New technology in Digital Culture Hertage #BLdigital

Last week, I attended the Digital Conversations: Digital Cultural Heritage seminar at the British Library #BLdigital. It involved a select panel discussion chaired by Paul Gooding (DPC) with Andrew Bevan (Institute of Archaeology, UCL), Kate Devlin (Dept. of Computing, Goldsmiths), Nick Short (Royal Veterinary College) and Professor Melissa Terras (UCLDH). 

What was most interesting to me was just how varied digitisation and new technology in 3D imaging and computer modelling is spreading in terms of cultural heritage organisations for art, archaeology, history and in libraries, archives, museums and galleries sector. Currently, we already have the best quality, colour and storage capabilities but now there is a need to allow people to see an image in various ways through image processing. For example, Melissa Terras explains that in order to know how best to capture information for damaged text or fragile items is to test re-create the damage (e.g. archival paper with blood splatter or partially burnt book pages) and then create 3D model. Testing these 3D models could assist you to read text you could not before without further damaging the physical resource. The pilot study data could then be released to then educate and create policy for similar organisations and technology.

Being a Subject Librarian

I am currently on a long road towards my dream of being a Subject Librarian for East Asian collections. During my last few months as a Library Graduate Trainee at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, I thought it would a good opportunity to meet and talk with individuals within this field as a form of CPD. Last week, I interviewed Fujiko Kobayashi, the Subject Librarian for Japan and Korea at SOAS. The questions below formed the basis of my talk with her about her role and its importance within the university.
How did you come into your role? How do you spend most of your day? How do you see your career progressing?
Fujiko like many other librarians simply fell into the role. First from teaching in Japan, to volunteering as a teacher in Malaysia before moving to America and studying Librarianship as a random interest. She greatly credits that participating in a Masters degree around the time were the internet really took off, allowed her new skills in cataloguing and programming with HTML and CSS to assist in landing a job as Library Assistant in London. Before progressing to become a Subject Librarian at SOAS. I expected to hear that as a Subject Librarian she would be getting involved in projects (e.g. preparing reading lists for programmes and research courses) but the majority of her time is spent split 50/50 between cataloguing and classification and dealing with enquiries. Every so often she provides one-one training seminars for research PhD students. Due to her previous experience in teaching she would like to continue to assist students and complete the mammoth task of cataloguing the 60% of the collections that is not online.

Wearble Technology and Libraries

I had the pleasure of reading though David Lee King slides for Technology Trends for Libraries in 2004. I have already been keen on the health monitor bands in Maplin stores and Nike Fuelbands in stores. However, last week the Observer article about "Why audiobooks are the perfect running aid?" got me really thinking about 'wearable technology in libraries' which is the second trend on the slides.

For a while, digital audiobooks have been active in mp3 formats for iPods and Amazon Kindle. So it is understandable why such technology will impact the usage of traditional libraries in future. Afterall, it is self-reliant on the user downloading their audiobook of choice from a simple 3G or wi-fi connection and using it on-the-go. What is interesting about this article is it seems to target the niche market of working adults who have very little time to work out and still visit a library. This stirs away from targeted demographic of children’s and teen audiobooks collections that have been introduced within libraries amidst falling reader numbers.

Overdrive is one the few alternatives that is available in various libraries and accessed with your library card and PIN. Free or borrowed items can also be downloaded to PC, MAC, Kobo, Nook, and iPhone or iPAd via its app with this same method which makes more accessible to various users with different technology needs. However, the one of its greatest drawbacks is that you may be tied to one library that only offers a section number of audiobooks such alienating some users with different or more unique tastes.

Even though there has been an increase in e-libraries offering e-audio collections to target on-the-go users and interactive technology libraries (looking a bit like an Apple store layout with interactive media spaces), in the current economic and financial climate it might be better for librarians to keep an eye out for changes in audiobooks trends such as formatting to fill the gap in patron driven collections and reader usage and talking with publishers/distributors to look into large group purchases to effectively stretch budgets.