About the Book

Digitization in the Real World highlights 34 cases of digital collection building in libraries, archives, museums, and cultural heritage institutions throughout North America. This book is written by practitioners for practitioners focusing on lessons learned from small to medium-sized digitization projects. Digitization in the Real World was edited by Kwong Bor Ng and Jason Kucsma.

The book is available in three formats: Paperback | PDF  | ePub

Press Release

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Collected case studies provide important how-to examples for libraries and other research centers planning to digitize important collections in the years ahead.

NEW YORK, NY, [July 29, 2010] — More than 30 examples of successful efforts to digitize historically significant materials at leading libraries in North America are profiled in the new book Digitization in the Real World, published this week by the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO), one of the nation’s leading service providers for libraries and research organizations.  The new book is the first to present case study examples of small and medium-sized digitization projects, with information developed by library professionals for library professionals.

Digitization in the Real World identifies the specific strategies used by top libraries to digitize a range of collections in recent years.  Examples include recent digitization efforts at Columbia, Yale, the American Museum of Natural History and many other leading library and research centers.  Case studies include examples of smaller digitization projects with very limited budgets, projects involving a range of public, specialty and university libraries and research centers, and digitization efforts that required collaboration between multiple institutions.

“Digitization continues to be a major focus of library organizations in the U.S., and in many cases practitioners proceed without a clear roadmap to success.  The projects profiled in this book together represent a vital new information resource and guide for library professionals considering digitization projects in the months and years ahead,” said Kwong Bor Ng, associate professor at the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies at Queens College, CUNY, and co-editor of Digitization in the Real World.

Digitization in the Real World includes perspectives from library practitioners at small archives, public and specialty libraries, repositories of unique cultural and historical collections, and library consortia.  Projects include several examples of working with open source software to build digital collections.  Many case studies highlight the critical role of collaboration in the success of digitization efforts.

In one case study, curators at the American Museum of Natural History in New York review an effort to produce a web exhibit of almost 1000 historically significant images from the museum’s photography collection.  Another reviews a digitization effort involving a range of materials at Pratt Institute, requiring management of differences in metadata content and interpretation.  A digitization project at the Leo Baeck Institute highlights the special challenges in efforts to digitize rare books.

“One of the key findings in pulling together case studies from all across the U.S. was the fact that, while all digitization projects are different, key learnings from successful projects at one library can provide very effective guidance and support for projects at other libraries.  This book also presents real-world perspectives tailored to the needs of library professionals, so the guidance is targeted and specific,” said Jason Kucsma, emerging technologies manager at METRO and co-editor of Digitization in the Real World.

Digitization in the Real World is available at online vendors including www.lulu.com (now) and www.amazon.com (beginning in September).  The print version is $60.  The full text book is also available for electronic download for $10. 

The Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) is a non-profit organization working to develop and maintain essential library services throughout New York City and Westchester County. METRO's service is developed and delivered with broad input and support from an experienced staff of library professionals, the organization's member libraries, an active board of trustees, government representatives and other experts in research and library operations.

As the largest reference and research resources (3Rs) library council in New York State, METRO members reflect a wide range of special, academic, archival and public library organizations. In addition to training programs and support services, METRO also works to bring members of the New York City and Westchester County library communities together to promote ongoing exchanges of information and ideas.