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NCompass Live: Metadata Makeover: Transforming Omaha Public Library's Digital Collections

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NCompass Live - 2/22/2017

In 1998 Omaha Public Library created its first online digital library to showcase its extensive collection of original photographs and documents from the 1898 Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition, Omaha’s own world’s fair. Another digitization project was undertaken in 2004. A decade later it was only too evident that the entire digital library, with its hodgepodge of different interfaces and metadata standards, needed to be dragged into the 21st century. We did it—despite minimal staff, minimal training, and minimal time! Come hear this saga of the good, the bad, and the ugly, and what we learned from it.

Presenter: Martha Grenzeback, Omaha Public Library; Mary Marchio, retired.

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NCompass Live: Metadata Makeover: Transforming Omaha Public Library's Digital Collections

  1. 1. Mary Marchio and Martha Grenzeback Omaha Public Library
  2. 2. World Stereoview Collection, 1259 images (2008) Early Nebraska, 440 images (2009) Early Omaha : Gateway to the West 750+ images (2002-2003) Trans Mississippi & International Exposition , 2800+ images (1998)
  3. 3. Cooperative projects containing OPL materials Nebraska Memories (2006-current) Western Trails (2002-2003)
  4. 4.  Photographs by official photographer, Frank Rinehart, and papers, correspondence, and memorabilia related to the Exposition and the Indian Congress that was part of it  Donated to library at the close of the Exposition (1898) by the Exposition’s Board of Directors; additional items have been donated or purchased since then  Available in the library to researchers
  5. 5.  Collection of some 770 images of photographs, lantern slides, postcards, stereoviews, and maps reflecting Omaha's importance as the site of the Union Pacific headquarters and point of eastern origin for the first transcontinental railway  Source: donations from the public and Library Board members, library purchases  In-library access, some check-outs
  6. 6.  1259 stereoviews dating back to late 1800s-early 1900s, depicting scenes from around the world  Gift to the library from Charles Dietz, wealthy lumber businessman, longtime President of the Library Board, and enthusiastic world traveler  For many years, available to check out or view in the library
  7. 7.  United States, Nebraska, county and regional maps and atlases, mostly not cataloged  Donations and library purchases  Used by library patrons in the library
  8. 8.  Inspired by a desire to provide better access, particularly to OPL’s extensive and unique Trans- Mississippi & International Exposition collection  1998 centennial celebration of original Exposition was impetus  Trans-Mississippi project was first effort, successful for its time  Showed OPL could manage a digital project internally—what next?
  9. 9.  Formation of library staff committee  Steep learning curve: organizing a project  Consultant hired to evaluate physical condition of collection  Major Urban Resource Libraries (MURLS) grant  Solicited bids for scanning  Marian High School girls: The Web Team
  10. 10.  No metadata on website except titles, format, and dimensions
  11. 11.  MARC records for some images in local catalog  Single record for collection in WorldCat
  12. 12.  Libraries and other cultural institutions in Nebraska, Wyoming, Kansas, and Colorado pooled digital resources on the 19th century pioneer migration to the West  Scanning standards set by Colorado Digitization Program (now subsumed in LYRASIS)  CONTENTdm interface:
  13. 13. CONTENTdm
  14. 14.  Metadata : modified Dublin Core; Library of Congress Thesaurus for Graphic Materials headings and LCSH  Directly uploaded to UNL server via Zebra (later transferred into CONTENTdm)  OPL: Basic metadata in Access database
  15. 15.  Impetus for digitization: 150th anniversary of Omaha (2005)  Part of Western Trails  Scanning standards: Western Trails  Metadata: Basic info in Access database (staff use); minimal on website but rich narrative description for some “Exhibit” items
  16. 16.  34 libraries and other cultural institutions in Nebraska pool digital resources that illustrate the state’s history and geography—more than 5,500 items to date  Scanning standards: Decided by Nebraska Library Commission, which administers project  Metadata: Modified Dublin Core; Library of Congress Thesaurus for Graphic Materials headings and LCSH  URL:  OPL is still contributing
  17. 17. CONTENTdm
  18. 18.  Quick and easy solution for public access  Scanning standards: Same as previous projects  Metadata: Minimum needed for Flickr; captions and tags  URL: 207/in/album-72157611223061783/
  19. 19.  Maps and atlases of Nebraska (large-format scanning contracted out with grant money)  No metadata at all, except for the Omaha maps and atlases that were included in Nebraska Memories
  20. 20.  Image scanning is all to the same high standard (hallelujah!)  Metadata is all over the lot:  MARC  Dublin Core  Flickr  Peggy Marrs’s postcard cataloging scheme  Zilch  Public and staff access difficult (inadequate search function)  Hard to find on main OPL webpage
  21. 21. What to do?
  22. 22.  Find…  Clean up…  Enhance…  And reinvent… Trans-Miss: 3785 images Others: 4456 Total: 8241 images
  23. 23.  Almost everyone involved in original projects gone or distracted (retired, deceased, moved to other positions)  Memories failing  Paper trail/documentation spotty  Multiple projects, each with different parameters  Project manager (Martha) inexperienced  Not much staff time available (“spare time” project)
  24. 24.  Images up to current standards; no rescanning needed  Original cataloger on our team (Mary Marchio)  Assistance from OPL employees with unique knowledge and skills, or memories of previous projects  Great support from Devra Dragos and Allana Novotny, Nebraska Library Commission  Library staff’s reluctance to purge or even tidy old files (computer and paper)  Administrative support
  25. 25.  OPL contribution to UNL’s Trans-Mississippi & International Expo portal site (  Internal OPL proposal suggesting new digital site: Aug. 2012  CONTENTdm QuickStart (hosted): March 2013  CONTENTdm vs Omeka or other option?
  26. 26. Pluses  Is hosted and user- friendly  Good support, forum, documentation, webinars; NLC uses  Looks like every other digital collection website  More expensive as your collection grows Minuses  Can get started free with OCLC subscription  Can use “out of the box”  Records can be synced to WorldCat
  27. 27.  Working group: Patrick Esser, Mary Marchio, Lindsey Bray, Deirdre Routt, Martha Grenzeback  Many webinars and much reading on CONTENTdm and digitization standards  In 2013, Deirdre created OPL Metadata Guidelines for CONTENTdm Entry, largely based on:  Nebraska Memories Metadata Guidelines  Huntington Digital Library Guidelines Metadata Creation and Application id/0
  28. 28.  Created timeline (delusional)  Allocated tasks  Began trying to track down any available data on OPL’s digital images  Created “trial” collection (Millard Town Memories)  Decided to start with Trans-Mississippi collection
  29. 29.  Crosswalk for MARC records to Excel/Dublin Core, created by Patrick Esser  Cataloging from scratch—everything but the first 600 or so records; minimal info created by Patrick using info from TMI guidebook and Official Catalogue  Enhancing records; enriching descriptions, adding subject headings (LCSH, TGM), adapting to Dublin Core standards
  30. 30.  Mary created local authority file which we use for all collections
  31. 31.  Problematic because metadata had been directly uploaded via internet to Western Trails database; OPL kept no real record  Almost all images in Western Trails were also in Nebraska Memories  Allana Novotny kindly compared holdings to get a list of OPL items not in Nebraska Memories, and Mary Marchio cataloged
  32. 32.  Nebraska Library Commission had all the metadata, which they retrieved and provided to us in Excel spreadsheet format  We changed a few fields to fit our own requirements, but otherwise pretty smooth
  33. 33.  Most of the maps in this project uncataloged; only the Omaha maps had been uploaded to Nebraska Memories  Cataloging from scratch using Excel
  34. 34.  Created document: How to Upload Items to CONTENTdm (settings, choices, etc.)  Use Excel template with fields that match the fields in the CONTENTdm template for a particular collection  Dublin Core, Thesaurus of Graphic Materials, LCSH  Proofread in Excel. Check that names and subjects appear in our local authority file (also Excel)  Batch upload to CONTENTdm  Save all metadata spreadsheets in folder for each collection on network drive and in the cloud
  35. 35.
  36. 36.  Decide on collection content carefully  User forums very helpful; also looking at other digital libraries  Don’t be shy! Grill everyone involved in past projects  Track down any documentation (memos, reports)  Document! What you did and how you did it. No detail is too small (today’s small may be tomorrow’s big)
  37. 37. Martha Grenzeback Mary Marchio