Monday, April 02, 2007

Cross country for cross-media (7)

At the CMID07 also a presentation by a representative of the Norwegian national library was planned. This was rather surprising to me as I usually think of libraries in terms of books, although some libraries might have a collection of music discs. But Lars Gaustad changed that picture. Sure, libraries are there to preserve the memory of a country and offer access and use of the national media. And they have been busy digitising books, magazines and newspapers for some years now. But he made it clear that this mission entailed all media (print, music, movies, broadcast and digital media).

The memory of Norway is stored in a mountain. The materials are stored ad random in files with a bar code and retrieved by a robot. But since Norway has a new copyright law the library has the right to digitise for preservation, but not for access. Problematic are still the areas of AUthentication and AUthorisation. Now everything is digitised from books to movies. And every half year the internet is harvested for Norwegian sites. There are extensive metadata attached. The 87 catalogues can be searched with retrieval software of FAST Technologies (IMHO the best retrieval software there is). So the Norwegian national library is ready for cross media.

At first sight one thinks that one can perform a cross-media search. But this is not true. The system is designed to search for cross-media in a particular context. The searcher gets various hits in different contexts. For example, the library has a jazz database with biographies, photographs, jazz history and jazz links; new players can add their music, but also their biographies and discographies. Information on performers can be retrieved, but also music. Using the system of the national library one can also retrieve everything about the first Norwegian oil platform Ekovist, which is now being dismantled; but one can look up information on the platform, which was on internet, in movies and on radio.

Some of the first fledglings of cross-media products can be seen in the section Digital stories on the site of the National Library. In Tiny Traces the footprints of children in the national Library are followed. The Promise of America makes available various resources about Norwegian emigration to America and Norwegian-American culture and history. Although in the Norwegian language, one can study a beautifully illuminated book from around 1500. The strange story of a letter that Roald Amundsen wrote and left at the South Pole December 15, 1911, that eventually reached the King of Norway through the efforts of Robert Scott and his expedition. Georg Morgenstierne is a multimedia database containing source materials originating from Professor Morgenstierne's expeditions to Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Iran.

The national library preserves all this for posterity such as society in general, for owners of the work in particular, but also to for later generations to sketch the history of culture and knowledge. Of course always the question will come up whether everything has to be preserved. And librarians will not start a discussion on this point. They will preserve everything in order to produce trusted repositories with data integrity and metadata. Libraries are going to be trusted cross-media repositories for the use in science and education.

Blog Posting Number: 712

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