Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Digital Library Federation Fall Forum 2011

I had the honor of attending this year’s Digital Library Federation Fall Forum a few weeks ago as a Forum Fellow and I wanted to share a little of my experience on the blog.

First of all, I am so grateful to the DLF for giving me the opportunity to attend. There were three fellows this year and each of us was paired with a mentor for the conference, which was fantastic. My mentor introduced me to a bunch of people and gave me some excellent advice about career planning and working in the field. It was also great to meet the other fellows and learn more about their experiences and paths into digital librarianship.

In addition to all the professional socializing inherently involved in conference attendance, I attended several really great presentations and workshops, but for the sake of brevity I’ll just highlight a few:

UDFR: A Semantic Registry for Format Representation Information
This brief but informative session gave an update on the development of UDFR, the Unified Digital Format Registry. This registry will combine the existing PRONOM and GDFR registries to give a comprehensive, interactive listing of file formats, along with their significant properties and preservation risks. I can’t wait to see the result, which should go live in early 2012.

Digital Preservation Cloud Services for Libraries and Archives
This session outlined some of the ways in which cloud services could be a solution for ongoing digital preservation needs among library and archive institutions. Cloud-based services can answer some common technological needs, including:

  • Scalability – cloud services allow for quick resource provisioning and are generally pay-as-you go.
  • Cost-efficient maintenance – cloud services can maximize resource use thanks to economy of scale.
  • Configurability – levels of service can be defined according to institutional policies and need.
However, there are still issues relating to cloud services, particularly in terms of reliability and security. I actually heard someone in a different session mention that they had lost data during transfer to and from a cloud storage provider, so…keep that in mind if you’re considering cloud storage as a primary preservation solution. (Also keep in mind that this was just one person at one institution. Many other cloud service users may have had excellent experiences. Please share if you know of research in this area!)

Strategies for Film and Video Digitization
This 3-hour working session covered so much information that I have pages and pages of notes, so I’ll just mention the topics that were discussed:

  • Media preservation plans – their importance, and an example from Indiana University
  • File formats and digitization specifications
  • Digitization as a preservation strategy - this was really interesting, with examples of current practice from Northwestern, Indiana, and Stanford Universities
  • Storage methods
  • Workflow issues
A Google Doc with detailed notes from this session can be viewed here if you’d like to see more detail.

I also attended the post-forum Project Managers Meeting, in which I learned a lot about project management practices. In addition to some excellent discussion, the highlight of this meeting for me was Tito Sierra’s presentation on the Project One-Pager. His slides from that presentation can be found here, and I highly recommend looking them over if you’re interested in project management.

All in all, the forum was fun and informative, and I’m really glad I was able to attend. Thanks, DLF!

Written by Helen Bailey

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