November 29, 2010

Wellcome Library releases an ITT for a Workflow Tracking System

If you’ve been reading our blog regularly you’ll know about how the Library plans to transform itself into a groundbreaking digital resource, allowing access to much of the Library’s material in digital form.

As part of this program we’ve just released an ITT for a Workflow Tracking System. We’re looking for a system that will track and manage the processes around creating digital content – whether that content is digitised by us, digitised externally or born digital archival material- and automating that activity as much as possible.

Within the Library, staff who want to add content to our Digital Library will do so using the Workflow Tracking System. This means using the WTS to record that all digital content, e.g. digitised books or archival collections, has been created correctly, has had its descriptive metadata attached, is converted to JPEG2000 (or some other appropriate format) and is ingested into our digital object repository. The WTS will also create metadata encoding and transmission standard (METS) files. These will be used by the front end system to deliver digital content to our users.

Expressed simply, the WTS will play a critical central role in ensuring that all digital content that is destined for our Digital Library is created, quality controlled and ingested accurately and efficiently into the Library’s repository.

November 24, 2010

JPEG 2000 seminar - edited highlights #2

This blog post continues my summary of the JPEG 2000 for the Practitioner Seminar (the edited highlights of the first five presentations can be seen in a previous blog post).

Following Svein Arne Brygfjeld's discussion of the National Library of Norway's use of JPEG 2000, we had Saša Mutić, General Director of Geneza, speaking about the "Practical Usage of JP2 Files with Presentational Web Interface."Saša, based in Slovenia, gave an overview and demonstration of the delivery system MediaINFO that uses a JPEG 2000 image server. This system is soon to be used by the National Library of Norway to deliver their digitised images. Some interesting features include the ability to easily share content, and to create "Personal Library" working spaces. There is also a demonstration of the system on YouTube.

Johan van der Knijff, from the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (National Library of the Netherlands), spoke about "JPEG 2000 for Long-Term Preservation in Practice: problems, challenges and possible solutions." He started off with an overview of the KB's investigations and use of JPEG 2000 (which started in 2007) and their current mass digitisation programme which will see the digitisation of around 14m images. Johan highlighted a number of issues with JPEG 2000 that although fairly minor in nature, are issues that should be addressed by either fixing deficiencies in the standard (particularly around colour profile support), or by changing the way software developers implement the standard (making sure that compressed files do indeed meet the standard). He stressed the importance of a strong user community and knowledge sharing as key to solving the remaining issues with the JPEG 2000 format.

Gary Hodkinson, Managing Director of LuraTech Ltd., gave a presentation entitled "Delivering High-Resolution JPEG2000 Images and Documents over the Internet." He provided a quick background of the company itself, which is German based, but has seen the recent establishment of a UK subsidiary. LuraTech's core business is document conversion and compression, and they supply a JP2 image compression tool called LuraWave. He gave an introductory background to image compression and image formats in general, what the key challenges are around compression, and how JPEG 2000 meets those challenges. He also gave further details on LuraWave, and the LuraTech Image Content Server, which works with JP2 to provide delivery of images to end users.

As the final speaker of the day, Katty van Mele, from IntoPIX, gave an informative talk on "Pros and cons of JPEG 2000 for video archiving". She covered a wide range of moving image applications for JPEG 2000, in the cinema, broadcasting and cultural heritage world. JPEG 2000 is the only format currently in use for digital cinema, while broadcasters are still working toward agreeing a suitable long-term format (JPEG 2000 being a leading contender). Katty stressed the fact that massive amounts of material in moving image formats already in existence and continually being created makes long-term storage and preservation a very serious problem. JPEG 2000 is increasingly now seen as the solution to the storage problem, and a number of other problems as well, such as royalty payments currently required to use MPEG for example. IntoPIX provides solutions for converting JP2s, including hardware-based compressors that are orders of magnitude quicker than software-based compressors.

During the course of the day, delegates were asked to write questions down and post them on whiteboards to raise during the final session of the day: questions and answers, moderated by Ben Gilbert, Photographer at the Wellcome Library. Ben posed the questions to the audience, alternating between technical issues (such as "What is the difference between a tile and a precinct"), to more philosophical questions (such as "Is it really feasible to store master archive images as lossy compressed files?"). This stimulated a good amount of discussion, which is impossible to adequately capture in a blog post!

Many thanks go to William Kilbride of the DPC for putting all the presentations online.

JPEG 2000 seminar - edited highlights #1

JPEG 2000 for the Practitioner seminar attracted a full house of 80+ delegates on 16 November at the Wellcome Trust.

The aim of the seminar was to look at specific case studies of JPEG 2000 use, to explain technical issues that have an impact on practical implementation of the format, and explore the context of how and why organisations might choose to use JPEG 2000. Follow the day as it unwound at Twitter #jp2k10.

Delegates were welcomed by Simon Chaplin, Head of the Wellcome Library, who briefly summarized the context of the Wellcome's digital library ambitions. I (Christy Henshaw) gave a quick introduction to the JP2K-UK group, and the origins of the seminar as one of the main outcomes from the group discussions. What follows is an edited highlights version of the talks given on the day; the full presentations are available on the DPC website.

The first talk, "What did JPEG 2000 ever do for us?" was given by Simon Tanner, Director of King's Digital Consultancy Service. The fact of the matter, according to Simon, is that although JPEG 2000 is "cool and froody", and has a lot to offer in terms of functionality and intelligent format design, those who use it are doing so because it can save them money. The economic benefits can not be underestimated for large scale digitisation - even though storage is relatively cheap these days, the total cost of owning a million images is quite high. Storing master files as JPEG 2000s can save an institution over £100,000 per year in terms of ongoing storage costs.

Richard Clark, Managing Director of Elysium Ltd., gave an overview of the JPEG 2000 standard, "JPEG 2000 Standardisation: A Practical Viewpoint." As the UK head of delegation to the JPEG Committee, Richard has been involved with developing the standard since its inception. Richard ran through the key features and functionality that can be achieved with the JPEG 2000 format (and its many parts), and explained the rationale behind the standard. He quoted the original objective, which was to develop an "architecturally based standard" that would enable flexibility for a wide range of uses, and he demonstrated that this was, in fact achieved. Although JPEG 2000 has a lot to offer the cultural heritage industry, that industry has not been well represented on the standards committees.

The next hour was taken up with the "Profiles" session. Sean Martin, Head of Architecture and Development at the British Library, kicked off with a description of the JP2 profile (i.e. the specific parameter settings) to be used for the British Library's newspapers project. Key to point out here is that the British Library has opted for lossy compression for its archival masters, stating that "it is also desirable that the same master file support the needs for both long term archival and also access." I followed with a brief summary of the compression aspects of the Wellcome Library's profile (our JP2 profile is available online), and how we determine the right level of compression. Like the British Library, we use lossy compression for our archival masters, and will use the same file for providing access. Bedrich Vychodil presented the new JP2 profiles for the National Library of the Czech Republic that will soon come into force for a wide range of materials. In contrast to the British Library and the Wellcome, the Czech National Library will use a different, lossless, profile for their archival masters, and a lossy profile for their access files. Delegates were provided with a list of these parameter settings, as well as several others, available online.

Petr Zabicka spoke about "IIPImage and OldMapsOnline", a development project carried out by the Moravian Library in the Czech Republic that uses JPEG 2000 to display large images, in particular maps. The imaging server they have devised is based on IIPImage and uses the tiles encoded into the JPEG 2000 format to provide speedy access to portions of the image when zooming and panning. More uniquely, they have developed a georeferencing application that allows the user to match points on historic maps with those on Google maps, and to overlay - and correct - old maps using the Google maps API.

After a well-deserved lunch, delegates heard Svein Arne Brygfjeld from the National Library of Norway speak about "Implementing JP2K for Preserv..." (his title was abbreviated in order to fit a picture of a glacier on the slide, but I am led to believe the title ended with "..ation and access, experiences from the National Library of Norway". The glacier provides a key to the talking point of Svein Arne's presentation - extremes. Located in the Arctic Circle, at Mo i Rana, the NLN is carrying out mass digitisation of newspapers and other materials, and has recently decided to store their master files as JPEG 2000 lossless files. Digitisation is such a large part of what the NLN does, that around 30% of the workforce is involved in digitisation.

Stay tuned for more edited highlights covering the second half of the seminar...