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Magazines > Computers in Libraries > June 2003
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Vol. 23 No. 6 — June 2003
Do More Than Just Scan This Issue
by Kathy Dempsey

Who among us isn't building some sort of digital collection these days? Very few, I'll wager. That's why I think this issue will be so useful. It really fulfills CIL's mission of sharing knowledge so that each library doesn't waste time reinventing the wheel. Witness the wealth of coverage we deliver this month:

The "Athens of Indiana" article (p. 14) is a classic story of a public library that had archives that needed to be saved. What's unique about it, though, is what the author had to go through to gather the archival records, which were often handwritten, spread all over, and completely disorganized. Also of interest is the special face-up scanner he bought to avoid damaging the fragile books.

Another in the category of "unique story that carries lessons for many" is the feature that starts on page 30. It details how Australians at a government library had to save vital information that was kept via proprietary software—and on floppy disks to boot! Their migration was complicated, but successful.

As if that's not interesting enough, read about the digital archive being created from old military medical documents. Records of combat medicine and treatment from past wars are growing too fragile to last, yet the information is an important part of medical history. Scanning to the rescue again! Check it out, beginning on page 20.

OK, OK, enough scanning already, right? What about maintaining collections that are already online? You can't just post them to the Web and forgetabout them, you know. Why not? Well, we've got that covered too. Turn to page 26, because you'll want to know what this group went through if you're adding up staff and maintenance costs for the end of a digitization project.

And this leaves me with our cover story, which is really our most forward-looking piece. You may give a lot of thought to current document migration—scanning papers, burning electronic files to CDs or DVDs, porting to up-to-date software. But what about later? How long will these formats last before you have to upgrade the info again to continue its life? Bart Ragon is already thinking aboutthat, and his cover story, "Castles Made of Sand" (p. 10), shows you one smart way to save information so it's easier to manipulate in the future.

If you're not a digitizer, don't worry: We have an extra treat for you this month. It's the third installment of our quarterly ILS Marketplace series. Go to page 35 to get comparative information on different vendors and products for the school (K-12) library segment. The time for schools to investigate new products is the summer, when they're less busy, so this report comes right in time. Make use of our information!

Kathleen L. Dempsey is the Editor of Computers in Libraries. Her email address is:

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