Matching a Digitization Project’s Workflow to the Collection and Its Owner

Logan, Tim
Stuhr, Darryl
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While there is a general pattern to the workflow for digitization projects, each collection and its owner-sponsor offer a different set of challenges and opportunities for managing the collection processing, especially regarding the creation of metadata for the collection. This presentation will include a general description of workflow for digitization projects: intake, digitization, file processing, metadata, and destinations, and then focus on a description of options for the workflow for individual digitization projects, with particular emphasis on metadata creation. Additionally, there will be samples from various examples project instruction manuals, each of which is adapted to the specific needs of the collection and its materials.

The Digitization Projects Group of Baylor’s Electronic Library serves in part as a digitization service provider for other campus libraries and collections at the university. The Digitization Projects Group is relatively new, and the number and complexity of digitization projects it manages continue to expand. Through experience with previous projects, the group has learned that a clearly defined workflow is critical to success, with special emphasis placed on the creation of effective metadata. We have learned that one size does not fit all; each collection is unique, and the workflow should be adapted to take advantage of the knowledge and skills of the library of entity that owns the physical materials, or other provisions must be made for cataloging. We continuously revise and adapt our project workflow model to match the characteristics of a given collection with the time and skill sets of the personnel involved with the project.

Since the Electronic Library has no physical holdings of its own, candidate projects are brought to the EL from a variety of sources — donors, potential donors, campus libraries, and other university collections. After a description of the general workflow model, the presentation will use as examples 5 different digitization projects that are currently in progress or have been recently completed. Each project illustrates a different schema for the distribution of metadata responsibilities, leveraging the resources available from various sources to accomplish the necessary work.

Examples will include:

Guthrie Civil War letters, which had descriptive data assigned by a skilled technician who was not a trained librarian; Gospel Music Restoration Project, which involves a complex metadata schema in XML created by a trained and experienced metadata librarian; 19th Century Women Poets Collection, which pulls existing catalog information from the university’s integrated library system; Oral History transcripts, which merges data from the ILS and a stand-alone FileMaker database, managed by an MLS librarian employed outside the library; Spencer Sheet Music collection, for which cataloging has been outsourced to a professional company that works from scanned images of the shelf list cards and of the original materials. The various projects illustrate that there are multiple solutions for managing the responsibility for creation of metadata, and the best method is often determined by the nature of the collection and the skill set of the sponsoring collection owner.

Presentation slides for the 2009 Texas Conference on Digital Libraries (TCDL).