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Update on OCLC's Digitization Services
by
Posted On April 1, 2003
In November 2001, OCLC Digital & Preservation Resources (DPR) began offering services to enable libraries, museums, and historical societies to digitize and preserve their collections. Its latest efforts have been directed at providing an integrated yet modular package for libraries and other institutions that can deliver a complete solution for digitization, content management, and preservation needs, including archiving and access. I recently spoke with DPR's vice president, Meg Bellinger, who discussed some current developments and future plans.

Bellinger has been busy traveling to key OCLC institutions around the country to talk about DPR's mission and its programs. She noted that we have entered a new phase for digital libraries. The standards and technologies have advanced enough to enable the creation and management of large electronic collections. A federated model is ideal for reducing costs and sharing resources.

To date, DPR has two major software products for digital content management: CONTENTdm and Olive. CONTENTdm, a software solution for creating and managing digital collections, can handle any media type, including photographs, audio and video clips, multi-page documents, postcards, and 3-D objects. (Check the CONTENTdm NewsBreak at http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/nbreader.asp?ArticleID=17145.)

OCLC's partnership with Olive Software is providing enhanced access to newspapers. Libraries can have their newspapers digitized and converted to a searchable digital repository by OCLC. They can then choose to mount collections on their own servers or opt to use OCLC servers as a host. (See the NewsBreak about OCLC's agreement to be the exclusive worldwide distributor of Olive Software to the library market at http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/nbreader.asp?ArticleID=17172.)

The OCLC Digital Archive provides long-term access, storage, and preservation for digital materials. Through the Digital Archive, participants can share their unique resources with others and be confident that the content is accessible and available. Plus, the copyright and preservation metadata remain secure.

The Digital Archive is now in service with several successful test projects. There are two ways to submit resources: one-at-a-time Web-document submission (available since September 2002) and a batch document submission for collections known as "Batch Ingest," which was just added earlier this year. Current pilot institution partners for the batch submission include Columbia University Library and the Smithsonian Libraries.

OCLC has worked with the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) for more than 2 years to help solve the problem of capturing, applying identifiers, and archiving electronic government publications. The GPO is now using the Web document Digital Archive tool and archiving the publications itself.

A number of state libraries have added several thousand items to the OCLC Digital Archive. Since last fall, the state libraries of Ohio, Michigan, and Connecticut have chosen to participate. And, according to Bellinger, the Library of Congress is currently experimenting with Web-content harvesting and collection management.

OCLC DPR has three regional service centers that offer preservation microfilming, microfilm storage, digitization, and digital access enrichment services. According to the company, the centers are "dedicated, high-volume facilities with experienced staff, top-quality equipment, and 24-hour-a-day operation." They're located in Bethlehem, Pa.; Lacey, Wa.; and The Hague, Netherlands.

DPR also offers consulting and workshop services. The intent is to provide a wide range of solutions for those involved in everything from existing projects to developing new programs. These run the gamut from preservation skills training (like disaster preparedness and risk assessment) to developing large-scale digital library programs.

Bellinger stressed that participants can choose their own level of DPR services and support. A library might use OCLC's services and hosting and minimize its own IT involvement or simply opt for a modular tool and do the work itself.

This year, Bellinger says that DPR is focusing on three initiatives. In cooperation with the Digital Library Federation (a consortium under the umbrella of the Council on Library and Information Resources), DPR is in the first phase of a project to establish a Digital Registry that will enable the identification of and increased access to digital materials.

The proliferation of Web publishing has created a need for cost-effective harvesting and management tools. So the second initiative is to develop a Web site harvester that can automatically crawl an entire domain. Bellinger anticipates that DPR will seek out a partner for this Web Archiving project. She plans to have focus groups to discuss the requirements.

Finally, DPR will turn its attention to enhancing its e-journal archiving. The OCLC unit will focus on developing specific content management tools that can scale to large projects and handle content repurposing. Future developments will include cooperative e-publishing and e-learning initiatives.

Bellinger said: "It's an OCLC everybody knows, but it's also a new OCLC. It's a new generation, and OCLC is responding to the needs of a whole new generation change in libraries-systems and technology. I think we're keeping up with changes we see in the community and responding to the core mission to support them."

For more information about OCLC Digital & Preservation Resources, go to http://www.oclc.org/digitalpreservation.


Paula J. Hane is a freelance writer and editor covering the library and information industries. She was formerly Information Today, Inc.’s news bureau chief and editor of NewsBreaks.


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