The University of California Libraries and the California Digital Library are in the midst of an ambitious project to build a shared system for creating, managing, and providing access to unique digital resources—many of them archival—across the ten campuses. The UC Libraries Digital Collection project, which was defined by the libraries’ Next Generation Technical Services initiative, has three major objectives: 1) configure a digital asset management system where librarians can centrally add and edit digital files and metadata, 2) harvest metadata for digital resources hosted on external platforms, and 3) create a best-of-breed, integrated public interface so end-users can seamlessly search across these disparate resources. In addition to providing critical infrastructure for campus libraries to more efficiently manage and surface digital content, the resulting platform will also provide opportunities for collaboratively growing the collection. In May 2014, we will be about halfway through the project’s implementation—an ideal time to reflect on progress so far, challenges encountered, and how the project relates to broader strategies for connecting people with archives in the digital age.
Sherri Berger is a product manager at the California Digital Library, where she focuses on helping archives, libraries, and museums provide access to their unique and special collections holdings. She is part of a small team behind the Online Archive of California and Calisphere services, and is currently serving as project manager for implementation of the UC Libraries Digital Collection. Her professional interests include digital library assessment, usability and interaction design, and sustainability planning. Sherri holds an MS in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Advances in computing and communications mean that we can cost-effectively store every book, sound recording, movie, software package, and public web page ever created, and provide access to these collections via the Internet to students and adults all over the world. By mostly using existing institutions and funding sources, we can build this as well as compensate authors within the current worldwide library budget. Technological advances, for the first time since the loss of the Library of Alexandria, may allow us to collect all published knowledge in a similar way. But now we can take the original goal another step further to make all the published works of humankind accessible to everyone, no matter where they are in the world. Thomas Jefferson’s statement that "All that is necessary for a student is access to a library" may be an exaggeration, but access to information is a key ingredient to education and an open society. Will we allow ourselves to re-invent our concept of libraries to expand and to use the new technologies? This is fundamentally a societal and policy issue. These issues are reflected in our governments’ spending priorities, and in law.
A passionate advocate for public Internet access and a successful entrepreneur, Brewster Kahle has spent his career intent on a singular focus: Universal Access to All Knowledge. Brewster graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with a degree in artificial intelligence. In 1996 he started the Internet Archive, which is now one of the largest digital libraries in the world.
Most archivists work, and for the foreseeable future will continue to work, in hybrid environments where analog and digital coexist and where the perception and treatment of one is informed and sometimes limited by the existence of the other. Analog collections are rendered in digital surrogates surrounded and supported by standardized digital metadata. Born-digital materials can be sorted and placed into desktop “folders” in an act that models familiar behavior with analog material and provides a comforting illusion of physicality. This presentation will look at how the mingling of analog and digital systems in the 21st-century archival institution affects, for better or worse, the perceptions and decisions of archivists working on the 20th-century paper backlog. Is the rapidly growing presence of digital systems in analog archival processing causing us to lose our (paper) minds? If so, does it matter?
Lara Michels is an archivist currently working on the “quick kills” project to increase access to the paper manuscripts backlog of the Bancroft Library. She is also an historian with a PhD from Brandeis University.