS)."

* Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), Project ROMEO, Rights Metadata for Open Archiving, 2003.

A library does not necessarily need to adopt a specific rights metadata standard and have procedures in place before digitizing, but high-level administrators should be prepared to define and enforce tolerable levels of risk in this arena for any selection strategies that extend beyond materials in the public domain.

When implemented in production, such risk tolerance policies guide technical decisions pertaining to the extent of administrative metadata to gather, the standard (such as schema) to use in recording such information, the tools and processes to create the metadata, and the responsibilities to assign in keeping the metadata current. …

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