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Author: Julie L. Holcomb
Title: Anne R. Kenney and Oya Y. Rieger's Moving Theory into Practice
Publication info: Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library
November 2001

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Source: Anne R. Kenney and Oya Y. Rieger's Moving Theory into Practice
Julie L. Holcomb

vol. 4, no. 3, November 2001
Article Type: Book Review

Anne R. Kenney and Oya Y. Rieger's Moving Theory into Practice

Julie L. Holcomb

Kenney, Anne R. and Oya Y. Rieger. Moving Theory into Practice (Mountain View, CA: Research Libraries Group, 2000). $80.00.ISBN 0-9700225-0-6/ 189 pages.

Digital imaging projects in libraries and archives are now as ubiquitous as the books and documents traditionally associated with those institutions. Regardless of size, it is generally assumed by users that a given institution's materials are available on the World Wide Web. In my own repository (with a staff of one), potential digital imaging projects are at the top of my priority list competing for time and resources with other, traditional archival tasks like appraisal, arrangement and description, and preservation. Why are digital imaging projects given such high priority by so many libraries and archives? Kenney and Rieger correctly note that "cultural institutions are investing in digitization for two reasons: First, they remain convinced of the continuing value of such resources for learning, teaching, research, scholarship, documentation, and public accountability. Second, they recognize that changing user behavior may jeopardize these resources and their stewardship." (1)

Kenney and Rieger's book aims "to foster critical thinking in a technological realm and to provide librarians, archivists . . . and others working in cultural repositories with the means to move beyond accepted theoretical constructs to implementation strategies that reflect distinct institutional missions and capabilities." (2) Moving Theory into Practice is intended to serve as a "self-help reference for libraries and archives that choose to . . . convert cultural assets to digital form." (2) The book is arranged into nine chapters moving from concepts like selection and benchmarking to quality control to program design and management. Despite being written by seven authors, the book maintains a uniformly conversational narrative. Sidebars underscore and further illustrate the main narrative. The authors emphasize that they are not laying out guidelines or best practices for librarians and archivists to follow literally, but rather providing the guidance necessary to create guidelines based on their institution's mission, resources, technical infrastructure, and user requirements and capabilities.

In Chapter 2 Paula de Stefano focuses on the selection of materials for digital conversion. As the author correctly notes, the success or failure of a project depends heavily upon the choices made in the selection process. Because selection methodologies will vary from institution to institution, de Stefano examines the issues that determine the selection of materials for digitization. Copyright is crucial as librarians and archivists must understand the steps necessary to publish materials for which their institution does not own copyright. De Stefano then examines three selection methodologies: selection to enhance access, selection based on content, and selection for preservation. The main narrative is further developed with multiple sidebars documenting how other institutions have worked through the selection process.

Kenney and Rieger's book is a good starting point for librarians, archivists, and others interested in digital imaging projects. Moving Theory into Practice is well written and thoroughly researched; however, the sheer quantity of information can be almost overwhelming to those professionals unfamiliar with digital technology. While not a technical manual for digital projects, much of the material assumes a certain knowledge level. Newcomers to digital technology and digital imaging projects would do well to read Kenney and Rieger's book early on, however, because of the wealth of information and additional resources available in their book.

Julie Holcomb