background image
the initial capture stage. Each of Octavo's cameras
and scanning arrays is colour calibrated. Every book
is imaged along with a standard Macbeth Gertag
colour target. An ICC colour profile is embedded in
each of the archival files that are delivered to library
partners as well as to customers.
Given the dissemination of ICC colour standards
throughout the printing and reprographics industries,
it is now possible to anticipate that a file digitised in
2002 and printed out, say, in 2052 using yet-to-be-
developed reproduction technologies might, in fact,
bear close visual resemblance to the original.
Such a concept was unthinkable not too many
years ago, yet now seems closer to reality, as the
technological sophistication and understanding of
colour becomes a more prominent feature in con-
sumer products, digital cameras, software, and open
standards.
On its own Website, Octavo has explored visuali-
sation technologies through its `book viewer',
which permits one to browse easily through pages
of a digitised volume. Their effort, in this, has been
to provide easy navigation and quick-refresh images,
while not eliminating the possibility of scanning
thumbnail images or enlarged magnification of
detailed images.
The browsing is provided as a convenience,
though most users elect to purchase complete editi-
ons from the site whch are burned onto CD­ROM
media, and sent to them through the post. Down-
loading of some titles is also possible, although -
given the size of the finished files - this is not
always practical.
Octavo, then, seems to be slowly and methodically
putting together the building-blocks of what promi-
ses to become an important collection of rare and
precious volumes ­ volumes to which most people
will not otherwise have easy access. In the doing, it is
evolving a series of best-practices and management
solutions from which there is much to learn.
The fact that Octavo understands (and wishes to
understand better) the three-part aspect of digital
image databases
3
, coupled with the fact that they
are temperamentally attuned to the library and
museum community, makes them a unique and
interesting entrepreneurial enterprise: one that
combines the best of altruism with a healthy dose
of business grounding.
It also makes them an interesting potential part-
ner for those libraries, archives and museums who
possess rare and precious books, and who are con-
sidering outsourcing digital preservation activities
rather than dealing with all the complexities
themselves in-house.
O
ctavo's Web-based Digital Asset Management
System offers librarians and others involved
with the project fast and reliable access to cap-
tured images and project information.This secure
`extranet area' (which is identified as a URL provided
to the library) is populated with each imaging project,
allowing authorised team members to review a proof
of each image, and facilitates magnification to see
increased detail. In addition, team members can add
descriptions and annotations for each image, and
organise cataloguing data.
The Asset Management System is XML-based,
allowing custom mapping of descriptive data to the
central database. Using XML facilitates sharing data
with external systems. It can be used with images
captured with the ODIL, as well as with digital
assets imported from other sources.
Once digital content, including source image files,
annotations, translations, cataloguing information or
other metadata, is aggregated in the Asset Manage-
ment System, it becomes the starting point for a
wide variety of derivative products.
Octavo can facilitate preparation of content for a
variety of distribution methods, both online and off-
line, incorporating electronic commerce if required.
Online access can start with a simple Web gallery of
images or a collection of downloadable PDF files.
Great potential exists for academic, scholarly and
other collaborative work with the addition of tools
to create and share annotations, translations and com-
mentary, along with indexing, and searching capabili-
ties. Octavo is available to develop unique, customi-
sed solutions for analysing, exploring and sharing
content, and is currently engaged in such projects
with professors at the University of California at
Berkeley, who include Octavo titles as primary
resources for class reading requirements.
Digital content can be repurposed for a variety of
other products. A few examples are multimedia CD-
ROMs, video presentations, or printed facsimiles. If
there is a demand for such, Octavo has developed a
network of specialist consultants and firms who can
readily use the original images as components in the
development of such extended products.
A
n important area of research and experimen-
tation for Octavo is faithful colour calibration
and management. Colour controls begin at
32
DigiCULT
SHARING AND EXPLOITING DIGITAL CONTENT
TOWARDS THE DIGITAL FUTURE OF RARE
BOOKS AND MANUSCRIPTS
3
The three-part aspect
of digital image databases:
(1) Ingest or capture of
images, with all that en-
tails concerning protec-
tion, authenticity, and
faithfulness to the
original printed works.
(2) Digital Assets Manage-
ment, with it's complex
relationship of `parent'
images to their derivative
`children', the necessary
incorporation of metadata
and textual identifier.
(3) Output and publishing
potentialities, with specific
requirements for visualisa-
tion, colour management,
and navigation.