Readex Digital Institute Notes

By reeset / On / In Digital Libraries

Ok — so I guess I’ll have to try this blogging a session again at DLF and simply post notes in real-time…

2005 Readex Digital Institute
Trip Report, Terry Reese


While this isn’t the biggest gathering that I attend during the year, it’s definitely been one of my favorites. Essentially, for those that haven’t heard of it – the Readex Digital Institute is an intimate gathering sponsored by Readex, a division of NewsBank, that brings together librarians of a wide variety of backgrounds to discuss issues related to digital library development. The gathering itself is held in Chester, VT – a small little village in southcentral/southeastern Vermont – at the peek of the leafing season. So in addition to being an enjoyable conference, there are a lot of reasons to want to come to Chester as well.

Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2005:

This was a travel day. Readex has an opening ceremony of such on Wednesday and in order to attend, Readex had asked if I could travel to Chester a day early. And travel it was…try to find an airline from Portland that will fly directly into Hartford, CT. Yes, Hartford, CT – the trip takes me to Hartford by plane and then from Hartford to Chester by car (about 2 ½ hours). So all in all, I leave for Vermont at 7:20 am and I pull into Chester around 9:00 pm – yeah, all day on a plane or in a car…what fun.

Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2005:

Its funny, I found that I had to travel to Vermont in order to find summer. It was sunny and 78 degrees in Chester and with the only thing for me to do on Wednesday was attend the welcome dinner at 7pm, I had the hardship of finding something to do in Chester – a welcome hardship indeed. I did some leaf peeping (I know – how touristy), a little hiking and just relaxed. At 7 pm, we made our way to the Readex Conference Center for dinner, opening remarks and best of all – dessert.

Thursday and Friday, Oct. 6 and 7, 2005:

I’m thinking that rather than write about each session, I’m going to just make the ppts available to folks to come and checkout if they are interested. I’ll see if I can’t digitize my conference notebook — but if not – it’s in my office so you’re welcome to come take a look. Here are the titles of each session:

Keynote: The winter of our digital discontent: anxiety, disruption and chaos breed life. James Neal, Columbia University

Presidential End of term web harvest, lessons learned. Mark Phillips, University of North Texas
Just a note, this was a very interesting session for two reasons. First, I think that a lot of document libraries share a common concern that many state electronic documents are disappearing from the web and no reliable program for archiving these documents currently seems to exist. North Texas shares this concern and had started a program to harvest their state documents and has created a web graveyard to archive historical websites – in this case, presidential websites of the 2000, 2004 presidential elections. The program itself is instructive, in that it provides an evaluation of different software, issues related to harvesting of documents – particularly government documents – and an idea of impact of such a service.

Metadata developments – a year later. Terry Reese, Oregon State University
This presentation is an update of last year’s session – where I was asked to talk about building smart metadata crosswalking systems. I demonstrated how I have adopted a type broker system into MarcEdit and have demonstrated some of the methods that a crosswalking system could be developed that could essentially automatically detect metadata formats and then crosswalk to desired formats based on available crosswalks in the system. I also talked about and demonstrated the first baby steps of our federated search system – talking about it as an example of how these newer lite-weight, metadata profiles are driving metadata interoperability between systems.

Technology as a teaching tool: exploring Content and context in a hands-on history classroom. Andrew Mink, University of Virginia

Stanford ‘Groks’: Using Grokker at Stanford. Chris Bourg
This is an interesting program with a lot of wow factor. Grokker is visualization software that provides visualization of results for specific resources or even federated searches. They have a free version that you can try at: It’s pretty interesting – not a catch all solution to federated search (personally, I find the visualization component non-intuitive) – but rather a great option to provide users that are more visual learners.

The transcontinental railroad then and now…Steven Daniel, Readex
Readex likes to do one session where they can show off the type of research that can be done using the serial set. To be honest, these are always some of my favorite presentations because I’m a big U.S. history buff – particularly western history and the last two years have focused on events that have lead to the development of the Western United States.

Building a globally distributed model for sharing a significant sheet map collection. Patrick McGlammery, University of Connecticut
Patrick had discussed this project last year and was updating the group on its status. I wish I had a URL because this is a project that will be great for genealogist in practical use – but great for Map librarians as well – since it will be able to serve as a model for future GIS development and collaboration.

How should libraries and publishers respond to recent initiatives such as google print? Steven Rhind-Tutt, Alexander Street Press.

All the leaves are brown: and google takes the fall. Mark Sandler, University of Michigan.
A very entertaining presentation that actually let me ask some questions regarding the Google Print initiative (which in add of itself was interesting). However, what I enjoyed about this presentation was the fact that it showed how much digitization Michigan is still doing…even given Google’s project to scan their library. I wish I had the slide in front of me because there was some really great stuff that I don’t want to miss quote.

Creating a trusted FDLP Electronic collection: GPO’s digitization and authentication initiatives. Selene T. Dalecky, GPO.
This session talked about GPO’s digitization efforts and steps that they are taking to help ensure that users can be sufficiently sure that a document hasn’t been modified since it was captured by GPO. However, one thing that I found a little disconcerting was that GPO is focusing on digitally signing just the surrogates that it makes available to the public. However, the archival copies are not being digitally signed so if a document needed to be regenerated, one would have to trust that the archive itself hadn’t been tampered with. Seems to me that if GPO wants a truly trusted system – they should sign both the archive and the surrogate’s documents so that both sources can be trusted.

Saturday, Sunday and Monday, Oct. 8th, 9th, and 10th
On Saturday, when most folks were going home, I had a friend of mine, Joe Toth, come down and pick me up. I’d made arrangments to speak with the folks at Middlebury regarding their move to III. We covered topics like Metafind, Webbridge, ILL, etc. A good time. I also got to see pretty much all of Vermont as Joe took me up the east side of the state and back down the west side of the state when I went back to Hartford, CT to catch my plane. In general, weather in Middlebury was OK. While southern Vermont and New Hampshire were getting doused with rain, those of us in North Vermont got some pretty nice weather, I thought. I spend my time in North Vermont looking at a few of the towns around the area including Burlington and Barre and then just looking over the Middlebury campus itself. Had a great time. One the way back to the airport, we stopped at Williams and Amhurst colleges – which were actually much larger than I would have thought given their student populations.