DIGITAL LIBRARY MILADINOVCI BROTHERS - SKOPJE
The digitization of library collection is part of the contemporary practice that enables the collections to be preserved, archived, presented and easily accessible to the users online as part of a digital library. This contemporary practice has been implemented for 14 years by the City Library "Brothers Miladinovci" Skopje. On this occasion we talked with the team of the Digital Library: Gordana Andreeva, Ivona Dzamtovska Jankulovska and Andrijana Apostolovska.
When did you start with the activities of the Digital Library and how is this project developing?
GA: The digitization process of part of the library collection started in 2007 intending to digitize old and rare books to make them more accessible to the users. The initiative was developed with the library's funds, and since 2015 it starts to receive annual support from the City of Skopje. This support enabled us to obtain more adequate equipment for scanning, photographing, archiving and systematization of the digital collection, and thus gradual development of the digital library. Since last year, the library has been using OMEKA software for digital processing, preparation and presentation part of the library collection on the digital platform, as well as for cooperation and connection with other digital libraries.
How do you create digital contents and in which formats are accessible to the users? What kind of equipment and software are needed to create and present digital contents?
GA: The creation of digital contents depends primarily on meeting the standards of IFLA (The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) in terms of resolution, format and storage. Due to the different approach to digitization and the use of different IT tools at the start of the process and now, the digital collection of the library is partly done in searchable PDF format and partly in JPG format with a scrolling view. We started with OCR (Optical Character Recognition) digitization, which means scanning and creating digital materials in searchable PDF format with optical character recognition that enables keywords search. OCR practically transfers text to WORD in the Macedonian language. Yet, when we started using OCR our language was not licensed by Microsoft, so the software did not recognize some of the letters, which we had to correct manually. Now, this system is no longer compatible with the advanced usage needs of the digital literature, including, browsing, scrolling on mobile phones etc. Thus, we are currently using other IT tools that enable digital image recording (JPG format), which is not searchable but has a scrolling view option. We add to this format a specific metadata, such as the name of the author and the publisher, the type of literature, the year of publishing, etc. So, the former digital editions were in searchable PDF, and the latest in JPG format with scrolling view, complemented with metadata and tags. Due to the current type of digitization, we had to rescan part of the digital collection of old books, which has been further extended with newspapers and photographs.
The current technology requires advanced software that will enable OCR digitization. We are currently unable to provide this technology because of their high cost. Due to the crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Skopje was not able to support us in this period, but it remains as a plan to be acquired in future.
Did you follow training for creation and presentation of digital collections?
GA: We have attended training in (Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia) led by professionals in the field of librarianship, museology and archiving, related to the systematization of digital materials.
What is the content of the digital library and how is it systematized and presented? What is the treatment of copyrights in the digital library?
IDZJ: Initially, we want to present something rare and not so easily accessible for everyone to see, to keep the attention of the users. However, we need to make a good selection of digital content. In principle, we are facing the issue of copyrights. Some books are subject to copyrights for which we need contract approval if we want to publish them digitally.
GA: We primarily digitized part of the library collection, which was done in collaboration with the periodicals department and the department of Skopje native-born authors (editions by authors and writers born in Skopje, but also by those who were not born in Skopje but were writing about the city). I am currently scanning the newspaper "Vardar", which was published before the Second World War. The newspaper was issued once a week in the Serbian language, in Skopje, at that time the Vardar Banovina. Andriana is scanning the newspaper "Osten" for which we got permission from the owner who holds the license for this newspaper since it was published in the late '60s and early '70s from the last century. The digital library also contains other interesting and rarely presented materials, some of them taken from private archives, other libraries, museums and similar institutions.
IDZJ: Currently only part of the digital collection is available in the digital library. The collection is much larger, but part of it cannot be presented since it is not compatible with the current softer that we use. For example, we have collections of e-books editions that are not part of the digital library. In the past, part of the digital collection was regularly recorded on CD and in that format was available to users who could rent them from the library.
AA: For example, we have an e-book on CD from 2006, titled "Macedonian Treasure" that contains works from Cepenkov, Pejcinovich, Prlichev, Dzinot; audiobooks for blind and visually impaired people. Another CD from 2012 contains an edition of Macedonian authors who won the literary award "Brothers Miladinovski" at the "Struga Poetry Evenings" festival, and also the edition of winners of the "Racin Award" in 2013 and 2014. Concerning copyrights, when we are digitalising entire editions with books of awarded authors, such as the mentioned "Brothers Miladinovski" and the "Racin Award we had to obtain the rights to publish the entire edition as group rights given as group consent.
What is the digital content that the library has from Slavko Janevski?
IDZJ: The digital library has the original manuscripts from the scenarios for the film "Knot" by Slavko Janevski. His daughter Jana Janevska gave us the rights to publish them as part of our digital collection. We took the original manuscripts from the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, where they are preserved, and returned them after digitalization. The library also has some personal photos from Janevski. We would like in the future to make an exhibition in the library building with objects that were used or were belonging to Janevski, such as his typewriter, and other personal items.
Do you have audio content for blind and persons with visual impairments?
AA: The library has audiobooks for the blind and persons with visual impairments, which were recorded by local actors. Still, these audio archives are not presented in the digital library, because the current software cannot support audio files.
Can you name some of the digital content related to Skopje that can be interesting for the users?
AA: We have the first editions of some books, as well as materials that present the life and culture of living in the city, such as the digital collection of postcards, photographs and maps with periodicals and the history of the city.
GA: Our site is more visited by researchers because our initial function as a city library is preservation. We are not a commercial organization to focus on something popular, our main task is protection and then presentation, and here the most important are the periodicals. Users, for example, are looking for editions of the newspaper "Nova Makedonija". We have this newspaper as part of our collection, yet due to the copyrights, which are not granted to the library by the owner of the license, we can digitize and present only a certain percentage of its content. For this reason, only a prototype edition of the first issue from October 29, 1944, with a total of eight pages, can be seen on the digital platform. An interesting fact is that users are free to read the published newspaper editions in the library premises, but they can not be digitized and published online, without a granted permission. Similarly, we can publish only a few pages from the first edition of the newspaper "Vecer" from 1956. We can publish specific articles from the newspapers, for example, the article on the city award “13th of November” from 1975, but not the entire newspaper edition.
What is in preparation and will be published in the digital library?
IDZJ: We are preparing the first published edition of the Macedonian Folk Tales from 1945, 10 editions of the newspaper "Vardar", old and rare books. Efforts are being made to provide some rare and authentic materials from all native authors.
The Digitalization Department would also like to publish some printed archives from Skopje's nightlife from 50 years ago, such as the first disco entry passes, which may be interesting content for future publications.
On behalf of the SKOPJE 2028 team, the conversation was led by Violeta Kachakova in April 2020. The photo documentation was made by Sonja Stavrova.