Sunday, April 13, 2008

Digital Past

Organization name: North Suburban Library System (a consortium of over 600 academic, public, school, and special libraries in north suburban Cook, Kane, Lake, and McHenry counties in Illinois)

What was digitized: photographs, postcards, diaries, oral histories, documents, movies, interpretive exhibits, and other historical materials from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural venues throughout Illinois

Audience for project: caters to researchers of all ages

Background information available: the project began in 1998 with a grant from the Illinois State Library; any cultural institution in Illinois can join Digital Past; North Suburban Library System maintains the server and software, sets the metadata template, and offers on-site digitization assistance and training; participants are required to digitize, catalog, maintain, and obtain copyright permission for all of their items added to the project (from the About page)

How are digital assets presented? CONTENTdm is used as the database for the project; items are in JPEG format with varying dpi; search results are presented as image, title, subject, and description (though some items have no description); clicking on the title brings up the more detailed record

Additional information: you can browse collections by city, organization, proper name, and institution (a drop-down menu); a basic search is available, along with an advanced search that lets you search specific collections; they have an RSS feed (available on the main page), a FAQ section, a listserv, and a Digital Past Users Group; useful tips (e.g. reproduction rights) are available on the main page

Metadata: the project uses Dublin Core for its records; it is OAI (Open Archives Initiative) compliant and data will be entered into WorldCat; each record has the following: title, subject(s), participant name, publisher, date, type, format, city, state, country, decade, language, acquisition data, who the item came from, keywords (when available), proper names (when available), collections ID (when available), and other fields

Ease of use: because they use CONTENTdm, ‘preferences’ and ‘my favorites’ can be used; it is easy enough to navigate this project, even though I am not a fan of this software; the big problem I noticed was the selection of words highlighted to search by, almost every word in the records was highlighted, including words like ‘could,’ and ‘have,’ this makes searching difficult and time-consuming; other than that, there is a wealth of information here and it is interesting to browse through the different collections


Jill Hurst-Wahl said...

They also created some separate exhibits, which are not part of CONTENTdm, which allow the materials to be seen differently (in context).

Jill Hurst-Wahl said...

Ah...this was #6...