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Scott English - Is The APS Preserving Electronic Records From Commercial Sites?

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Posted 08/09/2022   7:25 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add rogdcam to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Hello Scott - Over the course of the past year or so I have, in response to various posts, searched for electronically documented collections/exhibits, usually PDF's, that answer a question. It is amazing what is extant when it comes to material that has crossed the auction block but has never been published in a traditional way. Numerous research resources exist only in sales records or in archives such as Siegel maintains. Does the APS search for and make efforts to acquire and preserve such material? Does the APS maintain relationships with commercial ventures such as auction houses to preserve such material?

I raise the questions due to a current topic on Heligoland:

http://goscf.com/t/81606

There are others that span from classic US philately to Countries from around the globe.

Just curious if the APS is involved in such preservation already or is interested in doing so.

Thank You

Roger
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Posted 08/10/2022   11:51 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add ScottEnglish to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Roger --

We are interested in preserving materials and are working on gathering and digitizing them. We started the accelerated process earlier this year with the backlog of journals. We have more than 100 exhibits as well. One of the digitization project's long-term objectives is to add a digital librarian to the staff to assist with the efforts.

Interestingly, the conversation in the thread is about Hegioland. We're adding an exhibit to our reference catalog from Dr. Lawrence Mead. I'll add a comment to the thread regarding the exhibit and access to the article in the digital library.

The timing is a little off for a longer discussion, GASS has our attention in the weeks ahead, but I know I'd like to get our team engaged.

Scott
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Posted 08/10/2022   2:01 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Scott - Thank you for the reply and insight. I appreciate that it is a busy time for you and the APS with the upcoming GASS.

Hopefully we can continue this dialog after things settle down and delve deeper into how to preserve valuable philatelic resources that are not directly under the control of the APS but would contribute to and supplement current resources within the APRL.

All the Best

Roger
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Posted 08/10/2022   7:17 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add BobInRye to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Please note that most (can't say all, 'cause I haven't checked every single auction house) auction houses now have their catalogs available online and so development of an online library of catalogs should not be a technical challenge, BUT getting permission could be a legal issue AND having appropriate meta data to make cross-catalog searches useful would be, to be polite, tough in terms of time.
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Posted 08/10/2022   7:34 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Please note that most (can't say all, 'cause I haven't checked every single auction house) auction houses now have their catalogs available online and so development of an online library of catalogs should not be a technical challenge, BUT getting permission could be a legal issue AND having appropriate meta data to make cross-catalog searches useful would be, to be polite, tough in terms of time.


More specifically there are valuable catalog images, usually in PDF form, of highly comprehensive exhibits and studies contained on those auction house sites that need to be extracted, preserved and archived in the APRL for research purposes before they are lost forever.

Pollard's Heligoland collection which is discussed in another topic is a prime example. The entire 187-page PDF imaging his collection/exhibit/research is on Schuyler Rumsey's website in a past catalog. There are no guarantees that it will be preserved, and it is not easy for all to find. Furthermore, the collection itself was sold by Schuyler and has been broken up and disbursed. The PDF is THE record of 30 years of research and acquisition, brilliantly illustrated and annotated. It needs to be preserved.

Another such PDF that comes to mind is Larry Bustillo's work on the US five cent Jefferson issues. It is an incredibly detailed work that resides on Siegel's website and should be in the APRL if it is not already.

There are many more examples that need to be protected from being lost forever.
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Posted 08/11/2022   12:24 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add jleb1979 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
It seems to me that Rogdcam is advocating for an organized web archiving program that would specifically preserve a variety of philatelic information.

This is not a trivial undertaking, but is very important for future philatelists, 'cause just imagine the loss of knowledge if, for example, such pdfs are lost when a private entity goes out of business.

Database driven websites can be tough to impossible to crawl and preserve, which is one thing, but relatively static components of websites such as linked menued . pdfs or online exhibits, are manageable by off the shelf web archiving software. An issue here though is "curation." An overused term in my view, when getting human workers to evaluate specific contents of specific sites slows everything down and complicates automatic harvesting and updating.

Easier & cheaper to harvest whole sites. And cast the net broadly for sites. Meanwhile negotiate to get copies of the databases to hold in a dark archive.

Layer atop the technical issues the financial (storage and backup still ain't free) and the legal and you have a bit of work. But in many cases the legal can be resolved, or sidestepped, by agreeing with the "harvestee" to keep the harvested archival site dark until needed in the future.

It's a very interesting area into which a number of research libraries in he US and elsewhere have been active in the last ten to fifteen years, including several with which I have been associated. So Roger's point is an excellent one - what is the philatelic research community doing in this space and is it organized?

- Jonathan
Edited to add negotiating and to correct a mispelt word…
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Edited by jleb1979 - 08/11/2022 12:27 pm
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Posted 08/11/2022   1:36 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add cjpalermo1964 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
But in many cases the legal can be resolved, or sidestepped, by agreeing with the "harvestee" to keep the harvested archival site dark until needed in the future.

I disagree. An individual transaction with each "harvestee" still is required. When is "until needed in the future"? Upon the death of the "harvestee"? US copyright extends long after an author's death and their heirs often can revoke any previously granted transfer under 17 U.S.C. 203.

Copyright makes this an intractable problem which is why libraries are not pursuing it. With books, the copyright owner's rights are exhausted upon the first sale so a library can freely lend, display, or allow others to read a copy. Not so with digital works because any reading or display requires transferring a copy to the reader's browser, which is an infringing act, unless you want to make every patron use a controlled reader app. "Fair use" will not apply to library activities, at least in the US, because the articles are creative work, the library is copying the whole work, obtaining the copy usually impacts the author's ability to sell a copy to the reader, and many libraries are associated with fee-collecting societies likely to be deemed commercial organizations and not purely educational ones.

To bring this within the bounds of practicality, someone would have to initiate and pursue a campaign to convince philatelic authors to attach a suitable Creative Commons license to their publications at the time of original digital publication. At least then libraries could rest on those license rights without an individual author transaction.
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Posted 08/11/2022   3:15 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add jleb1979 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Many dozens of large US university libraries have been harvesting a variety of domestic and international websites for years. They are generally not menued all that well, and some (not all) are kept dark until the harvested website goes dark at which point they are made available for consultation by researchers under fair use. Others are embargoed for 6 months after harvest.

There is a fairly sizeable community of practice built up around this. The Library of Congress - admittedly a special case -- alone menus hundreds of sites they harvest, many are international but many are domestic including author websites, music industry, Fortune 500 corporate websites, etc. Columbia University has been collecting quite a few sites, for example New York Religion which is menued)...

Contacting the originator of the website is certainly preferred practice, but some places do it after the fact or respond when queried in an "opt-out" approach. There is a short round up of some practice documents at Yale Univ. Libraries.https://guides.library.yale.edu/c.p...43&p=7146684 .



- Jonathan


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Posted 08/11/2022   4:03 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add mml1942 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I am quite delighted to see this subject getting some discussion. It is an area that has weighed on my mind for several years.

I appreciate that there are legal hurdles that have to be addressed. And there are obviously costs that must be funded. But this discussion is a start.

Just think of the loss to philately if the Stamp Community Family forum were to go dark one day like the RetroReveal site did earlier this year. Fortunately, our supporter PostmasterGS had the requisite skills and interest to create a variation to that program that seems to meet all the functionality of the original site. But what would we do if something were to happen to him? We would lose both the new Postmark-Reveal site and his great German philatelic resource.

Who and where does the capability to do this sort of work exist? The APS/APRL is certainly one possibility, assuming they determined it was within their Charter and Collection Development Policy.

Or would an independent organization with its separate funding be a more suitable alternative?

The problems involved are more than those associated with simply archiving PDF files and entire websites. The internet/world wide web/WWW is a dynamic entity, and websites are created upgraded, moved around, and die with regularity. Just check the stored bookmark file in your browser and see how many links are now defunct and yield up only an error 404.

Even with a capability in place, it is unlikely that one could preserve everything. How does such a entity decide what is to be preserved? How does an organization insure that the preserved site continues to function as new resources and tools are added to the WWW to "simplify" the creation of websites? With literally 100s of tools available to create and manage websites, how would an organization be able to maintain and keep functioning the materials found in an older website?

The concept of one's digital estate is slowly entering into the arena. If I can leave my physical philatelic estate to a person or organization, what will be required to make a similar disposition of my digital presence on a website?
[Is there a lawyer in the house?]

I hope that once GASS is completed, Scott English and Scott Tiffney can join this discussion and provide us with some of their thinking as to what role the believe that the APS/APRL might be comfortable in playing in this area. One of the recently elected candidates to the APRL Board included as one of his goals to see that more work should be done to acquire key philatelist's physical archives for the APRL, as has been done in the past for George Brett, Tom Alexander, Richard Graham, etc. Perhaps this thinking should be expanded to include digital archives as well.

Let's keep this dialog going.

Mike

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Edited by mml1942 - 08/11/2022 4:03 pm
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Posted 08/12/2022   06:29 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add angore to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
It is not a new discussion. There was a roundtable hosted at Pacific 97 on the same topic of digital information but see multiple aspects being discussed here. There is web site preservation and digitizing printed material. APS has been focused on the latter.

I had discussed with Scott about web site preservation and he stated that APS would save web sites but owners would have to submit on digital media for storage. They would not be integrated in the Library search functions.

Archive.org is an incomplete but sometimes surprisingly useful source for dead web sites or prior instances since web sites morph (remove or add content). For example, there is the web site that had a lot of world maps that went offline. Some of it is online at archive.org.

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Posted 08/12/2022   07:06 am  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
A different perspective on archive.org; they are thieves who take website content without permission violating copyright laws. They know it is illegal but their defense is 'just ask us and we will remove what we have taken from you'. If you are a hobbyist who has never invest thousands of man hours in a website, then you probably think the archive is 'great'. But when you are the person who has had your website stolen with your life time's worth of work you will probably feel differently.

And of course there is/was also a large lawsuit over their 'digital library' functionality. They are currently seeking a summary judgment in the federal lawsuit filed by major publishing companies with the reasoning that their lending system is the same as a brick-and-mortar library and that authors/publishers are not losing any income. I do not know what the resolution (settlement?) is/was for the COVID period when they decided to throw open the door and 'lend' publications outside the lending system and without any restrictions to hundreds of thousands (millions?) of users.

In my opinion archive.org has had a negative impact on the development of philatelic websites and should not be supported.
Don
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Posted 08/12/2022   08:00 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add floortrader to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
This whole subject has only a few basic points that need to be answered ,we can leave all the legal garbage to others .

First question --- I want credit if you scan my pictures, for the years of work I put in ,this also applies to the stamp auction firm ,they also want their name attach to any scans they give for public viewing .

Second Question ---- Who is going to make money from my scans ,I have no problem with the APS keeping the scans for research. But the minute they start charging to view my pictures or publish them on a CD for sale ,then I want my cut of sales .

All these scans are going to need a watermark in- bedded into each page .
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Posted 08/12/2022   08:46 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
A couple of thoughts on where this discussion seems to be heading and what my original thoughts were.

We seem to be going towards an all-encompassing effort of great legal and technical challenges to capture and store the world of digitized philatelic records. That was not, at least for myself, what prompted this topic. Rather, I see a small amount, taken as a percentage of digitized material, of records that rise to the level of "valuable" and irreplaceable or nearly so. We do not need all of the coal, just the diamonds and they are not that difficult to spot if you have a reason to look. As an example, Pollard's Heligoland collection, once viewed calls out to be saved because of its depth and level of research. It is not a bunch of pictures of stamps on album pages with the Country name and catalog numbers but so much more. When you see such a thing you instinctively know it is something special. It was NOT created as a commercial endeavor which brings me to my next thought.

Why is the topic of monetary compensation being raised when, using Pollard's work as an example once again, the collection was consigned to be sold to the highest bidder with no restrictions on how it was handled upon change of ownership. It appears to have been broken up into pieces and resold. But for the 187 page PDF in Schuyler Rumsey's ONLINE catalog, not the printed catalog, it would have ignominiously passed into the dustbin of history. Why suddenly should it be viewed as a candidate for lost creator revenue. That makes no sense to me and muddies the waters.

We do not need to capture thousands more images of album pages or piles of stamps on a table but rather those few very special things that leave a large void when gone. If we did not know they existed we could be forgiven but we do know and doing nothing would be unforgivable.

I will leave the preservation of websites and other electronic archiving efforts to others. My focus has a very narrow scope.

PS: "Scope creep" can kill the best of projects unless there are unlimited resources.
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Posted 08/12/2022   10:06 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add jleb1979 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:

PS: "Scope creep" can kill the best of projects unless there are unlimited resources.


Agreed. As my posts likely contributed to that problem, perhaps we look at just auction catalogs for the moment.

My point was that cherry-picking one (or ten) Schuyler Rumsey catalog(s) to preserve out of the hundred plus issued to date would involve curatorial effort that would begin to run up the tab on labor. Better in my view to simply preserve the entire run of said catalogs from the web. Make it automatic through web harvesting (which can be confined to sub-domains and format types btw) and then you can have a relatively low paid worker (a clerical level technician or at a university a student worker) monitor the crawls for QC....

To come extent this is already occurring with the print format and indeed in the David Straight Union Catalog (APRL et al) there are 190 hits on Schuyler Rumsey limited to auction catalog. There are duplicates in the results list, and the results list is not conducive to sorting by catalog number, which is missing from some bibliographic records anyway. But maybe between the several repositories there is a somewhat complete run preserved for the future.
BTW many libraries used to do this, in particular with rare book dealer and auction catalogs.

But preserving these in digital format (without rescanning if that can be avoided) would be highly desirable as a way to enhance and broaden access, and ultimately once Schuyler Rumsey closes in 10, 50 or 100 years. I did not state earlier, but I agree that an access fee would throw other technical and more weighty legal issues at the effort when our focus is, I believe, on non-commercial preservation and fair use by philatelic scholars and collectors .....

At some point catalogs such as these will be solely digital and the APRL unable to acquire and hold the analog print. Some probably are now already, as are powerpoint exhibitions or lectures.... So what is "the plan?" Who are the logical institutional players and how are they coordinating?

Interesting topic.
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Posted 08/12/2022   12:17 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
So here is a question from a tech luddite which would be me, myself and I.

If a catalog is harvested and contains only a link to a PDF which is really what we are after how is that PDF accessed from the harvester's website especially if the original website becomes defunct or goes dark etc.? Is the document accessed by the link also harvested and preserved in the process?

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Posted 08/12/2022   1:18 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add floortrader to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
The only example I have in my records of someone preserving a collection is what Roger and Bonnie of Rigastamps did.

They were handling the Richard Witt Cinderella stamp collection after Richard died . They scan his collection and made a website for others to enjoy and reference it , before they broke it up and sold it . Today that website is handled by their son .
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