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Libraries in the digital age: the emerging discipline of digital curation.

The emerging discipline, profession, and practice of digital curation and preservation was one of two meeting themes at the bi annual Libraries in the Digital Age (LIDA) conference, held June 13-17 in Zadar, Croatia. Heather Moulaison of the University of Missouri presented this topic in a session called Making Digital Library Content Available Now and in the Future.

Moulaison noted that information professionals have been curating and preserving for years, but digital formats are presenting new challenges. She traced the concept of curator and defined the emerging concept of digital curation as "maintaining, preserving, and adding value to digital research data ... throughout its lifecycle." She said that previous notions of preserving and conserving are made more complex in the digital environment. Standards and authenticity are considered key issues.

In Understanding Roles and Responsibilities of Data Curators: An International Perspective, Anna Maria Tammaro of the University of Parma in Italy, as well as Krystyna K. Matusiak and Frank Andreas Sposito, both from the University of Denver, discussed the results of an international study on the data curator profession through the analysis of job postings and interviews. It revealed that there is often a gap among knowledge, perception, and the actual work of the data curator. Study objectives included the creation of a glossary with the definition of the data curator's role and competencies. A major research question was, "What are the primary roles and responsibilities and educational qualifications of data curators?"


Data Curation in Asia

Christopher Khoo from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore led a panel called Digital Curation Projects and Research in Asia. Hao-Ren Ke of the National Taiwan Normal University presented Digital Curation for Cultural and Intellectual Assets: Taiwan Perspective. He said that after the 1949 Communist victory in the Chinese Civil War, fleeing Nationalists took significant rare books to Taiwan. A current project has digitized 3,226 of these titles, with nearly 2 million images. This is accomplished with partner libraries in the U.S. and Canada. (The collection is searchable at

Archiving Cultural and Community Memories in the Networked Information Society--A Japanese Perspective was presented by Shigeo Sugimoto of the University of Tsukuba's Faculty of Library, Information and Media Science in Japan. He traced the development, sustainability, usability, and technology related to digital archives.

In Applying Facial Recognition Technology to Enhance Access to a Biographical Digitized Image Collection, Songphan Choemprayong from Chulalongkom University in Bangkok explained that the term "digital curation" does not exist in the Thai language. He presented a case study on the development of a digitized collection of Thailand's Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhom to commemorate her 60th birthday. More than 2,500 digitized photos were processed using Google's Picasa software to group images based on facial recognition. Sirindhorn assisted in the project.

Paulette Kerr and Frances Salmon of the University of the West Indies-Mona described a digital curation project in Rich Collections, Scarce Resources: Conundrum of Digital Curation in the Caribbean. The project included rare maps, historical book collections covering slavery and colonial periods, and microfilm of government documents dating to the mid-17th century. The project is considered a model for Caribbean nations.

In Visioning a New Future for Rare Historic Books and Manuscripts, Diane Sonnenwald from University College in Dublin noted that such items attract tourists and bring new money into a regional economy. The famous Book of Kells is a major attraction in Ireland. She described state-of-the-art technology and goals, stating that the next step involves physical reality rare books.

Simone Bastos Viera of the University of Brazilia presented Indexing With Images: The Imagetic Conceptual Methodology, in which she described the rapidity of visual processing and that we are visually wired. The proposed imagetic model would assign an iconic representation as an index--a "key-image." She showed a graphic representation of proposed UDC-10 classes and said a next step would involve graphic representations of Library of Congress subject headings.

Tim Gollins from the National Records of Scotland drew attention to the issues of the structure in information and the ways this structured approach changed in a digital environment in his talk I Know a Bank Where the Wild Records Blow: Confronting the Challenge of an Undifferentiated Digital Future? In his workshop A Collaborative Exploration of Where Digital Records May Be Found in Organisations' IT Systems, he elaborated on the definition of the record and its structure.

Hana Marcetic, Milijana Micunovic, and Maja Krtalic from the University of Osijek in Croatia presented the results of a survey on the Croatian working population's attitudes, habits, and practices regarding the digital curation of personal digital data. A high percentage of respondents agreed that technology and tools make the organization and preservation of digital contents easy, but they can also make it difficult to choose the right tool and strategy.

Education in Digital Library Collections

Introducing the second theme of the conference--Use Studies, Education & Training for Digital Library Collections--Michael Seadle from Humboldt University of Berlin's Institute of Library and Information Science provided an overview of user research methodology. He discussed social science methods (psychological, sociological, and ethnographical) and tools such as experiments, surveys, observations, interviews, and log file analysis.


In Education for Digital Libraries: European Perspective, Tatjana Aparac-Jelusic, co-director of past LIDA conferences, presented an overview of the issues related to digital library education as well as changes and challenges from an international perspective. She cited six technologies from the "NMC Horizon Report: 2016 Higher Education Edition" that will impact higher education institutions: flipped classrooms, 3D printing and games, self and virtual assistants, the BYOD movement, makerspaces and wearable technology, and adaptive learning technologies.

In addressing brain drain and brain gain, Elke Greifeneder and Vera Hillebrand from Humboldt University of Berlin talked about a study that reveals that American library and information science researchers rarely leave their continent, which indicates a possible lack of international exposure. Researchers from Asia and Europe show a high rate of mobility toward English-speaking countries. According to the study, mobility is positive and should be encouraged because it broadens the horizon of tomorrow's researcher.

Christopher Khoo presented an overview of library and information science activity in Asia. He spoke at length about the International Conference on Asian Digital Libraries (ICADL), which will be held this year at the University of Tsukuba in Japan Dec. 7-9, and the Asia-Pacific Conference on Library & Information Education and Practice (A-LIEP), which will be held in Nanjing, China, Nov. 3-4. He also discussed other meetings in Asia, such as those held by the Consortium of iSchools Asia-Pacific and the Asia Library and Information Research Group.

Aram Sinnreich from American University presented Copyright, Media Ethics, Liberty & Privacy: An International Perspective, opening with examples of mashups, memes, machinima, and remixes. He talked about international surveys conducted in 2010 and 2014-2015 that collected opinions about the use of copyrighted material to produce these digital presentations. He noted pending changes in the copyright with possible stronger enforcement due to the impending Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

Sinnreich and Patricia Aufderheide, who is also from American University, conducted a workshop called Fair Use in the Library and the Academy. They discussed the ways copyright laws affect scholars and librarians in their task to serve their communities and advance public knowledge.

Kay Cassell from Rutgers University gave a talk titled E-Books in Academic Libraries: A Literature Review With a Research Agenda, in which she described the current movement of ebooks into academic libraries and their costs and noted that sales have not continued to grow. From the patrons' point of view, ebooks are preferred for quick consultation, and print is preferred for reading the whole book. In addition, students are more likely to use print for research. She also noted librarians' concerns about limits on interlibrary loan and problems with e-readers. The Charlotte Initiative, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is investigating principles for permanent acquisitions of ebooks for academic libraries.

Lynn Silipigni Connaway, a senior research scientist at OCLC Research, presented Integrating the Library in the Life of the User. She described results from research, emphasizing that it is not the role of the user in the life of the library, but the library in the life of the user. She broke down the use of print versus digital--a quarter of students in one survey still buy print versions of ebooks that are free; faculty members prefer scholarly monographs. Confirming a previous study that found students turn first to parents for information, she quoted from a new study: "When I need a quick answer, my preferred source is a person because a person would interpret your need quickly and better than the internet." This same conclusion was made in the winning poster.

Posters and Forums

First prize for posters was awarded to Alica Kolaric from the Rijeka City Library and Ivanka Stricevic from the University of Zadar for Information Seeking Behavior for Decision-Making in Everyday Life: A Pilot Study on Adolescents. Their research questioned which information sources adolescents actually use in 11 scenarios, including for a career, a hobby, a hairstyle, drugs, sex, and buying a cellphone. When presented with information sources that are internet-based, human, or other, human sources were preferred in eight situations.

Gordana Gaso, Darko Lacovic, and Sanjica Faletar Tanackovic, all from the University of Osijek, presented Scholarly Electronic Databases vs. Google. Their poster showed how academic staffers at their school use Google and indicated they prefer it because it is easy, databases are not available from home, and few skills are needed. Two-thirds of respondents stated there would be no effect on their research if databases were discontinued. The research also suggested methods the library could use to promote databases.


At the Ph.D. Forum, sponsored by the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T), six postgraduate students from Europe and the U.S. presented their dissertation research and received feedback from a committee of experts. Connaway, ASIS&T's president-elect, and Diane Sonnenwald, a past president, met with Ph.D. students and talked about developing careers in information science research.

The student showcase offered library and information science students an opportunity to present their research and obtain feedback. This included Hacker Culture, Libraries and Intellectual Freedom: Analysis of Hacker and Hacktivist Scene in Croatia and Its Collaboration With Croatian Libraries, by Iva Magusic-Dumancic, Milan Balac, and Mia Kuzmic; Algorithmic Approach to Contemporary Bibliography Generation, by Jakov M. Vezic; Bibliographic Description and Subject Indexing of Video Games in Croatian Catalogs, by Stipe Turcinov; Information Horizons of Croatian Professionals, by Ivana Turk; and Momentary Spark and Flame: A Personal Policy for the Digital Preservation of Fireworks, by Hanna Bush of University College Dublin. Winner Vezic was presented with 500 [euro] (about $550) from an anonymous donor. All presenters received a free student membership in ASIS&T from another anonymous donor.

Tefko Saracevic, distinguished professor emeritus at Rutgers University as well as a co-founder and co-director of LIDA, was the guest of honor. He was introduced by Srecko Jelusic, recently retired from the University of Zadar, who noted that Saracevic ranks first in citations to his work and articles in JASIST and its previous names.

In a short presentation, Saracevic discussed his early education after arriving in the U.S. from Croatia as well as his fascination with computers. After applying for studies at Case Western Reserve University, he learned that the only computer was in the library school, and so he began his distinguished career in librarianship. Despite his citation record, he noted that there has been only one on his Ph.D. dissertation. (The person making that citation, Carol Gordon, was in attendance and acknowledged it.)

Tatjana Aparac-Jelusic, co-founder and co-director of LIDA with Saracevic, was honored by a Festschrift, a collection of essays and learned papers contributed by a number of people as a tribute to an eminent scholar. The book was produced by her former students, many of whom are now professors at the University of Zadar and the University of Osijek. Among other honors, she received the Thomson Reuters Outstanding Information Science Teacher Award in 2006.

At the closing of LIDA, co-chairs Ross Todd and Marie Radford from Rutgers University said that 134 participants attended the conference, including 31 undergraduate and graduate students and 15 Ph.D. students. Attendees came from Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.K., and the U.S. The next LIDA conference will be held in Zadar in 2018. Information and papers are at

photos by EMIL LEVINE

Emil Levine is an American library and information science consultant living in Vienna. Maja Krtalic is an assistant professor at the University of Osijek in Croatia.
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Author:Levine, Emil; Krtalic, Maja
Publication:Information Today
Geographic Code:90ASI
Date:Sep 1, 2016
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