Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What's the Cost? (And other questions)

Last week, I wrote about our friends in Queensland and the information they shared with us on their collection. Since then, Teresa's questions have yielded a few responses that I'll share later.

But first, I'll address Stew's questions in last week's comments.

Stew, it's interesting that you mention the copyright process. For my Creating and Managing Digital Assets course (WISE, online), I'm working on a copyrights project that has given me lots of material for my annotated bibliography. Those resources will be included in my annotated bibliography for this project. I'm guessing the two will be very similar.

As far as the EAD goes, it is very structured. Caryn Raddick provided a framework for me to use into which I inserted our pre-edited text. The tags are already provided (EAD tags). As far as the language for the individual items go, we're not using a controlled vocabulary or a thesaurus. That's most likely because when we started this project, it was decided that we would not be making a collection-level IRIS record which would require so much more restriction than a finding aid requires.

We also wouldn't be able to showcase the images in IRIS the way we could in a finding aid. However, there is value in putting together a collection-level IRIS record in order to link to the finding aid and make it more findable. That's a recommendation for a future project.

If Rutgers used ContentdM as it's cataloging system, we would not have to making these kinds of decisions. We would just use the system to include the images and descriptions with the text as was needed. Ah well.

Teresa's Contributions
First, thanks once again to Teresa for all her great detective work. She sent me a collection of items which I examined at length. Here is an excerpt of the summary I sent her:

1. What was useful and why:
a. Artists' Books: Bound in Art - Library and Archives Canada -- This was useful to obtain some well-articulated historical information about artists' books (and the naming issue), the copyright statement (shown as "source"), the Further Research section. The descriptions were very thin, though, despite the 360 views and multiple photos. The social tagging element was worth considering. I used it to post about the site to my Facebook page.

b. Joan Flasch Artists' Book Collection -- This was especially good to see for the "browse by search terms" option. It revealed all kinds of helpful terms that we might be able to use in our descriptions or in perhaps a keywords section in the finding aid. I also really liked the metadata fields offered. I just finished researching metadata for my WISE course, and this collection offers info about the digital specifications that are particularly useful for digital preservation purposes. I've seen the Contentdm interface used in quite a few online collections. It seems that it's a very flexible system because there are tons of ways to use it (bad and good, I assure you!).

c. http://cool.conservation-us.org/lex/bookdsc.html -- was very helpful in terms of book arts terminology we could use to better specify in our descriptions (however, I'd need a glossary to truly understand them).

2. Books go to War: The Arms Services Editions in World War Two -- This was an interesting exhibit, although there was not copyright permission information on the letters in the CODA section you referred to in your summary. Michael and I had talked about combining the Suellen Glashausser archive with the artists' books finding aid, but it would become too unmanageable to handle unless a truly digitized collection. I also think the appearance of this site is very dated and incomplete. All that to say, it's useful in a lesson of what I wouldn't want to do with the Glashausser collection. Regrettably, it seems that we'll be limited by the format of the finding aids used by Rutgers Special Collections. Nonetheless, it's good to have an idea of what others are doing.

What doesn't do much for us:

1. Exhibits with limited metadata.
2. Exhibits with little descriptive information about the artist/work.

Online exhibitions are a bit different than collections within libraries, which is something we need to consider. For instance, the GBW Marking Time exhibit is just that -- the works aren't cataloged, although adequately described for an exhibit. So, that to say, they are interesting to look at and to think about in terms of display methods, but are not adequate for what we're doing now.

Being able to see how others catalog their artists' books and describe them in metadata such as in 1.b. above is extremely useful. Different techniques are important to consider. Learning about the technical aspects of bringing the collections to the web would be great as well.

If you could keep plugging away at objects that are included in finding aids, that would be really helpful. Thanks!

In a separate emailing, Teresa sent me a link to the Special Collections University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Book Arts Finder. This site is a pretty elaborate finding aid for the artists' books collection at this library. It is a good library teaching tool, albeit a bit low level. It in no way resembles any of the other finding aids that I have seen in that it is not a straightforward document, but rather a web site dedicated to finding these items within the library and online.

As far as the feedback that Teresa has provided from the ARLIS-L list serv goes, there is a pattern emerging that people do not know the actual costs of their digitization projects/programs. That puzzles me because if they had to account for the cost by a department head, they should be able to produce that number. Oh well. So far, the university libraries who responded all used graduate students to assist in their projects (a great way to save money and help them to gain experience).

Additionally, as we have found before, finding aids for artists' books are very few and far between. These items are cataloged as books, if they are held in libraries, which makes me think that our situation here at Rutgers is an anomaly. It makes me want to catalog the collection. Perhaps this will be a project for me to take up next semester as part of one of my classes.

Finally, one of the best things to come from this project has been the discovery of Zotero for creating the bibliography as well as the references for this blog. It is a great bit of software that lives within Firefox and goes a long way toward making web-based items more bibliographable.


Books Go To War. (n.d.). Retrieved October 27, 2009, from http://www2.lib.virginia.edu/exhibits/ase/

Espinosa, R. (n.d.). Structure outline for book description documentation. Retrieved October 27, 2009, from http://cool.conservation-us.org/lex/bookdsc.html

Introduction - Artists' Books: Bound in Art - Library and Archives Canada. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2009, from http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/livres-d-artistes/index-e.html

SAIC Digital Libraries: Joan Flasch Artists' Book Collection. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2009, from http://digital-libraries.saic.edu/cdm4/index_jfabc.php?CISOROOT=/jfabc

University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Artists' Book Collection, Book Arts Pathfinder. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2009, from http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/ArtistsBks/

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Following Up on the Follow Up

Last week, I posted a few questions I sent to the lovely Queensland librarian for more information. She responded quickly with the following information:

Dear Deb

Following your email, I have a bit more information for you about our Artists Books Online http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/whats-on/exhibit/online/ab.

1. I unfortunately can’t provide an accurate costing for this project. For the most part it was time spent by two staff (both librarians) over a period of approximately 9 months. The process involved making a selection from our large collection, so that meant meeting with each other and compiling an initial list. A “realistic” number of around 50 was arrived at. As you are, I’m sure, aware, numerous artists books are collaborative works, involving 2 or more people. For example, you can have a case of one person who has the concept, another might be the printmaker/papermaker or binder, or there could be a piece of text/poem as a starting point. All of these collaborators would be contacted for their permission so that we could “publish” the work on our website. All received a covering letter along with a Non-exclusive copyright form to complete and return to us, as well as a detailed summary of the book, its description, the processes employed and where possible an artist’s statement about the process of making the book, the choice of materials.

2. Our selection criteria consisted of choosing books which we believed would have strong visual appeal in the online environment. Whilst we do have a large collection of titles, not all are visually arresting. Colour was also an issue. Some spectacular examples of artists books do not necessarily “present well” online. We also had a little bit of slippage in the fact that a few (not many) of selected artists could either not be contacted, because they had moved, or did not get back to us. When in doubt, we had to cross them off the list. On the whole, the response from the book artists was overwhelmingly positive. They absolutely wanted to be represented on our website.

3. I would say that the selection phase was fairly short – 2 to 3 weeks. The photography certainly took longer, several months, as we would take a number of books at a time for our photographers in our Image Production Unit to do the work, bearing in mind that our project was not all they had to do. Assigning of the file names would have taken a few weeks, again done over a period of time by our web services people. The Queensland Education Department, known as Education Queensland , had a staff member working at State Library, and her job was to liaise with a number of teachers who had manifested interest in developing curriculum which was added to the Artists Books Online part of the website. The collection was already catalogued, in the sense that all our artists books are catalogued as is everything else in our collections.

4. Artists Books Online comes under the What’s On/ Exhibitions/ Online path accessible through our Home Page. It gives a brief definition of the many definitions of what constitutes an artist’s book. There are quite a few links there with suggested other sites showing artists books. Then there is the capacity to Find all or find a category of artists books. The searching tool is quite good.

5. The artists’ books are catalogued according to the rules that the State Library adheres to for  all cataloguing. They can be found in our OneSearch catalogue via title, author/artist, subject heading/s and keyword. They normally bear a call number ALAAB (Australian Library of Art Artists Books) followed by, generally, the first three letters of the artist’s name, or in some cases, the organisation – in the case of a collaborative work created by artists from a university.

6. We looked at a broad range of online artists’ books collections, some of which are referred to in one of the links. Also bear in mind the fact that the list is probably a bit old now.

I expressed my gratitude to her for providing such informative responses. I also asked Teresa if she could ask the same questions
1. What was the cost of the project?
2. What was your selection criteria?
3. How long did each phase of the project take? (I.e., how long did the selection process take, how long did it take the photographers to shoot all the books, how long did it take for the technical portions to be put together, how long did it take to catalog the collection?)
4. Did you develop a finding aid for the collection?
5. Did you catalog the artists' books any differently than other objects?
6. What other artists' books online collections did you examine prior to producing your collection?
of the list serv folks she's been corresponding with about the project.

In other news, I provided Michael with a copyright permission letter (that I made from a template) to send to Suellen Glashausser's widower and the person who took the original digital photos we'll be using in the finding aid. He has since sent out the letters, and hopefully, we'll be seeing the signed copies soon.

In the meantime, I will be spending the majority of my time entering metadata into the EAD framework Caryn supplied. She and I met on the 15th (last Thursday) to clear up some of the questions I had about converting the EAD to HTML. Unfortunately, I cannot access the library's special collections server remotely (it's not just me, it's everyone), so I'll be doing the work at home on Tuesday in Textpad and transferring it to the server when I'm on campus again on Thursday.

Finally, I have been investigating funding options should the library decide it would be a good thing to apply for a grant for a digitization program in special collections (mainly of artists' books). I've sent Michael a few links on grant funding resources, and will continue to look into it. However, what I've found so far makes me think that the library would need to apply next year in the summer since most of the grants for arts and humanities digitization projects were posted in July and just closed at the beginning of October. Something to remember for the future.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Week in Email

Since my last post, my email has been filling up with correspondence on this topic. Most importantly, my friend and fellow classmate, Teresa has begun her term project for Principles of Searching, for which I have volunteered to be her "person". You may remember that I kept a similar kind of blog for my turn in that classroom.

Well, Teresa is pretty swift. Once she had a grip on my initial needs for the project, she sent an email to ARLIS-L, and received 20+ replies in less than 24 hours. This was the text of her original note (reprinted with her permission and encouragement):
Subject: [ARLIS-L] Book Art finding aids?

Dear Collective Knowledge,

I am working on my MLIS at Rutgers University and am looking for some guidance. For one of my classes I need to assist a real person in a information seeking process. I have decided to help one of my fellow students who is working on an independent study to digitize some of the artists books in Rutgers' Special Collections. She is a novice when it comes to both artistic media and XML, so she is looking for examples to draw from to create her finding aids.

Thus far, she has only been able to find very few examples of online finding aids for artist's books, which has stalled her progress.
I was wondering if any of you have such finding aids or know of any available online. If so please email me the link off list.

Also, this seems more unlikely, but her adviser asked to find some declaration of the 'best' collection of artists books online. I'm not sure how many of these could exist considering the relatively small digital presence of the materials, but I might as well give it a shot.

Thank you all for your time.

Teresa Slobuski
MLIS Candidate ~ Rutgers University

Along the lines of last week's blog entry, Teresa had quite an interesting email back and forth regarding copyrights with a Special Collections librarian at the University of Delaware. That librarian recommended the WATCH file, which is a searchable (by first and last name) database of writers and artists, and their copyright contacts. I tested it by entering "Suellen Glashausser" but received no results. Perhaps it will be useful for others.

In addition to all the emails Teresa's been getting with great interest in the project, she also has been researching finding aids. She revealed that most of the artists' books collections she has seen show the works cataloged at the book level, and not via a finding aid. I think this would be an excellent way to go, but I don't think this will happen at Rutgers.

Speaking of finding aids, I started to finally work on the coding in the EAD framework that Caryn had provided, but was unable to show it effectively as an HTML file. When I spoke with Caryn, she mentioned that they (special collections folks working on EAD documents) had been having trouble with the system and she would talk with me more about it on Thursday.

There also is a related issue in that I may need to relocate to an office where I can access the program that handles EAD on the library's server (which I don't have access to at the moment). Micheal says that they cannot access it remotely, which is unfortunate because I could easily sit at home and work on the code.

Otherwise, I heard back from one of the librarians who worked on the Queensland artists' books site referenced in this blog entry. She mentioned that the first part of their project involved selecting a sample from their collection of more than 1,000 artists' books. Next, the librarians contacted the book artists for copyright permission to display images of their works on their site, as well as to ask the artists for statements about their work to include in the catalog record. They have a photography department, who took all the photos (every page of an item). In some cases, the proofs the photographers provided weren't adequate, so they had to re-shoot the photos.

They employed their web services staff to handle the technical portion of the project. They also collaborated with their education department (which has artists' bookmaking as a course -- how cool is that?) for teaching modules to be posted on the site. Queensland also hosted a local book artist, Adele Outteridge who ran a workshop on how to make artists' books.

I have a few follow-up questions to ask the librarian at Queensland who has been so helpful and informative. Here's my list:

1. What was the cost of the project?
2. What was your selection criteria?
3. How long did each phase of the project take? (I.e., how long did the selection process take, how long did it take the photographers to shoot all the books, how long did it take for the technical portions to be put together, how long did it take to catalog the collection?)
4. Did you develop a finding aid for the collection?
5. Did you catalog the artists' books any differently than other objects?
6. What other artists' books online collections did you examine prior to producing your collection?

I'd probably ask a few more questions, but they have been more than generous with their time already.

Last but not least, Teresa found this neat collection of online artists' books at Reed College. I really like the way each work's accompanying information is organized and how the site offers links to external information about the artist. I also like that it offers a way to view the cataloged books in Contentdm, the program used by the college to catalog its library's contents. I've seen it used by many libraries and other digital collections. What I don't like is that you don't have the ability to zoom in on elements of individual works. Some of the pieces are very detailed and the visitor doesn't have the opportunity to really see the detail in those works. Regardless, each site I see brings more lessons on how to do or not to do an online digitization project.


Artists' books (State Library of Queensland). (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2009, from http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/whats-on/exhibit/online/ab.
Reed College's Artists' Books . (n.d.). Reed Digital Collections, Artists' Books. Retrieved October 14, 2009, from http://cdm.reed.edu/cdm4/artbooks/index.php.
The WATCH File: Writers, Artists and Their Copyright Holders. (n.d.). Retrieved October 14, 2009, from http://tyler.hrc.utexas.edu/.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Copyrights, Fair Use, and Attribution

From the beginning of this project, I've had two to-dos on my list:

1. Obtain permission to publish photographic images of Suellen Glashausser's works both in the finding aid and in Michael's journal. This will be done by sending a letter with a copyright permission form to Ms. Glashausser's widower. We will need the signed form prior to publishing the images.

2. Develop attribution information (and possibly obtain copyrights permission, if not within fair use) for the artist's statements that accompany some of the descriptions of the works.

Yesterday morning, while folding invitations for the upcoming book arts symposium, Michael and I discussed those to-dos as well as a few others. Point 2 was of particular interest because we differed in our opinions on how to handle the matter.

For the majority of this semester (the last 6 weeks), the readings for my two online classes have included content on copyright law because it figures very heavily in digital collections as well as online interfaces. The references below include class readings for the WISE course Creating and Managing Digital Assets as well as results of other searching I've done on the topic myself. While I am not an expert in this field, the information was fresh in my mind as we discussed the matter.

Michael and I also discussed fair use as it would apply to the quotes. I agreed that the quotes could fall under fair use because they were one or two sentence snippets of the original works and would be used solely for scholarly information. However, the attribution information for each of the statements was still an issue over which we disagreed.

My assertion was that each of the statements should have its own citation (whether in a references section or as a footnote). Michael argued that we could identify the quotes with an umbrella statement saying that the artists words originated in a variety of documents, without specifically naming the documents or their dates of publication.

After much consideration, Michael pulled the quotes from the descriptions, although we did save a copy of the document with the quotes just in case it was decided that we would research the origins of the statements from the archives. It would most likely require some intense detective work, which is not within the scope of this Independent Study. However, if a student wished to take on the effort and contribute the information later, I am sure that it would add a nice dimension to the finding aids and eventual digitized collection.

I think that if I had not been so steeped in my recent (and continuing) readings of copyright law with regard to digital collections, I probably wouldn't have stood my ground as solidly. However, on this point, it is clear that if a user who had been involved in producing one of the original documents were to discover a quote that had not been properly cited in our finding aid or Michael's journal, he/she could potentially sue the university for violation of copyright if the attribution issue were not resolved. Regrettably, there are case studies of this kind of thing happening.

A very important lesson in all this is that collegial discussion of differing opinions is key. I'm glad that we work in an atmosphere where we can honor each others' thoughts and knowledge on subjects. It is the responsibility of researchers and students to be able disagree without becoming disagreeable. A lively debate is an important part of learning for everyone. We all gain by the experience.

Old Business

Last week, Stew left the following note:

V. nice, thorough job in overviewing digitized collections of artists' books. You note that few are done "well." Is there one that is recognized as "best" or is otherwise well noted that you could use as a benchmark? What are its characteristics that could be emulated? Or pick and choose from several, for example, the intro. page from the Queensland site. This is out of my domain, but I visited several and think they all might have some copy-able (??) characteristics.

It looks like the finding aids work is gaining momentum, and that aspect will be interesting to follow.

Regarding your reference list, do any of the ones you listed have authors? Groups responsible for the intellectual content.

Overall a very inclusive, readable and informative report. Thanks!

To address Stew's questions/comments (in order of appearance):

1. I have not yet found a digitized collection of artists' books recognized as "the best" and we have not yet identified one to use as a benchmark. Part of the reason is that the scope of the project is now limited to the finding aid and Michael's journal rather than a true digitized collection of artists' books. (See the comment below about the grant discussion.)

2. I also believe that there are items on each of the sites that are worthy of imitation -- especially the landing page of the Queensland site.

3. We are still working out the details on the finding aid, and will most likely nail down how to move forward on that this week (we'll need to because we're already pretty far into the semester and I need to start coding).

4. Regarding the reference lists, I don't have a lot of references with actual authors rather than institutions. However, you will be happy to discover that this week's list includes quite a few authors.

Otherwise, I suggested to Michael that we look into getting a grant for a full digitization of the artists' books collection for the following reasons:

1. It would expand the scholarly knowledge of artists' books.
2. The project requires significant funding not currently available to the libraries (for a professional photographer, for a full-time person to create the code for the metadata and enter the metadata and digital images into the database, etc.)
3. It would add prestige to the libraries if the collection proved to become the benchmark needed for this type of object digitization within libraries (or at least artists' books).

I'm not sure if the grant will be considered since the library is already making cuts that are quite painful (staff, etc.). However, it was worth thinking about and is now documented for future students to consider in their efforts.


Cornell University Copyright Information Center. (n.d.). Retrieved October 7, 2009, from http://www.copyright.cornell.edu/.

Hughes, L. (2008). Digitizing Collections. Digital Futures Series (p. 327). London: Facet Publishing.  

Minow, M. (n.d.). Library Digitization Projects and Copyright. Retrieved October 7, 2009, from http://www.llrx.com/features/digitization.htm.

Samuels, E. (n.d.). The Illustrated Story of Copyright. Retrieved October 7, 2009, from http://www.edwardsamuels.com/illustratedstory/iscsmall/indexsmall.htm.

Smith Levine, M. (2000). Overview of Copyright Issues. In Handbook for Digital Projects: A Management Tool for Preservation and Access (First., pp. 74-92). Andover, Mass.: Northeast Document Conservation Center.  

U.S. Copyright Office - Law and Policy. (n.d.). Retrieved October 7, 2009, from http://www.copyright.gov/laws/.