Optical Character Recognition for Music Notation

I am wondering if anyone out there has had any experience with Optical Character Recognition for Music Notation (or OCM).  It sounds like a really neat idea and am interested to try it out although it seems to me that there is a fairly large cost barrier to doing this and also that it takes a lot of time.  I just read Andrew Bullen’s article “Bringing Sheet Music to Life” My Experiences with OMR” in Code4Lib Journal – Issue 3.  Prior to reading this article I had not heard about this technology.  I think it would be neat project to digitize some of the sheet music in the collection in our archives at the library where I work.  Any thoughts, ideas or suggestions would be very much appreciated.


Evidence of Me… by Sue McKemmish

It has been a long hiatus from blogging for me, but I just finished reading the article “Evidence of me…” by Sue McKemmish from Archives and Manuscripts the Journal of the Australian Society of Archivists” 24(1) 1996 and feel compelled to write a blog post on the topic.

“Evidence of Me…” discusses the reasons why people keep and destroy records.  McKemmish questions what documents people keep, why they keep them, for how long they keep them and why they keep them.  She also looks at the reasons why people destroy or burn documents.  She looks at this from the point of view of Patrick White, a writer, who at the beginning of his career destroyed his manuscripts and letters out of “morbidity” and later on in his career became less afraid of privacy and more concerned with leaving some trace of his life for the future.  McKemmish also looks at libraries and archives as targets in the 1990s during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the immediate destruction of documents to insure on an immediate level that  against future claims by dispossessed persons and on a more profound level to destroy all evidence and memory that those people ever lived in that place and that those cultures ever existed at all.  In this article McKemmish also considers electronic documents and how archivists are finding ways to get involved at the beginning of records at corporate and administrative environments and discusses what archivists can do for personal papers that will become future archives collections.

It is really just beginning to occur to me that with  “paperless” office environments and with the proliferation and ease of personal computing that many people have turned to using electronic documents and that there personal papers will become lost, destroyed, and forgotten.  With actual paper the act of destruction is generally more deliberate than with electronic files that can easily become lost, forgotten, corrupted or obsolete.  It made me think of the diaries that I wrote as a kid and (deliberately) destroyed as a teenager.  I could not bear reading them in my teenage years.  Sometimes I wish now that I had kept them and hid them from myself instead, not that there was anything in them of much importance to my life today, but I would find it interesting to look back to see evidence of how I thought as a child and memory of events in my life.

The article also has made me consider my (rather lengthy) post-secondary education route and how I’ve gone from taking paper notes and graduating college with many notebooks filled with paper, to currently studying for a masters degree and having far less written on paper, yet though reading and writing far more than I ever did in college.  If someone looked back at the traces of my education what would they think?  I only have final essays printed and many of my papers from my undergraduate degree were lost when my computer crashed.

I think too about children now growing up in a world of digital cameras.  Many children won’t even have their picture recorded on film – instead it’ll only be recorded by digital cameras.  There are many more photos taken on digital cameras than were taken on film, but far fewer pictures printed.  This may be good for the environment, but what will it mean when it comes to traces being preserved into the future?  What will the cost be to transfer these files to other formats when technology changes?  What will the cost/barrier be?  How many people with personal computers and digital cameras out there are making back ups?  If they are doing back ups then how are they backing up files – are they using multiple file formats and media types?

Google Newspapers?

I just read on the Lifehacker blog that Google is now digitizing historical newspapers.  You can check out the news release from Google here on the official Google blog.  Interesting that they have gone from digitizing books to digitizing newspapers.  I am quite interested to see what the reaction is from publishers and libraries about this.

My wordle

I just created a sort of tag cloud from Wordle for my blog – you could do this with pretty much any text or any file.  I thought it was fun so am sharing this with you.  I created this at wordle.net from this blog:

Library Theft

I just found the cutest story I have ever seen about library theft here.  I never would have thought about this and am glad that library cards have nostalgic trading card value though I admit I would be a bit concerned over the privacy issues involved with trading the old cards from the back of books.  I love that these children are so fascinated with the old library cards and hope they didn’t get in too much trouble.

Why Digitize Your Collection?

I was talking to some people about digitization and then began realizing that not everyone understands the important of digitizing collections in Archives and Libraries.

We all hear about access when it comes to digitization.  People all over the world will be able to see the photos in your collection.  This helps out researchers and genealogists.  It may even get someone to go to the library when they would not otherwise visit – even if it is a virtual visit, it really can make an impact and leave a lasting impression.

In addition to simply being able to physically access the collection anytime and from anywhere around the world, digitization gives you the opportunity to index your photo collection (and cross index too) so that it becomes searchable in a variety of ways and becomes more useful to everyone.

Did you know that digitization offers an element of preservation?  When you put material online people are sure to comment – at least if you invite them to comment – and then you may find out more information about the photo collection in your library that may otherwise have been lost.

Digitization can (and should) become part of a disaster recovery plan.  Data should be stored in a different place from the photos themselves so that hopefully if one is destroyed than the other could be preserved.  As well, there should be multiple copies (and multiple formats) for your digital data.

The ALA has a framework for digitization and they state that “digital resources must receive appropriate preservation” and that “preservation activities require the development of standards, best practices,
and sustainable funding models to support long-term commitment to digital
resources.”  Without these digitization is not at all a method of preservation.

Although digitization can be a form of preservation it should *never* replace the proper care and preservation of the original photos and negatives.  Technology advances and changes and these should be stored properly if at all possible.  In fact, it is more likely that these photographs will have a longer life then the digital copies since digital copies require software and computers to see and the technologies used are changing pretty rapidly.

When digitizing one should definitely be aware of copyright and should think about getting an attribution license so any content put up is attributed back to your library/archive.  There is a plethora of information out there.  I really like this manual since it provides a really basic overview of things you should cover when starting a digitization project and it was done at a fairly small library as a starting point.  As well, the CHIN and Cornell tutorials are quite helpful as is the Getty Imaging book.

You can check out what I have digitized at:  www.ourontario.ca and at flickr.com.

Not Quite What I Was Planning

A friend at work told me I had to take a look at this book “Not Quite what I was Planning: Six-word Memoirs by Famous and Obscure Writers”.   The cover of the book is pretty well designed.  Inside the book the text is designed as well.  The words on the cover are arranged into a number 6.  The word “memoirs” in the banner on the cover is coming off the page which gives the cover a level of velocity.

Before opening this book, I had not realized that someone could tell so much in as little as six words.  Some are written as poems, others as gossip headlines.  Some made me laugh, others made me cry.  I think I’d like a copy of this to turn to and read and ponder just one 6 word memoir each day.

Six of my favourites:

“Cheese is the essence of life.” – Mary Lynch

“Made labor saving software: thousands unemployed.” – George Girton

“EDITOR. Get it?”

“I write because I can’t sleep.” – Ben Mezrich

“Somehow she lived without an iPod.” – Jennifer Grouser

“Thought long and hard. Got migraine.” – Lisa Levy