FAQ – Illinois History Digital Imaging Grant: Hosting Images with the Illinois Digital Archives Illinois State Library


Why does the Illinois History—Digital Imaging Grant require that data reside on the server for the Illinois Digital Archives (IDA)?
The overarching intent of this requirement was to enable a large number of digital collections to be hosted on a single content management platform. Because the IDA server already provides a single location for over 150 digital collections in Illinois, IDA seemed like the most logical choice. Several reasons for promoting IDA as the single platform include:

  1. Metadata aggregation for DPLA will be streamlined by having a single location for the large and growing number of digital collections in IDA.
  2. IDA collections are linked to WorldCat records which increases access.
  3. The Illinois State Library recognizes that digital preservation is an enormous need; and therefore, pays for all the content of IDA collections to be stored in the OCLC Digital Archives.

I am afraid that putting my digital assets in IDA and not on my institution's website will diminish the identification of these assets with our institution. Will hosting these digital collections on the IDA server mean that my institution will no longer been seen as the owner of these resources?
Putting a collection into IDA in no way diminishes the institution's visibility as the owner of the content. Each collection is uniquely identified, both in the collection main page and in the metadata records. In addition, the library is able and encouraged to create an elaborate web page describing the collection. The link to the collection, however, is embedded in an IDA URL. Most likely, the user/searcher will not even know that they have left the institution's website. Furthermore, cloud computing and distributed networks create a seamless user experience that isn't altered by where the content resides; indication of and credit for the provenance of the work is unaffected by where these digital resources are stored.

Will the data on the IDA server be accessible to custom interfaces?
Yes; ALL content residing on the IDA server can be fetched and brought to custom interfaces through native APIs, through an OAI-PMH feed like this one for Arthur Public Library’s collection, or accessed directly using the PURLs associated with each CONTENTdm record (e.g., http://www.idaillinois.org/cdm/ref/collection/isl6/id/7129).

The following are three URLs demonstrating the technique of fetching raw metadata and images through the CONTENTdm APIs, reformatting the JSON or XML (making use of XSLT/CSS or custom programming.) These examples are from IDA, and are all dynamically created using PHP or Perl programs and CSS style sheets. They illustrate how flexible the presentation of CONTENTdm records can be by making use of their APIs.

The following three examples illustrate how CONTENTdm’s APIs allow users to create new custom interfaces. All three were built using PHP or Perl.

Where will the master image reside?
The access image will reside on IDA, not the master image. The requirement to post metadata/images exclusively on IDA servers refers only to the access image, not the master image. With regard to the master image, the program guidelines indicate that applicants must adhere to master preservation measures:

"The preservation of digital content is a vital component to any digitization project and needs to be factored into the workflow of the digitization process, rather than implemented on an ad hoc basis. It is the responsibility of the contributing institution to provide long-term storage for their digital collections that are included in IDA; and by developing a sustainable digital preservation strategy, you can ensure that the digital items found in your collection will be accessible now and in the future." llinois Digital Archives' Best Practices/Digital Imaging Guidelines, p.6.

Why is there a problem with duplicate content?

  1. Duplicated content creates multiple result sets for a single image in Google, as well as other search engines.
  2. Duplicate content impedes research, since the user is forced to consider the authenticity of each separate image.
  3. Content management of the collection becomes more cumbersome. Any changes made to the metadata require changing the record in multiple locations.
  4. Duplicated content is problematic for DPLA participation. As a Service Hub, we would need to make sure that only a single metadata record for an item is sent to DPLA for aggregation, in order to ensure that the content is accessed in a single location.

Please note that the rule of a single server refers only to web accessibility; content can be duplicated on locally accessible servers.