Volume 29, Number 4, Winter 2007

Building Digitization Success through Collaboration: CDP@BCR

Brenda Bailey-Hainer Executive Director, Bibliographical Center for Research

CDP@BCR was born when the Collaborative Digitization Program (CDP) merged into the Bibliographical Center for Research (BCR) in April 2007. This perfect match married BCR's seventy-year history as a multi-state non-profit library cooperative with CDP's experience in using collaboration between many organizations to create digital resources. This newly formed digital initiatives program continues the CDP tradition of providing best practices, training, consulting services, grant opportunities, and digital resource access to libraries and other types of cultural heritage institutions in the West.

The CDP was founded in 1999 as the Colorado Digitization Project through a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant from the Colorado State Library. From the beginning, CDP embraced the concept of libraries working together with museums, historical societies, and archives. Before any digitization efforts were undertaken, a significant amount of time was spent in careful planning and needs assessment. This ensured that libraries and other institutions, who share many of the same concerns with preserving and making cultural content available, spoke the same language and agreed upon common standards and best practices for their collaborative projects.

In its earlier life as a non-profit center at the University of Denver, CDP became a focal point for collaboration between organizations from many different Western states. The Western Trails project is a perfect example of how a single theme can serve as the thread that ties digital projects from disparate sources into a single common presentation. Funded through a 2001 Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant, the project's theme was trails that transcend state boundaries. It includes contributed materials from many organizations in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Utah, and Wyoming that are organized in themed exhibits as varied as Settlement Trails, Tourism Trails, and Health Trails.

Another IMLS funded grant Sound Model: A Collaborative Infrastructure for Digital Audio has been the most interesting and challenging undertaking so far. The project made available such diverse audio files as Allen Ginsberg reading from his works at Naropa University, interviews with northern Nevada Paiutes, and the reminiscences of a female laborer who worked in the Omaha meat packing industry. These and other audio materials are available through the online exhibit The West Out Loud.

One of the biggest factors in CDP@BCR's success is the working groups. These groups are populated with representatives from various member institutions or participants in grant projects. Focused on specific tasks, such as reviewing standards for metadata or digital images, these groups meet via conference call on a regular basis to help maintain best practices and standards and create new ones, to provide input into grant project development, and to benefit from networking opportunities in these relatively narrow interest areas. The working group participants' collective knowledge has proved to be invaluable in designing and informing successful grant projects.

Currently, the most active working group is the Digital Imaging Working Group. This group is updating the Western States Digital Imaging Best Practices which were developed as part of the Western Trails grant. It involves representatives from libraries, museums, and archives in Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Washington, and Wyoming. They expect to issue a new version of these best practices in January 2008.

Please take a moment to explore the exciting online exhibits available on the CDP@BCR Web site as well as the wealth of valuable information such as best practices and standards that are housed there. For more information about CDP@BCR, contact Leigh Grinstead, CDP@BCR Program Coordinator.

Note: Information on (LSTA) and other grants funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services is available on their website at http://www.imls.gov/about/about.shtm. For more details on the early history of the CDP and additional information on technology and metadata standards, see: Bailey-Hainer, Brenda and Richard Urban. “The Colorado Digitization Program: A Collaboration Success Story.” Library Hi Tech 22, no.3 (2004).: 254-262.