6.3 What collections are sought by learners, teachers and researchers?


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JISC has previously supported work in relation to digitisation of still images and time-based media through the JISC Digitisation Programme [i]. Many HE and FE institutions also hold their own collections or include multimedia content in their institutional repositories. Museums and Archives have collections of interest for teaching and research.
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6.3.1 Should there be any restrictions on what collections are in scope?

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A wide variety of images, films and sounds are sought by users of digital resources, therefore there should be no restriction on the collections in scope. However, subject based coverage for image and time-based media will be important, as many of the scenarios and examples given implied a subject-driven perspective. It may not be practical to achieve wide coverage across a broad variety of subjects in a short period of time, so focus on a limited number of disciplines would allow for critical mass to be gathered.
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Examples of images sought by respondents were many and varied covering a wide range of academic and vocational subjects: arts images, medical images, positive imagery for promoting equality and well-being, design, graphics, manuscripts and books, animals, birds, plants, insects, fish, engineering, people, objects, animation, architecture, crafts, design, fashion, film, monochrome and colour photographs, earth science, literature, illustrations, paintings and landscapes – at scales from macro to microscopic.
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Film and sound examples were similarly for a broad subject range and equally varied:
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  • Films: non-specific documentaries, demonstrations, techniques, concepts, broadcasts or recordings of talks, student or self-produced materials, language materials (including those for learning English), performing arts, primarily contemporary or modern dance, sports, natural history, environmental, agriculture, forestry, people, engineering, fisheries, art historical, research materials, photography, video, brand management, product design, earth science, animation and feature films/movies.
  • Sounds: non-specific podcasts, recordings of talks or spoken word (for pronunciation, talks about architecture, arts, crafts, design, fashion, film, photography, video, brand management, product design; and court recordings), voice overs and radio broadcasts, music, student or self-produced materials, birdsong, and ambience.
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One interviewee from an HE institution said that s/he would focus on content for which either the institution holds a licence or that is available with a Creative Commons licence – because the library should endorse only those resources that may, legally, be used by its end-users. At another point in the interview, however, s/he said that an aggregation should include the large commercial services like Flickr and YouTube because users look for that content and it would be useful if they could find that through an educational portal.
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Tracking the Reel World [ii] identified 0.9 million hours of film, 9.4 million hours of audio, and 10.5 million hours of video, the majority of which is concentrated in a handful of extremely large collections (national audiovisual archives, broadcasters, deposit libraries). However, many of the collections also recorded in the survey were small or very small; their results show that about 65% of film and around 40% of audio and video collections consist of no more than 500 hours of materials.
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It is difficult to reconcile views gathered by this study regarding inclusion of metadata describing resources from commercial services such as YouTube and Flickr. Those working in HE and FE know that their users consult these services and thus, if their metadata are included in an aggregation or portal service, users need consult fewer resources and thus their searching might be more efficient. On the other hand, some staff in HE and FE wish to present users only with content that has clear licence terms attached such as subscription content and that licensed under Creative Commons.
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6.3.2 Is it necessary that a digital asset be available, or are metadata referring to physical objects useful?

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The primary aim of this scoping study was to explore metadata for digital image, film and sound resources, but many collection owners have other related assets in their collections which they would like to make discoverable for others to access and use, such as:
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  • Film scripts, special collections, the analogue film and other related film items.
  • An analogue sound collection and an archive of student films and performance documentation that have not yet been digitised.
  • Documents and journals, PhD theses, old books about local history, maps and photographs of the local area, and a collection of sheet music.
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Although an aggregation of digital metadata is most convenient when it describes digital resources (because these can be accessed remotely), digital metadata describing physical resources are also useful. These metadata enable discovery of those resources, and could establish linkage between physical and digital resources, or between digital resources and applications that use them (e.g. algorithms (software) for analysis of digital medical images).
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Further, by interlinking several aggregations of metadata covering multiple media types, subjects or themes in different ways, an aggregator could facilitate development of services that are more valuable to end-users, particularly researchers. For example, in the field of genetics there are books, drawings, images, biomedical papers, films, and software algorithms, which would all be valuable to someone researching genetics or the history of genetics.
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6.3.3 What formats of media types are needed?

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This question “What formats of digital resources do you need for your work?” was asked to understand if there are specific types of digital resources that should be sought, and therefore which collections should potentially be prioritised for inclusion.
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The primary type of image sought was jpeg, followed by tiff. For sounds the majority sought the mp3 format, followed by wav. Collections that include digital resources with these formats may therefore be more suitable for inclusion in an aggregation of metadata, however as formats change frequently these preferences may also change. With regard to preferred formats for films there was no strong majority. Thus it may be appropriate to include in an aggregation metadata describing a wider variety of film collections than would be the case if the preferred format were clear.
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Although this is a small number of responses it is worth bearing in mind that those searching for content may not want to search separately for images, films and sounds but may wish to search for all formats (i.e. images and time-based media alongside text) at the same time.
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[i] http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/digitisation
[ii] http://www.tape-online.net/docs/tracking_the_reel_world.pdf

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