Head of Digital Transformation, Smithsonian Institution

“The Head of Digital Transformation will be expected to conceptualize and execute an institutional digital transformation strategy, integrate and prioritize ongoing digital initiatives, ensure new and innovative ideas are considered and acted upon, and target a handful of key cultural and structural reforms needed to support a truly “One Smithsonian” digital approach.” 

Library of Congress Completes Digitization of 23 Early Presidential Collections | Library of Congress

“The Library of Congress has completed a more than two decade-long initiative to digitize the papers of nearly two dozen early presidents. The Library holds the papers of 23 presidents from George Washington to Calvin Coolidge, all of which have been digitized and are now available online.

The Library plans to highlight each presidential collection on social media in the weeks leading up to the next presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021….

With the digitization of papers from Presidents Benjamin Harrison, William Howard Taft, Grover Cleveland and Coolidge, the Library’s complete set of presidential collections is now available online for the first time….”

UNESCO launches new publication on accessible documentary heritage

“Marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December 2020, UNESCO has released a new publication aiming at assisting stakeholders in the preparation of documentary heritage in accessible formats for persons with disabilities.

 

The publication, Accessible Documentary Heritage, offers a set of guidelines for parties involved in the digitization of heritage documents, including librarians, archivists, museums workers, curators, and other stakeholders in carefully planning digital platforms and contents with a view to incorporating disability and accessibility aspects….”

MLA 2021 Session on “Towards Sustainability for Digital Archives and Projects” | SHARP

[This is the abstract for just one of seven presentations.]

Abstract:  Over the last decade, the digital humanities community has become increasingly concerned with the ongoing sustainability of digital projects. This anxiety stems in part from the realization that not all digital humanities projects have identical expectations of longevity. Several prominent works in the literature, such as Bethany Nowviskie and Dot Porter’s “Graceful Degradation Survey Findings: How Do We Manage Digital Humanities Projects through Times of Transition and Decline?” (2010) and Geoffrey Rockwell et al.’s “Burying Dead Projects: Depositing the Globalization Compendium” (2014), have been central to this intellectual exchange about the benefits of creating sustainability plans for projects that do not necessarily assume a default permanence, but that instead proactively consider each project’s most suitable longevity strategy.

 

With this realization has come a concomitant expectation: each digital humanities project must create its own customized sustainability plan, designed with its particular requirements in mind. And yet, few digital humanists have access to direct training on the process of creating and implementing professional-grade digital preservation and sustainability practices for their own work. To support the process of designing and implementing digital sustainability plans for this work, a team of scholars housed in the Visual Media Workshop at the University of Pittsburgh has created the Socio-Technical Sustainability Roadmap (STSR; http://sustainingdh.net). The STSR is a structured, process-oriented workshop, inspired by design thinking and collaborative learning approaches. This workshop, which may be implemented in a variety of institutional contexts, guides project stakeholders through the practice of creating effective, iterative, ongoing digital sustainability strategies that address the needs of both social and technological infrastructures. It is founded on the fundamental assumption that, for sustainability practices to be successful, project leaders must keep the changing, socially-contingent nature of both their project and their working environment(s) consistently in mind as they initiate, maintain, and support their own work. For this panel, we contextualize and describe the STSR, and provide reflections based on our experiences facilitating Sustaining DH: An NEH Institute for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities.

Digitised Leiden Maps and Atlases collection available in Digital Collections – Leiden University

“Leiden University Libraries (UBL) has made more than 20.000 maps, atlases and topographical prints and drawings available in Digital Collections. With this, a significant part of one of the largest and most important collections of maps and atlases in the Netherlands has now been made digitally available for research, education and the general public. Due to copyright protections, recently published maps and atlases may not be available online; these items may be viewed digitally within library premises or can be physically consulted in the Special Collections Reading Room….”

Walters Art Museum Digitization Project | NEH Essentials

“In 2008, the Walters in Baltimore was awarded $307,500 from NEH to start digitizing their world-renowned collection of over 900 objects, some of which had never before been cataloged. The digitization began with The Islamic Digital Resource Project, a collection of the museum’s 128 illuminated Islamic manuscripts and leaves. A second grant of $315,000 included 105 manuscripts of German, Russian, Armenian, Byzantine, Ethiopian, Dutch, English, and Spanish origins, while a $265,000 grant covered digitization of 112 Flemish manuscripts, mainly the Books of Hours, dating between 1200 and 1600 CE….”

Home – The Alexandria Archive Institute

“The Alexandria Archive Institute is a non-profit technology company that preserves and shares world heritage on the Web, free of charge. Through advocacy, education, research, and technology programs like Open Context, we pioneer ways to open up archaeology and related fields for all….”

Evaluating the Orphan Works Directive | Europeana Pro

“Throughout the survey, we noted that with two relatively overlapping systems in place, cultural heritage professionals are likely to use the one that provides the best solution, with the other one remaining mostly unused. We therefore recommended considering retracting the Orphan Works Directive. We also noted its clear flaws so that the same mistakes would not be repeated again. 

We noted the following: 

The diligent search for rights holders is problematic, with the sources it is mandatory to consult often irrelevant and difficult to access. Pertinent sources are sometimes not included.

The time and resources that an institution needs to dedicate to conducting a diligent search present challenges, particularly as after completing this process there is still no full guarantee that the institution will always be able to use the work lawfully. 

The very limited scope of the Directive in different types of works is a clear downside; including embedded works (for example, the multiple works contained in a scrapbook) in those whose rights holders have to be searched for makes the determination extremely time-consuming and almost impossible.  

The Directive does not provide a sufficient level of clarity regarding the compensation that rights holders can claim; this lack of clarity has strongly disincentivised cultural heritage professionals from relying on this scheme. 

The EUIPO Orphan Works database can be cumbersome when working with large datasets and is not sufficiently interoperable with the repositories of cultural heritage institutions. 

Having two overlapping schemes is likely to raise a lot of uncertainties for cultural heritage professionals, for instance when trying to assess which of the two options to rely on. The out of commerce works provisions in the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive, while tackling the same challenges, offer much better solutions and less cumbersome conditions, perhaps to a large extent given the lessons learned from the Orphan Works Directive, and we are hopeful that they will deliver their promise. …”