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Report from CONTENTdm Western User Group Meeting 2008

By Cory Lampert on June 11, 2008 8:34 AM | Permalink
Over the weekend, I joined two other library staff members at the CONTENTdm Western User Group meeting in Claremont, CA. The conference was generously hosted by the Claremont Colleges where we could stroll the gorgeous campus and network with fellow CONTENTdm users in between sessions. This two-day conference began with an extremely content-packed session (perhaps it could have been divided into two?) that included overviews of two digitization projects. Of particular interest was the Washington Rural Heritage project that involved the leadership of the Washington State Library in mentoring small rural libraries to help get them started in digitization. The projects has been very successful in building grassroots support for digitizing content because Laura Robinson of the State Library had done an impressive job of reaching out to the community with information and technical support. The financial support of continuing state library grants help sustain the initial efforts and further build the collections. There was an additional presentation by the Claremont University Consortium about their digitized scrapbooks, and a vendor presentation on large-format scanning issues and challenges. I came away from the second session thinking about how to structure collection in CONTENTdm, because while it is possible to purchase an "unlimited" item license, there is still a "collection" limit and this has presented problems for some institutions with extensive collections. The main issue is that it can be very difficult to merge collections because you must refer users to a new URL and they may have trouble locating content they depend on. In addition, it can be hard to navigate long, long, lists of collections. Good food for thought as we start to grow our program.CONTENTdm is increasingly being used for institutional repositories, and there was a presentation from Oklahoma State about how collections were transitioned between IRs...yet another data wrangling issue that is a headache, but can be accomplished. The afternoon was a treat for me, because UNLV's own Alex Dolski unveiled his spatial search tool, ISIS and talked about the shortfalls of text searching maps. There was a general awe in the audience when he demonstrated the searching. It is always exciting to see what can be done by creative and talented developers like Alex and his co-presenter Eric Luhrs from Lafayette College. Eric showed his MetaDB tool and how their organization has used it to streamline decentralized web-based metadata creation. That's was it for day one and we ended the day with a meal in the quaint Claremont Village at a place called Heros and Legends where you could shuck your peanuts on the floor and order monstrously-sized portions of bar food. Day two started with an update on the new features we can expect in new versions of CONTENTdm; including: Unicode support, Powerpoint plug-in redesign (works with Office 2007!!), a revamped acquisition station, and improved image viewers. This is all good news as we have been anticipating these changes and hoping OCLC would respond. The second morning session detailed the University of Utah's, U-SKIS repository inventory system, which is truly a fabulous tool that they are using to manage IR content. The tool allows them manage comprehensive research on publishers, status of author's documents, notes for staff, and archival copies while seamlessly integrating into CONTENTdm for presentation. It was shared that it is a priceless "teaching moment" for faculty on Utah's campus when they experienced the scholarly communication crisis first hand. Often the library's research into publisher policies would reveal that publishers only allow the peer-reviewed (not the final version) copies of the publication or no rights at all and faculty learned quickly about these challenges. The final session was on getting the word out about digital collections and I was pleased to see that as of our last two collections, UNLV is using all the methods mentioned in the presentation. While, we have not moved into YouTube or Flickr, we do add links to Wikipedia to our content and web statistics show that referrals do come in from those links. The afternoon was a developer's meeting and was lightly attended. There is much discussion of a shared workspace for CONTENTdm users to create a code repository or to seperate out "newbie questions' from customization/technical enhancement questions. There is also a need to improve CONTENTdm's reporting features and search results (faceted searching was often brought up). My co-workers and I ended the conference with a bike ride around Claremont and up into the foothills of the Claremont Wilderness Park. It was an enjoyable and informative meeting. Stay tuned for next year....

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