Days 3 and 4: Sunny and Sixty

The Riverwalk was absolutely hopping Thursday night compared to the rest of the week! It finally warmed up and dried out (coincidentally on the day we got out early for lunch) and it was still warm enough to eat outside in the evening. Earlier in the day I visited the Alamo, which has very pleasant grounds for a stroll, and learned something about Texas history.

Not that I missed out on all the good stuff! The conference sessions were very research oriented and a lot of the content was, frankly, over my head. Several presentations were by PhD students in Computer Science and several more were by folks best described as “researchers” rather than practicing librarians, programmers, etc. I left with an understanding of what their projects are meant to do–in most cases!–but not exactly how they work.

For example, a method for web archiving for preservation was presented (mod_oai info), as was a tool that operates as a recommendation and migration service for digital preservation (CRiB info). You put in information about what you’re preserving, it tells you a range of options based on how you weight certain criteria. It also evaluates your original and migrated objects for any differences between the two. (I’m sure I’m grossly oversimplifying.)

That session got me thinking that preservation was largely absent as a topic at the conference. That’s fine, but that in turn got me thinking that while an open source system may be an important component of preservation (if you’re trying to keep something usable for many years, it may not make much sense to embed it in a proprietary system), you can’t assume that just because a system is open source it is therefore a good preservation tool.

One of the final sessions, on Friday, included a presentation on adapting FRBR for repository metadata. The adapted model uses terms like “scholarly work” in place of “work” and “copy” in place of “item,” which I particularly like since many copies are not, in fact, physical items.

It was interesting to hear someone outside the serials/cataloging community describe the FRBR model. Seeing the adapted model helped me understand the difference between expression and manifestation better. The speakers I’ve heard tend to say things like, “An expression is, you know, an expression of a work.”

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