Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Giddy Whirl: 200 Years of Social Dance

The Giddy Whirl: 200 Years of Social Dance at Middlebury

This site was created by Andrew Wentink, the curator of Special Collections at Middlebury College. It is an online version of a special collections exhibit that was mounted from Sept. 2005 to Jan. 2006.


The Special Collections department of Middlebury College Library put together an exhibit showing the importance of social dance events at the College during its 207 year history. The collection shows photos, dance cards, yearbook pages, dresses, quotes from 19th century manuscripts from the College's Abenethy Collection, and other contemporary dance memorabilia. It also includes a power point presentation given by the exhibit's curator, Andrew Wentink. These dance events highlight changing social mores as it documents cultural shifts throughout Middlebury's 200+ year history.


The original audience for this collection was the Middlebury College community including students/faculty and alumni. By digitizing the exhibit, the College hopes to draw a larger audience of people interested in dance and its role in social history.

Project background:

The information given on the project includes creators, date of original exhibit, and an explanation of the original layout of the physical exhibit.


I enjoyed looking through this site as it shows historical moments in the life of an institution I am very familiar with. The site is small so navigation is very simple with only two main windows of materials: the pieces from the exhibit, and the power point presentation by the curator. I could not get the links to the dance cards to operate and the power point only works in Internet Explorer.

Although I did like this project, I was wondering about the allocation of resources to create this project. Clearly, the original library exhibit would have reached a very small audience- only a small liberal arts college community and those alumni or dance afficianados interested enough to come see it. So digitizing the exhibit would allow those materials to reach a wider audience. But I wonder about the cost/benefit ratio in light of the readings we've done about digitization costs. Someone interested in looking at history through social events could clearly use some of the materials from this exhibit, but I wonder if simply placing finding aids to the collection online would accomplish this as well. The site does also point to some of Middlebury's other archives, so it does function as a portal to other digitized archival materials except that when I tried to follow the links, they were invalid.

All in all, while I enjoyed looking at these materials which I would not have seen otherwise, I'm not sure of the value of a project with such limited appeal. Maybe I'm being too harsh and this is exactly what digitization is all about!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Digital Library of Georgia

The Digital Library of Georgia has created a digital path to Georgia's history and culture through digitized books, manuscripts, photographs, government documents, newspapers, maps, audio, video, and other resources. Through its partnerships with libraries, archives, museums, and government agencies, it is able to connect 500,000 digitized objects within 105 collections throughout the state of Georgia.

The project, based at the University of Georgia, is a GALILEO initiative and provides access to key information resources on Georgia history, culture, and life. It states that its mission is “accomplished through the ongoing development, maintenance, and preservation of digital collections and online digital library resources.” It supports the instruction, research, and service missions of GALILEO while collaborating with University of Georgia faculty, students, and staff.

The GALILEO initiative (Georgia Library Learning Online) audience includes private and public universities, k-12 education, and public libraries.

The Digital Library of Georgia at the University of Georgia Libraries has three functional units:

The Digital Library of Georgia Production Center (GLGPC) supports the mission and goals of the Digital Library of Georgia by developing, maintaining, and preserving the collections through the use of metadata, text encoding, and the development of descriptive content.

Photographic Services supports the mission by working closely with the GLGPC to provide digital imaging services for Digital Library of Georgia projects.

Micrographic Services/Georgia Newspaper Project supports the mission by preserving collections related to the history and culture of Georgia as well as providing ongoing access and reproduction services to Library patrons such as University students, faculty, and staff. Its primary responsibility is The Georgia Newspaper Project which develops microfilm for 200 newspapers that is then provided to libraries and organizations across the state.

Its main partners are...


Georgia Public Library Service (Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia)

Georgia Humanities Council

Institute for Museum and Library Services

National Endowment for the Humanities

University of Georgia Libraries

The goals and guiding principles include building highly usable and accessible collections, ensuring longevity by making use of standards and best practices, adding value to the collection by including rich descriptions, observing current copyright and fair use laws/regulations, maintaining an awareness of preservation, implementing new technology that follows in line with the mission, and promoting learning by developing instructional resources and programs.

The Digital Library of Georgia contains an enormous amount of quality information that is efficiently organized and provides a seamless experience. The visually attractive website provides various methods of browsing the collection including by topic, period, institution, media type, and county. Or you can just browse the collection alphabetically. It includes extensive metadata that fully describes the object and can be further searched by subject, contributors, and the related institution. Its full of a wealth of information.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Charles F. Gillette Virginia Photograph Collection

Note: the link above takes you to the search page for the collection, there is no "main" page

Organization Name:
The Library of Virginia

What was digitized: Charles Freeman Gillette (1886-1969) is nationally recognized as one of the premier landscape architects associated with the restoration and re-creation of historic gardens in the upper South and especially Virginia. Gillette established a regional style—known as the "Virginia Garden"—characterized by its understated classicism and attention to detail. The Gillette Photograph Collection consists of 892 images, all part of the collection of Charles F. Gillette Papers at the Library of Virginia. Approximately 200 photographs are the work of either Harry Bagby or George Moffett, both professional photographers. The images primarily depict Virginia houses, estates, gardens, and other landscape design projects. There are also many personal photographs of Gillette, Ellen Cogswell Gillette, and the various homes in which they lived.

Audience for the project (stated or assumed): anyone can view and request a copy of the images (with permission); but only residents of Virginia can see the physical copies if they choose to

Type of project background information available on the site: the page for this collection provides a brief background of Charles Gillette and lists additional resources to look at for more information; I found no specific background information about why the collection was digitized or related information as to what they digitize and why

How the digital assets are presented: when you click on a link (after searching) it opens as a catalog record; you click on the link provided in the record to view the image as a .JPG file in a separate window

Metadata present: the records are in MARC format with the image link in the 856 field, as a cataloger it is comfortable for me to view and understand (maybe not so much for others); there are other views available for each record: standard format (default), catalog card, citation, name tags, and as a MARC record

Additional information presented: the MARC records contain author, title, LC subject headings, added entries, genre form, notes pertaining to the photograph, additional formats available (i.e. as a transparency), the URL for the image, a system number, etc.; the image window contains information on how to print the image, what collection the image is from, where the collection is located, h:ow to order prints from the collection, and how to get permission for use of the images; the information provided is enough to satisfy any user (if they require assistance contact information is easily available); also the information presented does not overrun the page or is overwhelming to the user

Ease of use: this website was amazingly easy to use, I had fun surfing through the various collections available online; the main links are 'who we are,' 'what we have,' and 'what we do'; how much clearer can you get? clicking on the URL for the collection brought you to the basic search page for the collection where you can search by subject, title, author, system number, or keyword (there is an advanced search, but I didn't use it); the information was kept to a minimum on each page I visited, no scrolling down the page for me :) this was my first time visiting the site and I was impressed; I loved the fact they used MARC for cataloging these images (mainly because I am familiar with it), it is obvious they are only providing access to these images (hence the low quality .JPG format) for the user, however they can request a better copy if desired (this matches up to what I have been reading in class so far)

Overall, this site was a joy to look through and a good start to their digitization program.

Reference : About the Charles F. Gillette Photograph Collection

Thomas Gravell Watermark Archive

The Gravell Watermark Archive is a searchable online database hosted by Virginia Tech of 7,000+ images of watermarks in the Thomas L. Gravell collection of the University of Delaware Library. During the age of hand-made paper, watermarks were partially visible images created in paper by attaching a wire form in the desired shape to the paper making screen. The Gravell archive covers watermarks from 1400-1835, which is more or less predates the advent of machine made paper. The images that have been digitized are photographic reproductions taken by Gravell of original watermarks in books and manuscripts held by distinguished libraries like the Library of Congress, Folger Shakespeare library, and others. The audience for this collection would be anyone interested in the history of paper or papermaking as well as rare book curators and historians of the book since identifying watermarks can be useful in dating works or identifying fakes. The database was first deployed in 1996 and has been updated several times, with the last major update being in July 2007. In 1999, the Bibliothèque de Genève joined the project by allowing the Gravell archive to use unpublished watermark tracings by Charles-Moise Briquet, amounting to over 27,000 images of which a sample were added to the web database and the rest compiled on CD-ROM.

To search the database, the user has the choice of three different search options: descriptor fields, watermark fields, and artifact fields. The descriptor fields allow the user to look for a particular type of watermark by choosing a primary or secondary term from a scripted list of common watermark forms such as coat of arms, flower, shield, crown, etc. in English, German, French, or Spanish. This choice is can then be refined by using a range or dates and/or an additional free text keywords. Under the watermark fields, the user can search by information on paper itself such as place of origin, papermaker, paper mill, etc. to find all watermarks with those common characteristics. The artifact fields allow the user to search using information about the work the watermark is found in such as repository institution, country, format, author, etc. I would say this database is best suited to experts or those with some knowledge of the subject rather than beginners since it is specialized and presupposes an understanding of watermarks and their features and use. The interface is a little tricky since the button at the bottom of the screen is the “Clear” function and the user can easily delete the search while intending to perform it if they do not look closely (which I did several times). The information presented is a thumbnail of the watermark image and when the full record is viewed as much information as is known about the watermark is presented as to its origin, description, and type in metadata fields. Overall, I think this digital project is very useful to those with an interest in the field.

Mosser, Daniel W. , Ernest W. Sullivan II, with Len Hatfield and David H. Radcliffe. The Thomas L. Gravell Watermark Archive. 1996-. 2008-01-28

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Arts of the Book Collection, Ephemera

Yale University.

This is a digitized collection of ephemera relating to books and publications. Ephemera are materials that are generally discarded after used, such as fliers, lecture advertisements, pamphlets, and postcards. The stated audience is researchers looking for access to primary documents. The physical collection began in the early 1980's and represents various artists and printing presses. By collecting the ephemera of lesser-known or beginning authors, the early years are documented and easier to research. Currently, only a small section of the collection that they have secured the rights to publish online has been digitized.

There are two ways to view the JPEG images: search and browse. The search tool is very simple, allowing only keyword searches. When browsing, the user sees miniaturized image, the title, image id, and links to view the image four or eight times magnified. Each record contains additional information, such as author, genre, and related title; related title would probably be a better field to display than image id in browsing since image id means nothing to the user. The images in the record and in the magnified views are very clear and detailed.

The user can save images to their own “collection” on the website. The images are saved to an individual webpage for the user. This is slightly confusing to use and perhaps a little too complicated in its execution. It is unclear if the website will remember who the user is if they use the digital library multiple times or if a new webpage of images will be generated each time.

Overall, I like the vision of the ephemera digital collection. These are items that are great for researchers, but they might not have taken the time to travel to Yale University to see them. The site does not indicate if more items will be digitized or when the last update was. Basic access is easy, but the more advanced options are confusing. This digital library is headed in the right direction.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Images for Education and Scholarship

[To access ARTstor please use the Syracuse University Library database page]

ARTstor is a digital image library for art, architecture, the humanities, and social sciences. It was founded in the late 1990’s by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as a non-for profit initiative. During that time several educational institutions wondered how to migrate to digital image the analog slides that they use for teaching art history and simultaneously other scholars in the field felt that new digital technologies could lead to a greater recognition of special collections. In its mission statement ARTstor define its goal to use digital technology to enhance scholarship, teaching and learning in the arts and associated fields.
ARTstor’s primary target audiences are scholars, students, and educators in the arts. ARTstor digital collection policy states those images are included because they have a noted teaching or research value. Several well-known national and international museums have contributed to the collection, among them for example the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Metropolitan Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Further, smaller galleries, special collections from libraries and archives and other organizations have contributed and still contribute to it. An overview of the currently-included collection can be found
Currently ARTstor contents approximate 550,000 images (with more images being constantly added).
The name ARTstor was chosen because several years earlier the Mellon Foundation sponsored the successful creation of JSTOR (JSTOR stands for Journal Storage); an on-line archive of digitized scholarly journals.

Once in ARTstor one has several options to access images. As a novice user I preferred to browse the alphabetical listed ARTstor collection. This is by no means the only browse option – others are browsing by geography, by classification, etc. More advanced users looking for something more specific can search this digital library using the basic or advanced search functions.
Images are very well presented: one can click on an image and is presented with several options such as zooming, rotating, maximizing or minimizing the window, printing and downloading images.Additionally, metadata and terms and conditions of usage are presented.

ARTstor offers many more valuable features such as a daily on-hour training session, RSS, a blog, a newsletter, an Offline Image Viewer (OIV), etc.

ARTstor is fun to browse and I could spend hours looking at all the different collections. It also gives users the opportunity to research art collections that are rather unknown or not within once vicinity.
Anybody interested in art will really enjoy this digital library. One thing that I don’t like about it is, however, is that it is not freely accessibly to a general art interested public.

PALDAT: Palynological Database

Pollen grain from Ilex aquifolium
PalDat ( is a palynological database, basically a database of images and information about pollen. The database was created by the Department of Palynology and Structural Botany at the Institute of Botany, University Vienna and is maintained by the "Society for the Promotion of Palynological Research in Austria." PalDat contains, as of this writing, nearly 9000 images from over 1000 plant species. The images are high quality scanning electron micrographs (SEM) and transmission electron micrographs (TEM) of pollen with accompanying photographs of the live plant and sometimes the plant's environment. The conditions under which the SEMs and TEMs were generated (e.g. fixation) are also described in detail. The site contains a basic and advanced search engine, however only scientific names can be used in the search and the site is filled with technical descriptors that only an advanced student of botany would understand. This site is not aimed at the lay person.

The simple search is not a key word search. There are drop down menus for the following terms, which are probably attribute names in the database:
Pollen unit
Pollen class
Shape hydrated
Outline equatorial
Aperture number
Aperture type
Cellular condition

The advanced search just allows the user to add in chemical components or limit the results to certain image types (TEM,SEM, etc). There is also an alphabetical listing of genera and a very nice graphical interface based on pollen shape, class and other criteria. The user can also browse the database via broad terms like "Spices" or "Allergy Plants."

I did a search for my favorite plant - Ilex aquifolium or Holly and the image below shows the interface that displays the results. The image at the beginning of this post is a picture of pollen from a holly plant.

The images on PalDat are copyrighted but the copyright holders give permission for their use in educational or other non-commercial enterprises. The site is easy to use and navigate, the display is clear, uncluttered and visually attractive. The creators provide several ways for users to find and organize information. One barrier to usability is the required registration process but it only takes a a minute to register and get access to this wonderful resource.

Friday, January 25, 2008

"All The Newspapers That're Fit To Scan"

For my first blog post on digitization, I decided to see what’s going on, digitization-wise, in my own backyard. I had heard of the Northern New York Library Network (NNYLN), a library co-op which provides services to northern New York libraries, and knew they had done work with regional newspapers.

Their project, called Northern New York Historical Newspapers , has digitized and continues to digitize regional, historical newspapers from the late 1800s through the 20th century. Each page of a newspaper is scanned individually into a .pdf file, so the information contains all the articles and photos as originally presented on that page.

You can pick a specific paper, and all the papers are searchable. For fun I did a quick search for “Interlaken Inn,” an old, historic bed-and-breakfast in Lake Placid where a friend works, and got several hits. I looked at one of these pages and read through the article, but couldn’t finish it because the last couple of paragraphs were not scanned clearly. I found quite a few pages which weren’t scanned clearly throughout the site, which made me think about all the QA-related issues with scanning and OCR. (Of course, I don’t know what condition the papers were in initially, either.)

Because we’ve been talking about access being the purpose of digitization, I was viewing this project in that light, and I noticed several things that I think affect the ability of folks to access the content. While being able to search the papers is great, there is no way to browse through an issue, other than going to the directory listing and clicking on each file (Adirondack-Enterprise1948p1.pdf, Adirondack-Enterprise1948p2.pdf, etc.). So while technically this is accessible content, it is not really user-friendly, intuitive, “the way humans think” accessible content. It would have been cool to have taken this a step further and made the papers browsable by leafing through them the way you do a real newspaper. Because these types of features aren’t available (yet?), it leads me to believe that the audience for the project is the person searching for specific information (deeds, letters to editor, specific historical events) and not just a general interest audience. Another thought – would it be possible to make all the papers searchable instead of just picking an individual paper, searching for a term, then picking the next paper, doing another search for the same term, etc.? This would really make the digital assets accessible, because now the entire collection would be searchable in a way that was not possible when it was in print. (I know that paper indexes exist for newspapers, but I’m guessing none of these every made it into the Readers Guide to Periodical Literature).

This project is still ongoing, so it will be interesting to check back and see what papers are added and whether they change the interface. The NNLYN web site does have its digitization plan, of which this project is a part, available on the site so anyone could check on its progress or see what decisions have been made.


Arizona Memory Project

Project name: Arizona Memory Project

Organization name: Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records
Description of what was digitized: “Government documents, photographs, maps, and objects that chronicle Arizona's past and present”

Audience for the project (stated or assumed): Any one interested in Arizona’s history past and present

Type of project background information available for the site: There is a small blurb about the Arizona Memory Project. In order to get more in depth information about the project I had to dig around on the site and finally found a Digital Project Guidelines PDF, intended for individuals wishing to contribute, explaining the process and the goals.

What strikes or intrigues me about the project: Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records serves as the repository for the Arizona Memory Project. The have a set of guideline for contributors to follow including software and hardware recommendations, guidelines for the metadata and who the items should be saved. The contributors are the ones who have to do all the digitization. I feel the individuals who do not want to be contributors may still find some of the information regarding the project and it guidelines of some value and should be posted under “About Arizona Memory Project” instead of being buried in a pdf under the contributors category. For example, I would have liked to see the following information availible in the About section: “Established by the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, the Arizona Memory Project is a digital initiative that is specifically designed to store, describe, display and administer digital collections from archives, libraries, museums, historical societies and other Arizona cultural institutions. The aim of this initiative is to create a central online repository to provide access to unique digital content representative of the history and culture of Arizona. The project can handle a multitude of collections consisting of many different types of file formats for items including photographs, newspapers, maps, manuscripts, oral histories and more. Patrons can view your collection from any computer with Internet access.” However, that is just my personal perference.

How are the digital assets presented: The digital assests are presented in image, sound and text. The images are in jpeg format, the sound files are in MP3 sound format, and the text are in PDF format.

What metadata is present: The format that is used is Dublin Core. The metadata readily available to view with each item and is very extensive. I feel this site has done an excellent job creating this digital reposity.

Is it easy to use: The site is user friendly and easy to navigate. It offers seaches that can be simple or more complex and specific. This project provides an excellent example for others who want to create a digital library.

Collect Britain: putting history in its place

Collect Britain is a free digital collection of over 90,000 images and sounds from the British Library's holdings. The items chosen all relate to Britain in some way (British music, photographs of British people, etc) and seems to be intended for both serious researchers and those who just want to browse through British visual and auditory history.

They have organized this collection in an easily navigable and interesting ways. One of the most diverting search tools I came across was an interactive map of Britain. You could choose a place on the map and it would show you all of the items related to that area. Images are always presented in thumbnails, and oftentimes you can hover the mouse icon over the thumbnail to get a magnified view. They also allow you to create your own personal collection by adding your "favorites" to a personal folder.

The parts of the collection that I found fascinating was their collection of accents and their currently highlighted collection of "Expressions of Faith" where they "invited a group of well-known people from different faiths" to choose their favorite images from the collection and write about their reflections on their religion.

The items to be included in the collection were chosen by the library's curators and digitized by their photography studio specifically created for this project. It was funded by a grant from the British government called the "Government's new opportunities fund". They sourced out the creation of their content management software (which is really what has set this project out from the others I have looked at previously) to the company System Associates and the design was similarly outsourced to specialists (Dusted Design Partners). For their metadata they used an extended version of Dublin Core (DCMES). They provide even more technical explanation of the aspects of the creation of this collection on their "about" page on the website.

The image quality is amazing and the advanced search tools are quite intuitive and easy to use. I definitely recommend taking a look at it.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

For Our Mutual Benefit: The Athens Woman’s Club and Social Reform

For Our Mutual Benefit: The Athens Woman’s Club and Social Reform, 1899-1920 is a freely-available digital collection of the minutes of the Athens (Georgia) Woman’s Club, produced during a momentous time in the history of women’s rights, 1899-1920. This digital project serves to provide a select Southern perspective on the Progressive Era. The presumed audience for this small collection is scholars interested in this time period. The digitized images of the handwritten meeting minutes are viewable page-by-page in jpeg format, and the contents of each page have also been transcribed in text. The original minutes are in the form of two print books and are held by the Athens-Clarke County Library System.

The entire text of each minute book may be read on a single continuous webpage, or may be viewed in the table of contents, organized by year. A shortcoming of this collection’s website is that it cannot be searched. An attempt to search for keywords within the minutes by using the Advanced Search page of the Digital Library of Georgia produced negative results.

More information about this project including contributors, applicable Library of Congress subject headings, and conditions for use may be found at the About page.

This project is a collaboration of the Athens Regional Library System (ARLS) and the Digital Library of Georgia (DLG). The ARLS provides public library services to five Georgia counties. The DLG is an initiative to provide access to rarely seen artifacts that represent Georgia history. The DLG is based at the University of Georgia and is sponsored by GALILEO, a 2000+-member consortium of Georgia-based institutions. One of the most inclusive aspects of the DLG initiative is that individuals may submit suggestions for future digitization projects by using a simple web form.

USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education

The mission of the project is stated as follows:

"To overcome prejudice intolerance and bigotry and the suffering they cause through the educational use of the foundations visual history testimonies" As stated by Steven Spielberg, project creator, its threefold purpose is to:

1. Collect first person testimonies (of Holocaust survivors: Jewish, Jehovah's witnesses, Gypsies, homosexuals and political prisoners; liberators of camps; war crimes trial participants) while it is still possible to do so.

2. Index and catalog all the testimonies.

3. Use the testimonies as tools for education.

The intended audiences are: students, faculty, and the communities interested in using testimonies in classroom settings and for research purposes. Courses and seminars are offered at the higher education level using these materials. At the secondary school level, there are Testimony-based classroom activities, including products, lessons, activities, and screenings available on DVD, VHS, and via the website. collections of testimonies are available for libraries, museums, universities, and other institutions worldwide. And teacher training courses are offered by the Shoah foundation using the materials on this website.

History and background:

"Inspired by his experience making Schindler’s List, Steven Spielberg established the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation in 1994 to gather video testimonies from survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust. While most of those who gave testimony were Jewish survivors, the Foundation also interviewed homosexual survivors, Jehovah’s Witness survivors, liberators and liberation witnesses, political prisoners, rescuers and aid providers, Roma and Sinti (Gypsy) survivors, survivors of Eugenics policies, and war crimes trials participants. Within several years, the Foundation’s Visual History Archive held nearly 52,000 video testimonies in 32 languages, representing 56 countries; it is the largest archive of its kind in the world.

I looked at this digitization project last year for a Holocaust project I was doing with my students. Looking at the site again a year later, I am very impressed with how much more has been added to an already impressive collection. While the tens of thousands of testimonies are very effective in and of themselves, the powerful search engine and speedy interface make doing research via this site easy and fruitful. "A team of historians, technology professionals, software engineers, and experts in information management developed the USC Shoah Foundation Institute's cataloguing and indexing systems, in order to make the nearly 120,000 hours of testimony searchable."

The educational materials which take the testimonies and use them within the framework of larger themes and in conjunction with maps, pictures, historical background etc. give the information even more force.

The site is remarkable in both its scope and presentation; it is highly recommended both for its content and as an example of what a digitization project not constrained by budget can look like.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

LOC Collection of Historic Digital Images on Flickr

The Library of Congress has put historic photos from its collection onto Flickr, a photo sharing website, in an attempt to enrich metadata with tagging from users/consumers. These imagers (which are in the public domain) include two groupings: "1930s-40s in Color" and "News in the 1910s" and are titled "The Commons" on Flickr.

Collaborative tagging or folksonomy offers an opportunity for users/consumers to contribute freely chosen keywords to the esblished metadata of controlled vocabulary developed by the Library of Congress.

Bransby, David

Woman aircraft worker, Vega Aircraft Corporation, Burbank, CA. Shown checking electrical assemblies.

CHILDE: Children's Historical Literature Disseminated throughout Europe

CHILDE (Children’s Historical Literature Disseminated throughout Europe), funded under the European Commission's Culture 2000 program, uses web technology to allow wider and more open access to European collections of early children's books. By sharing these images with an international audience, the CHILDE project will provide a foundation for a wider network of early children's book collections.

In 2000, Buckinghamshire County Council Library Service received approval from the European Commission to lead a digitization and education project dedicated to the preservation and promotion of early children's book collections from across Europe. The project involves a number of other partners:

· Dublin City Public Libraries, Dublin , Ireland

· Institut fur Jugendbuchforshung, Frankfurt , Germany

· International Youth Library, Munich , Germany

· Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague , The Netherlands

· La Baracca: Testoni Ragazzi, Bologna , Italy

· National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature, University of Surrey, Roehampton , England

· Wandsworth Borough Council Library Service, London , England

The best practice report focuses on conservation and preservation of early children's books, cataloging the collections, as well as the utilization and dissemination of the collections. It can also be retrieved through a pdf document. The process of digitization is also explained.

The education program is aimed at teachers, students, literary historians and researchers and focuses on language, style, illustrations and book production, examining both similarities and differences between books produced in different European countries. The purpose of this program is to provide a starting point for those wanting to discover European children's literature. The program also includes lists of currently available resources, such as books, journals and web sites, as well as a valuable links page that enables users to access individual collections as well as bibliographic and educational resources.

The education program focuses on four main themes:

· Children literature: The European social and cultural context

· Historical literature in Europe and the dramatic arts

· European folk and fairy tales

· History of illustrations for children

The site, which includes illustrations published before 1890, can be searched by author, title, illustrator, collection, education programs, subject, literary genre, book type, or free text search. Thorough metadata records that include various details of the illustrations are found throughout the database and include a choice of thumbnail or full view image. The structure of the website is quite fundamental and does not include hyperlinks from within the metadata that would allow a cross reference search.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Profiles in Science

The profiles in science ("Profiles") project is funded and maintained by the National Library of Medicine (the same folks who bring us popular [at least among the biomedical crowd] Medline, GenBank, and other biomedically relevant resources linked through the Entrez system).

The primary goal of the digital archive is to provide digitized collection items from the guiding lights in biomedical research and practice. Profiles is one of the key projects of the NLM's Lister Hill Center's Digital Library Research Program. The collection is broken into three general categories: (1) Biomedical Research; (2) Health and Medicine; and, (3) Fostering Science and Health. 

The audience of Profiles seems to be mainly those that are interested in the History of Science; however, might also be of interest to others that just want to reflect on the great works from some of biomedical science's greatest contributors, including Apgar (the developer of the Apgar score for newborn assessment), Lederberg (1958 Nobel Prize, and pioneer in the field of bacteriology, computer science, and space exploration), and Crick (from the famed Watson-Crick team that led to the Nobel Prize in 1962 for significant insights into the structure of DNA), just to name a few. There are also collections from groups or organizations -- e.g., Reports of the Surgeon General and the Regional Medical Programs

In many ways the content of the site really is enough-- no need for fancy HTML, Web 2.0 enhancements (of course the site dates back to 1998, and has seen little update in aesthetics since), or eye-candy to get in the way of the significant works that have been digitized. It is humbling and amazing to just skim through the papers from some of the greatest figures in the modern era of biomedicine. 

For each digitized object there appears to be the core metadata associated with Dublin Core, along with subject terms from MeSH (the controlled vocabulary associated with much of Entrez-based collections, like Medline). Digitized documents are available in PDF format. The presentation of documents and their associated metadata is consistent throughout. 

This was truly a fun site to browse around and click through the different documents from many of my heros in science...


The Ad*Access digital library, part of Duke University, is interesting because it is very precise in its holdings - it is a library of American and Canadian ad images from 1911 - 1955 focusing on the five main subject areas of radio, television, transportation, beauty/hygiene, and World War II. These subjects were chosen based on research’s interest and also on the popularity of the print materials. The scope was purposfully limited because the creators believed greater value would be added by digitizing a lot of material on just a few subjects than would be added by digitizing a small amount of material on a wide range of subjects. Like most good digital libraries, Ad*Access has filled a research gap. Before this site, researchers had to source old magazines and newspapers to dig out ads, the difficulty of which was compounded by the preservation issues inherent in these materials. Although primarily for students and researchers, this site has created a forum where anyone can now view images previously hidden away from all but serious researchers and librarians.

This collection is comprised of images from the Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History at Duke and was created to allow greater access to fragile materials as well as to ease use on said materials in the physical library. The hard copy collection has been around since 1992. Ad*Access contains images specifically sourced from a sub-library of the main collection called the Competitive Advertisements Collection, which used to be an in-house library at the J. Walter Thompson Company. Interestingly, before 1955, there was no standard classification system for advertisements, so they were classified by relatively random subject headings such as ‘yams.’

The 7000+ images in this collection are still arranged by subject and can be searched or browsed. Searching might be faster, but the ads are so fascinating that browsing is more fun. In fact, I'm considering sending in the coupon for my free sample of Kotex and the book 'Personal Hygiene' which I have been promised in a plain white envelope to avoid embarrassment. When browsing, subcategories are listed on the left. If one is browsing in beauty, one can then choose to look at the subcategories for Feminine Hygiene 1920s (66 images), or Rouge 1918-1930. Users can also browse the timeline, which presents a written history to complement the advertisement collection (this cannot be searched and must be browsed by decade). For searching, metadata categories include brand (Kotex, Palmolive, etc), target market as listed in the advertisement itself (women, men, etc), company names (as it was at the time of the advertisement regardless of future name changes), etc.

Search results are presented in a manner similar to a Google image search – the page fills with thumbnails of the images with the first part of the advertisement heading as the title. Clicking on the image brings up a full screen portrait of the advertisement along with a full metadata description in a box to the left of the image. For example, the ad titled ‘it smells so good now, it makes me wonder,’ was created by the Lever Brothers Company for Lifebuoy Health Soap and published in the Chicago Tribune magazine in 1954.

This is a fantastic digital library. Its mission is clearly defined and everything about the site supports the stated mission. There is no extraneous data, no clutter, and although a library of images, the pages load incredibly quickly. Duke should be well pleased – they have created an excellent site.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Biodiversity Heritage Library

Thought  it would be best to describe one of the more significant digitization projects that I am working with these days...

The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) is one of the 'corner-stone' institutions of the Encyclopedia of Life ( project. The goals of both the BHL and EOL are simple in spirit:

BHL: Make all taxonomic literature publicly and freely available.
EOL: Facilitate the gathering and dissemination of information associated with life on Earth. 

The BHL itself is a consortium of ten natural history collections: Harvard Botany Library, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, American Museum of Natural History (NYC), Field Museum, Missouri Botanical Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Natural History Museum (London), Royal Gardens (Kew), the New York Botanical Garden, and the MBLWHOI Library.

To date, the current version of the portal that provides access to the full collection contains over 1.4 million pages, representing over 390 titles and 3610 volumes of taxonomic literature. The 'prototype' portal lets one browse around according to keyword tags (shown on the opening page), by titles, authors, geographic location, years, and by taxonomic names. In addition to the standard Dublin Core metadata, taxonomic names are encoded as metadata using the application of an NLP tool developed at the MBLWHOI library. The NLP tool, TaxonFinder, pulls out taxonomic names from the OCR'd text across the entire collection of documents in the BHL. On searching for a taxonomic name (e.g., Escherichia coli) one can navigate to the exact page that contains reference to the term-- and can view an image of the page. 

The current audience for the BHL is the group of taxonomists and other citizen scientists that are also associated with the EOL project. Ultimately, through the EOL the general population will be able to view original descriptions. Personally, I find so much of the availability of historical taxonomic literature to be so interesting, from an anthropological point of view. For example, in the original description of Polar Bear states "We killed several with our muskets, and the seaman ate of their flesh, though exceeding coarse. The animal is much larger than the black bear; the dimensions of one were..." (

The BHL project is really starting to get rolling with the official launch of EOL in the next few months. For now, the prototype site is a lot of fun to play with, and browse around the scanned items-- both the images, and the underlying OCR'd text are available for browsing.