National Archives sign at Kew Gardens Station

National Archives sign at Kew Gardens Station


New Jersey historic land titles database

From the announcement on the Archives & Archivists mailing list (02008 11 25):

On behalf of New Jersey State Archives, I’m excited to announce the initial posting of our database indexing the earliest land surveys and warrants of the East and West New Jersey Proprietors. As many of you know, these records have become available through accession and deposit at the State Archives during the last decade, making over three centuries of hitherto privately held colonial records readily accessible to the public. Here’s the link to our databases page:

The database title is Proprietary Warrants & Surveys, 1670-1727


Europeana launches and crashes into the iceberg of user demand

Europeana, the European online library, launched today and crashed into the iceberg of user demand. What is it with new sites and the inability of their builders to anticipate server overload and compensate for it?

Update for 02008 11 21:

At least they managed to get an error page up:

The Europeana site is temporarily not accessible due to overwhelming interest after its launch (10 million hits per hour).

We are doing our utmost to reopen Europeana in a more robust version as soon as possible.

We will be back by mid-December.

For a preview on Europeana and further information.


Google gives a new digital life to Life magazine

Google's struck a deal with the owners of Life magazine to digitize and place online its entire photographic and moving images collections. The Life Photo Archive is itself hosted by Google. Although Life wasn't being published way back then, the photo archive extends back to the 1860s.

As a search tip from the Life Photo Archive, "Add 'source:life' to any Google image search and search only the LIFE photo archive."

The images are mid-resolution JPGs (1280 pixels in one dimension and various pixel sizes in the second dimension) and watermarked with LIFE in the lower right corner.

Google really needs to improve its metadata display on its gallery page of thumbs. Getting the date or at least a year of the image in there would be a big help in deciding what's worth looking at. Sadly, some of the photos don't even have dates attached to them. I was interested, for example, in President Johnson's visit to Hawaii, but none of the photographs are dated! I guess that's a crowdsourcing opportunity Google offers through its image labeler program.

Source: DIG_REF@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU, 02008 11 19

The rainforest Cloudfront through its subsidiary Amazon Web Services LLC is now offering pay-as-you-go cloud computing through its new CloudFront service. The offering is in beta mode. Information served up this way has to be publicly accessible. According to the announcement I received, CloudFront works through "a worldwide network of edge locations that provide low latency and high data transfer speeds. ... [and] works seamlessly with other AWS services such as Amazon S3. ..."


Alliance for Permanent Access 02008 conference report

Quoting from Neil Beagrie's post to DIGITAL-PRESERVATION@JISCMAIL.AC.UK (02008 11 14):

The Alliance for Permanent Access has just completed its annual conference (Budapest, 4 November): this year the theme was the economics of archiving scientific data.

The Alliance’s international membership includes strategic partners from the research community, libraries, publishers, and digital preservation organisations. Participants called upon the Alliance to act as an umbrella organisation to secure sustainable funding for permanent access in Europe.

A comprehensive conference report (complete with photographs conveying the atmosphere!), together with the powerpoint presentations, abstracts and authors’ biographies is now available online at


Roman de la Rose Digital Library

Quoting from the announcement on the DIGLIB mailing list (02008 11 12):

The Sheridan Libraries at Johns Hopkins University and the Bibliothèque nationale de France are pleased to announce the Roman de la Rose Digital Library available at

The creation of this resource and the digitization of the manuscripts from the Bibliothèque nationale de France was made possible through generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The goal of the Roman de la Rose Digital Library is to create a digital library of all extant manuscript copies of the Roman de la Rose, of which at least 270 are known to exist. We expect to have full digital surrogates of about 150 of these manuscripts available here by the end of 2009. This Library features new content and enhanced functionality, and builds upon the previously developed prototype Roman de la Rose: Digital Surrogates of Medieval Manuscripts. There is an associated blog available at


Major library partners launch HathiTrust Shared Digital Repository

Update, 02008 11 10:

HathiTrust is currently experimenting with large-scale full text searching as part of an effort to create a mechanism to search across the entire repository. As an initial public beta of full text search functionality, we are offering a simple mechanism to search across all of the fully viewable works (both those in the public domain and those for which we have permissions) and a sprinkling of search-only works (i.e., in-copyright works where we may not show the text of the work).

The size of the content indexed is approximately 500,000 volumes, and the majority of the works are fully viewable. Although this is a fully functioning and reliable search mechanism for these works, we provide it as a public beta in order to learn more about these large search indexes in a public setting.

More information on our process to explore issues in this area is available in the large-scale search report.

Original post, 02008 10 14:

An exciting development in the world of digital repositories, this may be a first for North America, the HathiTrust Shared Digital Repository:

A group of the nation’s largest research libraries are collaborating to create a repository of their vast digital collections, including millions of books, organizers announced today. These holdings will be archived and preserved in a single repository called the HathiTrust. Materials in the public domain will be available for reading online.

Launched jointly by the 12-university consortium known as the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) and the 11 university libraries of the University of California system, the HathiTrust leverages the time-honored commitment to preservation and access to information that university libraries have valued for centuries. UC's participation will be coordinated by the California Digital Library (CDL), which brings its deep and innovative experience in digital curation and online scholarship to the HathiTrust.

"This effort combines the expertise and resources of some of the nation’s foremost research libraries and holds even greater promise as it seeks to grow beyond the initial partners," says John Wilkin, associate university librarian of the University of Michigan and the newly named executive director of HathiTrust. Hathi (pronounced HAH-tee), the Hindi word for elephant incorporated into the repository's name, underscores the immensity of this undertaking, Wilkin says. Elephants also evoke memory, wisdom, and strength.

As of today, HathiTrust contains more than 2 million volumes and approximately 3/4 of a billion pages, about 16 percent of which are in the public domain. Public domain materials will be available for reading online. Materials protected by copyright, although not available for reading online, are given the full range of digital archiving services, thereby offering member libraries a reliable means to preserve their collections. Organizers also expect to use those materials in the research and development of the Trust.

Volumes are added to the repository daily, and content will grow rapidly as the University of California, CIC member libraries, and other prospective partners contribute their digitized content. Also today, the founding partners announce that the University of Virginia is joining the initiative.

Each of the founding partners brings extensive and highly regarded expertise in the areas of information technology, digital libraries, and project management to this endeavor. Creation of the HathiTrust supports the digitization efforts of the CIC and the University of California, each of which has entered into collective agreements with Google to digitize portions of the collections of their libraries, more than 10 million volumes in total, as part of the Google Book Search project. Materials digitized through other means will also be made available through HathiTrust.

HathiTrust provides libraries a means to archive and provide access to their digital content, whether scanned volumes, special collections, or born-digital materials. Preserving materials for the long term has long been a mission and driving force of leading research libraries. Their collections, accumulated over centuries, represent a treasury of cultural heritage and investment in the broad public good of promoting scholarship and advancing knowledge. The representation of these resources in digital form provides expanded opportunities for innovative use in research, teaching, and learning, but must be done with careful attention to effective solutions for the curation and long-term preservation of digital assets.

"The CIC Libraries have always worked at a large scale, with big collections, big user communities and high expectations for service. They are not intimidated by big challenges, and will bring their comfort with this to the development of the shared digital repository," says Mark Sandler, director of the CIC Center for Library Initiatives.

"The University of California libraries have an unparalleled reputation for innovation in digital library development and inter-institutional collaboration," says Laine Farley, interim executive director of the California Digital Library."Participation in the HathiTrust continues this tradition and will enable UC to provide its students and scholars with access to one of the most significant digital collections ever assembled." Adds Brian Schottlaender, the Audrey Geisel University Librarian at UC San Diego, "The University of California Libraries are pleased to work collaboratively with our CIC colleagues to build a rich and coherent resource accessible to scholars for the long-term."

"Researchers will benefit from the expert curation and consistent access they have long associated with the CIC research libraries," says Michael McRobbie, president of Indiana University. "Great libraries have long been essential to outstanding scholarship, and the HathiTrust collaboration among the CIC institutions, the University of California and others provides an essential tool for 21st- century scholars."

"Digitization of print texts has the promise of being transformative of scholarship and of library practice," says Paul Courant, University of Michigan librarian, dean of libraries, and former provost. "In both areas, the ability to search many texts and to preserve texts accessibly creates tremendous opportunities for collaboration amongst scholars and universities. HathiTrust has made a good start, and like the elephant for which it is named, we expect that it will prove able to carry and deliver valuable resources with grace and reliability."

"Before this collaboration," Wilkin says, "the collections in each library existed in isolation. Now we are bringing them together, pooling resources and eliminating redundancies, and producing a valuable research tool that will be greater than the sum of its parts." ...

Source: DIGLIB mailing list, 02008 10 14


Piping the action in records and archives management journals

Pekka Henttonen, Assistant Professor (ERMS), Department of Information Studies, University of Tampere, Finland, has created a Yahoo Pipes that aggregates RSS feeds from records and archives management journals, including the Association of Canadian Archivists' flagship journal Archivaria.

Source: Archives & Archivists (A&A) List, 02008 11 06

The Best of Cybermuseology 02008 (FIAMP 02008)

Check out the winners of the Best of Cybermuseology 02008 from the ICOM/AVICOM conference in October in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. The formal name of this event is FIAMP, the Festival International de l’Audiovisuel & du Multimédia sur le Patrimoine.

The Grand Prize was awarded to Simon Fraser University's Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology for its A Journey into Time Immemorial, part of the Virtual Museum of Canada.

JHOVE2 project underway

Quoting from the announcement on DIGLIB (02008 11 06):

The open source JHOVE characterization tool has proven to be an important component of many digital repository and preservation workflows. However, its widespread use over the past four years has revealed a number of limitations imposed by idiosyncrasies of design and implementation. The California Digital Library (CDL), Portico, and Stanford University have received funding from the Library of Congress, under its National Digital Information Infrastructure Preservation Program (NDIIPP) initiative, to collaborate on a two-year project to develop a next-generation JHOVE2 architecture for format-aware characterization.

Among the enhancements planned for JHOVE2 are:

* Support for four specific aspects of characterization: signature-based identification, feature extraction, validation, and rules-based assessment
* A more sophisticated data model supporting complex multi-file objects and arbitrarily-nested container objects
* Streamlined APIs to facilitate the integration of JHOVE2 technology in systems, services, and workflows
* Increased performance
* Standardized error handling
* A generic plug-in mechanism supporting stateful multi-module processing;
* Availability under the BSD open source license

To help focus project activities we have recruited a distinguished advisory board to represent the interests of the larger stakeholder community. The board includes participants from the following international memory institutions, projects, and vendors:

* Deutsche Nationalbibliothek (DNB)
* Ex Libris
* Fedora Commons
* Florida Center for Library Automation (FCLA)
* Harvard University / GDFR
* Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB)
* MIT / DSpace
* National Archives (TNA)
* National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
* National Library of Australia (NLA)
* National Library of New Zealand (NLNZ)
* Planets project

The project partners are currently engaged in a public needs assessment and requirements gathering phase. A provisional set of use cases and functional requirements has already been reviewed by the JHOVE2 advisory board.

The JHOVE2 team welcomes input from the preservation community, and would appreciate feedback on the functional requirements and any interesting test data that have emerged from experience with the current JHOVE tool.

The functional requirements, along with other project information, is available on the JHOVE2 project wiki Feedback on project goals and deliverables can be submitted through the JHOVE2 public mailing lists.

To subscribe to the JHOVE2-TechTalk-L mailing list, intended for in-depth discussion of substantive issues, please send an email to (listserv at ucop dot edu) with an empty subject line and a message


Likewise, to subscribe to the JHOVE2-Announce-L mailing list, intended for announcements of general interest to the JHOVE2 community, please send an email to with an empty subject line and a message stating:


To begin our public outreach, team members recently presented a summary of project activities at the iPRES 2008 conference in London, entitled "What? So What? The Next-Generation JHOVE2 Architecture for Format-Aware Characterization," reflecting our view of characterization as encompassing both intrinsic properties and extrinsic assessments of digital objects.

Through the sponsorship of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek and the British Library, we also held an invitational meeting on JHOVE2 following the iPRES conference as a opportunity for a substantive discussion of the project with European stakeholders.

A similar event, focused on a North American audience, will be held as a Birds-of-a-Feather session at the upcoming DLF Fall Forum in Providence, Rhode Island, on November 13. Participants at this event are asked to review closely the functional requirements and other relevant materials available on the project wiki at prior to the session.

Future project progress will be documented periodically on the wiki.

The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia, 1846-1871

Reminiscent of the large-scale documentary editions of Presidential papers published in the United States, The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island British Columbia, 1846-1871 was formally launched on November 3, 02008 by the University of Victoria in a former Supreme Court of British Columbia courtroom in the Maritime Museum of British Columbia. I was privileged to have been invited. The Web site carries on and expands upon the work of University of Victoria emeritus professor James Hendrickson who began the monumental task of transcribing all the outgoing and incoming letters (despatches) between the British Colonial Office in London and the colonial governments of Vancouver Island and British Columbia. The initial set of XML-based transcriptions, migrated from an older machine-readable format called Waterloo Script, covers the seminal year of 1858 when the colony of British Columbia was established in response to the Fraser River Gold Rush. The site is still under construction and one important aspect of the despatches, the attachments (usually maps), have yet to be digitized and added. The Colonial Despatches site is a model project in many ways and my hope is that we will see many other examples of its kind in Canada.

New UK study on digital preservation policies in higher education

From the announcement on DIGITAL-PRESERVATION@JISCMAIL.AC.UK (02008 11 06):

The JISC are pleased to announce the publication of a study on Digital Preservation Policies which can be downloaded in PDF format from

A major business driver in all universities and colleges over the past decade has been harnessing digital content and electronic services and the undoubted benefits in terms of flexibility and increased productivity they can bring. The priority in recent years has been on developing e-strategies and infrastructure to underpin electronic access and services and to deliver those benefits. However any long-term access and future benefit may be heavily dependent on digital preservation strategies being in place and underpinned by relevant policy and procedures. This should now be an increasing area of focus in our institutions.

This JISC funded study completed by Charles Beagrie Ltd aims to provide an outline model for digital preservation policies and to analyse the role that digital preservation can play in supporting and delivering key strategies for Higher and Further Education Institutions. Although focussing on the UK Higher and Further Education sectors, the study draws widely on policy and implementations from other sectors and countries and will be of interest to those wishing to develop policy and justify investment in digital preservation within a wide range of institutions.

Two tools have been created in this study:

1) a model/framework for digital preservation policy and implementation clauses based on examination of existing digital preservation policies;

2) a series of mappings of digital preservation to other key institutional strategies in UK universities and colleges including Research, Teaching and Learning, Information, Libraries, and Records Management.

Our aim has been to help institutions and their staff develop appropriate digital preservation policies and clauses set in the context of broader institutional strategies.


What's New in Digital Preservation: Issue 18 now available

From the announcement on DIGITAL-PRESERVATION@JISCMAIL.AC.UK (02008 11 04):

"Issue no. 18 (March - August 2008) of the DPC "What's New in Digital Preservation" bulletin is now available from the Digital Preservation Coalition Web site:"


HistoGrafica: historical images and Web 2.0

Received an e-mail from someone named Agata Dras to take a look at a new site called HistoGrafica that features historical photographs and other kinds of pictures and utilizes some Web 2.0 technology to make them more relevant to the Flickr generation. While I thought the site was based in Latin or South America, it's actually hosted in Ireland of all places. The site's very well thought out and could evolve into an important focal point for historical images of specific geographic locations. Much if not all the images are sourced from public domain repositories such as the Library of Congress or WikiMedia. The developers are hoping that individuals and institutions will decide to add their own images, especially if they're out of copyright. Users will not necessarily be able to verify the accuracy of any information on the site, especially user comments.


The Genographic Project

IBM and National Geographic co-sponsor the Genographic Project. Launched in April 2005, the project examines human migration through DNA studies. If you have a $100 lying around, you can buy a DNA testing kit and submit your own sample.

SkepticBlog debuts

Except for Michael Shermer, chances are you won't recognize any of the names associated with the new SkepticBlog that began publishing on October 24, 02008. The collaborators are members of the Skeptologists, "a pilot skeptical reality show." Sounds a bit like Mythbusters. They did film a pilot. I wonder how they'll keep viewer attention beyond the usual talking heads and images of things they'll be debunking.


Reality Check for Your Muses: Creativity and Business Innovation Resources

My latest article for Searcher magazine, "Reality Check for Your Muses: Creativity and Business Innovation Resources," was published in the November/December 02008 issue (vol. 16, no. 10). It's not available online for free, so you'll have to either purchase it through Information Today or access it through one of the full-text commercial databases.

[caption id="attachment_2747" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Searcher magazine cover, November/December 2008"]Searcher magazine cover, November/December 2008[/caption]