Opening up e-resources

Digitisation breathes new life into collections, making them accessible beyond their physical location. Four real world examples highlight how digitisation opens up collections.

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A 'cool' library with Kindles

At NUI Maynooth, in Ireland, said Hugh Murphy, the library decided to loan Kindles in conjunction with their ebooks. Not only was this a very successful endeavour, with library-wide involvement, it made the library look 'cool'. Success stemmed from giving users what they want, or at least what the library thinks they want, and the library gained increased traction with academic departments. Moreover, it opened up staff views on technology and challenged them to be more accepting.

There are costs associated with the project, not only financial outlays, but also time and labour. Murphy was worried that having only 20 Kindles, ten for general use and ten for the English Department, would create unsustainable demand. He actually fantasised that he, the senior librarian, might be murdered in his sleep. As he was in the room presenting, it's clear that did not happen.

Why did the NUI Maynooth Kindle lending programme work? Murphy thinks it's due to the inherent merits of the Kindle-it's user friendly, well known and widely accepted among students. The enthusiasm of staff was key to success as well. Not wanting to take too much credit, Murphy acknowledged that perhaps they 'just got lucky'.

Digitised historic newspapers

Finally, Seth Cayley, who works for Gale Cengage Learning as Publisher-Media History, gave insights into the digitisation of historic newspapers from a very personal perspective. He searched Gale's NewsVault for an ancestor his family had always described as a naval hero from the late 1600s. However, an entry from Lloyd's Evening Post, 15 October 1770, described the captain as a pirate.

Cayley showed examples of articles displayed simply as text, comparing them to the same article in a digitised newspaper and pointing out how much more information is conveyed when you can see the accompanying illustrations. He also traced back the origin of phrases, such as 'black ships' in Japanese publications, giving historical perspective to terms still in use today.

A world view

Presentations from such a wide variety of institutions and companies gave delegates a true world view of the possibilities of digitisation for different environments and different uses.

Marydee Ojala edits ONLINE: Exploring Technology & Resources for Information Professionals and is a frequent speaker at international conferences such as Internet Librarian International

Image courtesy of Richard-G via Flickr.

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