May 2008

Micrsoft shuts book digitisation and search initiative

An interesting development over the weekend with Microsoft announcing in a blog post that it is to shut down its book digitisation and live search book programme launched in 2005. The Live Search blog states:

“Today we informed our partners that we are ending the Live Search Books and Live Search Academic projects and that both sites will be taken down next week. Books and scholarly publications will continue to be integrated into our Search results, but not through separate indexes. This also means that we are winding down our digitization initiatives, including our library scanning and our in-copyright book programs. We recognize that this decision comes as disappointing news to our partners, the publishing and academic communities, and Live Search users. ”

It will be interesting to see the response and implications for Microsoft’s major library partners such as the British Library. The BL and Microsoft partnership was launched in November 2005 and aimed to digitise 100,000 books from the collection – the digitisation programme is still underway. Note Microsoft also “….intend to provide publishers with digital copies of their scanned books. We are also removing our contractual restrictions placed on the digitized library content and making the scanning equipment available to our digitization partners and libraries to continue digitization programs.”

just published: Research Data Preservation Costs Report

I have posted two previous entries to the blog in March and January detailing progress with the JISC-funded research data preservation costs study. I am pleased to report that the online executive summary and full report (pdf file) titled “Keeping Research Data Safe: a cost model and guidance for UK Universities” is now published and can be downloaded from the JISC website.

It has been an very intensive piece of work over four months and I am extremely grateful to the many colleagues who contributed and made this possible. We have uncovered a lot of valuable data and approaches and hope this can be built on by future studies and implementation and testing. We have attempted to “show our workings” as far as possible to facilitate this so the text of the report is accompanied by extensive appendices.

We have made 10 recommendations on future work and implementation. For further information see the Executive Summary online.

The report iteself has chapters covering the Introduction, Methodology, Benefits of Research Data Preservation, Describing the Cost Framework and its Use, Key Cost Variables and Units,the Activity Model and Resources Template, Overviews of the Case Studies, Issues Universities Need to Consider, Different Service Models and Structures, Conclusions and Recommendations. There are also four detailed case studies covering the Universities of Cambridge, King’s College London, Southampton, and the Archaeology Data Service (University of York).

Although focused on the UK and UK universities in particular, it should be of interest to anyone involved with research data or interested generally in the costs of digital preservation.

Comments and Feedback welcome!

Personal Archiving

Articles on Personal Archiving seem to be like the old-fashioned view of buses- nothing for a while then a whole lot in a row. Last month had a bumper crop. First of all two articles by Cathy Marshall in the latest issue (March/April 2008 vol 14 No 3/4)of D-Lib: “Rethinking Personal Digital Archiving, Part 1” and “Rethinking Personal Digital Archiving, Part 2“.

Hot on their heels in the April 2008 Issue of Ariadne comes “Digital Lives: Report of Interviews with the Creators of Personal Digital Collections” by Pete Williams et al on the Digital Lives project.

All three articles are highly recommended to those interested in this field.

At the same time Ian Rowlands at UCL is soliciting further input into digital lives – if you can help please complete the online questionnaire -further details as follows:

Digital Lives: Helping People to Capture and Secure their Individual Memories, their Personal Creativity, their Shared Historic Moments

Increasingly, our family memories, our personal achievements, our experiences of historical events, are being facilitated and recorded digitally.

Digital Lives is a pathfinding research project that is setting out to understand how individuals retain and manage their personal collections of computerised information – everything from digital photographs and videos to favourite podcasts and sentimental email messages – and how these digital collections can best be captured in the first place and preserved in the long term, perhaps for family history, biographical or other purposes.

The project is led by Dr Jeremy Leighton John and colleagues at the British Library who, together with experts from UCL and Bristol University, are researching the challenges that lie ahead as more and more of our memories and documentary witnesses exist in electronic form.

We would like to invite you to take part in our research by completing an online survey. This should take no more than ten minutes of your time and it will provide us with crucial information that will benefit the work of the British Library and other archives enormously as we plan for what is fast becoming a largely digital world.

If you would like to take part in the survey, please click here: <>.
If you would like to enter our Prize Draw and stand a chance of winning £200 in British Library gift vouchers (drawn at random and with no further obligation) you can register your interest at the end of the survey. Please note that all responses are strictly confidential. No individuals will be named when we report our findings, and the information collected will only be presented in an aggregated form. You will not be contacted again as a result of completing this survey.

If you have any questions, or are concerned about the bona fides of this survey, please email me at University College London by clicking here: <>.
Dr Ian Rowlands (UCL School of Library, Archive & Information Studies)
(Digital Lives is funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council: Grant number BLRC 8669).