Digital News and Digital Libraries: Partnerships for Enduring Access

By Trevor Owens
Senior Library Program Officer, IMLS

I was thrilled to be able to participate in Dodging the Memory Hole II: An Action Assembly hosted at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Main Branch Public Library in Charlotte, North Carolina. The event brought together journalists, representatives from press associations, and librarians to work together to preserve and provide access to digital news content.

Raising Awareness: Digital News is At Risk

Figure from Andy Jackson's research on the UK Web Archive, after only a few years nearly all the content in the archive is fundamentally different than it was a just a few years before.

Figure from Andy Jackson’s research on the UK Web Archive, after only a few years nearly all the content in the archive is fundamentally different than it was a just a few years before.

As part of the opening of the event, Katherine Skinner of the Educopia Institute shared results of recent work to document the extent to which born digital news, in particular on the web, is being collected and preserved in North Carolina. With the notable exception of student newspapers at colleges and universities, the results of this initial inquiry suggest that few libraries are currently collecting digital news.

Abbey Potter from the Library of Congress NDIIPP program shared recent work from Andy Jackson at the British Library demonstrating just how rapidly website content “drifts,” that is, either changes or is deleted. While there is a need to better understand exactly how content drift and link rot specifically affect digital news content, this research suggests that there is likely little work currently occurring that would have an impact in this area.

What to Preserve and How:

"Original Order People" from Ben Walsh of the L.A. Times presentation on various approaches to collecting born digital news content.

“Original Order People” from Ben Walsh of the L.A. Times presentation on various approaches to collecting born digital news content.

Eric Weig from the University of Kentucky and Ana Krahmer from the University of North Texas both reported out on work they have done to provide access to pre-print PDFs for physical newspapers.There were two primary tracks of discussion on what to preserve and a range of current and potential approaches suggested for how to go about preserving and providing access.

Establishing the process for acquiring these materials, which are born-digital but intended for print, is a challenge. Thankfully, in both cases, Eric and Ana have projects demonstrating how this content can be integrated more or less directly into systems designed for preservation and access of digitized historical newspapers.

Part of the event involved a tour of the Charlotte Observer which worked to illustrate how extensively integrated the production of print and web news has become.

Part of the event involved a tour of the Charlotte Observer which illustrated how extensively integrated the production of print and web news has become.

While there are significant challenges with newspaper PDFs, these documents are just one element in far more complex and challenging sets of digital text and multimedia content in content management systems used by news organizations.

As was suggested during a tour of the Charlotte Observer, in many cases the print publication of a newspaper is more of a distillation of content published on a rolling basis to newspaper websites. That is, the PDF pre-print of a newspaper, while an important source, is just a fraction of the news which is produced and disseminated.

In a session led by Ben Welsh of the LA Times, a team worked through three potential approaches for how to capture the full range of digital news being produced by news organizations. These included 1) accessing raw database dumps from the back end systems, which would include a robust sense of their original order and structure 2) exploring ways to export and exchange the content of stories through standardized formats like NewsML and 3) possibilities for improving the capabilities of web archiving with approaches such as packaging on the web and embedded linked data for stories as offered by

Establishing Succession & Donor Agreements
Aside from the technical challenges and opportunities, this area is marked by a significant set of challenges around the agreements and relationships that will ensure long-term access to digital news content. Martin Halbert from the University of North Texas and Jim Kroll from Denver Public Library shared their experiences and perspectives on developing donor agreements that navigated the complex issues relating to ownership and handoffs of both analog and digital news content. This group agreed to continue working together and to work up a set of key considerations for the development of these agreements for other libraries to consult.

Building on Solid Foundations and Creating Common Language
The meeting confirmed and reaffirmed the longstanding relationships that have existed between the news media and libraries. Public, state and academic libraries have played a part in ensuring enduring access to news, and as journalism continues to adapt to the realities of a digital 21st century, libraries do so in parallel. The daily realities of working on deadlines produces an extensive set of documentation of a range of aspects of life in communities across the nation, and libraries have played a key role in ensuring enduring access to that documentation. And, through collaborations and partnerships, forged at events like this, those relationships can continue strong in contemporary society.

Posted in 21st Century Skills, Accessibility, Collections Care/Preservation, Learning Tools and Interactives (Information/Media literacy) | Leave a comment

National Museum and Library Medal Winners Inspire “Makers” Across America

Ed. Note: This blog was originally posted on the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog. To view the original post, click here

By Nancy Weiss and Stephanie Santoso

Earlier this week, First Lady Michelle Obama presented the 2015 National Medal for Museum and Library Service to ten museums and libraries that are extraordinary agents of change in their communities. The medal, an award of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, recognizes the many ways these community institutions enhance civic engagement, promote economic vitality, and connect visitors to 21st-century teaching and learning. The Institute of Museum and Library Services, a Federal agency, is the primary source of Federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums.

Libraries and museums have long been centers for self-directed and participatory lifelong teaching and learning. Today, this often includes providing visitors with tools, technologies, and spaces to make and innovate, and to explore the diverse applications of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Several of the winners of the 2015 National Medal for Museum and Library Service demonstrate how libraries and museums around the country are providing resources and educational programming designed to help people meet the challenges and take advantage of opportunities of 21st-century working and living:

  • Craig Public Library (Craig, AK): The award for Craig Public Library, located on remote Prince of Wales Island in southeast Alaska, was accepted by library director Amy K. Marshall and eleven-year-old Colin Rice. Fascinated with computer coding and technology, Colin was determined to get a 3D printer on the island. When the school system couldn’t purchase one, the library said it would help. Colin helped build the machine and demonstrate its operation during a community-wide Pi-Einstein day. Craig Public Library also brings STEM learning and opportunities to its small community through youth programs such as weekly science camps, robotics with LEGOs, and maker events.

A 3D printer in action at the Craig Public Library.

  • The Tech Museum of Innovation (San Jose, CA): The Tech Museum of Innovation (The Tech) aims to inspire the innovator in everyone. Its signature program, the Tech Challenge, is one of the oldest engineering design competitions in California, challenging teams of students to solve real-world problems with creativity, critical-thinking and iterative designing, prototyping, and testing. The Tech is making STEM learning more accessible by supporting museum visits for more than 70,000 students from low-income schools and providing involved STEM experiences for about 21,500 underserved area students through hands-on technology labs. In Fall 2015, a new DIY genetics exhibit at The Tech will include a biology makerspace where visitors will be able to engage in bio-tinkering: they’ll be able to play with, design, and engineer synthesized DNA.

A young innovator participating in the
Tech Challenge. (Photo credit: Don Feria)

  • New York Hall of Science (Queens, NY): The award for the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) was accepted by CEO Dr. Margaret Honey and Maria Cortes Ruiz. Soon after she moved to the U.S. from Bogota, Colombia, Maria began working in the Science Career Ladder program at the NYSCI. The program allowed her to hone her English language skills while conducting science demonstrations for visitors and leading special maker activities. Says Maria, “Science is amazing because it explains everything… everything that you see that is beautiful in life.” Maria’s experience at the museum fostered her love for science and gave her the confidence to pursue a career in science. She is now working toward a chemical engineering degree at City College of New York. The New York Hall of Science is also home to World Maker Faire, which draws more than 130,000 people, including tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists and students.

Young scientists getting muddy as they learn about the
environment at NYSCI. (Photo credit: Andrew Kelly)

  • Los Angeles Public Library (Los Angeles, CA): The Los Angeles Public Library teams up with LA Makerspace to offer multigenerational literacy programs with a science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) twist in many of the library system’s 73 locations. The library’s “Full STEAM Ahead” program presents STEAM programs for preschoolers and school-aged children to help compensate for the scarcity of free and low-cost afterschool programs in those subjects in the LA Community.  The library also organizes fun, hands-on learning opportunities in community workshops that incorporate robotics, coding circuitry, stop-motion animation, citizen science and 3D printing.

On the LA Public Library website, families can
find workshops hosted by LA Makerspace.

These institutions and many other libraries and museums around the country are answering the President’s call at last year’s White House Maker Faire for “every company, every college, every community, every citizen to lift up makers and builders and doers across the country.” This year, the White House is hosting a Week of Making, June 12-18, that is aimed at engaging communities and organizations around the country in creating more opportunities for making that inspire students’ interest in STEM, arts and design, support maker entrepreneurs and encourage local manufacturing and workforce training.

We invite you to join us in congratulating all of the winners of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, and in getting excited for the upcoming Week of Making. In the meantime, tell us how you or your local library or museum are getting involved in our #NationOfMakers by tweeting @WhiteHouseOSTP or emailing us at

Nancy E. Weiss is Senior Advisor to the Chief Technology Officer at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Stephanie Santoso is Senior Advisor for Making at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Posted in National Medal for Museum and Library Service, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) | Leave a comment

The Impact of Summer Reading

By Michele Farrell
Senior Library Program Officer, IMLS

Every year, public libraries around the country offer summer reading programs. We know from anecdotal information that participants love them, but what is the real impact of these programs? The Library of Virginia is conducting a 33-month study to understand how children and teens use reading programs.  The library will examine how the programs influence reading skills, how they may have different impacts on various participants, and the long-term impact on reading outcomes.

The study is being done to assist Virginia public libraries with understanding the impact of their programs. There will be three reports. The first report, Impact of Virginia Public Libraries’ Summer Reading Program: Library of Virginia Year 1 Report (Good, Ho, & Fryman, 2014), covered how children participated, how many books they read, the reading levels of the books read, and whether participants were reading at or above their age level. The second report will examine the effects on reading outcomes, how those outcomes compare to nonparticipants, to what extent participation shows a gain or loss in reading ability compared to nonparticipants, and how the effects differ for readers by grade, gender, economic status, and English proficiency. The Library of Virginia is hosting a webinar on the second report. See details below to listen in.

The final report is scheduled for release in December 2015 and will cover what reading skills improved, whether the impact lasts more than one year, how many children participate for more than a year and their characteristics, and lastly, how reading outcomes differ between nonparticipants and those who participated for only one summer. The reports will be available on the Library of Virginia website. Caution should be used regarding any generalization of these results holding true for all summer reading programs.

For questions regarding the study and the webinars, please contact:

Enid Costley
Children’s and Youth Services Consultant
Library of Virginia
800 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219

McREL has been conducting the study and we invite you to hear the findings.

The findings will be shared via webinar on May 19 at 11:00 a.m. EST and again on May 20 at 2:00 p.m. You may register to attend one of the webinars. After you complete the registration, you will be given access information.

May 19 at 11:00 a.m. EST register at:

May 20 at 2:00 p.m. EST register at:

Posted in Afterschool/Out-of-School, Early Learning, Education Support, Grants to State Library Administrative Agencies | Leave a comment