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A Practical Guide to Decision-Making. Hey, What About Access?. Roy Tennant The California Digital Library, University of California http://escholarship.cdlib.org/rtennant/presentations/2002sfs/. Outline. What are your access goals? What are your constraints? What opportunities do you have?

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hey what about access

A Practical Guide to Decision-Making

Hey, What About Access?

Roy Tennant

The California Digital Library, University of California


  • What are your access goals?
  • What are your constraints?
  • What opportunities do you have?
  • Capturing
  • Describing
  • Providing Access
what are your access goals
What are Your Access Goals?
  • On-screen viewing
    • Thumbnail preview
    • Screen-size
    • Detail study (and how much?)
  • Printing
  • Artifactual Fidelity or Intellectual Content
  • On-screen resolutions are typically inadequate for printing
  • For non-transparency material (prints, books, objects, etc.), 300dpi is a good resolution for printable versions
artifactual fidelity or intellectual content
Artifactual Fidelity or Intellectual Content?
  • Artifactual fidelity
    • Must preserve the appearance of the actual object
    • Can provide an enhanced sense of experiencing the real object
    • But in some cases, preserving the look and feel of the artifact obstructs the content
    • Doug Greenberg’s “compulsive authenticity disorder” (http://www.nedcc.org/owol/dgabs.htm)
  • Intellectual content
    • Optimized to provide the best presentation of the content itself, not the artifact
    • The sense of interacting with the actual object may be diminished or destroyed
  • Both strategies may be required
what are your constraints
What are Your Constraints?
  • Hardware
    • RAM
    • CPU speed
    • Disk space
    • Storage
  • Software
  • Staff
    • Time
    • Skill and experience
  • Money
what opportunities do you have
What Opportunities Do You Have?
  • Grants may be available to finance your project
    • Grants often expect a certain level of quality; if so, what capture quality is specified?
  • Do you have access to student help? Interns? Volunteers?
  • Can you cut a deal with a vendor like Octavo?
  • Monitor resolutions are improving
    • 640 x 480 --> 800 x 600 --> 1280 x 768
  • What is a good resolution for onscreen viewing today, may not be tomorrow
  • How many times do you want to scan your material?
  • Scan at the best quality you can justify given your goals, constraints, and opportunities
capture recommendations for access not preservation
Capture Recommendations for Access (not preservation)
  • Photos, illustrations, maps, etc.:
    • 300dpi
    • 24 bit color
  • B/W Text document:
    • 300dpi
    • 8 bit grayscale
  • Negatives and Slides:
    • 2200 pixels in longest dimension
    • 24 bit color or 8 bit grayscale
  • Good metadata is essential to your success
  • Three types:
    • Descriptive
    • Administrative
    • Structural
describing appropriate level
Describing: Appropriate Level
  • Collection-level access:
    • Discovery metadata describes the collection
    • Example: Archival finding aid; see http://www.oac.cdlib.org/
  • Item-level access:
    • Discovery metadata describes the item
    • Example: MARC or Dublin Core records for each item; see http://jarda.cdlib.org/search.html
  • Both types of access may be appropriate
  • Doing both often takes very little extra effort
collection level access
Collection Level Access







item level access
Item Level Access





describing metadata granularity
Describing: Metadata Granularity
  • <name>William Randolph Hearst</name>
  • <name> <first>William</first> <middle>Randolph</middle> <last>Hearst</last></name>
  • Consider all uses for the metadata
  • Design for the most granular use
  • Store it in a machine-parseable format
describing machine parseability
Describing: Machine Parseability
  • The ability to pull apart and reconstruct information via software
  • For example, this:<name> <first>William</first> <middle>Randolph</middle> <last>Hearst</last></name>
  • Can easily become this:<DC.creator>Hearst, William Randolph</DC.creator>
describing metadata qualification
Describing: Metadata Qualification
  • <name role=“creator”>William Randolph Hearst</name>
  • <subject scheme=“LCSH”>Builder -- Castles -- Southern California</subject>
describing formats syntax
Describing: Formats & Syntax

Which ones?

Dublin Core





describing metadata storage formats
Describing: Metadata Storage Formats
  • It doesn’t matter so long as:
    • You captured the quantity required for your purposes
    • You captured it at the granularity required for your purposes
    • You qualify the metadata where required
    • You store it in a machine-parseable format
    • You can output it in any format to which you wish to comply
  • Given that, you can do anything!
describing standards
Describing: Standards
  • Decide to which industry standards you will comply
  • Use an internal metadata infrastructure that supports compliance with those standards, as well as your specific requirements
  • Consider the issues of item v. collection level, granularity, qualification, and machine parseability
  • Understand that your internal formats may be more complex than what is required for standards compliance
describing making your metadata searchable
Describing:Making Your Metadata Searchable
  • Sample Indexing Systems/Databases:
    • Sprite (Perl module)
    • Microsoft Access, Filemaker Pro
    • SWISH-E, swish-e.org
    • MySQL, mysql.com
    • Oracle or Sybase







The power & complexity continuum



providing access
Providing Access
  • Exhibit
  • Browse
  • Search
providing access exhibit
Providing Access: Exhibit
  • Goals:
    • Inviting
    • Easy to navigate
    • Highlight selected parts of a collection
    • Teach
  • Requirements:
    • Great graphic design
    • Informative and succinct commentary
    • Interesting subject matter
providing access browse
Providing Access: Browse
  • Goals:
    • Provide intriguing and interesting paths into and throughout a collection
    • Give a broad sense of a collection, but not show everything necessarily
  • Requirements:
    • Logical browse paths
    • May have multiple paths to the same items (e.g., time, geography, subject)
providing access search
Providing Access: Search
  • Goals
    • To provide post-coordinate access to all items in a collection relevant to a particular query
    • To provide good methods to create a search as well as refine or alter the display as required
  • Requirements:
    • Good search software (database or indexing software)
    • Good metadata (minimum is probably a title or caption for each item)
    • Good interface (options for navigation, search refinement, etc.)
  • Determine what you want your users to be able to do (your access goals)
  • Consider your constraints, opportunities, and long-term goals
  • Capture images at the best quality you can stand
  • Collect metadata in an amount and form that supports your access goals as well as interoperability with relevant standards
  • Never underestimate the power of a committed individual and a cheap scanner!
final advice
Final Advice
  • Don’t scrimp on tools — staff time is the most expensive part of any project
  • For any given project, there are several ways it can succeed and countless ways it can fail
  • Do it right, or don’t do it at all?
  • NO! From the access perspective, it’s much better to do it as well as you can than to not do it at all.