Vol. 21, No.1/Fall 1998
Database Contracts, Content Licensing and Third-Party
By Justin Scroggs
Once upon a time, in the early eighties, everyone that was anyone had their content
It was a matter of pride and civic duty. Content published in medium and large markets was
available in other formats. Online databases had been around for nearly twenty years and
recently begun offering more robust full-text products. CD-ROM technology held forth the
promise that there would soon be a full-text database in every shop. Leased lines and
terminals were still the order of the day. Modem speeds, making the quantum leap from 300
1200 baud, had barely begun their revolutionizing of the online world -prices were still
first modem cost twice as much as the '69 Mercury I was driving at the time.
In terms of database contracts, it was a simpler time. Companies generally focused on one
delivery media, such as print, online or microform. Their sales efforts were targeted to
one or two
primary markets, such as school, academic, public and corporate libraries. How companies
delivered databases was an important factor in whether they were aggregators, distributors
both. You were "on" Lexis-Nexis or Dialog or Wilsonline but not generally on all
DataTimes was a newborn and its cousins, InSite Pro, ProQuest Direct and EBSCOhost were a
For the next decade the prevailing logic changed every few years. For a time publishers
their content on an exclusive basis. Then increased competition, cheaper
charges, growth in CD-ROM technology and another jump in modem speeds started opening
doors between markets. Expansion became the word of the day; "let a thousand flowers
became our mantra. More full-text data on more services to more people meant more money
everyone. If you were a "big" fish, you were available on half a dozen services.
smaller national publications were being added to databases by the score. Specialty
were growing and offering a wider range of content. Databases were bundled with OPACs and
delivered as premiums to purchasers of computers.
And then along came the Internet, with a capital I. In less than 48 months, new technology
detonated on the database-licensing scene. Wording in contracts that had automatically
for years suddenly took on a new meaning, or rather would have if we had been paying
We were busy negotiating flat rate pricing for bigger CD-ROM and online collections and
licensing content to be pushed to our desktop.
Many publishers established their own web presence. In addition to our usual partners, new
services joined the mix: Electric Library, Information Quest, One Source, GigaWeb,
CompuServe, AOL, NewsEdge, RDS, and Northern Light to name more than a few. Newspapers
selling articles locally found their same articles offered more cheaply elsewhere.
companies that once sold exclusively to academic and corporate clients found themselves
for market share. For that reason they began to search for new customers in school and
libraries--even (gasp!) targeting individual consumers. Let a thousand flowers bloom,
What happens next? Probably more of the same. A new generation of aggregators is on the
Members of the previous generation of aggregators are completing their transformation to
database companies. Walls between markets are disappearing completely. Database companies
are agreeing to deliver content to the residents of entire states - not just to libraries
So you ask, what does it mean? Or how do I stop it? Or maybe, who cares? I certainly don't
the answers but I do have some suggestions. Perhaps those will be helpful in finding
make sense for your organization.
Tips For Information Providers
1. Read the fine print.
Are you certain you want to agree to distribute your data in any format now in
developed in the future? Can you legally do so? Can you grant worldwide rights? What about
claims of defamation? Does a contract that allows third-party distribution prohibit
2. Don't lie to yourself.
Know your products, markets and resources. Can you sell it yourself? Will you? It might be
efficient and cost effective to give it away or to allow the contract to continue than to
What do you want? How much time and energy do you have to devote? There are costs
associated with every decision.
3. Watch your own backside.
Can you access your content for quality control purposes? Can articles be removed in the
legal action? Are corrections applied in every instance? Does the content remain under the
control of your partner(s)? Pay attention to both sides of your vendor partners'
content licensing arm may not be aware that the database marketing arm just licensed data
"CofB.web"--an Internet resource for people named Cronin living in Boston.
4. Ask for royalty detail showing from where royalties came.
One of the roles your vendor plays is being your representative in the marketplace. They
be proud to share with you information about how and where your material is delivered. It
seem they would welcome your involvement and interest.
5. Do the math.
Actively manage your contracts. Read the royalty statements. I've seen: 2x2=3.96 and 200%
royalty rates. The reality may be that this is not a big deal for your company. You may be
with your revenues. They may be growing. Will they continue to do so? You may be getting
dollars you would not otherwise get. Should you be getting more?
5. There are no stupid questions.
If you have concerns about a distribution strategy, ask your vendor partner why the deal
sense to them. There are sound business and financial reasons why they consider
redistribute content. Make sure those reasons work for you and your content. Be an active
6. Negotiate hard but be reasonable.
Remember that your vendor partners also have a business to run. Many of them invest
resources in adding metadata and formatting content. Please, no name callin', eye gougin'
7. Not every thing that looks like a duck is a duck.
All relationships, frequently lumped under the title "third-parties," are not
the same. Some are
more akin to consortia sales. OCLC, for example, licenses and delivers databases to its
"members." Is that a third-party arrangement? In other cases, your vendor
partners are entering
markets outside the U.S. To do so in a cost-effective manner, they partner with companies
similar interests, local name recognition and an existing sales operation. Is that
is it simply intelligent marketing? Evaluate each option and decide with which you are
8. Not so pretty pictures.
In lieu of or in addition to offering ASCII, some of your vendor partners now offer page
and composite pages--text and graphics viewed separately or together. Photographers often
different rights than do writers. Is that an important issue for your company?
Resources for Information Providers
1. Don't know your indemnity from your elbow?
Liblicense, hosted by Yale has some great resources. The license vocabulary is
By Justin Scroggs
Once upon a time, in the early eighties, everyone that was anyone had their content microfilmed. It was a matter of pride and civic duty. Content published in medium and large markets was also available in other formats. Online databases had been around for nearly twenty years and had recently begun offering more robust full-text products. CD-ROM technology held forth the promise that there would soon be a full-text database in every shop. Leased lines and dedicated terminals were still the order of the day. Modem speeds, making the quantum leap from 300 to 1200 baud, had barely begun their revolutionizing of the online world -prices were still high. My first modem cost twice as much as the '69 Mercury I was driving at the time.
In terms of database contracts, it was a simpler time. Companies generally focused on one or two delivery media, such as print, online or microform. Their sales efforts were targeted to one or two primary markets, such as school, academic, public and corporate libraries. How companies delivered databases was an important factor in whether they were aggregators, distributors or both. You were "on" Lexis-Nexis or Dialog or Wilsonline but not generally on all three. DataTimes was a newborn and its cousins, InSite Pro, ProQuest Direct and EBSCOhost were a generation away.
For the next decade the prevailing logic changed every few years. For a time publishers licensed their content on an exclusive basis. Then increased competition, cheaper telecommunications charges, growth in CD-ROM technology and another jump in modem speeds started opening doors between markets. Expansion became the word of the day; "let a thousand flowers bloom" became our mantra. More full-text data on more services to more people meant more money for everyone. If you were a "big" fish, you were available on half a dozen services. Regional and smaller national publications were being added to databases by the score. Specialty databases were growing and offering a wider range of content. Databases were bundled with OPACs and delivered as premiums to purchasers of computers.
And then along came the Internet, with a capital I. In less than 48 months, new technology detonated on the database-licensing scene. Wording in contracts that had automatically renewed for years suddenly took on a new meaning, or rather would have if we had been paying attention. We were busy negotiating flat rate pricing for bigger CD-ROM and online collections and licensing content to be pushed to our desktop.
Many publishers established their own web presence. In addition to our usual partners, new services joined the mix: Electric Library, Information Quest, One Source, GigaWeb, Hoovers, CompuServe, AOL, NewsEdge, RDS, and Northern Light to name more than a few. Newspapers selling articles locally found their same articles offered more cheaply elsewhere. Database companies that once sold exclusively to academic and corporate clients found themselves fighting for market share. For that reason they began to search for new customers in school and public libraries--even (gasp!) targeting individual consumers. Let a thousand flowers bloom, indeed!
What happens next? Probably more of the same. A new generation of aggregators is on the scene. Members of the previous generation of aggregators are completing their transformation to online database companies. Walls between markets are disappearing completely. Database companies are agreeing to deliver content to the residents of entire states - not just to libraries and consortia.
So you ask, what does it mean? Or how do I stop it? Or maybe, who cares? I certainly don't have the answers but I do have some suggestions. Perhaps those will be helpful in finding answers that make sense for your organization.
Tips For Information Providers
1. Read the fine print.
Are you certain you want to agree to distribute your data in any format now in existence or developed in the future? Can you legally do so? Can you grant worldwide rights? What about claims of defamation? Does a contract that allows third-party distribution prohibit fourth-party distributions?
2. Don't lie to yourself.
Know your products, markets and resources. Can you sell it yourself? Will you? It might be more efficient and cost effective to give it away or to allow the contract to continue than to renegotiate. What do you want? How much time and energy do you have to devote? There are costs associated with every decision.
3. Watch your own backside.
Can you access your content for quality control purposes? Can articles be removed in the case of legal action? Are corrections applied in every instance? Does the content remain under the control of your partner(s)? Pay attention to both sides of your vendor partners' operations. The content licensing arm may not be aware that the database marketing arm just licensed data to "CofB.web"--an Internet resource for people named Cronin living in Boston.
4. Ask for royalty detail showing from where royalties came.
One of the roles your vendor plays is being your representative in the marketplace. They should be proud to share with you information about how and where your material is delivered. It would seem they would welcome your involvement and interest.
5. Do the math.
Actively manage your contracts. Read the royalty statements. I've seen: 2x2=3.96 and 200% royalty rates. The reality may be that this is not a big deal for your company. You may be pleased with your revenues. They may be growing. Will they continue to do so? You may be getting dollars you would not otherwise get. Should you be getting more?
5. There are no stupid questions.
If you have concerns about a distribution strategy, ask your vendor partner why the deal made sense to them. There are sound business and financial reasons why they consider opportunities to redistribute content. Make sure those reasons work for you and your content. Be an active partner.
6. Negotiate hard but be reasonable.
Remember that your vendor partners also have a business to run. Many of them invest significant resources in adding metadata and formatting content. Please, no name callin', eye gougin' or rabbit punches.
7. Not every thing that looks like a duck is a duck.
All relationships, frequently lumped under the title "third-parties," are not the same. Some are more akin to consortia sales. OCLC, for example, licenses and delivers databases to its "members." Is that a third-party arrangement? In other cases, your vendor partners are entering markets outside the U.S. To do so in a cost-effective manner, they partner with companies having similar interests, local name recognition and an existing sales operation. Is that redistribution or is it simply intelligent marketing? Evaluate each option and decide with which you are comfortable.
8. Not so pretty pictures.
In lieu of or in addition to offering ASCII, some of your vendor partners now offer page images and composite pages--text and graphics viewed separately or together. Photographers often have different rights than do writers. Is that an important issue for your company?
Resources for Information Providers
1. Don't know your indemnity from your elbow?
Liblicense, hosted by Yale has some great resources. The license vocabulary is particularly helpful.http://www.library.yale.edu/~llicense/index.shtml will take you to their homepage.
While targeted to licensees, the Association of Research Libraries offers a number of items that will be useful. The Licensing Electronic Resources booklet, http://arl.cni.org/scomm/licensing/licbooklet.html, is an excellent overview of the issues involved in the licensing and delivery of electronic information.
Take your company's attorney to lunch or invite them to speak at a staff meeting.
2. Visit your vendor partner web sites.
Be a regular visitor. At a minimum read their corporate press releases. Some vendor partners have set up content partner pages in an effort to communicate with you. Newsbank's http://www.newsbank.com/pubcorn.html and UMI's http://www.umi.com/hp/connection are examples.
3. Stay in Touch.
Join a listserv or two. Watch the web or the wires for related information. Some vendor partners, Dialog and Dow Jones for example, have a system of emailing information about their company's licensing and marketing efforts. Sign up!
Tips for Vendors
1. Give your content partners credit.
Releases sometimes crow about the wonderful things you've worked out with consortia to deliver content at low cost to hundreds and thousands of users. Don't forget to credit your "silent" content partners.
2. Tell content partners about third-party relationships.
Your content partners should hear about these from you, not on a listserv. Redistribution can be a valid means for getting content into different markets and for delivering on different platforms. Help your content partners understand how those are mutually beneficial. 3. Give content providers complete royalty information.
Redistribution means there is another mouth to feed and another storefront for the content partner to watch. Content providers should have the information that shows what piece of the action, or what piece of a piece of the action, they receive.
4. Involve your content partners in the product creation and delivery process.
You have a group or groups that "guide" the creation of products. You consult teachers in producing materials for the classroom. At the other end of the food chain, you have customer advisory "boards", particularly in the case of products delivered to consortia. Invite a content partner representative or two to participate. News library professionals bring a unique perspective to the table, that of being both content providers and content users. 5. Resist cutthroat pricing.
I know it's dog eat dog eat dog out there. But don't sell our products too cheaply. Devaluation ultimately hurts us all-and all the dogs get hungry.
The News Division will explore this topic further at the next Special Libraries Association annual conference, June 5-10, 1999 in Minneapolis, MN. "Licensing Your Content: What You Should Know About Licensing Content As An Information Provider" is tentatively scheduled for Tue. June 8th at 3 p.m. Stay tuned for further details!
Justin Scroggs is the Database Manager at Time, Inc. Contact him at (212)522-2770.
To the top.
By Jennifer Small
I cant believe it! My first solo issue of News Library News is complete. I extend a big thank you to everyone who helped me get the job done.
I started getting articles for this issue in late September. After reading several of them, I found myself talking to my colleagues at the Express-News about the great information and ideas that the contributors were sharing. I hope you will find the content of this issue as reflective of the Divisions character, concerns and interests as I do.
Justin Scroggs starts us off with a timely piece on third-party distributions. This issue generated a lot of discussion on the division listserv. Justins piece does an excellent job of laying out the issues for both information providers and vendors.
This issue also contains some old favorites and some welcome additions to NLN. Jeff Graveline continues to communicate the news of the division in the People column and Carol Campbell provides a humorous Note from the Chair. Three new columnists join the staff as well. Marcia MacVane begins her column on small news libraries. Kathy Foley, in Footsteps and Road Signs, keeps us updated on the Divisions 75th anniversary celebration in Minneapolis. Laura Mann gives us some technology tips on intranets.
Also, check out the great conference recaps. Carolyn Edds and Stephanie Willen Brown make you feel like you were there for the action.
Finally, this issue marks the beginning of two new features. Thanks to the folks at the Montreal Gazette who volunteered to be the first subject for a library profile feature. Catherine Kitchell starts off a new effort by NLN to highlight the value of news librarians in the newsroom. Her duck story is inspiring!
If youre interested in sharing information on your library or your successes in the newsroom, please let me know. Happy reading!
To the top.
Musings on aging (specifically mine), generation gaps and 'gators
By Carol Campbell
Have you seen that television commercial selling windows? Where the young man, arms raised, is standing in the rain below a window yelling "Pella! Pella!"?
What age would one have to be to know what that's about?
A friend, after calling someone Jughead, was asked where that came from. "You know, the comics...Archie."
Nope, this Jughead didn't know Archie. Or Veronica or Betty or Reggie.
I was in the grocery check-out line visiting with another mature person about the cost of everything these days. She was lamenting paying $5 to see an afternoon movie. But it was Titanic, which she thought well worth the money.
"I wasn't alive then, but I remember my family discussing it," she said.
The twenty-something cashier said, "Oh! Is that a true story?"
So some of us older folks smile and shake our heads at what these young whippersnappers don't know.
But rest assured, those youngsters roll their eyes at such exchanges as these:
"Are you using java?"
Why? What does coffee have to do with it?
"I'm pretty tired of getting spammed!"
Well, a steady diet of anything gets boring.
"Have you tried zapping the pram?"
Excuse me? Smacking the baby carriage?
"Did you unzip it?"
I beg your pardon!
In today's digital age I sometimes feel infinitely worse than an "old dog." More like a 'gator in Greenland.
I find myself wondering how long it's going to be before my boss realizes I don't know much of anything relevant and I'm just pretending to keep my head above water and really would be drowning if it
weren't for my staff members who of course already know I'm in too deep and take turns holding my head out of the swirling depths.
Then I read an article in Wired and find I actually understand it and so I jump headfirst into a project like figuring out how to reconfigure aspects of our PCs to make our jobs easier and I get that
accomplished. Then I work with a vendor on translation tables between the newsroom front-end system and the library system and when we finish it actually works and my staff says "Wow, this is great!" and I feel good for having accomplished something I didn't know I knew how to do.
Hmmm ... maybe a old 'gator really can learn new tricks and survive in Greenland.
Carol Campbell is the Information Center Manager at The Daily Oklahoman. Contact her at email@example.com.
To the top.
By Jeff Graveline
The News Division was represented in a recent issue of Information Outlook. Jack Styczinski, a researcher at NBC in New York City, had an article about sports on the Internet published in the July 1998 edition. "I love writing in general, and I like surfing the web for sports information, so it was a natural combination," Jack said. You can check out Jack's personal sports web page at http://members.xoom.com/hotsheet/sports.html.
Caitlin Stark has joined the staff of CNN in Atlanta as a librarian. She graduated from the University of Oregon in 1992 and received her MLS from the University of Washington in June. She spent this summer interning at the Dallas Morning News. According to Stark, "Atlanta isn't too much of a culture shock for a Northerner." Another new face at CNN is Sunny McClendon. Prior to joining CNN, Sunny was a reference librarian at Georgia State University's Pullen Library.
Newsday has been a busy place recently. Madeline J. Kiely-Eng joined the staff as Library Director. She came to Newsday from Moody's Investor Services where she was the Vice President of Information Retrieval and Resources. She headed a professional service unit called "Docutronics." Prior to that, she had established a virtual library system for all Estee Lauder company brands. Theresa Kiely (no relation), former Library Director, left Newsday to begin her new career as a journalist at the Anniston Star in Alabama. Theresa received her masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University this spring. Angela Johnson, who had been the reference librarian at Newsday's Melville office for the last four years, has relocated to Virginia. She is now the solo reference librarian at Newsday's Washington, DC office. Angela is looking forward to meeting her DC area colleagues. Georgina Martorella has joined the Newsday library staff as a reference librarian. She had spent the past two years as a researcher for Newsday's "Long Island/Our Story" project. Newsday's upcoming Millenium project, tentatively titled "Long Island/Our Future" has its own librarian. Marcia Ratcliff has been hired as the librarian/researcher for the project. She worked part time at the Merrick library while raising her two sons and was previously the director of the CBS News Reference Library. Susan King has been hired as a researcher for Newsday's recently expanded business section. She had previously been working as a researcher on their project "Long Island/Our Story." On a personal note, Newsday reference librarian Nancy Altman married Gregg Lewis in May. They now reside in Mohegan Lake, New York.
Peggy Cunningham, a library graduate student at the University of Maryland, has accepted a position with the National Association of Broadcasters as an information specialist. She is very excited about joining the news library field.
Carolyn Hardnett, who had been with the St. Petersburg Times for the past four years, has accepted a position with Black Entertainment Television's Publishing Group in Washington, DC. She will fill the newly created position of Director of Research. The group publishes three magazines including Heart and Soul. She begins in early October. Jerry Nagle has joined the library staff at the St. Petersburg Times. He comes to them from the National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg, Virginia. He has extensive legal research experience and has worked at several of the largest law firms in the country.
The Daytona Beach News Journal is getting a new library director. Jody Habayeb, Web Manager/Research Director at The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Indiana, will begin work in Florida in early October. She had been at The Journal Gazette for nearly six years and worked for a decade as Library Manager for The News Sentinel. Jody has been a member of the News Division for 14 years and served as the division treasurer from 1995-1997. She is a native of Florida but moved to Indiana when she was 15. She is looking forward to the challenges that lay ahead of her.
Sheryl Rosenthal is the new Library Director at U.S. News and World Report in Washington, DC. She came to U.S. News from the Washington Post.
Lu-Ann Farrar, News Research Manager at The Lexington Herald-Leader, has been selected to be a Knight-Ridder Visiting Media Fellow at Duke University next spring. The program has representatives from many large media organizations and allows participants to attend any class they want at the University. The Herald-Leader has only sent three people over the past ten years so this is quite an honor for Lu-Ann.
For all you history buffs out there, Ron Larson, Library Director at the Wisconsin State Journal and The Capitol Times, in Madison, WI, has published a perpetual calendar, "Wisconsin History Day by Day" in celebration of Wisconsin's Sesquicentennial. The calendar has been appearing daily in the Wisconsin State Journal since November 1997 and will run through 1998. Ron has sold the calendars across the state and will continue to market them during the holiday season.
Bridget Maloney Janus, ibrarian at The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was recently honored, along with two others, as "Woman of the Year" by the Cedar Rapids Women's Equality Day Committee. Among other things Bridget is the co-founder of Iowa Breast Cancer Action, an educational foundation focusing on making women more active in their own health issues.
Contact Jeff at . with all announcements.
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By Donna MacHutchin
History: The Montreal Gazette newspaper library has been in existence since 1950, but the paper was born in June, 1778 - we must be doing something right.
The newspaper emerged out of attempts by American revolutionaries to drum up sympathy for their cause with Canadian colonists - mostly French, who were at the time living under British rule. Benjamin Franklin sent a French printer, Fleury Mesplet, who had been in his employ in Philadelphia, to Montreal. Mesplet started the Gazette to further the American cause, but a contingent of Americans sent to attack British forces in Montreal was beaten back and Mesplet was on his own. He and the paper flourished, as trade boomed and the city grew.
(The building that housed the original Gazette still stands, and in June 1978 we had a rousing party there to celebrate the newspaper's 200th. birthday).
The Setting: The Gazette is unique in a number of ways: we are the only English daily in a market that sustains three French dailies. Circulation has fallen, because of the exodus of English Quebecers due to the provincial government's separatist policies, but we continue to serve as the print voice for anglophones and non-francophones in the area. Separation from the rest of Canada has been an on-going issue for decades and has influenced the economic, political and cultural life of the city, province and country to an enormous degree - the Gazette is a familiar and appreciated stronghold to our readers, who depend on the paper for informed views on local, provincial and national matters.
The Library: The library came into formal existence in 1950, although we have clipping files that go back to the 1940's. In 1979, the city's only other English daily, The Montreal Star, founded in 1869, ceased publication.
Our paper relocated to the larger quarters of the Star, and our library was fortunate enough to inherit all of the Star's larger and more extensive clipping and photo collections.
Staff: The library is staffed by four full-time and three permanent part-time members, working a seven-day week. Four of the staffers have been working in the library for fifteen or more years. We are open from 9 a.m. to 11. p.m. and our mandate is basically to provide research services and resources for the newsroom staff, of which there are approximately 175 people, excluding the support staff of secretaries and copy clerks. Our major weekend newspaper is published on Saturday, with circulation of 250,000.
Location: The library is located on the same floor as the newsroom, but separate, and no plans are made to change that, as it works well.
Relations with newsroom: We communicate with reporters and editors by phone and e-mail, but people drop in a lot to ask for information or just to read and check out what's new. I also attend daily morning news meetings and weekly features meetings.
Public Service: The library provides limited service to the public (which is not advertised), charging a minimum of $10 for an online search on items which have appeared in the paper. Access to clip files is a flat $25, and arrangements can be made for reproduction of photographs - of which we have over 15,000 on file, or 392 drawers with indexes.
Systems: The paper is archived electronically in Ottawa, Ont., through the Infomart offices of Southam Inc, which owns fifteen newspapers in Canada. However, Michael Porritt, as database administrator, does quality control on the archiving on a regular basis. Since 1995, all photos appearing in the paper are archived on the Merlin Image Archive System.
Collection: The current holdings include 9,000 books with a strong reference section and emphasis on history, politics, government and the arts. As a government depository library, we also have municipal bylaws, provincial and federal statutes, etc.
Our Gazette microfilm is complete to within two months - going back to 1778. We keep hard copy on hand until film arrives. We also have microfilm of other papers that existed here, the total is about 4,650 rolls and growing.
Our clip files fill 288 drawers (this does not count clips donated by the Star) and we are the only paper in Canada that, until going online in 1985, regularly clipped major stories from the local French press, which we get electronically now. There are also 36 drawers of pamphlets and statistics. We have approximately 300 subscriptions, French and English.
Online Research: The electronic systems we use are Dialog, Infomart, Gazette, Dow Jones, Globe and Mail and Cedrom (for French papers). We do most of the electronic searching for the newsroom, except for the Gazette online, to which reporters have access.
Point of Pride: I think the library staff and newsroom people would agree that some of our best moments have been researching major stories that reflect Quebec's situation, and English-Quebecers' unique status as a minority here.
Donna MacHutchin is the library director at the Gazette. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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By Catherine Kitchell
Have you ever given a reporter an answer and thought, "Darn, I did a *really* good job on that question. Someone ought to know about this!" One where you thought "out of the box" and connected the dots between two seemingly unrelated documents? Or perhaps you worked as part of a team with reporters filling in missing details with stories from other papers or getting the exact right quote from an obscure magazine piece. Or you were extremely persistent and got that phone number no one else could. News Library News wants your stories, hopefully for a continuing series on "How I Got That Story."
Some news librarian stories are legendary. Barbara Semonche has put together a great web site of some of them at http://sunsite.unc.edu/journalism/awnwslib.html. It recounts the story of Linda Amster setting up a mini-library of books about the Vietnam War in a secret hideout at the Hilton Hotel while New York Times reporters rushed to confirm and print the Pentagon Papers. Doris Batliner, Chief Librarian at the Courier-Journal in Louisville, KY, recounts the research efforts behind reporting on a school bus crash that killed 27 children in 1989. The series on the tragedy won a Pulitzer Prize. Sylvia Frisch of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune also worked on a Pulitzer Prize winning series on arsons in St. Paul. As Barbara says, we need to keep documenting these stories, making them known to both news librarians and their bosses. They are both inspirational on dull days and provide guidelines for future stories.
Sometimes, however, stories are less obviously significant but they are the stuff that makes your day. My personal favorite came to me a long time ago when I worked at USA Today as a clerk while still getting my MLS. One night around 10 p.m. there was a major train crash on the eastern seaboard and rumors of drug abuse by the conductor. Editors wanted to know right away how long cocaine and marijuana stayed in the body. Dean Brown and Joy Hill, poster-children for consummate professional late night reference librarians, were having trouble with what everyone thought was a fairly routine question. For some reason, it occurred to me to call 1-800-COCAINE, a hotline for cocaine abusers - it was heavily advertised on late night TV. They must know that kind of stuff right? I did call and, lo and behold, they have doctors on call and one happily spoke to the editors and told them what they wanted to know. I've forgotten how long cocaine does stay in the body, but it got a whole paragraph in the next morning's paper . (Hey, it was before USA Today ran long pieces!) Even Dean, not an easy man to impress, cut the article out and circled the paragraph and gave it to me to post over my desk.
A couple of impressive stories have been featured lately on NewsLib, the listserv for news librarians. John Martin, news researcher at the St. Petersburg Times, helped the police track down a murderer last February. The story has been featured in Information Outlook and in Editor & Publisher but if you missed it you can also read about it at http://sunsite.unc.edu/journalism/stpete.html. Kitty Bennett, also a news researcher at the St. Petersburg Times, retold a story of how she saved a reporters "butt." Using various public record databases, Kitty gave a reporter the names and phone numbers of residents in a fancy condo complex in a city in Florida. She happened to mention that she thought one of the owners was a reporter for the newspaper in that city. The reporter was horrified that he might have inadvertently tipped off someone about a story they were working on and was quite pleased that she had saved him from that error. Indeed, he suggested that news researchers could have little symbols like fighter pilots put on their planes when they shoot down enemy planes. I'm not sure how far his suggestion of "little tush symbols" along researchers desk (for saving reporter's behinds) will go, but the idea is sound.
It's the little things that inspire me. While I was working at The Marin Independent Journal in Marin County, CA, the city editor, Joe Konte, came to my desk and said they had a verified sighting of a rare Russian duck that had obviously gotten way off course and landed in Bolinas Lagoon. Could I find a picture of the duck? I always say yes and I spent a couple of hours in the Marin Public Library and finally located a picture of the duck. Joe was pleased and the next morning I got my paper and went rummaging through the local city/county section to view "my" duck. Imagine my surprise when he wasn't there! I got to work, put the county section on Joe's desk and asked "Where's my duck?" Joe looked a little surprised, grabbed the front section and said "He's on the front page." I looked at the paper, thought for a second, and said "Well, he's below the fold." "Yes," said Joe, "but we're moving him up for the afternoon edition."
The above story is hardly worthy of a Pulitzer, we're not talking Watergate here, but I think the day's paper was better off for my efforts and it was certainly nice to see my work on the front page. I'm sorry, but that duck will always be "my" duck.
If you have stories, big or little, write them up and send them in to News Library News (email@example.com). Or call me and I'll write them up for you. If you thought "someone ought to know about this" then probably someone ought to. And it can't be sillier than my story so let us know.
Catherine Kitchell is Senior Reference Librarian at The Bureau of National Affairs. Send her email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To the top.
By Marcia MacVane
I was at a regional conference last year when the subject of small news libraries was discussed. In New England, small libraries abound. (In Maine and New Hampshire, small EVERYTHING abounds!) At one point in theconversation, Stephanie Willen Brown, librarian at the Union-News (Springfield, Mass.) said, "Oh but I'm not a SMALL library. I have nine employees, although they are not all full-time."
I contacted Stephanie recently to follow up on our conversation. She has two full-time employees and seven part-time employees. I wondered how big a small library needed to be before it stopped being a small library and moved into the BIG library slot. And I further wondered why it was so important to me to define "small library."
Circulation numbers seem to have a direct relation to the size of newsroom staffing, including the library. Stephanie's paper has a larger circulation than mine - about 25,000. I have two full-time employees and two part-time employees. Depending upon the number of hours available to the part-timers, we are pretty close to one another.
Yet, I consider myself a "small library."
Often, technology has left small libraries wallowing below everyone else's learning curve. We struggle and strain each year after conference to reach the "standard" only to find the bar has been raised yet again at the following year's conference.
Speakers will discuss their staffs of 15 assistants, 10 researchers, and 5 clerks while those of us in small libraries are dreaming of what we could do with just one more part-time worker.
The book stacks in the larger libraries would put some public library reference rooms to shame, while in the small libraries we scrabble and scrape to keep some of our reference works current.
It seems like we are so often involved in the struggle that we lose sight of what we do so very well...WE DO IT ALL!!!
Computers are wonderful tools; my life is so much easier with text and image archiving. It wasn't so very long ago that we were cutting, pasting, printing and filing, filing, filing, filing, and filing. THAT WAS HARD WORK!
And on top of the hard physical work, we still had research to do.
Bit by bit, we begged and borrowed used equipment other departments had tossed. Our first computer was a 286 Tandy (I think!). The first time I tried to send my column on a disk to Linda Henderson (then editor of News Library News), she couldn't read the text because the software was so outdated!
But we learned.
Then we began text archiving....and what a challenge that was! No one at that point was even remotely computer literate. Thank goodness MediaStream had some talented trainers!
And we learned.
Then I added a computer to my capital expense budget - and surprise of all surprises - it was approved!!!
So we learned some more.
We ventured into the confusing world of Nexis and Dow Jones, who pays for what and how often, and GOOD GRIEF!!! HOW MUCH DID I SPEND????
And we learned.
We stumbled in to the Web and managed to emerge before being consumed by the spider.
And we learned.
We created our own picture archiving system for a meager sum of money (and it is working more reliably than the brand new system that came with our front-end system that cost millions of dollars.)
And we learned.
And now we can do it all...almost.
So to get back to my original question...what is a small library? A small library does most of the things a BIG library does - with fewer people! And everyone who works in a small library must be able to do ALL the jobs. We learn so well because we must; there is often no one available to teach us. There are still many news libraries out there clipping and filing....
It would be wonderful if we could create an active outreach program for all the "small" news libraries. (You can decide all on your own whether you "qualify" for this honor!) I can see some great potential here: a donor/recipient list for cast-offs from the larger libraries.
For instance, what do I do with last year's Editor and Publisher? Well, I could donate it to a library that doesn't have that current an edition. I could also open my library doors to a nearby small library and work side-by-side with them, teaching them what little we know...and in turn, maybe someone a little larger than us would take us under their wing. Just list a need and we could try to fill it.
I would be willing to manage these lists, but I first would need names and addresses (e-mail as well, if possible) of small libraries in your areas. Diane Logsdon will be providing me with the results of the small library survey many of us participated in two years ago. Hopefully, we can generate a mailing list from that and get the ball rolling. I would welcome any suggestions.
And in the meantime, all you SMALL LIBRARIANS - keep on learning!!!
Marcia MacVane is the Readers Services Manager at the Portland Press Herald. Contact her at MMacVane@pressherald.com.
To the top.
By Kathy Foley
This new column will appear in each issue of News Library News this year as a drum roll for the 75th anniversary of the News Division. It will include reports on the planning for the celebration in Minneapolis in June. As the News Division approaches the new millenium, it is fitting that we reflect on our past accomplishments as well as peer into the future. Footprints & Road Signs will heat up the nostalgia factor, and hopefully discover some new planets out there for us to explore. Please send feedback!
Ginny Everett and Lany McDonald are collaborating to make the Minneapolis conference's Monday June 7 a full 75th focus event from morning 'til night. The day will be devoted to a focus on the future for our Division and the media profession, and the evening will be a celebration of our history, including our colleagues and leaders, our vendor and organizational supporters, and indeed, our style and spirit -- something like a huge class reunion.
The 75th gala will be held at the International Market Square in Minneapolis. Dinner and dancing will take place in the historic buildings atrium, a festive space with a five-story glass ceiling and tiny lights twinkling all the way to the sky.
All former Kwapil recipients and Division Chairs will receive personal invitations and we're hoping for a high attendance of retired alums and former members who have changed careers but treasure their identity with the Division. The Division will give no awards this year except the Student Stipend Award and that will probably be presented at the annual meeting.
Bob Jansen is coordinating local arrangements in Minneapolis.
Justin Scroggs will edit and publish a 75th anniversary program, which will be a combination event program and historical publication that will be given that night and mailed to all the Division members.
The News Division is inviting broad vendor support for many aspects of the festivities, offering a great opportunity for vendors to go down in our history!
Here's how you can participate:
The anniversary planners are requesting that members send in their "defining membership moments" in their history with the News Division. Your "defining moment" should describe the event, statement, article, person, or episode that made you realize the value of the News Division to you professionally or even personally.
It's not totally clear at this time how these "News Division Moments" will be incorporated into the program - but don't hesitate to volunteer your memories. They will be well used.
E-mail or write to me at:
Have you read "The Archival Black Hole: Where do all those web pages go?" By Scott Kirsner Mediainfo.com September, 98 p.24.
Kathy Foley is the Editor of Information Services at the San Antonio Express-News.
To the top.
By Laura Mann
Faster. Better. Cheaper. Smarter. Sound familiar?
Librarians, especially news librarians, are expected to provide quality services and information, more rapidly, more intelligently, and for less money than ever before. Our partner in these efforts is "technology."
Our success as librarians depends on our ability to appraise, purchase, and utilize hardware, software, databases, the Internet, Intranets, CD-ROMs and so on. To illustrate how dependent we are on "technology" one only need look at the havoc that the Y2K problem has wrought upon libraries, newsrooms, and businesses everywhere. Which brings me to the purpose of this column....
This column will serve as a forum where News Division members can critique the technologies they use, share successes or failures, learn what new systems other organizations are implementing, and possibly even learn how to better utilize systems that are already in place. If you are contemplating purchasing any new technology, have had great luck with a database, or want to sound off about a vendor, I'd love to hear from you.
If you're a vendor with a great new product, likewise. By communicating with one another, we might be able to make more informed decisions, and maybe get our information faster, better, cheaper, and smarter.
Many news libraries are already utilizing or are now planning Intranet sites to inform and educate their clients. As "internal internet" sites protected by firewalls, intranets can be customized to the type of library and its special information needs. Typically, these intranet sites include staff directories, FAQ's, and links to Internet reference sites that reporters and editors use most often. For those unfamiliar with intranets, or for those who want to know more, SLA has published The Complete Intranet Source for Information Professionals. This invaluable guide covers everything from the history of the Internet, understanding web technologies, planning and managing intranet projects, analyzing software, developing intranet content, securing the intranet, and much more. A chapter on "Intranet Resources" points out web sites, articles, white papers, and vendor information that will help readers put their intranet projects into action. The workbook and resource guide are available through the Special Libraries Association for $99, or as a kit including interactive CD-ROM for $149, (SLA member prices). The book is worth every penny.
How are news libraries utilizing intranet sites? Sperry Krueger, Resources Manager at the News Research department of the News & Observer reports that the "NeRD" page, one of the first newsroom intranet sites, was started in 1995 and now gets approximately 5,000 to 6,000 hits per month. According to Krueger, "virtually everyone in the newsroom has it set as their homepage." Krueger describes the "NeRD" page as, "better than ever and still going strong," with text and photo archives, and tools for people finding, searching the web, and "cool calculators." A sample of this Intranet site can be found at: http://sunsite.unc.edu/slanews/intranets.
Carol Campbell, Information Center Manger at the Daily Oklahoman, advises the paper's intranet site, unveiled earlier this year. This intranet includes stylebooks and punctuation guides, the AP Libel Manual, the Freedom of Information Act, Copyright Guidelines, a directory of newspapers online, and frequently used phone numbers for law enforcement entities, hospitals, etc. It also includes what she terms "a sort of Oklahoma Movers & Shakers file," with bios and mugs of state and local businessmen and politicians. Campbell feels this intranet will enhance the accuracy of reporters writing because, "the checking can be done from the desktop." Campbell relates, "I just don't know of any drawbacks...(the intranet site)...takes very little management time for the return." She points out, however, that deciding what NOT to post will eventually become as important as what to post. To avoid information overload, Campbell states, "I believe we'll reach a point where we ask people to bookmark sites separately from the Intranet so we can....make room for more recent, pertinent information."
At the San Antonio Express-News, Jalyn Kelley and Jennifer Small worked with Kathy Foley, Editor of Information Services, to begin a newsroom intranet in 1996. Foley pitched the idea to the publisher and other VPs, and in 1998 a full-fledged corporate intranet, called Ensite, was born. Kelley now serves as Ensites editor. In addition to staff directories, photos, the Employee Guidebook, and weekly company bulletins, most departments have their own home pages on Ensite. The newsroom's page has links to Ex-Files (the paper's archives), Nexis-Lexis Requester and ABI, training information, and a San Antonio "Who, What When, and How Many?" (including profiles of local businessmen, politicians, statistics and demographics). Kelley reports an increased regard for the library since Ensites inception: "People see us as technically savvy and since it is a company-wide intranet we are now visible outside the newsroom." Phase II of the project is set to begin this winter, with plans for interactive forms, and workflow and database applications.
Lisa Peterson, information researcher at the Sun-Sentinel explains that her organization is currently experiencing, "a technological revolution of sorts." In addition to a new pagination system, over 300 new PC's are being installed in the newsroom. The library is also converting its text archive from the SAVE system to Labrador Retriever, accessed via the Web. In the midst of this tumult, plans are on to create an Editorial Department intranet page, linked to the company-wide intranet shell already in place. "In planning the intranet, we started with a small committee that would be primarily responsible for creating and maintaining the site." A questionnaire was submitted to editors and department heads asking for input on what they would like to see included. Peterson sees the intranet as, "a great communication tool for the Editorial Department, and....it will help reporters in their quest for complete, fact-supported information."
While many organizations have, or are planning sites, Stephanie Willen Brown, Library Director of the Springfield Union News, has found a temporary solution for doing without. "We just converted our newsroom computer to the Harris editorial and pagination system. We have a basket in there called REFERENCE...into which we'll put documents like the history of our newspaper, contact information for local legislators, etc." Willen Brown characterizes this solution as, "Not what I call an intranet, but it's one way to start us thinking in the right direction."
Advice on intranet planning is found in the August 1996 issue of Internet Trend Watch for Libraries (http://www.itwfl.com). David Strom writes, "Decide your purpose first.... The more closely you can define your purpose, the better you'll be at pulling together the right tools to tackle the job." Strom warns, "A static Intranet server is a dead one. Constantly change your pages and provide fresh content for users." Strom also urges, "Make sure that you can easily make changes to the server's configurations if necessary (for example, operating system updates or other patches)." And finally, Strom questions, "How scalable is your server? Make sure you can upgrade processor, memory, and disk components when your Intranet project becomes popular around your organization."
While there are many tools available to Intranet managers, among the best are your colleagues in SLA, and in the News Division, many of who have sweated out the entire process before you. The Intranet link off the News Division site is being reworked and amplified. Keep your eye on it. If you would like to discuss intranets (or other technologies) in later columns, please contact me at email@example.com.
Laura Mann is a librarian at Newsday.
To the top.
By Carolyn Edds
Last July, on a couple of hot humid summer days, news librarians from the Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia and Tennessee gathered for the second MidAtlantic News Research Conference.
Amanda Martin, a lawyer with the North Carolina Press Association (NCPA), started with a discussion about public records. The NCPA funds a legal hotline that North Carolina reporters can call with any question. According to Martin, open meetings and public records are the most frequent types of questions they receive.
Although her expertise is with North Carolina law, Martin provided us with several tips that we might use in other states. If a government agency stalls in responding to a Freedom of Information request, write a letter repeating your request and cite the law. When an agency responds slowly to a request, Martin suggested some other options to use to get the information. First, you could direct correspondence to the attorney of the public agency. Second, you could invite a public official, if he or she is amenable, to seek an opinion from the Attorney General. Finally, the least appealing opportunity is to file a lawsuit.
At the federal level, Martin said federal law has more specific procedures on how to file an FOIA request and the request has many more administrative steps to go through. She reminded us FOIA is only for executive agencies and sub-agencies, not Congress or the judicial branch.
After the legal discussion, we broke up into two groups for a repeat from last year's conference. I taught a beginning HTML class and Andy Fiore taught an advanced HTML class.
Afterwards, Chris Hardesty gave us a tour of the Raleigh News & Observer's News Research department, which had recently expanded and added some space. The department has about 3,000 books on its shelves, clip files on microfiche, clip files stored on another floor, and microfilm among its resources. Colline Roberts demonstrated the text archiving system and Peggy Neal demonstrated the photo archiving system. Our hunger for knowledge led us to ask many questions but soon another hunger led us to lunch.
After lunch, we regrouped in Chapel Hill at the School of Information and Library Science in Manning Hall on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. Sperry Krueger, of the News & Observer, led a discussion on intranets. We looked at some of the intranets on the News Division Web site (http://sunsite.unc.edu/slanews/intranets/index.html). We also saw the one from the Wilmington Star-News at http://starnews.wilmington.net/starlink/linkmain.html. Kim Hord of the Star-News has reporters identify helpful resources for the intranet. She also writes profiles of local VIPs and an editor edits them.
Our next discussion focused on newsletters. Many newsletters include things like descriptions of the most interesting or challenging research request of the month and announcements of recent database acquisitions or books. Some have articles that are written by reporters in the newsroom. Barbara Semonche mentioned an article written by Alison Head, formerly of the The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, CA), about the efforts of news research on a breaking news story. It is online at http://sunsite.unc.edu/journalism/head2.html.
The conversation moved to database quality. One topic was how accuracy is maintained as data goes out to secondary sites. Do corrections get added to stories sent out to commercial databases? If corrections are not attached, this could be a problem for other newspapers as they do research from these databases. Another problem is that a word may be spelled differently at different organizations, which makes it difficult to search the archives by that word. Barbara Semonche mentioned Jackie Chamberlain's survey from 1997 about corrections to Web editions. The results are available at http://sunsite.unc.edu/journalism/chamber.html. The lively discussion of archives and quality control used up most of our energy gained from lunch and it was time to refuel. We headed to dinner.
On Saturday morning, Denise Jones talked about making money in the news library. Charging for reprint permission is one way to earn some revenue. At the News & Observer, Denise handles reprint permissions. Charges often depend on how widely distributed the reprint will be and who is requesting the reprint. Only teachers, who are using reprints in the classroom, are not charged a permission fee. Non-profit organizations are offered a discounted rate. Jones does not provide multiple reprints of an article but will sell full-page color reprints of newspaper pages for $50. She also charges a fee to companies that clip and redistribute the material internally. On a few occasions she has sent a retroactive invoice when an article was used without permission. Requests for an article from the public are referred to the public libraries. If the individual from the public does not want to visit the library, then a minimum research fee of $37.50 is charged.
The discussion moved to newspaper articles on other Web sites. The conference participants seemed to agree it is okay to let others link to a story on a Web site but not to copy the material and put it on another Web site.
Other ideas for creating revenue from the library included selling posters and books. One idea for the turn of the century is front page books.
Barbara Semonche reiterated how important it is to develop a budget for the library. She suggested that librarians find out from the accountant how much the library spent, project for the next year and build toward an annual report.
The final discussion topic of the conference was "ways to wow your newsroom." Conference participants had suggested ideas when they registered for the conference. Some of the ideas include developing chronologies or information boxes for stories, in particular chronologies for court cases, prepare an experts list for the intranet, compile a list of daily "anniversaries" that may evolve into story ideas, and wow the new employee during news research orientation so he or she will know you are there to help them.
With these great tips, we were off to dazzle our newsrooms with our new ideas. Thanks to Teresa Leonard, the News & Observer news research department staff, Barbara Semonche and the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science for hosting us.
Carolyn Edds is the News Research Manager at the Herald-Journal in Spartanburg, SC. Contact Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To the top.
By Stephanie Willen Brown
The National Press Photographers Association Visual Edge conference was held in St. Petersburg, FL from August 31 to September 4. Digital image databases were discussed at a special archive program. Morning sessions addressed phases of installing a digital archive and suggested ways to store and retrieve images. Afternoon sessions allowed for interaction between panelists and the audience on topics such as image protection, copyright and archiving a "backfile" of photographs. This article will provide highlights of the morning sessions.
The panel was organized by Nora Paul of the Poynter Institute, and included Kate Bird, Vancouver Sun and The Province; Stephanie Willen Brown, Springfield Union-News; Claire Giglio, St. Petersburg Times; Linda Henderson, Providence Journal; and Peggy Neal, Raleigh News & Observer. There were approximately 50 people in the audience.
Nora introduced the session by discussing various photo database issues. First, she defined an image "archive" as absolutely every photograph that has ever been taken, while a "database" is a collection of those photographs that should be retained and possibly reused or sold. Nora asked the audience to think about who would decide which photographs should be stored in a database. Photo department staff make this call at some newspapers, while library staff decide at other sites.
The first full session featured a discussion of three distinct stages of implementing a digital archive. Peggy Neal of the Raleigh News & Observer described the start of installing an archive; Linda Henderson of the Providence Journal shared her perspective one year after the photo archive installation; and Claire Giglio of the St. Petersburg Times talked about having had a digital image archive for several years.
Peggy Neal outlined several tasks completed by the News and Observer staff before they purchased their image archive. Neal suggested that librarians determine their budget and pinpoint who should be involved in the selection process; draft a "wish list" of items required in the new system and include those in the Request for Proposals (RFP); view demos of the potential system; and visit other newspapers that are using the system(s) under consideration.
Neal also advocated "asking for the obvious," because some systems won't do things that are essential to the operation, like searching the cutline. Another tip is to request that the final list of vendors provide a demonstration using in-house data. Finally, Neal warned that the installation process could take two to three times longer than estimated.
Linda Henderson recounted her experiences after the Providence Journal installed their photo archive a year ago. She recommended keeping the lines of communication open between all parties - vendors, technicians, systems editors, and photo and library staff. She also recommended that all hardware be installed before the system goes "live."
Linda strongly advocated giving the system a good workout once it is installed. This includes identifying bugs, such as slowness, glitchy searching, and incomplete results. All users should be given complete training that involves both hands-on activities and concise written documentation. Finally, the archiving workflow should be monitored to determine not only personnel needs but also if all work is being completed in a logical fashion.
Claire Giglio has been managing the St. Petersburg Times' photo archive for several years. Library staff's hours, titles, and work responsibilities have changed, as has workflow throughout the company. More training was required after the company intranet was installed, because the photo database was available to additional staff. The system has since been upgraded, requiring more training and resulting in more glitches.
Claire concluded by asking several questions about the future of image archiving. What will libraries do with their backfile of non-digital images? Will these images be added to the archive? If so, how and by whom? Who will decide which images to digitize? With the advent of digital cameras, which photographs will be retained? Published photographs only? "Good" photographs? All photos from the shoot?
The second session focussed on image retrieval. Kate Bird of the Vancouver Sun and The Province gave a broad overview of image archiving issues, while Stephanie Willen Brown of the Springfield Union-News described image indexing.
Kate Bird stated that the goal of archiving images at the Vancouver Sun and The Province is, in part, to "...correct errors in the image record, enhance caption information, [and] keyword the content of the image." She described three different kinds of caption information: the original caption, written by photographers; the published caption; and a library-corrected caption. IPTC header information can also be included in the image record.
Kate described some training needs and recommends plenty of documentation, including archiving guidelines and policies, detailed archiving procedures and keyword and thesaurus lists. Vancouver photographers are shooting images entirely digitally, which raises archiving questions such as: Who decides which images are retained? Will all local photographs be retained? If so, will they have a generic caption or no caption? Will graphics be retained in the image archive? How long will photographs be retained in the archive?
Stephanie Willen Brown focused on indexing digital images. Text modification to the photograph record is essential to retrieve photos at a later date. She talked about the value of keywording, in which the indexer describes images with a controlled vocabulary, and free-text indexing, in which the indexer adds her own words which describe the picture in a form of "free association."
Stephanie noted that keywording does not allow for the description of concepts that are not on the list, while the latitude of free-text indexing may result in irretrievable images. She provided examples of both types of indexing, using 18 pictures from the Springfield Union-News database. The photographs, as well as her presentation and sample keywords, are available online at http://sunsite.unc.edu/slanews/archiving/VE98/presentation.htm.
Afternoon sessions provided the audience with an opportunity to discuss these and other issues with panelists. While the audience was small, they were all enthusiastic and interested in the topic; many left with new ideas and thoughts about how to archive their digital images.
Stephanie Willen Brown is library director at the Springfield (MA) Union-News. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Select handouts from the conference:
Thesaurus for Graphic Materials, written and published by the Library of Congress available at http://lcweb.loc.gov/rr/print/tgm1/ This thesaurus is designed to help index visual materials.
Picture Agency Council of America - Keywording Guidelines at http://www.pacaoffice.org/paca2.htm
The News Division of the Special Libraries Association has posted a list of Text and Photo Enhancement terms, at http://sunsite.unc.edu/slanews/terms/enhance.html.
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