Digital curation after digital extraction for data sharing

  • Karsten Boye Rasmussen


Welcome to the third issue of volume 42 of the IASSIST Quarterly (IQ 42:3, 2018).

The IASSIST Quarterly presents in this issue three papers from geographically widespread countries. We call IASSIST ‘International’, so I am happy to present papers from three continents in this issue with papers from Zimbabwe, Italy and Canada.

The paper 'The State of Preparedness for Digital Curation and Preservation: A Case Study of a Developing Country Academic Library' is by Phillip Ndhlovu, who works as the institutional repository librarian and liaison librarian, and Thomas Matingwina, who is a lecturer at the Department of Library and Information Service at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Modern day libraries have vast amounts of digital content and the authors noted that because these collections require very different management than the traditional paper-based materials, the new materials’ longevity is endangered. Their study assessed the state of preparedness of the NUST Library for digital curation and preservation, including the assessment of awareness, competencies, technology infrastructure, digital disaster preparedness, and challenges to digital curation and preservation. They found a lack of policies, lack of expertise by library staff, and lack of funding.

You might conclude that investigating your own organization and reaching the very well known conclusion that 'we need more money!' is not so surprising. However, you have to take note that the Jeff Rothenberg statement from 1995 that 'Digital information lasts forever – or five years, whichever comes first' has not yet sunk in with politicians and administrators, who will immediately associate the term 'digital' with 'saving money'. This study shows them why this is not a valid connotation. It is a study of a single institution, and as the authors note it cannot be generalized even to other academic libraries in Zimbabwe. However, other libraries - also outside Zimbabwe - have here a good guide for making their own assessment of the digital preparedness of their institution. 

The second paper was - as was the paper above - presented at the IASSIST conference in 2018 and is also about the transition from media known for thousands of years to new media and digital forms. Peter Peller presented the paper 'From Paper Map to Geospatial Vector Layer: Demystifying the Process'. He is the Director of the Spatial and Numeric Data Services unit at Libraries and Cultural Resources at the University of Calgary in Canada. 

The conversion of raster images of maps to vector data is analogous to OCR technologies extracting words from scanned print documents. Thereby the map information becomes more accessible, and usable in geographic information systems (GIS). An illustrative example is that historical geospatial information can be overlaid in Google Earth. The description of the entire process incorporates examples of the various techniques, including different types of editing. Furthermore, descriptions of the software used in selected studies are listed in the appendix. It is mentioned that 'paper texture and ink spread' can be responsible for introducing noise and errors, so remember to keep the old maps. This is because what is considered noise in one context might become the subject for interesting future research. In addition the software for extracting information will most certainly improve.

For once both the author and we at IASSIST Quarterly have been quite fast. The data for the third paper was collected in late 2017 and the results are presented here only a year later. In October 2017 a message appeared on the IASSIST mail list with the start of the sentence 'I would share the data but...' It quickly generated many ways of completing that sentence. Flavio Bonifacio - who works at Metis Ricerche srl in Torino, Italy - quickly launched a questionnaire sent to members of the mail list and to others from similar communities of interested individuals. The questionnaire was an extension of an earlier one concerning scientists' reuse and sharing of data. The paper includes many tabulations and models showing the background as well as the data sharing attitudes found in the survey. A respondent typology is developed based upon the level of propensity for sharing data and the level of experiencing problems in data sharing into a 2-by-2 table consisting of 'irreducible reluctant', 'reducible reluctant', 'problematic follower', and 'premium follower'.    

In the Nordic countries we tend to have the impression that certain services are publicly available and for free. This impression is plainly superficial because we Nordic people also know very well that 'there is no such thing as a free lunch'! All services must be paid for in one way or another. If you have many services that carry no direct cost, it is probably because you - and others - paid for them beforehand through taxation. Because of cuts in the public economy one of the things Flavio Bonifacio wanted to investigate was the question 'Is there a market for selling data-sharing services?' The results imply that 'reducible reluctants' can be a target for services that reduce the problems of that group.

Submissions of papers for the IASSIST Quarterly are always very welcome. We welcome input from IASSIST conferences or other conferences and workshops, from local presentations or papers especially written for the IQ. When you are preparing such a presentation, give a thought to turning your one-time presentation into a lasting contribution. Doing that after the event also gives you the opportunity of improving your work after feedback. We encourage you to login or create an author login to (our Open Journal System application). We permit authors 'deep links' into the IQ as well as deposition of the paper in your local repository. Chairing a conference session with the purpose of aggregating and integrating papers for a special issue IQ is also much appreciated as the information reaches many more people than the limited number of session participants and will be readily available on the IASSIST Quarterly website at  Authors are very welcome to take a look at the instructions and layout:

Authors can also contact me directly via e-mail: Should you be interested in compiling a special issue for the IQ as guest editor(s) I will also be delighted to hear from you.

Karsten Boye Rasmussen - November 2018

Editor's Notes
Dec 11, 2018