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An Introduction What is Digital Commonwealth? A web portal (or gateway) is a website that offers a single access point to logically grouped information, often from a variety of content providers

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what is digital commonwealth
What is Digital Commonwealth?
  • A web portal (or gateway) is a website that offers a single access point to logically grouped information, often from a variety of content providers
    • Digital Commonwealth is such a web portal, allowing researchers a single access point into the rich world of digital collections in and about Massachusetts
what are dc s project goals
What are DC’s Project Goals?
  • To encourage the creation of digital library resources by Massachusetts libraries and cultural institutions (e.g., museums, archives, etc.)
  • To facilitate discovery of existing digital library resources by allowing researchers to search across collections from many Massachusetts cultural organizations at one time
  • To provide support, guidance, and information resources to sponsoring organizations for the creation of digital library resources
who can join
Who Can Join?
  • Individual cultural institutions that have digitized and/or intend to digitize collections
  • Group sponsoring organizations:
    • Regions… (e.g., CMRLS)
    • Networks… (e.g., C/W MARS)
    • Membership organization offering training and support (e.g., NELINET)
why digitize
Why Digitize?
  • To satisfy users, who increasingly expect online content
  • To allow 24/7 access (to content), even from remote locations
  • To expose a wider audience to your institution’s rich cultural resources
  • To provide surrogate access to rare or fragile materials
    • (Caution - May create increased demand for the original!)
  • To increase the understanding and appreciation of your institution’s collections via enhanced: image quality, finding aids, functionality, or linkages
  • To participate in really neat and creative collaborations…
    • (Like Digital Commonwealth)
why should you join
Why Should You Join?
  • To support, and contribute to, this noble effort to showcase (electronically) the rich cultural heritage of Massachusetts
  • To reap some wonderful benefits…
    • For your patrons
    • For your institution
benefits for your patrons
Benefits for Your Patrons
  • The DC portal will allow researchers to search across collections from many Massachusetts cultural organizations with a single query
    • (One-stop shopping)
  • Researchers will be able to focus on their search (i.e., they won’t need to be aware of individual institutions – or even the DC portal itself – to find objects from members’ collections)
  • Researchers can discover institutions and/or collections heretofore unknown or overlooked
benefits for your institution
Benefits for Your Institution
  • Ability to reach a wider audience than might be possible through an individual web presence
    • Especially true for smaller institutions
  • Opportunity to obtain consistent, reliable, and standardized information on best practices and standards for digitizing
  • Increase potential for cooperation and collaboration among institutions by increasing their awareness of each other’s collections
  • Enhanced awareness of collections from other institutions which might complement your own
  • Possibility for “value-added” features – online exhibits, lesson plans, etc., using collection items from a variety of institutions without the need for borrowing, moving, or handling original items
    • Especially valuable in classroom settings
okay how much will it cost
Okay, How Much Will It Cost?
  • Membership and first year fees:
    • $50.00 – Small cultural institutions (with two or fewer paid staff)
    • $100.00 – Other (larger) cultural institutions
    • $500.00 -- Group Sponsoring Organizations (that plan to work with their own membership to join the DC, e.g., NELINET)
  • Fees for future years are likely to be higher when start-up grant funding is exhausted
  • Participants will also incur digitization, hosting, and administration costs, which are not covered by DC’s annual membership fee
why do we have fees
Why Do We Have Fees?


  • Cultural institutions make a long-term commitment to maintaining digital collections
  • Digital collections require ongoing care and upkeep
  • Online catalogs (and portals) require similar ongoing costs
  • We have a future vision for the DC, which – if it is to be realized – will require development and ongoing maintenance
    • (e.g., the latest technology, curriculum modules, local customization, training, support, and planning)
creating and sustaining digital collections things to consider
Creating and Sustaining Digital Collections: Things to Consider

How does digitization fit into your institutional goals?

Reminder: Digitization is an access tool, not a preservation strategy

creating and sustaining digital collections what s involved 1
Creating and Sustaining Digital Collections: What’s Involved? (1)
  • Approach digitization programmatically:
    • Know your collections (value, use, and risk)
    • Know your users’ needs
    • Let your desired products define your creative process
  • Codify a selection policy and follow it closely
  • Compliance with standards and best practices is critically important
  • Establish quality benchmarks for desired digital products, including:
    • Image and/or sound quality
    • Metadata
    • File format(s)
    • Functionality
    • Security and risk management
    • File integrity
    • Media storage
    • Repository (archival) storage
    • Migration and/or emulation strategies
creating and sustaining digital collections what s involved 2
Creating and Sustaining Digital Collections: What’s Involved? (2)
  • Should you digitize in-house or outsource?
  • Should you build a repository or outsource?
  • Involve appropriate stakeholders in all policy-making decisions and write a sustainability plan
    • Who will be the curator of the digital collection?
    • How will hardware and software obsolescence issues be addressed?
    • Will digital collections be subject to re-selection in the future?
    • Where will funding come from?
the digital commonwealth prototype search created by nelinet http necol nelinet net digcommonwealth
The Digital Commonwealth Prototype SearchCreated by NELINET
about the search results list
About the search results list

Search for “garden” resulted in 10 hits

- from 5 different cultural institutions

- stored in 2 different digital repositories

  • Digital Treasures ... A Central & Western Massachusetts Digital Library Project
    • Elms College
    • Joshua Hyde Public Library
  • Northeast Massachusetts Digital Library: Imagining History Collections
    • Essex Agriculture & Technical High School
    • Saugus Public Library
    • Lynn Public Library
dc prototype

20 Libraries






Williams College

DC Prototype
more about the search example
More about the search example
  • Source collection
    • The original item is from the Essex Agricultural & Technical High School, Hathorne (Danvers), MA
  • Repository
    • The digital version is part of the Northeast Massachusetts Digital Library: Imagining History Collections
what s going on behind the scenes of the prototype
What’s going on behind the scenes of the prototype?

·The search index is comprised of harvested metadata

·Before the metadata was assembled into prototype it was packaged in a harvestable format

·The standard Digital Commonwealth is using is called OAI (Open Archives Initiative)

oai open archives initiative
OAI (Open Archives Initiative)
  • OAI is a protocol for metadata harvesting
  • Data Providers make available (or expose) their metadata about existing digital collections

(The metadata needs to be in a specific format.)

  • The Service Providers harvest the metadata using an automated application
  • The Service Provider offers access to the harvested metadata through a web-based search engine
digital commonwealth



Digital Commonwealth










probable sequence of steps for potential digital commonwealth contributors recap
Probable sequence of steps for potential Digital Commonwealth contributors (recap)
  • Organization joins DC (or a digital repository that will contribute metadata to DC, perhaps through a Group Sponsor)
  • Organization reviews its existing digital collections and associated metadata
  • Organization reviews DC's metadata requirements (because it needs to assemble harvestable metadata)
  • DC will have some staffing available to help resolve issues relating to assembling existing metadata
  • DC will provide guidance
  • Organization assembles harvestable metadata and tells DC it's ready
  • DC harvests metadata
  • DC integrates metadata into its search index
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