Minnesota Digital Library 14th Annual Meeting

Minnesota Digital Library (MDL) and other Minitex staff welcomed 112 attendees to the MDL's 14th Annual Meeting, held on June 7, 2016 at the Continuing Education and Conference Center on the University of Minnesota's St. Paul Campus. The keynote speaker for the meeting was Greg Cram, Associate Director of Copyright and Information Policy for the New York Public Library. His topic was copyright and the new standardized rights statements developed by a committee organized by the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), of which Greg was a part. Under his direction, the New York Public Library will be an early adopter of these new rights statements, which are available for general use at rightsstatements.org.

An MDL update followed Greg's keynote speech in the morning, and in the afternoon there were six breakout sessions on a number of diverse topics, which are detailed below.

Keynote Address

Getting it Right on Rights: How Consistent Rights Statements Provide a Better User Experience

Posting digitized collections to cultural heritage websites is not the end of the lifecycle for digital objects; instead, it is just the beginning. Once online, users want to know whether the digital objects be reused for their purposes. Answering this question in a responsible and helpful way has been a challenge that cultural heritage institutions are struggling with. DPLA hubs have used over 87,000 unique rights statements to describe the copyright status, restrictions or permissions. To help provide a better and more consistent user experience, DPLA is implementing a limited menu of rights statements. Greg Cram's keynote discussed the new statements and the broader implications of their use for the MDL audience.


Minnesota Digital Library Update

MDL staff and others gave brief presentations on the diverse projects going on within the Minnesota Digital Library program:

The Story of NYPL's Public Domain Release

On January 6, 2016, The New York Public Library (NYPL) released more than 180,000 high-resolution images of public domain collection items. These images were made available for download and use without restriction. The release represents both a simplification and an enhancement of digital access to a trove of unique and rare materials: a removal of administration fees and processes from public domain content, and also improvements to interfaces—popular and technical—to the digital assets themselves. Online users of the NYPL Digital Collections website now find more prominent download links and filters highlighting restriction-free content; while more technically inclined users now benefit from updates to the Digital Collections API enabling bulk use and analysis, as well as data exports and utilities posted to NYPL's GitHub account. These changes are intended to facilitate sharing, research and reuse by scholars, artists, educators, technologists, publishers, and Internet users of all kinds.

To inspire novel uses of the digital resources, NYPL released several demonstration projects delving into specific collections, as well as a visual browsing tool allowing users to explore the public domain collections at scale. At this presentation, Greg Cram shared the story of how NYPL produced this release, including strategic, tactical, and impact design decisions—and, most importantly, how it's been received so far.

Do More with Less: How to get your Digital Asset Management initiative started

We all know that Digital Asset Management (DAM) is an important issue and would like to do more. But it is a hard topic to address. How do you even get started? Is it really important? How do we pay for it? For the past few years PALS has worked with the Islandora open source DAM solution and built a community of five partners in Minnesota using Islandora. They are Southwest Minnesota State University, Minnesota State University-Mankato, Winona State University, Scholastica, and St. Cloud Technical and Community College. Through our work we have discovered various ways started with your DAM initiative, build support for it, and pay for it. Alex Kent, Linda Richter, and Anne Stenzel's presentation provided strategies on how to start DAM, gain support, and pay for DAM, to make it just a little bit easier to get started.

Permission to Play

Building in time to 'play', to experiment, and to innovate is difficult to do with an ever increasing load in most of our jobs. Finding a way to justify purchasing new technologies, or 'toys', even when the cost is low, can seem challenging in a time of ever shrinking budgets. And being willing to fail (and there will be failures) is not something most organizations have much tolerance for. At the University of Minnesota, Liberal Arts Technologies and Innovation Services (LATIS), we are finding ways to 'play'. We created a Tech Petting Zoo, with some low cost items, plus a drone and a 3D printer, and we have hosted events so others can come and learn while we're learning. Yes—this is pretty much a Maker Space, and we aren't doing anything revolutionary, but it sure is fun, and it is leading to exciting things not just for our faculty and students—but also for our staff. Presented by Rebecca Moss, University of Minnesota, Liberal Arts Technologies and Innovation Services.

Building Access to Black Digital Collections

The urgency of representing African American history and culture as fully as possible drives Umbra: Search African American History, a freely available online search tool that brings together over 400,000 materials documenting African American cultural history from hundreds of U.S. libraries, archives, and cultural heritage institutions. Over 15,000 records in Umbra come from the Minnesota Digital Library alone!

Umbra consumes DPLA data, including MDL content, in new and different ways, further enhancing profile and extending the reach of MDL partners' collections. Through partnerships, open data, and technology, Umbra increases the accessibility of content that may otherwise be difficult to find in a large-scale digital aggregation. From implementing manual and algorithmic metadata enhancements to building an autosuggest search feature and an embeddable widget, Umbra broadens the reach of collections from across the country, placing hundreds of thousands of primary materials at the fingers of students, scholars, and the general public. The Umbra embeddable search widget—a small piece of code that can live in any online environment—further extends the discoverability of materials.

This panel discussed challenges and opportunities in building Umbra, including the development of the search tool and widget and how it leverages MDL/DPLA technology, the use of MDL and other openly available digital collections content, the role of local and national partnerships, and engagement and impact. Speakers were Sarah Carlson, Cecily Marcus, Chad Fennell, and Jason Roy from the University of Minnesota Libraries

Hit by Lightning at an MDL Annual Meeting

At this lightning round-style session attendees heard from individuals who have taken something they learned from the MDL and implemented it (in their own way) at their institutions. Topics varied from modifying a rights statement to community engagement to innovative educational programs. Speakers were Daardi Sizemore, Minnesota State University, Mankato and Heidi Southworth, Minnesota State University, Mankato; Jennifer Hootman, Minitex; Sarah Hawkins, East Central Regional Library; and Debra Hegstrom, Mia

Oral Histories: Privatizing the Skill of Public Storytelling

What if institutions handed over the power of the interview to the public? What if our patrons conducted candid conversations with family members in their own surroundings? What if it became archival material for the future? What if we partnered with elder care facilities and used the oral history mechanism as a tool to make the move from a home to an assisted living facility more of a treasure hunt and less of a chore?

Rebecca Ebnet-Mavencamp's session answered these questions and explored a new workbook the Anoka County Historical Society is developing for just this purpose. It also investigated how the power of personal history, oral histories, and journaling can not only save vital stories for future generations, but help the current one move to the next phase of their lives.