Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sports Temples of Boston

Sports Temples of Boston is a digital library of images of ballparks, arenas, and stadiums in Boston from 1872 to 1972. Images cover 15 of these “temples” ranging from the famous (Fenway Park) to some no longer in existence (Charles River Speedway). Also included are sports arenas of area Universities, such as BU’s Nickerson Field and Harvard Stadium. The project was developed by the Boston Public Library, with additional images provided by a variety of institutions, including local historical societies and state agencies.

For each of the 15 sports facilities, a brief history is given, discussing the building of the facility, the events held there, and its current state. Searching can be conducted by facility, sport, other event, image topic, date range, and original media. While the collection does provide some background information on the facilities and extensive cataloguing of each image, what it does best (and perhaps this is the goal) is leave the user wanting more. For instance, how was a ski jump competition held in the Boston Garden (a basketball and hockey stadium)? Were the chariot races at the Charles River Speedway just for fun or a serious sporting event? What in the world is the New England Roller Polo Championship?

This site also provides some good examples for those studying digitization projects. The site’s “Rights” section contains a well-worded disclosure on the copyright status of the images. One passage is of particular interest and may serve as a guide for those planning a digitization program:

The nature of historical archival collections means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine. Whenever possible, information has been provided about copyright owners and other restrictions in the "Rights" field of each image’s metadata. This information is provided as a service to help users determine the appropriate use of an item, but that determination ultimately rests with the patron.

Additionally, the site explains the criteria used in selecting images for inclusion in the collection. These include the geographic location of the facility, its accessibility to the public, and additional criteria specific to the actual image.


Glass Plate Images

Reading the Vermont Historical Society newsletter this month pointed me to a project to digitize a collection of glass plate negatives created by the Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Company in the first half of the 20th century and used to create postcards for local New England towns and businesses. This collection has fallen under the ownership of the Rockport (Maine) Institute for Photographic Education. Local historical societies are particularly interested in the nearly 30,000 images because the printed cards, known as "real photo" cards can be found in many of their own collections as well as in the holdings of colleges and universities in the northeast.

Currently, the website in still under development and few of the images are available for viewing. There is a brochure posted online that details the project and shows a few of the photos from the collection. My interest in this particular site was that is seems to occupy a sort of gray area in the digital collection field. The organization that is scanning these negatives appears to have an educational mission, as opposed to strictly commercial. The first exhibition of prints created using the digital process is scheduled to be held at the public library in Belfast, Maine this spring so there is also a tie to the library world. Also the archivist for the project is scheduled to speak at the Vermont History Expo in June. The goal of the project is to make the images available to the general public. However, the project is being funded through income generated from print sales and licensing, so there is a definite commercial feel to the endeavor (as evidenced in the URL as well!). It will be interesting to see how the website develops; what portion of the collection will be available for viewing online, how the collection is organized, whether or not there is any historical information included with the images. It's not unusual for museums to generate income from reproductions of their holdings, yet we generally don't consider them to be commercial enterprises. This particular digitization project raises some questions about what category it falls into - educational? commercial? archival? Jane

Turning the Pages

The British Library site suggests energy and activity. The homepage is well-organized, efficient and uncluttered directing users to What’s New, Go To, Site Search and Quick Links headings.

The focus of this blog is on Turning the Pages which is part of the Online Gallery I found Turning the Pages absolutely engaging and possibly one of the best sites I’ve investigated during the semester. It’s been suggested to me that video and computer games use similar technology, but since I’ve never done either I was pleasantly surprised by it.

Turning the Pages is a digital collection made up of fifteen books/manuscripts that users can actually page through. Some of the current collection include: Jane Austen’s early works, the Diamond Sutra, sketches by Leonardo daVinci, Mozart’s Musical Diary, and the Original Alice. Turning the Pages uses touch-screen technology and interactive animation. Users can zoom in on the high-quality digitized images while reading or listening to information that explains each page. Some features are specific to the individual manuscripts. For example in the Leonardo daVinci notebook there is a button that turns the text around so users can read the 'mirror' handwriting. When viewing the Diamond Sutra, a scroll, users actually click, drag and hold the mouse to move the scroll backwards or forward. A slider at the bottom of the screen allows users to move quickly backwards and forwards through the book. In the Original Alice book you have the option of enlarging the hand written text enough so that it can actually be read. Turning the Pages uses a shockwave plug-in that can be downloaded for free on the site and some of the collections are available without shockwave.

Although Turning the Pages was originally developed by and for the British Library it is now available as a service for institutions around the world. The site reminds potential customers of the many advantages to be realized by converting books and manuscripts to Turning the Pages technology and discusses “increasing traffic to websites, attracting visitors, increasing access to collections while keeping originals safe under glass, as well as informing and entertaining audiences”.

If you have the time you won’t be disappointed by a visit to this site. Enjoy!

International Children's Digital Library

The International Children's Digital Library (ICDL) is the coolest. It offers a ton of children's books full text with some really intricate searching capabilities that I think many children would not know how to use (oh well). One innovative search capability involves choosing the book cover color, what is most interesting about the idea is that it is geared toward the way children search for books. They even have color coded buttons it offer the most graphic interface I think possible.

One problem that I see with the site is its huge size and quite complicated search interface. When you click to read the book it gives you a very small size to begin with. In order to change the size you have to scroll up and down (at least on my computer). This can be hard to do and it is possible to not even notice the top hand navigation.

Maybe if they made the bar accessible from both the top and the bottom of the screen this problem would be cleared up. Overall, this is a great resource for teachers and librarians alike. I don't know it anyubody has already mentioned it.

The NSDL: What is a digital library anyway?!

I was looking at the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) and I couldn't help but go back to the beginning and wonder...What is a digital library anyway? After looking at this site I starting thinking that defining a DL has alot to do with context. While my initial impression of the NSDL was that it is not a digital library. After pondering the idea I decided that my initial definition of the term "DL," with its connection to the creation of content didn't necessarily hold true.

I was connecting the two (content and its creation) when really there seems to be no need to do so. Each resource that is available on the site was not created by the folks at the NSDL (as far as I could tell). It was merely a fancy directory. Similar to the Librarians' Internet Index (LII) but with a different set of criteria for inclusion. this a DL or a "meta-DL?"

So this leads me to see the problem of defining "DL" as one of granularity. At what level should these web sites be analyzed? Context is the answer, its almost how the creators of these resources market themselves that makes a DL a DL...and hey, if you want to sell your website as a DL when you really are directory of DLs that is fine. It does lead to confusion but oh well. Am I being fatalistic?

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Visible Proofs: Forensic Views of the Body

Visible Proofs is one part of an awesome collection of digital resources provided by the National Library of Medicine. As described on the site:

Visible Proofs is about the history of forensic medicine. Over the
centuries, physicians, surgeons, and other professionals have struggled to develop scientific methods that translate views of bodies and body parts into "visible proofs" that can persuade judges, juries, and the public.

The site is very easy to navigate. Links are provided to:

These pages provide resources in a variety of formats. Everything from autopsy photos, radio interviews, and video programs is available here.

CSI fans will love this site: others should be cautioned - images from actual autopies may be disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.

The Indiana University Digital Library Program

Working in an academic library, I am interested in what roles libraries are playing in the digitization efforts across the whole university or how libraries are providing university-wide support and consultation in digitization.

Indiana University Digital Library Program (DLP) is one such example. It is a collaborative program of the Indiana University Libraries, the Office of the Vice President for Information Technology, and the university research faculty. DLP offers services such as training, consultation, and technical assistance. By the way, the director of the DLP Administrative Team is Kristine Brancolini, who is the author of our reading for Week 4, "Selecting research collections for digitization: Applying the Harvard model" (Library Trends, 48(4), 783-98).

DLP includes two sub-units: the Digital Media and Imaging Center (DMIC) and the Library Electronic Text Resource Service (LETRS). DMIC conducts digitization process and provides consultation services to university departments and individuals regarding digitization questions. LETRS provides support and consultation for electronic text components.

Since the DLP site is a point of digitization services, it includes a variety of resources, guidelines, and tools for digitization project. At "Technical Documentation, Guidelines and Procedures" section, you can find "real examples" of project guidelines, successful grant proposals, RFPs (request for proposals), and planning documents. Those documents are very helpful for those who are learning about or planning to start digitization projects. They give us a clear picture of how each project is actually conducted and provide detailed information about the project.

Friday, April 28, 2006

National Fine Art Education Digital Collection

"Making Faces" by Tom Hallifax

The motto for this collection is to "celebrate the history and achievement of the artist practioner in UK art education." The site contains 200 works (and their corresponding descriptions) of artists that have made contributions to the creation and teaching of art. Work spans from the 19th century to today. The content is drawn from the 10 art schools and the Council for National Academic Awards Collection

The site allows you to search by keyword. You can also browse by the artist’s name, the locale or time period. The site also provides an image gallery where users can click on thumbnails of the artwork. The thumbnails contain the work’s title, the author’s name and the year. Once you click on a piece, you are taken to a site that provides extensive detail of the work in particular and the ability to learn more about the artist. It also provides thumbnails of other works by the same artist if they are contained in the collection.

The sites states that it is a pilot project with the intent that a full-scale model will be launched at some point depending on the feedback the site receives. The site was launched in June 2003 so it’s unclear if the project will progress any further at this point. There is no area on the site that gives any updates on the progress of the project. The newest works on the site are dated 2002.

It is also unclear from the site when it was last updated. In its "history and context" section, the project team states that the space will also contain essays, interviews and critiques as the collection grows and expands. That has yet to happen.

I like the concept of creating an online art gallery that encompasses work from major institutions. I think it could be an asset to scholars, artists and the general public. The only issue I have with this site is that I don’t know if the project is dead or continues.


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland

An art historian friend of mine found out about this assignment and passed along one of her favorite digital collections. The content of the collection appealed to me a lot, and even though I just posted about one digital collection, I felt like posting about this one as well.

Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland
A searchable, digital archive of British and Irish Romanesque stone sculpture supported by the Arts & Humanities Research Council.

The project exists to capture images of all surviving Romanesque sculpture in Britain and Ireland.

First, I love the subject, second they provide some excellent information about the databases and standards that make the digital collection possible. Standards

Not only do they include images and context for those images, they also provide location information, that will help this collection reach into the real world, guiding interested visitors to the physical artifacts. The included citations, and the glossaries, are very helpful as well. The images date from as far back as 1945, and on some of the entries show images from then and more recent images as well, giving an idea of the decaying state of the artifacts.

The feature I like the best is the “current status” page. It has a map showing what areas have been researched, and how many sites have been recorded. It helps communicate that this is an ongoing project without “under construction” banners.

A Woman Ahead of Her Time

Most of us would consider ourselves lucky if we became recognized in even one chosen area – maybe because of our musical talent. Others excel in the medical professions or in the business world - some folks are just natural sales people.

Now imagine all those wonderful attributes rolled into one extraordinary person.

Now comprehend that this person is a woman – a widowed woman – from a sleepy little town in Eastern North Carolina, where widowed women just didn’t achieve much. They were supposed to quietly live out their lives in sedate seclusion.

Say hello to “Mrs. Joe Person - Music and Medicine Maker” immortalized at Alice Person: Good Medicine and Good Music at

As you delve more deeply into the exhibit, you’ll come to wonder just how much medicine was really involved in "Mrs. Joe Person's Remedy” known by many as "The great spring tonic." This tonic was an old Indian remedy, containing all organic materials of many kinds of roots and wild plants, bark and herbs, with a small amount of grain alcohol added as a preservative.

But Mrs. Person was an energetic sales force who made a small fortune from her concoction, and the exhibit is filled with glowing testimonials from her patients along with the advertisements that ran in newspapers of the day.

However, Mrs. Person lives today as one of the great pianist of her time. She taught herself to play by ear, and was soon composing her own arrangements of “Southern Airs”. Because she never learned to read or write musical notation, she relied upon a transcriber from Richmond, Virginia to record her pieces note-by-note. A musical professor from East Carolina University has recorded those transcriptions, and by clicking on the song title, you can hear for yourself just a what a marvelous musician she really was.

As I’ve explored the various digital projects throughout the semester, I’ve been disappointed that more of them didn’t incorporate sound as part of the exhibit. It is fitting then, that my last contribution to this blog will be one exhibit that shows just how much can be added to a digital project when sound is interjected.

David W. Martin

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Doughboys and Camp Greene, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina

Common situations: Ten years ago, records of interest to genealogists were available primarily in microfilm format.

Common solutions: As a nationally publicized genealogy project, public libraries across the country organized cadres of volunteers to decipher handwriting on microfilmed documents, such as draft registration forms and cemetery records, and then type the information into databases.

A typical evolution: The Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County (PLCMC) matured from creating electronic records to the level of creating digitization projects within a formal digitization program.

A typical omission: The Doughboys and Camp Greene do not have an easy-to-locate link on the PLCMC's "Charlotte-Mecklenburg Story" main portal page, whereas at one time the Doughboys were front and center in prominence. I found this change of grade to be of interest to “long tail” niche followers. Does a niche project eventually lose its local appeal, and in the process of reassessing local appeal, do locals inadvertently lose the patronage of the geographically wider audience? Have we discovered a clue on how to be a searcher of niches or a hint to our Web site designers.

The Camp Greene project, as the draft card project informally was called, has continued to be improved, maintained, and updated. Today the site includes not only searchable draft records but also photos, a diary, i.e., items pertaining to anyone who “served in the military, registered for the draft or performed other patriotic duties in WWI Mecklenburg County.”

The material has international significance as explained in The Echo of the Bugle Call, an e-book available online through a link from the project site. However, globally located users and remote accessing researchers have to reframe their thinking to find this niche. Think like a Charlottean at and click, logically in the creator's physical world, “Local Research.”

Oriental Rug Review

OK, so I decided to start a collection of Baluch rugs from the boarder region of Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. I picked these rugs because I thought they were attractive, and they were relatively inexpensive. As with all the things I collect, I try to learn as much about them as possible. Using the internet as a resource for rug information, however, seemed to be a bit dicey. Almost every site I visited was informational but was also trying to sell you rugs. To me, this is a big red flag in terms of reliability.

I wish I could say that the Oriental Rug Review is some unbiased beacon in this commercial landscape, but this site also belongs to a rug dealer. None the less, I feel a little better about this site because the dealer is not trying to sell the rugs in the articles, the articles aren’t by the dealer but by other experts, and the periodical which is beginning to be archived here existed in print before its adventures online.

So what is it? This site is an attempt to digitize many of the articles from the periodical the Oriental Rug Review, which is no longer in production. The articles appear to be scanned using some type of OCR technology as there are often spacing and minor spelling errors. It is also possible that the text is being entered by hand. The text is accompanied by the illustrations which I presume were originally included in the periodical, scanned at varying degrees of quality from the very good to the blocky and ill-colored. The issues are presented in chronological order with tables of contents linking to some of the articles. Most of the articles are not online, and though it is billed as an ongoing project, I haven’t seen much new content for a while. The inclusion of a small amount of content may also be an effort to entice readers to purchase back issues of the publication. There are obviously plans to index the publications as indicated by the key words at the bottom of the pages, but links have not yet been created.

So what’s so great about it? From the searching I have done, this digital archive-in-progress has had the best available information on the rugs I am interested in. If the entire run of journals is ever digitized and if the index is ever completed I would say that this will be an excellent resource for a rug collector in search of information. The quality of the digitized text and images leaves something to be desired, but this, like the License Plate Museum project I reviewed previously, is a semi-amateur affair. I guess the question is whether or not a slowly produced, amateur production is better than nothing at all, and I vote for the former.


The Complete Writings and Pictures of Dante Gabriel Rossetti

A digital collection created for to facilitate the study of Dante Gabriel Rossetti by providing students and scholars access to the complete body of DGR’s writings and paintings. This collection presents not only digital versions of the archive, but also includes extensive contextual notations from between 1848 – 1920 with additional related material from as early as the 14th century. The list of contributors is impressive and, with the exception of the private collectors, there are links to most of them.

In the archive related resources section there are some excellent essays that would be of relevance to anyone working on digitization projects, some by the Rossetti Archive and IATH staff, and a few by other scholars. I only had time to scan a few of them, but they seem to be well written and worth reading – maybe after the end of the semester I’ll have time to go in and delve a little deeper.

The Archive
The Archive itself is amazing, covering everything from pictures to prose, translations to scans of the originals, books by and about Rossetti. The scans of the original items are amazing, but the real gold here is the wealth of contextual data. Scholarly commentary, bibliographic information, translations, and contextual links combine with the images to deliver a complete digital package.

The search tool used by the collection more than the cherry on top of the Sunday, adding a great deal of functionality to a site of exhaustive completeness, it is necessary.. The way the rest of the site is put together has titles imbedded in text, without a catalog of links for each section. The objects in the archive are “coded for full search and analysis” and the files are in XML so the search tools are powerful.

American Memory

The American Memory Digital project from the Library of Congress is a collection of "written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience." As the description shows, this project is HUGE. But it is skillfully and artfully done. Of course, the Library of Congress has the budget and the means to implement and maintain a digital project of this magnitude, so you cannot fault other organizations who simply have to "make do" with the resources at their disposal. But if ever there was a great example from which to guide your own digital project, this might be it for me.

Not only is the website very browseable, it is also intuitive. The way the Library has decided to present the collection in a logical way has made the collection easy to navigate or go directly to something specific. Granted, under normal circumstances, a collection of this variety and breadth would be the digital librarian's worst nightmare: printed document, sound recordings, AND moving images? Problems like how to organize, how to tag each particular category, and how to make the whole thing easily searchable are enough to give me a headache just thinking about it, now that I know all the details that go into digital projects.

Great things about this project: It is very clear and easy to use for a patron (it even has that "trail of breadcrumbs" that has been a popular topic of discussion in our class) and obviously the Library had a pretty sizeable budget for the project. It is very well done.

Not so great things about this project: I can only imagine the workforce and hours that need to go into maintaining this project. Many, many people were/are involved in this project and communication among them is key. Good management is a must for a project of this magnitude.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Kicking Culture: Downtown NY Arts Scene

The NYU digital collection “Kicking Culture: Fragments from the Downtown Scene, 1975-Present” is a fascinating overview of the work of New York, NY artists of the past 30 years. NYU utilizes Flash to draw users into the work: a box on the upper left of the screen has a revolving set of intriguing, and sometimes shocking, images. The collection is broken up into several categories: Influences, Soho, East Village, Anthologies, and Today. The layout is a bit awkward, simply for the fact that all the introduction text on each page is confined to a narrow vertical column that can be difficult to read. The visual images themselves are crisp and in full color, and pique the interest of users by their radical approach to social criticism. One more drawback, however, is the inabililty of users to zoom in on the images – only one size is viewable. As a result, some text in the images cannot be read, and detail is lost. Also, the collection boasts the inclusion of magazines, though only the cover of (usually) one issue per magazine is included. The collection seeks to give users a broad overview of the artists and work in downtown NY who created a unique and radical culture, and in this it is successful. However, users expecting a deep collection of digitized images will be disappointed.

CalPhotos: California Digital Photo Collection

As spring flowers begin to blossom, trees and shrubs begin to bloom, fungi spring up across your lawn, and furry or feathered creatures romp in the sun, you may find yourself in need of some help identifying a species. Here is where CalPhotos could come in handy.

This site allows searching of over 109,056 images of plants, animals, fossils, people, and landscapes. Broad topics can be browsed using the links for Plants, Fungi, Animals, People & Culture, or Landscapes & Habitats. If you want to be more specific, a detailed search interface can help you drill down to the exact item you're looking for.

While this site is hosted by UC Berkeley and contains a bias towards images from California, other states are included as well. Using the limit by state, I was able to find seven photographs specifically dealing with Vermont. This compares to over 60,000 photographs covering California.

One of the things I really liked about this site was the "About CalPhotos" and "Using the Photos" links. About CalPhotos gives the user detailed information on what the cite contains and how information can easily be accessed. Using the Photos defines what users can do and not do with the material from this site, including Copyright and Fair Use restrictions.

This time of the year, it is fun to be able to identify all the new plant life that is transforming the brown landscape into a rainbow of color. CalPhotos isn't a bad place to start looking for identification information or gardening ideas.


Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle is a project of the Brooklyn (N.Y.) Public Library, which digitized thousands of pages of the newspaper beginning with the years 1841-1902. A bit difficult to navigate but if you have the patience it gives the viewer an interesting glimpse into a bygone era. Of note: the advertisements, with their ‘penny’ goods, and articles with such titles as, “Arrangements for President Lincoln’s Funeral.” Subject headings include: African American History, Civil War, Crime, Immigrant History, Social Concerns, Sports, and Women’s Suffrage to name a few. One nice feature is the date search which allows you to access the paper on a particular date. Navigation through the site is cumbersome however.

The collection is described as Phase One in the “About the Project” section of the Web site. It does not however, elaborate on what subsequent phases might entail. The project appears to be a couple years old now, and I wonder what future plans for the project might be.

United States Digital Map Library

Part of the USGen Web Project. The USGenWeb Digital Library (USGenWeb Archives TM) was developed to present actual transcriptions of public domain records on the Internet. There are several other digital collections available through the USGen Web Project

This facet of the USGenWeb Archives Project is an all-volunteer effort created to provide free access to a nation of maps. Genealogists are the primary target group, but online access is available to everyone. As a volunteer effort they allow outsiders to contribute maps, and provide copyright guidelines and a summary of under what terms they will accept submissions.

This is an excellent collection of maps and is obviously still growing. What I find appealing are their submissions policy, and their use policy. Anyone can contribute, and
they allow for other parties to use their maps in non-commercial endeavors. Sadly I couldn’t find any maps of Oklahoma (my home state) under the Indian Land Concessions or State and County Maps. I will have to find some appropriate maps when I get back in Oklahoma, because this would be a fun project to participate in.

Pop-up and Moveable Books Collection

I love this project! My professor introduced us to this collection from the University of North Texas where he used to work. The collection itself it magnificent, with wonderful items of moveable, three-dimensional, and "pop-up" variety, but the presentation of the collection is visually interesting as well.

What the University has chosen to do is to display the collection as best they can in a two-dimensional, digital environment: by showing the pieces as they move.
red riding hood pop-upfinnie3
The result is a fun, interactive, and visually appealing digital representation. The first page ties in well with the theme that the university created for their digital project. It is an open book, with an illustrated bookmark doubling as a menu guide. The collection is explained in the introduction, and links to sections categorized by famous names and publishers in moveable books. If you know who you're looking for, searching is easy, but for someone like me, who is just casually browsing the experience was much more rewarding. Like many of you probably do, I remember loving pop-up books as a child. The intricacy of the mechanisms, the gorgeous illustrations, and the "hands-on" feel of moveable books were fascinating. When I looked through this collection, that same feeling of wonder came back to me. As a remote patron of the collection, I could still enjoy the experience of looking at a three-dimensional book. Obviously, the experience is much more real in person, but this is a great substitute.

UNT has done a great job with digitizing this collection. They even added a fun feature in which you can dress one of the digitized paper-dolls with clothes! "try it" It took me back. I think that if digital collections are meant to involve even the most remote patron in the experience of a collection, UNT has succeeded with this project. They have shown how simple graphics, interactive features, and video clips can go so far in showcasing a collection as interesting as this one through a digital medium.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


This site advertises itself as “A fully searchable online edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing accounts of over 100,000 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court.” It therefore offers a tremendous canon of information for both the serious researcher and the curious visitor. Helpful context (including narrative, images and external links courtesy of reliable sources like the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the University of Hertfordshire) is woven around the content, offering explanations of the historical background, glossaries and a thematically organized bibliography. Search functionality is excellent and enables collocation of related documents from quite different sources, such as proceedings, depositions, petitions and bookplates from varying academic and cultural institutions. Moreover, beyond the transcribed and searchable content, it also offers 60,000 digital images of the original text, including such aspects as advertising.

For those overwhelmed with the sheer volume of content and complexity of search functionality , the homepage offers a varying ‘On this day in 1726’ type link as a taster of the resources available, and also includes a summary of search terms associated with them, which works as a straightforward and enjoyable tutorial in content and navigability. Moreover, the left hand menu offers a comprehensive site map and a schools section, which links to a section which builds on the English National Curriculum for History, ICT, Literacy and English, with a valuable range of resources for teachers and students, including a timeline, student tasks, great images and primary sources (all with pop-up metadata) from cultural institutions such as the Museum of London and universities like Sheffield. A 'Copyright Information and Citation guide' also deals with issues of copyright and reproduction, encouraging and training users to use the resources within legal boundaries. The high quality and embeddedness of these resources in the national educational standards makes for an information asset which will likely foster a devoted and active following among teachers and pushes beyond mere content to the provision of content which can be USED rather than just visited.

Along with disseminating information, the site also solicits feedback, providing a link on every page of the site, inviting suggestions, corrections and requests, and clearly demonstrating a willingness to evolve and remain relevant. There is even a request that those using the site for research or teaching report back with an overview of how and why it was used (see the Research Users Page as an example). Links to information about the first online symposium suggests a marketing strategy to harness academics and academic interest via social networking as discussed in this week’s class question.

The ‘About this project’ section also provides a wealth of information for potential digital librarians and potential projects about the process of digitization, from funding to rekeying text, markup and search engine selection – definitely worth exploring while thinking about the final project! The HEDS Digitization Service link on the homepage is also worth exploring. This is a site without gimmicks, flashy presentation or incentives, but the trump card is its ability to attract users, engage them in activity and encourage them to share ideas, strategies and outcomes for both academic gain and site evolution.

"Digital Bridges: Bridges of the Nineteenth Century: A Twenty-First Century Book Collection"

"Digital Bridges: Bridges of the Nineteenth Century: A Twenty-First Century Book Collection" is a Web site created by Lehigh University Libraries' Special Collections staff to improve access to their somewhat fragile collection of thirty items of nineteenth century American bridges engineering and design manuals and documents.

Overall the site design is clean, essential, and uncluttered. It's reflective of the genre, character, and styles of engineering materials featured. The home page layout is visually reminiscent of a printed book’s cover design. Rather creatively, the individual scanned items are fully searchable to imitate browsing a book. The site does act just like a twenty-first century textbook as the creators intended.

Don’t be fooled by the minimalist design of the pages into thinking that this site lacks content. A good way to demonstrate how much content is on this site is to Click on the "Search Collection" tab. Use the search engine’s default settings and type "Niagara Falls" into the search engine dialogue box.

For those interested in historic bridge design, the site is a superb source of primary documents and an enjoyable site to use. However, I’m mentioning "Digital Bridges" here because the writers of the information under the "Project Notes" tab (see the paragraphs Site Content, Project Background, Site Design and Development, Server Technical Information, Ongoing Work)provide an excellent example of how to write concise, useful, and informative documentation of the project’s funding sources and technical aspects that is of interest to project managers.

The Canadian County Atlas Digital Project

McGill University in Montreal, Canada has a digital project from their Rare Books and Special Collections Division. The project focuses on the University's collection of representational atlases--they resemble pamphlets or almanacks--showing the history of canada's property divisions. The digital collection is very minimal, which is a good thing in this case, particularly since there were only about ten atlases comprising the collection. They are searchable by either People or Maps. I tried browsing using both methods, and found the latter to be much more interesting, since I could pinpoint a specific location and discover who owned that property at what time. The former I assume would be useful for geological searches.

The website is clear to attribute credit to its sources, and shows digitized photographs (of very good quality) of the covers of each atlas. The maps are searchable by County, Township, and Town and the people are searchable by Last Name, Birthplace, and Occupation. The maps show great detail, and zooming to very close range still maintains the clarity of the pictures. This project might be limited because it is small and is so specific, but it serves its purpose well. Any patrons looking for historical information about landowners or people living in Canada would find a useful resource in this collection. The university also provides a copy service to anyone interested in obtaining a high-quality replica of any map in its collection.

The one area I would recommend changes in this project would be in its presentation. There is a lot of wasted space on the interface. And I'm not sure how often the website is maintained. There is very limited information about the organization responsible for the collection, and there are no external links.

Dred Scott Collection

The Washington University in St. Louis did a wonderful digital exhibit of their Dred Scott collection. In 1846 a historic event occured in St. Louis. Dred Scott and his wife Harriet filed suit for their freedom in the St. Louis Circuit Court. The suit would bring much attention and controversy, because at the time slaves could not file for their own freedom. The case is a great bit of local history; it has become one of the best-known legal rulings in American history.

Today, the documents are housed in the St. Louis Circuit Court, and is considered a relatively popular collection, particularly among American historians, law students, and enthusiasts of African American heritage. But not many people outside of St. Louis, Missouri have ever seen these documents. That's where this website serves a great purpose. By making the collection available to remote patrons, the collection is expanding the reach of its service. Also, it's a great attraction for St. Louis tourism propaganda. One of the main purposes for exhibitions is to advertise the library or organization's collection to illicit interest and contributions to the organization itself.

The website is very well done. It is simplistic, but covers the main themes we've discussed in class. It is easy to navigate, with multiple menus and a table of contents. The exhibit is informative as well as practical; there are historical facts to help place the collection in context, and the digitized items themselves are viewable in different sizes. Everything is well labeled, even in the sense that formats are given (JPEG, word, HTML). And, of course, copyright information is clearly marked.

The Age of Aquarius

The University of Washington's Vietnam War Era digital collection of leaflets and newspapers distributed on campus during the Vietnam War document a turbulent time in U.S history.

I turned 13 in 1969. In conservative south-eastern Washington state, far from the hippies, draft-dodgers, and dope-smokers -- as my parents constantly referred to the UW students -- we were proud of our President and sure of our government.

Time and experience have clouded those views. This database provides a look back at the Vietnam era as it was experienced on the UW campus. Searchable by keyword and subject, the collection showed me what I missed down in the far-right side of the state.

In many ways I'm glad I missed it -- I'm sure several brain cells were spared as a result.

Remembering the Holocaust

In April in the U.S., we honor the dead of the Nazi Holocaust. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is a monument to those dead and a memorial to those still living with memories of that time. It also is a resource for educating people about situations in the world today that are startingly reminiscent of those World War II conditions. Being in the museum is an awe-inspiring experience; it is the space itself that creates the feeling or reaction one has, so I was curious how the online pieces of the project would effect the viewer (me). Would I feel moved by searching a website collection? Would I identify the project then as emotional, educational, or other purpose?
I think the whole site is fabulously done, well-thought out and organized and easy to move around in. Visually stimulating, with enough text to give all of the pieces real depth. The Online Exhibitions link, which you can locate in the top left box entitled Inside History, brings you to a beautiful outline page highlighting the online exhibits hosted by this site. Each collection is identified with a picture and a textual description. The Launch link takes you to the exhibits themselves, a variety of collections from Nazi Book Burning in the U.S. to Anne Frank and Darfur.
One of the exhibits is Music of the Holocaust, a collection of songs heard and created around the concentration camps and ghettos of Nazi Germany. Each song is explained with text, photos of the composer or other person associated with it, and is downloadable for listening. Music being one of the ways we are moved emotionally, this collection in particular fosters the mission of the museum (in part):

" The Museum’s primary mission is to advance and disseminate knowledge about this unprecedented tragedy; to preserve the memory of those who suffered; and to encourage its visitors to reflect upon the moral and spiritual questions raised by the events of the Holocaust as well as their own responsibilities as citizens of a democracy."

To reflect upon our past, and move forward in conscience, contributes to our humanity. Digitizing such collections, making them available to millions of people, is important work for institutions like this, and I think, well worth the cost.

Early Americas Digital Archive

Early Americas Digital Archive (

The Early Americas Digital Archive (EADA) is a digital library of texts written in or about the American continents and surrounding islands from their ‘discovery’ in 1492 to 1820.
The site’s creators at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) explain that their mission was to forge a cooperative enterprise between the traditional humanities and developing digital technology to create a free, public archive for research and teaching.
One significant advantage is that an electronic archive for such materials is cost efficient. Only canon-approved texts can be readily found in affordable print editions. More rare documents are usually expensive or are accessible only through direct contact with the primary source in libraries and archives. A digital archive that focuses on public-domain texts can affordably open up access to otherwise hidden documents. EADA limits its selections mostly to texts in the public domain expressly to keep the collection free to the public. For those texts for which no source could be found in the public domain, permission to publish has been obtained from the copy-right owner.”
The Early Americas Digital Archive has two main features. First, its own ‘in-house’ database of texts, that are reviewed and edited by the scholars at MITH, translated into Extensible Markup Language (XML) and described using Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) guidelines. Second, the “Gateway to Early American Authors on the Web,” a list of authors and texts that relate to the same period and can be found on other institutions’ and persons’ sites on the Internet.
Documents in the Early American Digital Archive have either been scanned from the original or borrowed from another digital rendering, and then written in XML and encoded with TEI. MITH explains that XML and TEI enable better document retrieval, as documents can be searched in full plain text or via the TEI metadata, which includes fields for genre, format, mode, historical period, geographic location, author, title and subject headings.
Moreover, MITH believes XML to be “the best long-term media in which to preserve textual material in digital form,” partly because it is non-proprietary and will not eventually be too expensive to use. It also allows easy search and retrieval and can be displayed through HTML without losing too much information.
The EADA homepage is clear and simple, and directs users to the ‘Database,’ the ‘Gateway,’ or to an ‘Author/Title’ search-bar. Clicking on the Database link brings users to a page that allows them to browse the authors and titles alphabetically or to search the database through advanced search or full text search options. The advanced search page reveals the metadata tags, detailed above.
The EADA homepage also solicits submissions from the public and links to an online submission form. MITH expressly states, however, that submitted texts must either be in the public domain or must be accompanied by permission from the copyright owner to publish the work. The page also details formats in which documents will be accepted. No contribution will be published without editorial review.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Furness Image Collection

The University of Pennsylvania’s Furness Image Collection contains more than 2000 images of prints and photographs dating from the 19th century and earlier. “These images illustrate and interpret Shakespeare's works and also document theatrical performers and performances of Shakespeare and other dramatists.” This digital collection is a companion to the University of Pennsylvania’s Furness Library (a bricks-and-mortar library), which is dedicated to the study of Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

While the interface of the collection leaves much to be desired, the searching capabilities and collection content more than make up for its rather drab presentation. The interface offers 2 searching options – Simple Search and Boolean Search. The simple search allows for keyword searching in the following indexed fields: title, subtitle, medium, created/published, creator, notes, subject, collection, call number; or across all fields. Users can specify how they would like the results returned: thumbnail and text list, textlist only, or slideshow. The slide show display is an interesting feature which allows users to view and click through a full-page image of returned results. Boolean searching has similar capabilities with the obvious addition of Boolean search functions. An interesting search feature for this collection is the Comparison Search. This feature effectively splits the screen into two search screens to allow the user to compare results side by side. Presumably this would be helpful for a researcher comparing aspects of two images. In addition to the multiple search features, the collection can also be browsed.

The actually collection contains a wide variety of items relating to Shakespeare and his contemporaries. These include images of theater tickets, playbills, photographs of actors in their roles, photographs and architectural plans for theaters, and images of historical figures. Each image can be displayed in five sizes, ranging from thumbnail (120 x 176 pixels) to extra large (1931 x 2824 pixels) and is accompanied by extensive notes on the creator, date of creation, source and location (call number). The collection is an excellent resource for those looking for images on all aspects of Shakespeare’s works.

I do solemnly swear...

"I Do Solemnly Swear . . .," ( one of the collections in the Library of Congress’s American Memory project, is a compilation of 400 digitized items, documents and ephemera relating to the inaugurations of all the United States presidents from George Washington to George W. Bush. The digitized items include pages of presidential diaries, letters, tickets to and programs for the events, photographs and sheet music. The project is dedicated to providing access to the primary source materials that make up this important part of our nation’s history.
Some of the items were digitized from originals stored among the presidential papers in the Manuscripts, Photography, Rare Books and Special Collections, and Music Divisions of the Library of Congress. Other items were already digitized for other collections in the American Memory digitization project.
The project description explains that the volume of materials relating to inaugurations after Herbert Hoover’s is limited, since those materials were typically left to presidential libraries instead of the Library of Congress. The site also explains that the 54 formal inaugurations have more materials than the emergency inaugurations that occurred after the death of a sitting president. Because not all the materials were immediately accessible, “I do solemnly swear…” had to rely on other institutions like the Architect of the Capitol and Yale’s Avalon Project, and other Web sources.
What makes this project stand out is its human side, the fact that it details not only the scheduled events surrounding the inaugurations, but delves into the intimate thoughts of the presidents, in their letters, their notes, their diaries, their many speech drafts.
Users can browse the collection by president & inauguration or by subject (inaugural addresses, photographs, tickets, engravings), or they can search for keywords.
The “I do solemnly swear…” project also offers several “Special Presentations,” including quick reference data tables for dates and readings and videos of a historical scholar’s comments on a dozen of the inaugurations.

Pediatric Jeopardy

One of the greatest challenges facing educators is to impart valuable information to students while also keeping the class entertained, hopefully, even having fun. Three medical students at the Children’s Hospital of Iowa have managed to do this via an interactive, online “game” called “Pediatric Jeopardy”, available online at

“Pediatric Jeopardy” is but one component of the massive ‘Virtual Pediatric Hospital’ project found online at The project is the brainchild of the husband and wife team of Donna D'Alessandro and Michael D'Alessandro, who describe the project’s goals and mission as follows:

o To educate patients, healthcare providers, and students in a free and anonymous manner;
o For the purpose of improving patients' care, outcome, and lives;
o Using current, authoritative, trustworthy health information;
o While serving as a platform for research into the challenges facing world-wide information distribution.
o Curate a comprehensive digital library of pediatric information for patients and providers.
o Maximize the impact of this digital library by enhancing awareness among potential users at local, national, and international levels.
o Ensure an optimal educational experience through simplicity and clarity in design.
o Lead the way to a better understanding of digital libraries through a process of on-going evaluation.

From the homepage, the project unfolds over numerous links taking the viewer to the specific area they wish to learn about. “Pediatric Jeopardy” is a way for instructors to quiz their medical students on what they have been learning by playing a game that closely resembles the syndicated game show hosted by Alex Trebek.

The game is delivered via Microsoft PowerPoint, and allows each individual instructor to assign the point value of the question depending on its difficulty. The beauty of this approach is that the course instructor can tailor the categories and questions to the exact aspect of pediatrics they are dealing with at that juncture of the course.

The game plays almost exactly like the television show, right down to a game board divided into five categories and featuring “Daily Doubles” and “Final Jeopardy”. There is even a link to the Web Site owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment where the instructor can download the familiar “Jeopardy Theme Song”.

“Pediatric Jeopardy” is a novel and innovative use of the new medium of digital instruction and inspires us all to think of creative ways to put our new tools to work to better serve the greater good.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Bob Hope & American Variety

A link from another site led me to the online digitized exhibit titled "Bob Hope & American Variety." This exhibit can be seen in-person at the Library of Congress and, in fact, I did check it out when I was working at the Library of Congress last summer so I thought it would be interesting to compare my memories of the in-person exhibit to the online exhibit.

I actually enjoyed and got a lot more out of the online exhibit than I did the in-person exhibit. In-person, there were crowds, it was sometimes difficult to see items in the exhibit because of other people or glares on the items or just because they aren't spaced entirely separately. Plus, who really wants to stand around for hours reading all the available text? Online, I can check everything out at my own pace, blow-up the images if I choose, read all the text at my leisure and even come back and check out the entire exhibit at different times. While it may not be an exact replica of the exhibit, it's awfully close!

One other thing I noticed of particular relevance to our class and the study of copyright was that some of the images are missing and instead feature a message stating "The Library of Congress does not have permission to display this image online." For instance, there are a number of items removed from the online exhibit in the Bits & Sketches section. This is the Library's solution to maintaining the collection online even without copyright permission of certain items.

Papers of Abraham Lincoln

This project was begun in 1985 with the mission to collect all of Lincoln’s law practice papers. It expanded in 2001 to include all non-legal documents associated with Lincoln.

I had the opportunity to interview two assistant editors with the project on Wednesday. Christopher Schnell and Stacy Pratt McDermott were in Auburn, N.Y., to scan in four documents that are held at the Seward House. The Seward House was the first stop on the tour of 10 respositories and historical institutions in Central New York. The project team sent out thousands of letters to institutions across the country looking for places that hold Lincoln documents.

The Web site mainly contains information about the project. It has a few images of documents such as Lincoln’s Gettysburg address. Schnell said it will take several years to collect the source materials, scan, transcribe and annotate them and put them on the Web.

McDermott and Schnell brought a portable flatbed scanner and laptop with them to the site. McDermott said they deliberately scan at 600 dpi resolution because they want the source material to be the highest quality as possible. One of the issues will be the changing nature of technology and the need to migrate the images as platforms change. When the project first began, they used photocopiers to collect copies of Lincoln’s legal documents and then put them onto microfilm.

Schnell said they have to travel by car because they cannot transport their equipment on a plane. He said other difficulties they encounter are institutions that do not want their papers handled or scanned. The University of Rochester refused to allow them to look through their papers. The library holds many of the documents associated with William H. Seward, Lincoln’s secretary of state.

Schnell said they provide each repository with a copy of the digital image in addition to giving the institutions credit on the Web site. The goal it have a comprehensive digital collection of all materials associated with Lincoln that the user can access for free.

I've included a link to my article (shameless plug) which talks about their trip to the Seward House


National Museum of African Art

The homepage for the National Museum of African Art ( presents the user with colorful, clear images representing various mediums of African art. These images are linked to information contained in the site that include art and programs, radio Africa, research, playtime, collections, a calendar of activities and museum information. The images roll onto the screen from the right side, giving the user an impression of activity and energy. Double clicking on an image presents an enlarged view with a menu of options or an overview of the selection.

The focus of this posting is the art and programs section, specifically the “Hats Off” virtual exhibit. The introduction states that the “most beautiful and creative objects of personal attire worn by African peoples are innumerable types of headwear fabricated from various materials.” The site goes on to explain that historically many African cultures consider the head to be the center of one's being and because of that everyday head adornment is an integral part of daily living. The various hats represent different types of work, levels of achievement and rank in socio-political groupings. The materials used to make the hats also have meaning for example: animal materials used to make the hats represent the power and strength associated with the animal providing the material and the use of shells and beads is indicative of wealth and prestige. This collection pops onto the screen if you use the Flash presentation. Each black outline of a hat turns into a word forming a “Hats Off” header. Selecting the outline of a hat launches a full color picture along with an informational piece including the African word for the hat, a description of the social hierarchy of the people who wear the hat, identification of the region in Africa where the hat comes from, the materials commonly used to make the hat and the age of the hat if known.

As a lifelong admirer of hats I thoroughly enjoyed this exhibit particularly the hat from the northern Congo region made of pangolin hide (see picture above). I discovered that a pangolin is a mammal with scale like skin that protects it from predators. This particular hat includes feathers, plant fiber and “encrustation” and the accompanying belief that the wearer of the hat has moved beyond the “everyday life of their village into the realm of wilderness”. Take a look at this site; you’re bound to discover something new.

Alaska's Digital Archive

Alaska’s Digital Archives is a cooperative project between the Rasmuson Library at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the Consortium Library at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and the Alaska State Library in Juneau. It includes over 10,000 items in various categories, including photographs, albums, oral histories, moving images, maps, documents, and physical objects, and the collection continues to grow. It is intended to be an educational look into Alaska’s history and culture, primarily aimed at the state’s students, but open to any interested party.

The collection offers a wealth of information, and the website itself is very easy to use. Visitors can browse or search the collection, or focus on sections that highlight either Alaska’s native history and culture or its path to statehood; these latter sections are further subdivided by subject, geographic area, or time period. I like how the project has highlighted the state’s native history and culture by separating and grouping those materials accordingly, with a highly visible access point. These peoples have been a big part of Alaska’s development, and it is nice that their contribution has been acknowledged in this way.

What really stands out about this collection is the attention that was obviously paid to cataloging. The collection is very searchable, with a lot of access points, and this is due to the amount of metadata that was added for each entry. The record for each entry includes collection name, identifier, title, subject (multiple entries), corporate name, location, region, time period, original date, type, the holding institution, and information for ordering and use. The advanced search is also Boolean based for greater flexibility, and there is a feature, called My Favorites, that allows users to save images to that section using CONTENTdm.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Menus from the Puget Sound Area – 1899-2003

This week I looked at the University of Washington’s Libraries Menu Collection. The U of Washington digital collections were discussed in the Western New York Library Resources Council Descriptive Metadata Guidelines as examples of use of Dublin Core for metadata. This web site gives you a nostalgic view of menus of the past from a number of restaurants, diners, and other eating establishments in the Puget Sound area.

The Menu Collection’s main page gives an introduction to the site as well as a page of technical information. The “About the Database” page tells us the type of scanner that was used and what software system was used to manage the metadata (ContentDM).

Browse and search functions integrate other digital collections within the University of Washington Libraries. If I want to browse only the Menu Collection, I can select that collection from a drop-down list of all digital collections.

The menus that have been chosen for presentation on the web site all have beautiful, colorful graphics. I wonder if all the menus in this archive are so colorful, or if visual appeal was part of the selection criteria for the digitization?

It is apparent that the collection developers are making use of the Dublin Core metadata, as the “Search by Field” option gives you the ability to select specific fields for your search. The drop-down choice of fields matches the list of Qualified Dublin Core metadata element set terms.

Browsing the menu collection was more fun than searching, as the search capability only allows for search within the metadata fields; there is not a full text search capability of the menus themselves. I was surprised to find that the menu items in the samples I browsed weren’t all that different from what you find on a menu from an “American” menu today, but the prices sure are different! 70 cents for a shrimp cocktail and 15 cents for a bottle of beer… Those were the days!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Institute of Nautical Archaeology

Virtual Museum at INA

The Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA) in association with the Nautical Archaeology Program at Texas A&M University has a virtual museum containing numerous archaeological excavations. The excavations are categorized by region: The Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea and Indian Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, and North America and the Caribbean. Links to surveys and conservation projects are also available. Each excavation has it's own webpage that describes such things as when and where the wreckage was found, its history, and the steps taken to preserve the artifacts found. Some wreckage webpages have more information than others depending on the amount of information available and artifacts found.

The Port Royal Project is one of the more extensive and impressive webpages. It includes the history of Port Royal, archaeological excavations at Port Royal, historical research, artifact analysis, publications and archives.

The virtual museum is an interesting website that offers a facinating look in to nautical archaeology, as well as, highlight the accomplishments of the INA.

Nautical Archaeology Digital Library (NADL)

Texas A&M University is currently joint project with Center for the Study of Digital Libraries and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University in creating a digital library called the Nautical Archaeology Digital Library (NADL)

The purpose of this project is to develop a digital library of artifacts gathered in the domain of Nautical Archaeology and use it to examine tools and their application in the day-to-day scholarly practice in the area. The specific goals of this project as stated on their website are to design, implement, and evaluate a framework that will:

a) efficiently catalog, store, and manage artifacts and ship remains along its associated data and information produced by an underwater archeological excavation,
b) integrate heterogeneous data sources from different media to facilitate research work and handle uncertainty in data and structure,
c) incorporate historic sources to help in the study of current artifacts,
d) develop visualization tools to help researchers manipulate, observe, study, and analyze artifacts and their relationships; and
e) develop algorithm and visualization based mechanisms for ship reconstruction, i.e., to determine where recovered pieces and fragments fit in a whole.

While this digital library is only a single page describing its goals, I look forward to exploring the library when the project is completed.

Rochester, NY City Directories

There currently is a digitization project that was brought to my attention by Jill involving city directories in Rochester, NY. This content area is of interest to me because I will working a small city dirctory digitization project at another library. I think exposure to other projects with similar content provides invaluable insight.

Before taking a look at what Rochester Public was doing, my thinking was on how to make these directories searchable in the most efficient manner possible. I think this project does at great job of providing what the user wants. Each year can be downloaded completed or in parts as a PDF file. This provides a degree of flexibility in terms of browsing vs. searching. The documents are also bookmarked to the level of "letter."

The only think I would like to see is just a tiny bit of color or graphics on the site. It is very plain and utilitarian, which of course serves its purpose but not with any character or style.

Online Archive of California - Finding Aids

A post earlier this semester by a fellow classmate directed us to the California Digital Library project and all the detailed information about some of the "how-tos" of digitization that can be accessed through that site. Another off-shoot of that initiative is the Online Archive of California (OAC). I found this site especially interesting at this point in our course because of the section devoted to finding aids which we have been studying in some of our recent reading assignments.

The OAC "brings together historical materials from a variety of California institutions, including museums, historical societies, and archives. Over 120,000 images; 50,000 pages of documents, letters, and oral histories; and 8,000 guides to collections are available." The site offers a variety of ways to search the combined collections, but of particular interest to me were the finding aids; how they were organized, their content, and particularly the way many of them provided direct links to digital copies of original images and texts thereby creating self-contained digital collections in themselves.

I must say the organization of these finding aids is a thing of beauty. One can browse the list of aids or search by subject. On the browseable list, those aids that contain links to online images are designated by a camera. Once opened, the aids contain a wealth of information clearly laid out for the user. Collection summaries, researcher information, scope, biographies, container lists with links to the images as well a mechanism to search within the finding aid itself along with several resolution choices for each of the images are the norm. The amount of detail and content presented through these aids is impressive and the orderly layout and links to even more sources is amazing. I was totally fascinated by this site and the way all the images and information were presented and linked together within each finding aid. The basic definition of a finding aid provided by the site as something that "describes and provides an inventory of primary source materials (manuscripts, papers, pictures, etc.) in a collection" hardly does justice to the complex and elegant resources showcased here. Jane

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Missouri Botanical Garden

Looking around this site I first thought it was an interesting web site supporting the Missouri Botanical Garden, but on browsing a little deeper I think it jumps the designation from “web site” to digital collection available on the web. This site is chock full of information about what to plant when, images of the flora and fauna that would be of interest to gardeners and other enthusiasts.

Plants in Bloom is a great collection showing what plants are blooming in the garden, and the Current Photo Archive goes back to 1995.

The virtual tour shows the grounds, and they are amazing.

Under MBG Research the Rare Books portion of the site offers scanned versions of related rare botanical texts (like A monograph of the genus Lilium / by Henry John Elwes ; illustrated by W.H. Fitch. and the ability to browse through their collection by title, author, or illustration. The quality of presentation and load time of collection are somewhat suspect, but the content is very good. They even have a prioritized list of future digital additions to their collection that reveals a little about their selection criteria.
They even show part of their digitization process and much of their hardware here.

The organization of the site is somewhat confusing. When clicking on the SHOP button in the rare books area, the page it takes you to looks like an inventory of their rare books. I can’t tell exactly what they are selling, but it looks like they are selling parts of their physical collection that they have digitized. If that’s the case I hope they have a spot on back up and electronic archive process. It is possible, and more likely, that they are selling reproductions. If that’s the case – and I hope it is, then they should label everything more clearly.

Smithsonian Institution Libraries

Yeah, the Smithsonian Institution Libraries. Big right? It is. It's the Smithsonian! There is a lot of information there and a lot of digital collections of things. If you click on the Galaxy of Knowledge squares you get a list of hyperlinks to various subject matter. You are likely to find a subject that interests you or your family members.

The problem with the site is this: The site is not a single unified site. You may go to the collection about the history of Studebakers, which is nice, but don't expect a link back to the index. You'll need to click on that Back button. Some collections are beautiful and some are lame. Some walk you through the material, some leave you to guess what might be in the collection to search for. I guess there are a lot of libraries involved. All that material. ALL THAT MATERIAL! ...spoiled from such a poor web design.

There is some neat stuff there. I was staring at this image for awhile. But seriously, leave a trail of bread crumbs if you go.

Minnesota Communities

Looking back to my home state of Minnesota, I went in search of digital collections at the Minnesota Historical Society. Although they have multiple collections that they describe on their website, many were not digitized, and can only be accessed physically at their library or by purchasing photographs or copies of items.

However, the collection of educational resources proved very fruitful. With umpteen collections geared towards different age groups, I singled out “Minnesota Communities” as one to explore in depth.

“Minnesota Communities” looks at three different towns, and singles out prominent people, occupations, landscapes, milestones, and timelines. By running your mouse over a subject you can preview an overview of the topic, and click for more information. The special thing about this site is that it leads you to primary resources such as letters, photographs, maps, manuals, etc. Instead of giving a summary of a topic, their intention is for the student to learn about a community from the primary resources. There are also lesson plan suggestions.

Because so many objects and artifacts are only accessible by visiting the Historical Society’s Library, it is a real boon to Minnesotans (especially in rural areas) to be able to access letters by John Pillsbury, the successful miller, photographs of workers in the clay pits of Red Wing, and old diagrams of the geological records of Hibbing’s Iron Range.

Overall I was impressed with the site. I liked that it offered different search options. One can look at objects by town, or by general type categories, such as photographs, letters, newspapers, however there was no freetext search option. I hope this site continues to grow and include more communities, but it was not apparent from their Web site if this was the case (copyright was in 2004).

Saturday, April 15, 2006

British Pathe

Most of the movie-going "Century Straddlers" in this course can probably remember the newsreels that played in theaters prior to the cartoons and the feature film (or double-feature if you we're really lucky).

British Pathe provides a fully digitized archive of these films - at absolutely no charge. As noted on the opening page:

"The British Pathe archive is perhaps the world's most famous newsreel collection. Spanning the period 1896-1970, the collection comprises 3,500 hours and contains some of the most iconic images ever caught on camera."

If you have older parents or other relatives that question the value of the internet, direct them to this site! The archive is easily searchable by keyword or exact phrase. Obviously, a high-speed connection is preferrable for viewing these files.

Registration is required but it's free and only required once.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Guggenheim Museum Online

Anyone whose interest in art stretches to the provocative and abstract will love Guggenheim’s online site. A clean, sparse design allows the impact of the artworks to surface and the functionality of the interface allows the user to go far beyond the context of a real-world visit to one of the Guggenheim’s architectural statements. Online since 2001, the site has progressed from offering digitized content from its New York Museum to include its Venetian and German collections, and soon will begin to bring its Bilbao collections online too. It now offers over 200 artists’ work in optional low, medium and high resolution, while value is added via narratives, biographies and bibliographies, to form what Guggenheim calls its ‘searchable database.’ I did note though, that video art is represented by a single frame image rather than its full content. A rights and reproductions section sets out clearly the copyright issues, request procedures and cost ramifications.

The ‘Collections’ homepage offers a changing rotation of samples, from Kandinsky to Picasso, whetting the art lover’s appetite. Meanwhile, a menu appears as a header, allowing the user to navigate away from the collection to specific exhibitions and organization-related topics, such as membership and shopping. The left hand navigation bar offers numerous tools to find or browse, depending on need. Each item is accessible by half a dozen routes including the movement it belongs to, its chronology, artist, medium and even concept. With subsets including ‘avant garde’ ‘cultural activism’ and ‘fragmentation,’ this online museum clearly caters to researchers and intelligentsia along with the enthusiast. From a browsing perspective, there are links to ‘recent acquisitions’ and a ‘what’s on view now’ section. Each of these will also allow further linking back to the artist’s other works, biography and suggested readings.

Further value is added to resources in the ‘Education’ section, navigable by the top menu. A curriculum is available with searchable color-coded subject content (visual arts/ math/ technology etc) and exceptionally high quality lessons are available in downloadable PDF format, including high res slides, ‘view and discuss’ topics and suggestions for additional resources. Drop-down browse menus allow educators to search by theme, artist, exhibition, medium and many other options. It is easy to use, and rich in content – very slick!

To me, it is evident that this site is the outcome of heavy investment. The high functionality is well balanced by user-friendliness; the quality of the content is matched by added value, and the professional look of the site and its consistent approach to ‘corporate identity’ is inviting and confidence-building. In terms of its mission statement,"to promote the understanding and appreciation of art, architecture, and other manifestations of modern and contemporary visual culture; and to make them accessible to scholars and an increasingly diverse audience through its network of museums, programs, educational initiatives, and publications," this digital library is a success. I will certainly be returning for a longer snoop!

Rochester Public Library City Directory Digitization Project

After participating in the recent tour sponsored by the SU student chapter of the Special Libraries Association of the Rochester Public Library's Kirtas scanner, I thought it only fitting that I should point out the digitization project for which the scanner is primarily used. The Rochester Public Library is in the process of scanning the city's directories, of which they have many dating back to the early 1800s. They've scanned dozens of directories on a page-by-page basis and those directories are accessible here.

During the demonstration of the machine, which was the first such machine bought by a public library (here's a news article about the library acquiring the machine), it was explained that many of the directories are in fragile condition. Therefore, the digitization process helps preserve some of these books. Another reason for this digitization project is that the demand is quite high for the information in the directories. Requests for information come from all over the world. By digitizing the directories, people from all over the world benefit, as do the staff's librarians who were perhaps devoting time to researches for out-of-towners.

Overall, while the project is worthwhile and one of a few (if not the only project) instigated by a public library, the Web display of the site is a little lacking. With few frills, the site just offers the pages of the directory in numerical order. The pages of the directories open up via Adobe Acrobat, which is perhaps less than ideal but at least Acrobat is free software and easily downloadable. There is a set of FAQ to answer some questions as to how to use the directory. However, a little more information actually regarding the digitization process would be really helpful to outsiders. Even just a small blurb about how the library got these directories or why they were chosen to be digitized, etc... would be helpful.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Early Americas Digital Archive

The Early Americas Digital Archive (EADA) covers materials written in or about the Americas between 1492 and about 1820. This project comes out of the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, at the University of Maryland. It was developed for research and teaching purposes, and accepts submissions from scholars in all disciplines.

The website is composed of two parts, the EADA database and the Gateway to Early American Authors on the WEB. The EADA database is searchable by author and title, and includes just the resources submitted to this project. There is also an advanced search and a full text search, which gives the user a lot more flexibility. The Gateway allows the user to browse materials, by author, from both the EADA database and other sources on the Web.

What I like about this site is that they seem to have gone to a lot of trouble to ensure that it is a high quality, trustworthy resource for research in this area. They are very upfront about copyright issues. They require that the source of the original text be included, and that submissions either be in the public domain or include copyright permission. Materials can be submitted with or without an introduction and annotations, but if these are included, they have to be original and must go through a peer review process. All documents must be submitted in text format, no image files, like .pdf’s, except for illustrations. Documents can either be submitted as fully encoded XML or plain-text files. However, if they are submitted as XML, EADA insists on certain standards; encoding must be done according to the Text Encoding Initiative ( rules and EADA documentation (instructions provided on the site). This provides standardization and makes for a better quality site all around, and the stringent attention to metadata increases the flexibility of the site, making it much less frustrating for the user.

Arthur Paul Afghanistan Collection

The American Great Plains would hardly seem like a logical place for the preservation of Afghanistan’s history and cultural heritage, but the University of Nebraska at Omaha is home to the Arthur Paul Afghanistan Collection, described at as “the largest collection of Afghan materials in the country”.

Arthur Paul served as an economic advisor to the Royal Government of Afghanistan from1960 to 1965, where he collected published and unpublished works pertaining to the Afghan life and culture. In 1974 he donated more than 12,000 titles to the University along with photographs of the people and landscape of Afghanistan taken by Luke Powell. Interested scholars and researchers may visit the collection in person where they can study the collection in designated reading areas.

In 2002, the University of Nebraska at Omaha was awarded a grant to convert selected material from the collection to digital format. Afghanistan is a nation whose history was steeped in conflict even before the American military actions which began in late 2001. Libraries and cultural institutions have been among the casualties of the constant warfare of the past quarter century. Thankfully, the rich heritage of this region now has been preserved in an electronic repository.

Our class has talked at length about what goes into the digital preservation of texts and other written materials. By clicking on you will be taken on an intensive tour of how this project is being brought online and why it is such an expensive and lengthy process. If you’ve ever wondered what a state-of-the-art scanner for converting fragile texts into digital images looks like, there is a wonderful picture of the Minolta PS 7000 inside this section of the exhibit.

But ultimately, digitization is about access, and the STAX repositories at allow the viewer to read 14 different monographs in PDF format. These works vary from Afghan Poetry of the Seventeenth Century to the personal recollections of military officers stationed in Afghanistan throughout recent history. Any one of these works taken individually is fascinating. The entire Arthur Paul Afghanistan Collection – taken as a whole - is a tremendous example of a massive digitization project that continues to grow and unfold with each passing day.

David W. Martin

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Blake Archive

I stumbled across the William Blake Archive while doing research for a project on the cataloging of prints. I was looking for graphic representations of monotypes, and thought I had hit the jackpot, as many of Blake’s illustrations are made by a combination process which involves a monotype-like step. I found some very interesting images, but had a very hard time finding what I needed.

I was most interested in finding images, but I found that the search functions delivered me the transcribed texts of Blake works, and that images were often buried and required some patience to find. This occurred even when I used the “Image Search” option. After entering my search term, which was selected from a table of terms (I picked “assassin”), it took four clicks to get to an image.

The image quality is good, and there are options for zooming in and panning across images. The enlargements are not very useful, as it becomes clear quite quickly that the images are displayed at optimum size for the resolution of the scans. Quality is sharply decreased before the image size is doubled. This could be a real impediment to a researcher interested in the close study of these manuscripts. The online surrogates are by no means an acceptable substitution for viewing the original.

I found the “compare” feature quite informative. It allows different versions of the same illustration to be displayed side by side, allowing the user to compare subtle differences in the coloring and forms in the illustrations.

The search feature for this archive can be cumbersome to use. The text search allows for full text searches of the transcribed. HTML versions of the manuscripts, but it links to the transcription rather than the scan of the original, which can still be a few clicks away. The image search is not really a search, but a list of key terms that can be selected. The result is a multi-screened page list of terms which might be better served by a search box, even if many terms do not return results. As mentioned above, finding the image you want can still be difficult after a term is selected. It was also not easy to search for well known images by their title.

To correspond with our metadata topic of the week, try clicking on the “Copy Information” link which accompanies each image.

Despite some draw backs, this resource is still an amazing collection of digital images of Blake’s work, providing images of manuscripts from all over the world which would be impossible to compare in person (My “assassin” search let me compare manuscripts located in Glasgow and the Library of Congress). If you are at all familiar with Blake’s work, this site should be of great interest.

Hurricane Digital Memory Bank

The Hurricane Digital Memory Bank is a collection of images, stories, and other information about Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. It's self-described goal is to "collect, preserve, and present" the stories and digital records of the events. It was organized by George Mason University's Center for History and New Media and the University of New Orleans, along with the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History and a number of other partners, and was also funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

There is a lot of interesting information on the site, but I mainly looked at the image section. Right now, there are 515 images. They can be viewed from the images section or by browsing from a map. The images are first seen as thumbnails with a brief description, and can then be viewed as a jpeg by clicking on the more link. This is one of the things I thought should be changed. To me, the term "more" implies more similar pictures, not a higher quality version of the same picture. One interesting feature I did like was that the site gives the user a link that shows where that picture was taken on a map. However, the browser you are using does matter. When I tried to use this feature with Netscape, I was given the message, "Your browser is not compatible with Google Maps". I was able to use it with Internet Explorer. You also have the option of downloading the original image (the file size is given). However, when I tried this I did not see a lot of difference in quality.

After looking at this site, there are several things I wonder about. To begin with, anyone can contribute to this site. The user writes a short description of the image, submits their name and email, and uploads the image. This makes me wonder about quality control and about metadata; specifically, what is the procedure and how much of this is done automatically and how much is done by a human, and what are the quality control measures. It would seem that relying on people to submit good information is a chancy thing. Also, the person who submits the image retains copyright. The site provides a complete citation for those who wish to use an image. But it doesn't seem to really emphasize copyright. That information is buried in the FAQ page, and you really need to look for it. It seems like that information should be more prominent.

But overall, I liked this site. There is a lot of interesting information, and I like the idea of telling the story from many different perspectives. It makes it more real for people that were not there.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Lunar Atlases

The Lunar Atlases are part of the Lunar and Planetary Institute's website. According to the site, the Lunar and Planetary Institute "is a focus for academic participation in studies of the current state, evolution, and formation of the solar system." There are many features to the site, but the one I looked at closely for this blog was the lunar atlas collection.

For the purposes of the site and to create DVD or CD-ROM versions, the Institute digitized several print atlases of images of the moon taken from a variety of sources including telescopes, satellites and space missions. There are five atlases in this collection. By digitizing these books, they were able to make them available to the general public and also to significantly enhance the search capabilities for finding specific images within each set. The resulting digitized product is interesting and pretty straightforward consisting of a collection of photographic images that can be searched by coordinates, features, table names or as details from larger conglomerate images.

What I found most informative about the site, in the context of our class, were the explanations of the digitization project goals and details about the process that were provided in conjunction with the books. For example, a link with the Digital Lunar Orbiter Photographic Atlas of the Moon takes you to abstracts presented at the Lunar and Planetary Sciences Conferences outlining the digital archive process for that book. These abstracts present a nice summary of the rationale for digitizing the print version, the digitization method and format, and the planned end products for the project.

In connection with the Apollo Image Atlas, there is a section that discusses scanning and image processing. Outlined here are all the steps used to convert the images from the original format to one suitable for the website and alterations made to the originals to rectify problems associated with deterioration due to age. Specific resolution details and file sizes and formats are also included. These discussions of the digitization process offered interesting glimpses into the thinking that went into these projects and some of the difficulties encountered in transforming print documents into ones that can be accessed from the web. Jane