MLA2011: Day 1

Since I’m not the amazing documentarian the Librarian in Black is, I’m going to opt for summary-style conference reporting. Also, check out what’s trending on Twitter at #mlajoinforces.

I’m at the Massachusetts Library Association’s annual conference: Join Forces. Day 0 was the preconference, a choice between the Digital Commonwealth annual conference and the Youth Services Section Teen Summit. This, by the way, is a great idea and lets folks make a better use of limited conference time and budgets.

Morning Keynote: Steve Puglia of the Library of Congress gave an excellent primer on the technology involved in digital imaging. Lots of math, lots of charts, and very necessary for me, who’s been throwing around terms like dpi, ppi, and histogram for a long time without this much detail in *how* they work. He also included recommendations and links to guidelines for optimized resolutions and specs. Brilliant, and when he sends me his slides I’ll quote some highlights.

Born Digital: WGBH Karen Cariani and Alison Bassett (Compliance Manager!) from WGBH talked about taking in and managing terabytes of born-digital multimedia objects, coming from a variety of producers and in all sorts of formats. Most importantly for me, they talked briefly about how to get compliance and understanding from the creators on starting the metadata creation and organization in-camera and onsite.

Lunch Keynote: Franziska Frey of RIT continued Steve’s theme of digital images, going into exquisite detail on best practices and guidelines for creating and optimizing digital image objects for the most user-useful end products. “When you’re developing standards for quality, bring in your users & ask them what they want, how they’ll use the images.” “The end product of a digital collection should be of a kind and quality that is important to end users, not the tech specs.” “Users used to zooming in, spoiled by games, maps, online shopping. Gives them something to zoom in on in online collections.”

Choosing a Digital Software Solution: Eprints, DSpace, Drupal, Omeka: Joe Fisher from UMass Lowell did a careful, point-by-point comparison of the four management tools. Short form: Eprints is good for document collections for specialized subject collections; DSpace is good for out of the box preservation support, needs real geeks to configure it; Drupal is excellent for content of all sorts (including websites in general) and can be run by not-so-geeky, but needs lots of fiddling; Omeka is new and seems to be a great all-in-one solution for preservation, collection and exhibition, very GUI and WYSIWYG friendly. All of them have pluses and minuses, so look at what works best for you and go from there (as ever).

Link highlights:

Today, skipping morning sessions in favor of Lobbycon and blog updating. More after lunch.