COURTESY HAWAII NISEI STORY
The Web site nisei.hawaii.edu
offers a selection of stories about Hawaii's second-generation AJAs.
‘Cybrarian’ uploads nisei heritage
Content is king. Doesn't matter whether you're blogging or MySpacing or creating a resource site or simply archiving information. You need to have something to fill that bandwidth. The trick is not wasting your time.
"Getting the Full Story," presented by Shari Tamashiro:
» Presentation: 6 p.m. tomorrow
» Place: King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center, Ali'iolani Hale
» Reservations: 539-4999
The next is data-wrangling. The 3-year-old "Hawai'i Nisei Story" Web site is an excellent example of useful information presented in a logical, compelling and accessible style. It didn't get that way by accident. Kapiolani Community College "cybrarian" Shari Tamashiro has been deeply involved in the site, and explains how it's done at a talk tomorrow at the Hawaii Judiciary Center.
The concepts work for anyone making the leap between digital and analogue worlds, Tamashiro said.
"The Internet has made a world of information available to virtually anyone. This digital world has unlimited possibilities. There are no physical boundaries and access is 24/7. I find this world utterly fascinating."
While getting her master's degree in library and information science, Tamashiro became interested in digital libraries, as a way to place print resources such as books online, where they can reach new audiences.
The nisei project presents information from the Japanese American Veterans Archive at the University of Hawaii's Hamilton Library, along with 30 nisei interviews compiled by the UH Center for Oral History. Kapiolani Community College's library created the site.
"The site focuses on digital storytelling and trying to think outside the realm of traditional linear narrative," Tamashiro said. "How do we connect the past to the future, the old to the new? We take resources like oral histories and other primary source materials to create a living digital memory. ...
"When you visit an exhibit in a museum, you walk through and have to read signage to get more information on what you're seeing. It's OK, but you cannot compare it to the experience of having the exhibit curator walking next to you and providing all of the knowledge they have accumulated. The site provides that 'expert' for you."
The Web site also features digital storytelling with a "depth and interconnectedness that gives a lot of flexibility to the participant. The user chooses their path. They choose how deeply they want to go into each story."
It's a pilot project. Tamashiro and a new generation of cybrarians are "building a framework for a community of memory" with "The Hawai'i Nisei Story."
Next step: the Hawaii Memory Project.
"Similar to the Library of Congress' American Memory Project, we are digitizing primary source materials and will eventually make them available online," Tamashiro said.
"The first phase focuses on digitizing materials garnered from the collections of Hawaii nisei. This includes photographs, letters, v-mail, memoirs, etc. Our priority is to identify, get releases and digitize as many primary source materials as we can. Making them available online is the next step."
Shari Tamashiro answered some questions about the technical aspects of the Hawai‘i Nisei Story Web site.
Are there any particular digital formats that work best for archiving?
There is a distinction between information that is "born digital" (created in a digital format like a MS Word document) and information that has been digitized (converted from a physical medium like paper).
The quality and format of the digitization is an important issue, especially for archiving. We usually end up re-scanning items from people because we cannot use the copy that they digitized. Ex: Maybe the scan size was too small and we cannot edit the photo for use in Flash.
If you were to use a scanner to digitize a photograph, there are a number of factors that have to be considered. What is the dpi (dots per inch)? 72 dpi is adequate for publishing to the web but 300 dpi is recommended for print publications. What are the dimensions?
What format is it?
We created standards for digitization. We only want to digitize something once, especially if the document is fragile. If the digitization involves text, then we often OCR the document so the text will be searchable.
So, we end up with multiple versions of the same digitized object. For our digital archive (which is offline), the dpi is at 600 and the dimensions are insanely large. These files are not touched or altered in any way. They are identified as "Originals."
What about backing up data?
Copies are stored in multiple locations and using different media.
From the originals, we make copies that we can touch up, alter and re-size to our heart's content. These files are the ones we use for projects and publication. Again, we do frequent backups and keep copies in multiple locations.
Some backup options: I keep a copy on my workstation, copies on an external hard drive, copies burned to DVD or CD, copies on a flash drive, and copies on a server. It's not unheard of for a hard drive to crash or a DVD to degrade.
How do you keep track?
We also are very careful about identifying and labeling our digitized items. Metadata (data about data) is extremely important with digital archives. We use a customized version of Dublin Core. Example: For a digitized photograph, our metadata would identify some of the following:
» Rights Management
» Alterations Made
Metadata becomes critical for searches. It can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be. However, I've been running across too many photographs that are unidentified and unusable. It's critical that people identify these photos before it's too late.
If someone wanted to digitize all their personal photos and documents, they should take the time to figure out some standards for digitization, metadata and to archive their "Original" copies for the future. It might save them a lot of time and frustration in the long run.
Will libraries become knowledge portals for digital knowledge the same way they already are for analog data?
One concern is the creation of a "digital divide," the gap between those who have access to (and the skills to) utilize technology and those who do not. Huge topic!
The Internet has resulted in information overload. I think librarians are more and more becoming information specialists, helping people find the specific information they need.