The Digital Library Federation (DLF) has coordinated a grant proposal which requests support to develop a testbed for its Making of America II (MOA II) Project. This proposal was submitted to the NEH by UC Berkeley and includes the participation of fi ve DLF members. The objective of the MOA II Testbed project is to move the DLF membership, as well as the wider community, closer to the realization of a national digital library by addressing a number of issues that are on the critical path to this goal .
Specifically, the MOA II Testbed will provide a vehicle that will allow the DLF to investigate, refine and recommend best practices for the digitization of archival materials and the definition of metadata used to discover, display and navigate these digital archival objects. In addition, this project will begin to investigate some of the system architecture issues that must be addressed to support integrated access to distributed repositories of digital archival objects.
Overall, the DLF conceived MOA II Testbed will provide a working system in which digitization, metadata and architecture problems can be investigated, and where different solutions can be tested and refined. The project will provide the DLF membershi p a set of best practice recommendations for each research area, all of which are required for the creation of a national digital library.
The MOA II Testbed Project proposal submitted to the NEH can be found at:
THE MOA II TESTBED PROJECT PLANNING PHASE
The MOA II Testbed proposal, submitted to the NEH for funding in May, 1998 included a planning phase to be funded by the DLF which covers the time directly proceeding NEH funding. UC Berkeley is now requesting funds from the DLF which will allow the planning phase activities to proceed. These activities include:
1) Identifying the classes of archival digital objects that will be investigated in the MOA II Testbed Project. Each digitized class selected should correspond to a related class of primary source materials (e.g., manuscripts, photographs, diar ies, pamphlets, etc.). Note: The MOA II Steering Committee has recommended that books and serial articles be considered out of scope for this project.
2) Drafting initial practices to create digital image surrogates for the classes of archival digital objects selected for this project. These beginning image capture recommendations will then be tested, refined and enhanced in the MOA II Testbed Project with the goal of providing the DLF membership a set of best practices it can review and recommend to the wider community.
3) Creating a structural metadata "working definition" for each digital archival class included in the project. The working definitions are meant to provide a starting point for investigating the structural metadata issues which defin e the internal organization of complex archival digital objects and therefore, how they can be displayed and navigated. The NEH funded year will then use the MOA II Testbed to investigate, refine and enhance these working definitions with the goal of pro viding the DLF a set of structural metadata practices that can be reviewed and recommended to the wider community.
4) Creating an administrative metadata "working definition" for the digital images to be used in the MOA II Testbed project. The administrative metadata includes the management information associated with the images (e.g., date of im age capture, digitization technology used, image resolution, etc.). Again, the administrative metadata working definition will be tested, refined and enhanced based on experience gathered from the MOA II Testbed with the goal of producing best practices that can be recommended by the DLF.
METHODOLOGY & WORK PLAN
It is crucial that the methodology employed by the MOA II Testbed Project engage the wider community of scholars, archivists and librarians interested in access to the digital materials represented in this project. In addition, this process must also include metadata and technical experts at the proper time to ensure their contributions are utilized to maximum effect. Therefore, the following methodology is recommended.
1) UC Berkeley, working directly with the other four NEH participants, will review the collections that have been proposed for conversion and identify the classes of digital archival objects that are represented by the corpus. The classes could includ e formats such as photographs, manuscripts, diaries, pamphlets, etc.
2) UC Berkeley, working directly with the other four NEH participants, consultants and selected archivists, will draft a white-paper that identifies the behaviors each class of digital objects should be able to exhibit. For example, a digital m anuscript object may implement behaviors such as: display the third page; the next page; the previous page; the table of contents; etc. In addition, the white paper will suggest initial best practices for digitizing the classes of archival objects to be included in this project. The white-paper will include a compilation of existing work in all the above areas, as well as any original contributions the group can provide.
3) An expert review committee, representative of the broader community, will meet to review the classes selected for investigation, the behaviors each class will implement and possible metadata elements that are required to support these behaviors, as well as the best practices for digitization. After the meeting, the white paper will be revised accordingly. Please note that the conclusions reached at this meeting will represent a starting point for future discussions of class and behavior definition s for archival digital objects which will occur as part of the MOA II Testbed Project.
4) Behavior, metadata and technical experts will collaborate to determine the exact metadata elements that are required to implement the behaviors defined for each class of digital archival object. The group will also make recommendations on initial e ncoding techniques to be used in the MOA II Testbed Project for structural metadata, administrative metadata and for the digital object classes (i.e., encoding to encapsulate both types of metadata and the digital content inside the object). The result of this effort will be the initial working definitions for the classes of digital objects that will be investigated, refined and enhanced in the NEH funded year of the project. These working definitions will be documented and published for wider review and will be constantly updated to reflect new comments and suggestions.
Merrilee Proffitt, Project Manager (50% time for 6 months)
The project manager will be involved in all aspects of planning year activities. S/he will be responsible for charging, monitoring, coordinating and disseminating all output from the individual planning year groups, as well as providing the budget management function.
Bonnie Hardwick, Western Americana Curator (25% time for 2 months)
Work with the five NEH participants to identify the classes of archival digital objects that are represented by the materials to be digitized through this grant. Work with the larger community to determine that this is the correct set of materials to be investigated.
Dr. Howard Besser, Imaging & Metadata Expert (33% time for 6 months)
Facilitate and coordinate planning year efforts focused on digital image capture practices and administrative metadata working definitions. This includes editing draft practices for digital image capture, editing the section of the white-paper tha t identifies archival digital object behaviors that require administrative metadata, working with a metadata/technology expert group to both identify the administrative metadata elements required to support these behaviors and develop an encoding s cheme for the administrative metadata working definition.
Ann Swartzell, Digitization Expert (10% time for 6 months)
Assist Dr. Besser in creating, compiling and editing best practices for digital image capture. This work includes researching other digitization efforts to determine how previous work can be best utilized in the MOA II project.
Structural Metadata Consultant (20 days)
Facilitate and coordinate planning year efforts focused on structural metadata working definitions. This includes editing the section of the white-paper that identifies archival digital object behaviors that require structural metadata, working wi th a metadata/technology expert group to both identify the structural metadata elements required to support these behaviors and develop an encoding scheme for the structural metadata working definition.
Metadata Encoding Expert (50% time for 6 months)
Participate in the development of the digital archival object behavior definitions, the structural and administrative metadata element selection and encoding scheme development for both metadata and digital object classes. Create and maintain meta data encoding structures for metadata and objects.
Bernard Hurley (10% time for 6 months)
Facilitate identification of digital object naming conventions and systems to be examined in the NEH funded phase of the grant.
1 three day meeting of the expert review panel to review the white paper and finalize the working definitions elements for the production phase of the project.