Monday, March 31, 2008

Kansas Western Trails Project

Organization name: this is a collaboration among the Boot Hill Museum and Kansas Heritage Center in Dodge City, the Kansas State Historical Society, the Special Collections Department at Wichita State University, and the Kenneth Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas. The Kansas State Library in Topeka coordinated the project.

What was digitized: digital copies of source materials (documents and images) related to the historic western migration of the U.S. population, whether on foot, by horse-drawn conveyance, by rail, or by highway

Audience for project: anyone with access to a computer connected to the Internet

Background information available: State Coordinator Progress Reports are available, a user focus group held in 2004 is available, pictures from the metadata and scanning workshops are also available

How are digital assets presented? documents are transcribed (there is a note in the image attesting to this), the documents appear to be a mix of scanned portions and transcription (so there is no 'original' image); images are in JPEG format when viewed, I was not able to determine if a master copy was made

Additional information: you can search the database by keyword, title, or subject; no advanced search is available; this is a pretty bare bones site

Metadata: it appears they used Dublin Core to create the records (but this is a guess on my part); there is a link for the image in the record; a record lists the following: title, creator, publisher, subject(s), source, description, reproduction notes, and general notes (the owner of the image, how the image can be used, etc.); you can save the record as UTF-8, Latin1 MARC, or Raw MARC; I am not sure if controlled vocabularies were used, however the subject headings are not too random

Ease of use: link to IMLS Grant (how they funded the project), the links to best practices for metadata and scanning, and the link to Kansas terms are broken; this site was last updated in 2005; the site is simple to use, however, there are many broken links (it looks like they forgot about the website); a simple "This site is no longer updated" would be nice to see; overall, a very basic website, with no frills

Library History Postcards

Project Name: Library History Postcards

http://www.libraryhistory.org/index.html

Organization: run privately by two library postcard enthusiasts: Sharon McQueen and Richard Douglas

Content: Several hundred postcards from the late 1800’s to 1970’s featuring libraries from around the United States

Audience: Library enthusiasts, postcard enthusiasts, architecture enthusiasts, historians, students, librarians, and library supporters. The website states, “We hope that this web site will ignite passion for the rich and diverse history of libraries in the United States and serve as a catalyst for further exploration”.

Background: Very little information is presented regarding the background of the collection, the site, and the people involved. Readers are told, however, that the collection has been compiled by Sharon McQueen and had been built over many years.

Analysis: This presentation of this postcard collection is pleasing and simple. One may choose to view postcards by selecting a state from a map. As the user rolls over the map the name of the state appears along with a thumbnail from that state’s collection. Though browsing is quite effortless, there is no search feature.

Once a state has been selected, postcards appear as a list- with thumbnails to the left and the library’s name to the right. Clicking a postcard from the list will take the user to a new page with a larger image of the postcard. Rolling over the postcard will show the back of the postcard.

Though the layout and design of the site are lovely, it is lacking in content. Images are rather small. Though some postcards have information regarding provenance printed on them, no metadata (aside from library name and state) is independently displayed.

Library Historical Postcards is a fun little site to visit, easy to browse, and has a pleasing color scheme and style. Unfortunately, it is sorely lacking as a well documented digital collection. More postcards would certainly improve the collection (some states do not have any postcards) and the inclusion of at least some basic metadata is a must.

The Tibetan & Himalayan Digital Library

The University of Virginia, with support from the international academic community, opened The Tibetan & Himalayan Digital Library (THDL) at the turn of the millennium. The library's multimedia and multilingual learning resources and creative works include more than 25,000 images and over 1,000 audio and video files, maps, texts, and more. There are a large number of collaborators and community participants listed in searchable form demonstrating a broad educational and research oriented constituency.

Rai Mother And Child - Phedi Village

THDL is organized into top level categories of Collections, Reference, Community, Education, and Tools. The site is not organize much different than a traditional library at this level. The creators discuss taking advantage of digital technology to provide a richer, different, and more robust experience.

The collections, largely built from the personal artifacts of researchers, span a variety of subject matter across the social, cultural, and environmental aspects of Tibetan and Himalayan society. One certainly get a sense for the new type of experience the creators had in mind as your browse or search your way through the collection. The multimedia presentation adds a dimension through video, audio, and 3D imaging that traditional texts and photography simply cannot convey. Of course, the texts, images, and maps are there as well making the environment rather rich in presentation.

In contrast, the navigation and organization of the site is confusing. There are too many different ways to browse making it difficult to understand as a whole. The search results pages for images do not have sufficient metadata. Clicking through to the detail page is necessary. The details pages offer a little less quality and a little less resolution than one would like. They use too much screen real estate for text based navigation links.

THDL is built on Fedora. Not much information is offered in regard to the "making of" THDL. The explanatory pages, technical resources, and other supplemental pages are verbose. In spite of the fact that the the reader is given more than they need to know, it was impossible to find essential copyright information. 

Sometimes, having too many collaborators and projects can muddy the waters. This may be what is going on here. It is possible that the interface can evolve to a more streamlined version or one that is customized to specific audiences. If that is done, the wealth of the resources will be front and center instead of the navigation. At that time, the world could have a very sweet high-altitude experience. 

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Sonic Memorial Project

The creators of the Sonic Memorial Project set out to create an online archive of audio files to commemorate the history of the World Trade Center, its neighborhood, and the destruction of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. According to the project’s Web site, it is a collaboration between radio and media producers, artists, historians, and individuals who have contributed recordings. More than 1000 audio files have been added to the archive, and they include stories, ambient sounds, voicemails, and archival recordings. Visitors to the site are encouraged to submit their own recordings and add to the continued growth of the project. Major funding for the project comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with additional support coming from the September 11th Digital Archive, the National Endowment for the Arts, and other organizations. The project is led by the creators of National Public Radio’s series Lost & Found Sound.

Users of the site can search the archive by any word, name, or date and can also browse by theme. There are more than 40 themes so far, including:

  • 9/11
  • Architecture
  • Construction
  • Nighttime Sound
  • Rescue Effort
  • Weddings

Search results include information about the item’s title, the type of recording, a brief description, and the length of the audio file. Files are played as streaming audio and cannot be saved to the user’s computer. The interface is simple, easy-to-use, and fitting for the seriousness of the subject matter. One of the unique features of the site is the interactive “Sonic Browser,” which allows user to select files by presenting them as a series of moving lines that appear on the screen with brief descriptions that appear when the cursor is held over them.

While the intended audience for the Sonic Memorial Project could include anyone with an interest in the subject matter, the creators of the site have included a guide aimed at educators who wish to incorporate the project into their curriculum. The site includes lesson modules on such topics as Culture & Identity, Memorials, and The Places & Stories of Our Lives.

The amount of material presented on this site is impressive, and the collection is likely to continue to grow over time. I found the project to be an original and tasteful way to document and preserve events and memories.

Historic Pittsburgh

The Historic Pittsburgh digital library project is hosted by the Digital Research Library of the University of Pittsburgh. The site provides access to a wealth of information about the city for anyone interested in learning more about the city, but the audience is likely to be comprised of individuals conducting academic or genealogical research about the area.

Collections featured on the site include:

  • Full-text of more than 500 books
  • Maps
  • Images
  • Archival collections
  • Census records

The site also features a searchable timeline of events relevant to the city and access to the catablog of the Library & Archives of the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania at the History Center. Links to collections, organizations, and further information about a subject are present throughout the site.

The method for searching materials varies by category. The full-text item search offers a standard basic/advanced search interface, while a map search is conducted by selecting a particular maps from an indexed list. Images searches are conducted either by exploring the collections by time, location, collection, or theme; the collections can also be searched through a targeted keyword search. The archival/finding aids collections are searchable using either a basic or a boolean search interface and can be further limited by selected only one of the two available collections. Census records are searchable by name or street, as well as an advanced search that incorporates information such as date of birth, gender, and occupation.

The creators of the site appear to have taken great pains to provide metadata for the materials which they have digitized. For example, the image files include information about titles, dates, creators, descriptions, subjects, address, unique identifier numbers, collection names, copyright, and how to order reproductions. Map records include information about titles, dates, publishers, descriptions, sources, subjects, dimensions, scales, scanning resolutions, unique identifiers numbers, collection names, usage rights, and how to order reproductions.

I believe that Historic Pittsburgh is a perfect example of a digital library. The collections are focused, relevant, comprehensive, and easy to use. The search interface is friendly and appealing, not bland and yet not overflowing with unnecessary graphics and details. I would definitely use this site as a model if I were creating my own digitalization project.

African Online Digital Library

The African Online Digital Library is a joint project between MATRIX (The Center for Humane, Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online at Michigan State University), which is a well funded, well staffed digitization center that seeks to combine computer science with the humanities; the African Studies Center at Michigan State; L'Institut Fondemental d'Afrique Noire (IFAN) located in Dakar, Senegal; and the West African Research Center/Centre De Recherche Ouest Africain (WARC/CROA), which is headquartered at the Smithsonian in D.C. The project is being funded by the International Development Research Centre and the National Science Foundation.

This project was conceived as a means of applying an American digitization model to meet the digitization needs of African scholars as well as students of African languages and culture. Additionally, the creators of this site hope it will help with the repatriation of items of African heritage (interviews in particular), although the idea is not to make a digital copy and return the original recording to Africa, but rather to repatriate the words that were said in the interview by creating a digital copy. A number of sound recordings previously given to universities in Dakar have become eroded because they do not have the means to adequately preserve the materials. This way they will have the interviews in a format that they can be used while the originals can be preserved elsewhere.

Other motivations behind the site include meeting the needs of scholars for oral sources - a fair bit of African history has been passed down through the oral tradition and by digitizing these histories and stories, they can be shared widely with scholars and the public; assisting with preservation efforts by creating high quality digital copies of source materials, which will reduce the usage of the original; and to meet the needs of students and teachers of West African languages.

The target audience is Americans studying West African languages and culture, and West African people. In my opinion, this stated audience is quite limited and limiting. I see no reason why people in France or Germany or Japan or Nigeria would not also be interested in West Africa and I think it's bizarre how often the audience is stated as consisting only of people in those two parts of the world.

Items for digitization were selected by the head librarian at the IFAN in Senegal as well as by people in the US with significant experience of West Africa. Items chosen were of various types including manuscripts, interviews, and images. Represented languages include Arabic, French and at least two African languages (Wolof and Pulaar). Flatbed color Hewlett Packard scanners in both countries were used to digitize the materials.

So far so normal - this project gets really cool at the metadata stage. The librarians chose to use three different metadata standards: Dublin Core for HTML searching; MARC for UMW's catalog and the catalogs of the partner libraries in Senegal; and Text Encoding Initiative headers for XML/SGML searching, which will also allow people to search for Arabic texts in Arabic instead of trying to transliterate. Using three types of metadata should ensure maximum usability and accessibility for users.

This digital library currently contains seven collections and a build-your-own gallery section. So far all of the galleries contain only images and digitized texts (there is one interview). I don't think it's finished yet - I went to the search screen and there are options to search for text, audio, video, and images, so eventually I expect they will fill the catalog out more.

There is one major problem with this site. You can't read any of the texts. I tried twice - I ran a search for texts, clicked on one randomly, and then got a window saying "Click here and choose 'Save' to download the resource." So I did and a blank page opened. For the images it's not the end of the world because it's perfectly easy to right-click directly on the image and save it, but for the texts, this problem is fatal. It's entirely possible that they haven't finished putting the texts on the site yet, but if that's the case, then they need a placeholder letting users know that.

Although still a bit buggy, overall this site is really fantastic and if it can meet its mission, then it will be filling a major research gap.

***

For a really interesting article about the state of technology in Africa, please read the needs section of the NSF grant for this project.

The Statue of Liberty Ellis Island Foundation Ins.




In 1982, President Ronald Reagan asked Lee Iacocca, then Chairman of Chrysler Corporation, to head a private sector effort to raise funds for the restoration and preservation of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation (SOLEIF) was founded.

The Foundation's fundraising drive sparked a dramatic response. The American people contributed more than $500 million (and counting!) to the repair, restoration, and maintenance of these two great monuments to freedom. All funds for the Foundation’s projects have come from the American people – no government funds have been used...

Working to promote knowledge of the Island, the Statue, and immigration history, the Foundation has published and made available to libraries and schools many books and curriculum guides, as well as a CD-ROM produced in collaboration with the History Channel...

The newest and most exciting Foundation project is the American Family Immigration History Center® (AFIHC), which opened in 2001 on Ellis Island and the World Wide Web, and makes the 25 million immigrant arrival records in the Ellis Island Archives available to everyone.

http://www.ellisisland.org/EIinfo/about.asp

  • Description of what was digitized (click images to enlarge and view)

    The Ellis Island website has 6 major links of which three are of interest to this blog: Passenger Search, Ellis Island and Genealogy. In the Passenger Search area, the user can search according to a variety of criteria, for any of the 22 million passengers that past through Ellis Island between 1892-1924. The search can be modified, made more exact or 'fuzzy', and can be saved – according to passenger records, ship manifests, or ship images.

    Via the Ellis Island link, the user can access six individual histories representing a range of ethnic immigrant experiences, Ellis Island Timeline and History, Photo Albums, portraits of immigrant Americans who became "Ellis Island Patriots" and information about The American Family Immigration History Center (AFIHC).

    The Genealogy section gives advice and tools for people interested in tracing their own genealogy and immigrant history. Highlights various famous arrivals (example below, Sigmund Freud) and refers users to other resources.

  • Audience for the project:

    The audience is anyone interested in the history of the immigrant experience as reflected through the major entry point for immigrants throughout much of American history. The website is written is a language that would make it a useful resource for students from approximately middle school and up.
  • How are the digital assets presented?

    The assets are presented in a straightforward manner, presenting the information in a context that gives a historical perspective to the pictures and documents presented. In the case of records, ship names, ship manifests and individual immigrant certificates can be viewed by registered users. Registration is free.
  • What metadata is present?

    Interestingly, there appears to be no metadata available for photographs. Passenger records can be viewed, but again little additional data is retrievable from the website.
  • Recommendations:

    Though obviously a tremendous financial investment would have to be made, making available records following 1924 would be of great interest. Adding metadata to the photographs and making this data available online would also be useful.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Encyclopedia of Life

(EOL) is an online portal with the goal to organize and publish information about life on Earth. EOL wants to combine the biodiversity knowledge of all currently know species. This (will) include information about their taxonomy, geographic distribution, genetics, evolutionary history, morphology, behavior and ecological relationships important for the human well-being. According to their website the goal is to (among others):

  • Create a constantly evolving encyclopedia that lives on the Internet, with contributions from scientists and amateurs alike.
  • Transform the science of biology, and inspire a new generation of scientists, by aggregating virtually all known data about every living species.

As good introduction to the idea and concept behind EOL, I recommend to watch the navigation video: http://www.eol.org/help

Currently the EOL staff consists of 20 full time employees (scientists and non-scientists). It is funded by a $10 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and a $2.5 million from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Institutional partners are the Biodiversity Heritage Library, The Field Museum of Natural History, Harvard University, Marine Biological Laboratory, Missouri Botanical Garden, Smithsonian Institution.

The target audience for the EOL is widely distributed – schoolchildren, educators, scientists, academics and a general public interested in the topic.

Since this site has been launched recently, so far it is still a work in progress. One can for example only experience 25 pages exemplary species pages. (http://www.eol.org/content/exemplars).


So far, the search option is very simple – no advanced search functions are included. Every species is presented via the same website layout. One can choose between different images; maps and videos are added; on the left hand one can use a scroll-down menu to identify the level of difficulty in which one wants the data presented: the left is for a general audience and the right level is for a scientific audience. Further, the right side includes a classification – here one can choose to display a text classification, a graphic classification and additionally the source of the classification is provided.

I am wondering whether this site can be perceived as “real” digital libraries or not? In any case I found it to be a fascinating project so I decided to add it here. I really enjoyed browsing this site and I think that this project could be a success. However I could not find more information on the metadata used and I am wondering if any new images are being digitized or not. Furthermore, the funding is provided by two grants; what will happen if these grants ran out? Finally, I wonder what scientists think about this project.

Digital Literature Collection at Berkeley

SunSITE seems to be catered for the college and research community; and it is hosted by Berkeley and sponsored by Sun Microsystems.The home page for the DL appears old and out-dated and it contains none of the following: about us information, goals or objectives, background information, planning, or future considerations. The search function seems like a pointless feature. There are only 12 collections, that are best viewed by clicking into each and self-navigating. A search for "Baldwin" only retrieved one item, leaving out this Baldwin in the DL altogether.

My intent though is to focus on the literature collection. The digital literature collection is one collection within the SunSITE digital library at Berkeley. There are currently 10 authors in the collection and the page hasn't been updated since 2006, but it does claim: "The Digital Library SunSITE is building a collection of digital texts that can be read online, printed, or downloaded for further study." There doesn't appear to by a rhyme or reason as to why these 10 were selected. The works themselves are not digital scans, but ASCII text. Also, I can not fathom someone printing an entire novel from this site when many of the titles are in the public domain and available easily in any public or academic library.

Additionally, biographies are not provided for authors and the works provided are by no means comprehensive. The Upton Sinclair novel The Jungle is available, but oddly they also include a link to SparkNotes. No metadata is provided for the works, just simple descriptors- for example:

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave

A landmark autobiography by a former slave.

Emma
"Of all Austen's novels, Emma is the most consistently comic in tone. It centres on Emma Woodhouse, a wealthy, pretty, self-satisfied young woman who indulges herself with meddlesome and unsuccessful attempts at matchmaking among her friends and neighbours. After a series of humiliating errors, a chastened Emma finds her destiny in marriage to the mature and protective George Knightley, a neighbouring squire who had been her mentor and friend." - Encyclopaedia Britannica

Unfortunately, this digital collection isn't worthwhile and may be better served by linking a user to Project Gutenberg or GoogleBooks. Considering the clout that Berkeley and Sun Microsystems possess this digital library should not be in the shape that it is in.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

All in a day’s work for U.S. Fish and Wildlife employees

If you want a change of scenery but can’t travel right now, try browsing through some of the natural and wildlife collections available at the National Image Library, sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


The public domain, still photo digitized images in these collections are the work of U.S. Fish and Wildlife employees around the United States. The images include scenic photos of nature, wildlife management work such as bird banding, plants, animals, and other natural resources that fall under the care of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The audience for this site is anyone interested in the natural world and/or anyone interested in the natural resources of different parts of the U.S.

There is very little project background information on the site, so it’s difficult to tell what the motivation was for the project and how it was implemented. Future plans are also sketchy, although on the first page there is a mention of a software upgrade which will take place, but there is no mention of when.

Finding and viewing the images

The current site allows you to search for images based on keywords or use the search engine. The images are found in many different collections, organized geographically:
-Alaska Image Library
-California Nevada Image Library
-Historic Image Library
-Midwest Image Library
-NCTC Image Library
-Northeast Image Library
-Pacific Image Library
-Southeast Image Library
-Southwest Image
-Washington DC Library

One thing I noticed is that the images do not always match up to the collection. For example, if I search for “grand canyon,” I find 4 images, 3 of which are in the Washington, D.C. with the fourth in the Historic Image Library. Also, not all of the images are of still photos, as the site describes. Some are maps or drawings. It might be nice to filter the search on the format of the image you wanted. Also, while the keywords are helpful and sometimes cross-referenced, it might be easier to use some type of tag cloud. Searching seems to be more useful than browsing; for example, if I type in “grand canyon,” I find four images, but if I try browsing for that term, I don’t see it. One thing that I like is that if you search for something, and it finds something, it will show you the Subject field in that record so that you can match up your search to a subject term that you can use when browsing the keywords.

The images are presented with their metadata information, and it looks like the metadata standard used is Dublin Core. While I usually think that some of the metadata elements don’t need to be seen by the user and can sometimes be confusing, I think this site organizes them well and it doesn’t detract from the user experience. It’s easy to download the image from the site, and some images have additional formats to choose from.


Presentation of IP information

Since assignment 3 is fresh in my mind, I was very interested to see how they handled intellectual property issues. On the home page, they state that the images are in the public domain. I found conflicting information on the Privacy page, where they mention that some of the images on the site are licensed for use under current copyright law. Also, they do ask that if you use the images, you credit the photographer and the Fish and Wildlife Servie (“John Doe/USFWS”). I didn’t find any Terms of Use statement, but that could be because most of the images are in the public domain.

Overall impression

I like the idea that these images were created by the people actually working to preserve these resources, and it’s a good example of making something accessible through digitization (the natural resources themselves, plus sharing the work that goes into preserving them). I will definitely bookmark this site and check back to see what they add.




The National Gallery, London

Project name and URL
The National Gallery, London http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/default.htm

Organization Name
The National Gallery

Description
This site contains all of the paintings from The National Gallery, London. It includes all of the National Gallery’s permanent collections as well as traveling or on loan pieces. The National Gallery collects paintings from Western Europe from about 1250 AD. The site is organized by its collections, but it also includes beginners’ guides to various periods, introductions to artists, information about care and study of these paintings, and a full index to the collection.

Audience
The audience for this project is anyone interested in Western European paintings. The collection is so deep that anyone from schoolchildren to researchers, art historians, or collectors would find this site useful. The National Gallery has its own Education Department aimed at school groups. The site is also the portal to job openings at the National Gallery.

Background information
The National Gallery began in the 19th century when the English government bought a private picture collection. The digitization of the pictures marks the attempt to further fulfill the Gallery’s mission which is to maintain free access to these art works for the public.

How are digital assets presented?
Users can access the pictures in a variety of ways. They can browse the collections, search by author, subject, time period, or use the index. A thumbnail picture is then shown with accompanying descriptive text including author, title, date, and description of the picture’s features. Photos of the pictures are fully zoomable with a simple click and drag feature to zoom in on targeted areas. The only drawback to this is that they open in another window which can mean some clicking back and forth. Some pictures (like dyptichs) have pictures on more than one face and so you can view the reverse sides as well. Critical words and phrases in the descriptive text are hyperlinked to provide more information.

Other thoughts

The National Gallery has a fully indexed and searchable picture library which allows individuals to download (for payment) high resolution versions of their pictures. You can search by artist, time period, styles, themes, or subjects. The buyer is given the option of downloading different resolutions (from 72dpi JPEG, RGB to 300dpi JPEG, RGB in different sizes) which vary by price. This allows the National Gallery to maintain control over its assets.

The National Gallery also posts its copyright restrictions which allow for browsing and access of one copy for non-commercial personal use only. It places a watermark on all of its freely accessible digital photos to inhibit downloading that violates copyright.

There are podcasts available monthly which describe the features of current or upcoming collections and that give more detail about the collections through interviews, etc.

Another project the National Gallery is involved with is the National Inventory which is attempting to inventory all pre 1900 European paintings in U.K. public galleries.
A final interesting feature I haven’t seen elsewhere is the ability to send a copy of a picture directly to a mobile phone.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Mujeres Latinas Digital Collection

Mujeres Latinas Digital Collection compiles digitized audio, newspaper clippings, and photographs to describe the history of Latina women in Iowa. The source of the online collection is the Iowa Women's Archives of the University of Iowa Libraries: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/iwa/mujeres.html . Mujeres Latinas is a part of the Iowa Digital Library project.

Of particular interest to me were the recordings of oral histories. Unfortunately, only one of five audio recordings was available. The other four recordings were in restricted files and since they were restricted, it seems strange that their descriptions were added to an open-access digital collection. The available oral history was an interesting excerpt of a woman's childhood experience of having to pump water and carry it home.

A problem with this digital collection is that the site does not have enough information. For example, there is no information about the scope of the collection, the time period of the artifacts, or the total number of items featured in the collection. Most importantly, there is no information about whether the digital collection is complete or still in-progress.

The Iowa Digital Library Services have been developed to support teaching and research. The audience for this collection seems to be University of Iowa researchers and local Iowa historians.

The collection uses CONTENTdm software. General information about the Iowa Digital Library's project development activities can be found at the Project Development page: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/dls/ProjectDevelopment.html

The American Missionary Association and the Promise of a Multicultural America: 1839-1954

The American Missionary Association was an abolitionist missionary society. It is most noted for founding several schools and colleges in the American South for African Americans. The American Missionary Association and the Promise of a Multicultural America: 1839 - 1954 is a digital photo album of the AMA's missions in the United States and abroad. The online collection contains over 5000 images. The collection is based on the archives of the AMA held by the Amistad Research Center of Tulane University.

The digital archive may be browsed by photograph title or by subject. In addition, users can access an advanced search function. The collection uses CONTENTdm software. A feature of the site is that images can be added to "My Favorities" and viewed in a slideshow. Users can also download a PowerPoint plugin to create their own slideshow.

Information about the collection can be found on the Amistad Center's website, but the digital collection is hosted by the LOUISiana Digital Library and can be found at that site: http://louisdl.louislibraries.org/ . The LOUISiana Digital Library contains the digital collections of libraries, musuems, and historical societies in Louisiana. Its content marketed to "anyone with access to the internet and an interest in the materials". Technical information about the project, like information about metadata, can be found at the LDL's Resources page: http://louisdl.louislibraries.org/index.php?browseby=resources

Artists' Book Collection

The Artists' Book Collection was developed to serve as an index to the University of Wisconsin's collection of artists' books at Kohler Art Library. The online index inludes descriptive information on 760 books in the collection. Of these, the website has images of 500 books. Many of the books were created by alumni of the University of Wisconsin's Art program.

The index features a stunning array of images of these impressive works of art. For example, one of the books by Amos Paul Kennedy Jr., "African proverbs from Nigeria", is designed in the shape of a decorated snake and opens out into a fan. Another book, by Dianne Weiss, is called "A Carrousel", and its book leaves are folded into an accordion, which when opened resemble a carousel.

The website describes the index as a "visual finding aid" to the physical collection, thus it not a substitute for the actual collection but rather a supplement. The stated audience for the website are University of Wisconsin students and faculty and the general public.

The website may be browsed, but also has an advanced search function that may be limited by language, date, title, subject, and other limiters.

The site includes a detailed description of the index , how it is funded, its ultimate goal, and lists some of its featured artists and the medium used for the books. The site also includes a copyright statement and has a link to its usage statistics.

In addition to this index, more information about the University's artists' books can be found at the online site of the Kohler Art Library's 2002 artists' books exhibit: http://art.library.wisc.edu/artistsbooks/Introduction.html

Tokyo National Museum (TNM) Gallery

Organization Name:
Tokyo National Museum (TNM)
Organization’s objectives:
TNM continues to promote the following services:
-Preservation and inheritance of the museum collections
-Dissemination of traditional culture
-Education activities
-Vitalization of the institutes as a national center
-Promotion of international cooperation related to preservation and restoration of cultural properties
-Reinforcement of information dissemination
-Collaboration with universities
-Advancement of research
Description of what was digitized:
The TNM digitized a comprehensive collection of art works and antiquities from Japan as well as other Asian countries.
Audience for the project:
-Anyone who is interested in Japanese cultural properties and invaluable national properties
-Anyone who would like to perform research studies/educational activities of Japanese history and traditional culture by using or introducing image data.
Recording and disseminating information:
The TNM disseminates the information in various ways in order to make the research information on cultural properties available to the pubic. The TNM promotes the publication of research results and restoration reports, the operation of museum website, and the digitization of the information about cultural properties in order to pass cultural heritage and research information down to future generations. What I find interesting is that collections of digital image data for commercial use are available (for a fee) through TNM Image Archives and @KYOTO MUSE. The vendors can make digital reproductions and build archives of cultural assets. They also provide a rights clearance service and propose commercial usages for reproductions of fine arts. Their clients are the owners of those assets, exhibition holders, academic or commercial users of digital reproductions. They stock images officially licensed by several museums, temples and artists both inside and outside Japan. I think that licensing the museum’s images would be a good strategy to gain revenue plus publicity.
How are the digital assets presented?
The TNM digital collection is categorized into three parts: Select by Type, Select by Regions, and Current Display.
-Select by Type
The TNM’s most outstanding works are available to view under these types:
Archaeology, Sculpture, Painting, Calligraphy, Decorative Arts, plus a few others
-Select by Region
There are seven regions available to select: Japan, China, Korea, Japan or East Asia, India & Southeast Asia, Chinese Central Asia, and Egypt & Western Asia.
-Current Display
Image collection currently displayed in the TNM is available to view.
-Search Image
Unfortunately the search option is not available in English site. I found this function in Japanese site only.
Comments on image data/description:
I think quality of image data is very good. What I find useful is that every object image can be enlarged (Enlarged and Enlarged more options) and some of objects show other parts of photos. Although explanation of each object is not displayed in detail, the simplicity is easy to understand as a result.
Additional information:
-Under the right hand side of the main page, there is a search option that can view
national treasures (Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean languages available).
-In Japanese website, there is a page called TNM Web Archives
In the left side of the page, there is a menu that displays researchers, research outputs such as theses, reports, authors, databases, educational activities and preservations/restoration. In the middle of the page, there is an image information search available. Under the search function, The TNM introduces new output as to what kinds of image data they have digitized or database they have created recently (e.g.; Aug.1, 2007 Old Photos/Maps WEB database available).
Ease of Use:
It is easy to search information and browse through collection images.
Others:
My sister used to work in the TNM being the largest museum in Japan, which is one of my favorite museums. She said that digital image access became to be available there since 2004. As the first national museum in Japan, the TNM has been adding more digital objects on the webpage in order to fulfill the museum’s objectives.
I expect that the TNM will contribute to promote more Japanese cultural properties/heritage and provide effective access to anyone, anywhere in the world, for research and educational activities.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire


Project name and URL

1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire

Organizations who created this exhibit:

  • The Bancroft Library, The University of California, Berkeley
  • California Historical Society, San Francisco
  • The California State Library
  • The Huntington Library; The Society of California Pioneers
  • The Stanford University Libraries — Special Collections & Archives

Description of what was digitized

Documentation pertaining to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire is the focus of this project. Selected primary source materials – thousands of digital images and text files – have been included.

Audience for the project (stated or assumed)

The audience is anyone interested in the history and impact of the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906. By the nature of the materials, the exhibit will interest adults more than children.

How are the digital assets presented?

The web site "serves as the primary point of entry to the project" which includes " an online exhibit, search functionality, an interactive map of San Francisc, and a "360-degree panoramic view of the ruined city" (http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/collections/earthquakeandfire/index2.html).

The online exhibit features 5 rooms, each of which focuses on a different topic: San Francisco in the New Century, The Day Our City Trembled, A Firestorm from Hell, Surviving a City in Ruins, Reconstructing a New City. Each "room" includes maps, photographs, silent film and sounds. The navigation tools make moving between the rooms easy and intuitive.

The interactive map helps the user place him/herself geographically and see the digital artifacts in context; the 360-degree panoramic map illustrates via the piecing together of 11 images the immensity of the destruction suffered by San Francisco and its residents.

The user may search the collection by entering a keyword, and then choosing to search all the collections available, or just one particular repository. Additionally, the user can search using the finding aid from the Online Archive of California, or browse from extensive lists of subjects or genres (document types). Additional resources are provided in terms of an extensive bibliography and a list of links to web pages.

What metadata is present?

In a search that I conducted for the word "bridge," I received as listing of 82 results. Though the metadata for each was not consistent, in general, for each picture there was a title, the name of the photographer, and a cataloguing number for the epository in which the photograph was located.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Florida Memory Project

Project Overview:
The Florida Memory Project was created and is maintained by the State Archives of Florida. It was created to open up their records to the public. Those records include photographs, videos, World War I service cards, Spanish land grants, Confederate pension application files, Florida's constitutions, and family papers with connections to famous persons or events. They also have a folk music collection largely from the Florida Folklife program.

Audience:
This site is geared towards educational and historical research needs. They have an "Online Classroom" collection of lesson plans and "educational units" to help teachers involve their classes in aspects of Floridian history.

Background Information:
They have a very general "about" section, but no specifics about the technical side of the digitization process. A few of the collections have their own "about" pages, but again no specifics on how the digitization of materials was done.

Impressions and Observations:
The site is very well laid out. Easy to navigate and they've kept it fairly simple (no distracting background images or colours). The collections are easy to browse through and they've utilized Google as their site search engine. One downside is that the general site search engine doesn't search through the photograph collection, but they do warn their users of that limitation. There is a separate search engine for that photograph collection which does an admirable job and returns results with large thumbnail images and descriptions of the photographs.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Journal Storage (JSTOR)

From Wikipedia: "JSTOR is a United States-based online system for archiving academic journals. It provides full-text searches of digitized back issues of several well-known journals, dating back to 1665." The project was originally funded by the Andrew W. Mellon foundation, but has since become an independent entity (non-profit). From the JSTOR Website: "JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization with a dual mission to create and maintain a trusted archive of important scholarly journals, and to provide access to these journals as widely as possible. JSTOR offers researchers the ability to retrieve high-resolution, scanned images of journal issues and pages as they were originally designed, printed, and illustrated. The journals archived in JSTOR span many disciplines."

JSTOR archives many of those hard-to-find articles across a wide spectrum of disciplines, from the humanities to the physical and biological sciences. In fact part of the motivation for JSTOR is to help ease the burden of "traditional" libraries to maintain back issues of journals (and thus potentially release some valuable shelf-space). A full list of the journals can be seen here. For those interested in text mining applications that can extract titles of journals from bibliographic references, JSTOR also provides a plain-text download  of the complete list of journals (which might also be used for other local database applications...). It is an open access resource, although getting at the OCR'd text isn't possible-- although through the search interface there is some mechanism to search the OCR'd text for specific text phrases. On the JSTOR site, they defend the decision to only expose the images as three-fold: (1) Faithful replications; (2) Representation of Non-Text Content; and, (3) Accuracy of Images. 

The present interface has been around for some time and is familiar to many researchers. However, there are plans for a "new" and "improved" JSTOR interface. Of particular note in the new interface is the ability to search via a "faceted" approach-- which will include the ability to narrow searches by a number of metadata types (e.g., discipline, journal, or article type), as well as also search for "more like this" articles based on the current view. These are becoming commonplace in a number of interface (like Google, and way before Google, PubMed). 

Of particular interest (especially in light of Assignment 3), is the concept of the "moving wall,"  which reflects agreements between publishers and JSTOR to allow free access to content-- more details about the moving wall can be read here.

The Website and much of its content are seemingly aimed towards researchers at all levels. I personally have made great use of the biological sciences collections. Both for research, and just for fun to see what types of content are available. It is a fun site to explore, once one gets around the current interface clunkiness (I'm used to it now, having used it for years-- but I do recall the learning curve a few years back). Hopefully the new interface will really be an improvement!


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Digital Forsyth

Organization name: this site is a collaboration among Forsyth County Public Library, Winston-Salem State University's C.G. O'Kelly Library, and Wake Forest University's Z. Smith Reynolds Library and Coy C. Carpenter Medical Library

What was digitized: historical photographs of Forsyth County, North Carolina; dates range from the 1850s to 2000

Audience for project: the people of Forsyth County, North Carolina, and anyone interested in its history

Background information available: the ‘About’ page has information about the project, its mission and vision, and the project process

How are digital assets presented? the images are scanned in RGB, 24-bit color and saved as uncompressed TIFFs; the image is converted to a JPEG format for access; one can request a print of the image you are viewing

Additional information: you can browse images by subject; the advanced search is a keyword search that lets you limit your search by category, collection, and date; you can also select from four different sorting options; you can also join a mailing list or provide feedback about the site; the ‘Explore’ page highlights some photographs that look particularly interesting, like famous people who have visited the city; this site provides enough information about the photographs (or what can be determined anyway) without appearing overwhelming to the user; the news page keeps interested parties up-to-date with news about the site

Metadata: qualified DC is used for cataloging; details include: abstract, date created, creator, description, format, version, identifier, publisher, rights, subject, and title; the record also lists similar categories and you can leave a comment about the photograph

Ease of use: this site is fun to browse, the one area that I think needs attention is the 'similar categories' section of the record; it looks a little chaotic, the categories range from very specific (i.e. Mr. Grunnert) to very general (i.e. people, activities) and I wouldn’t call ‘Mr. Gunnert’ a category, he is the subject of the photograph; a little cleaning up of this area would be helpful; even with this, the fact that so many organizations are contributing to this site makes the information presented even more valuable and the quality of the site shows; the images are crisp and clear (even the older photographs), and the site is laid out in logical manner

Witchcraft Collection

Project name:
Witchcraft Collection http://dlxs2.library.cornell.edu/w/witch/index.html

Organization name:
Cornell University

Description of what was digitized:
This collection is a subset of the materials that the library owns documenting the Inquisition and the persecution of witchcraft. The collection currently contains 23,220 pages from 104 monographs. Included are texts that helped define the theory of the heresy of witchcraft, the works of theologians who were opposed to the Inquisition, and trial records and torture accounts of the accused.

Audience:
The stated audience of the collection is students and scholars of the history of superstition and witchcraft persecution in Europe.

Type of project background information available on the site:
The about page contains a through description of the importance of the collection, but I was unable to find any technical details on the website.

Analysis:
Ascetically the website is clean and easy to read with some samples of the material in the collection, but rather boring considering the material. The site navigation is clear and there is both a search and a browse function. The search function allows the user to do basic (keyword with limits by author, text, or title), boolean with operators available in a drop down list, proximity, and bibliographic searches. You can also view your search history. The search results allow you view where in the text of the document the search term appeared and go directly to that page, view the table of contents or first page, or save the document to a bookbag. The main page of the document shows you all of the bibliographic information about the document and allows you to enter the document at various points within the text. When you view the text you have the option of seeing the scanned document or the text of the page. This is a very well designed, if somewhat bland, digital library and the search and display areas should certainly be investigated by anyone considering digitizing physical materials.

Linus Pauling and the International Peace Movement

Linus Pauling and the International Peace Movement

Linus Pauling, noted scientist and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and the Nobel Peace Prize, was also well-known as a peace activist. This collection documents the peace movement activities of Pauling and his wife, Ava. This sophisticated website is arranged to be read in any one of three ways.

First, users may view the history of the Pauling’s peace activities through a narrative which spans 49 years. Interspersed throughout the narrative are links to related documents, images and videos of the Paulings.

The second way to read the site is to forgo the narrative and just access the digitized collection through a page entitled “All Documents and Media”. This page arranges the collection by type- Correspondence, Video Clips, Audio Clips, Pictures and Illustrations, etc. This page also links to a chronological list of all the presented documents.

A third view presents two years in the life of the Pauling’s using a day calendar, beginning January 1, 1950 and continuing through December 31, 1951. Each date in the calendar links to a document written to or by the Paulings during the time period.

The site does not limit itself to a particular audience, but it is likely to appeal to researchers and college students who want to learn more about the Pauling's lives.

The technical aspects of the site are just as impressive as the content that is presented. The simple search function works well. For example, a search for “Albert Einstein” resulted in about 208 results, some of which included images of Einstein and letters written by him.

To assist users with further research, the site includes two bibliographies about peace studies. The first bibliography provides citations to general primary and secondary source materials. The second bibliography cites books that were a part of the Pauling’s personal library.

A small shortcoming of the website is that it does not provide much information about the terms of use of the materials, nor does it provide technical documentation about the site’s development. For copyright information, users must visit OSU’s Special Collections website: http://osulibrary.oregonstate.edu/specialcollections/copyright.html

The website was produced by Oregon State University Libraries’ Special Collections.

Friday, March 14, 2008

CSHL Digital Collections

The Digital Collection Project (http://archives.cshl.edu) at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Library & Archives (CSHL Library)contains selected materials from the CSHL Library archival collections.

What is so special about the CSHL Library archival collections that justifies their digitization? For more than 100 years CSHL has been a pivotal place for biological discovery, especially in genetics. For instance, at the Cold Spring Harbor Symposium in 1951, Barbara McClintock described "controlling elements" for which she was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1983. It was in another Cold Spring Harbor Symposium that James Watson described publicly the structure of DNA. The collections that were partially digitized include the James D. Watson Collection, Hermann J. Muller Collection, Barbara McClintock Collection, and the Meetings and Courses Photographic and Video Collection. There personal and business letters written by these famous scientists, photographs and even scanned laboratory notebooks. It is a rich collection for the historian of science or even a student who would like to enrich her studies through access to these materials. There are group photographs from most Cold Spring Harbor courses and meetings. I was able to find my picture from the 1991 X-ray Crystallography course I took.

The 'About the Project' page has detailed information about the project which would be of interest to others attempting to digitize a similar collection.

Although the collection is very rich, I found the interface a bit clunky. The search results are displayed as full records, without thumbnail pictures or other helpful scanning tools when the number of search results are high.

Digital Himalaya Project

Project Name: Digital Himalaya Project

http://www.digitalhimalaya.com/

Organization: Department of Social Anthropology at Cambridge University and the Anthropology Department at Cornell University

Content: ethnographic materials from the Himalayan region including text, film clips, photos, maps, sound recordings, journals, and field notes

Audience: students, researchers, scholars (anthropologists, musicologists, historians), environmentalists, activists, people with a general interest the Himalayan region, and “descendants of the people from whom the materials were collected”

Background: As stated in the overview, “[t]he Digital Himalaya project was conceived of by Professor Alan Macfarlane and Dr. Mark Turin as a strategy for archiving and making available valuable ethnographic materials from the Himalayan region. Based jointly at the Department of Social Anthropology at Cambridge University and the Anthropology Department at Cornell University, the project began in December 2000”.

Analysis: There are twelve collections presented on the Digital Himalaya Project, eleven of which are hosted by the site. The presentation is clean and well organized with well documented objects. The information made available on the site is culturally and historically valuable and DHP has succeeded in increasing access to these unique and hard-to-find items. The amount of content on the site is not overwhelming and many outside links are provided to provide more context and further study.

An in-depth explanation of the equipment used in digitizing items is included on the site which I found to be helpful and informative.

At first, I noticed the lack of recent images and film. That, however, is the point of the site- to provide users with unique and previously difficult to access collections. The online digital surrogates of the quickly deteriorating 16mm films from the 1930’s and videodiscs from 60’s and 70’s illustrate this point well.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Artists' Books Online

Project Name: Artists' Books Online

http://www.artistsbooksonline.org/

Organization: Ongoing University of Virginia Library project

Content: Artists' Books Online is primarily comprised of digitized artists' books. The site also contains exhibits, essays, and links.

Audience: As noted in the mission statement, “[t]he project serves several different communities: artists, scholars and critics, librarians and curators, and interested readers”.

Background: Founded in 2004, the Artists' Books Online mission is to “promote critical engagement with artists’ books and to provide access to a digital repository of metadata, scans, and commentary”. The site is hosted by the University of Virginia, run by “a team of professional library staff and digital humanists”, and supported by an Advisory Board of curators, artists, librarians, and scholars.

Analysis: I am very fond of this site; it is very well done, accessible to visitors and potential/current contributors, and interesting. Instead of employing a content manager such as CONTENTdm, the site relies on the use of XML to display information. This style of display is much cleaner and more customizable. The downside to which being that knowledge of XML is required to add content. Conveniently, the XML code has been provided in the About and FAQ sections of the site.

In addition to the digitized books there is commentary, criticism, and exhibits. This complementary information was also very interesting and helped give the books a context.

When is comes to metadata, Artists' Books Online is on point. A hierarchal metadata schema comprised of three levels (work, edition, and object) exists for each book. Approximately 80 elements contribute to the schema.

All-in-all, I found the site to be very easy to use. Occasionally, I ran into issues when trying to view a “reading” image- the extra window would not open or my browser would freeze ( I tried both Firefox and IE). Navigation, however, was very easy, intuitive, and pleasant. This is a great site that offers very original and interesting content.

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875

The Library of Congress and the Law Library of Congress offer a rousing digital library, supplying a fix of historical and legal documents. They proudly proclaim that:

"Beginning with the Continental Congress in 1774, America's national legislative bodies have kept records of their proceedings. The records of the Continental Congress, the Constitutional Convention, and the United States Congress make up a rich documentary history of the construction of the nation and the development of the federal government and its role in the national life. These documents record American history in the words of those who built our government."

For the most part these are full image scans of text documents; however they are fully searchable and available in high quality tiff images! And if that isn't rousing enough, their collection of Indian Land Cessions in the United States, 1784-1894 is in full color, high quality, and searchable in many ways (even by tribe!). Moreover, an option for greater image quality is available using MrSID (Multi-resolution Seamless Image Database). Scans of photos, busts, painting, and other artifacts are also viewable in certain areas. For example The Louisiana Purchase Legislative Timeline includes an image of old slave quarters, a portrait of Thomas Jefferson, and a city plan for New Orleans:



























Most of the items fall into the public domain, given that they are out of copyright and/or public Government documents. However, items like the old slave quarters photograph may be under copyright (printed 1940); while their metadata gives an author, Wolcott, Marion Post, it doesn't state it's current copyright facts. Another problem with the site is the user interface. Apparently the site hasn't been updated since 2003 and it certainly feels that way. The gaudy peach background and lay out make for an out of date web experience. The search functions and appendix features provide great access and searchability but red links on a peach background make searching a bit cumbersome.

The Library of Congress has an intended audience: US Congress and American citizens. However, people from all over the world can access this information. Overall, this is an excellent resource for anyone looking to see and/or research artifacts from American history. Excluding the graphical interface- the high quality digitized records, comprehensive metadata (see example), and the searchability functions leaves little to be desired.


Emergence of Advertising in America

Introduction:

This project is made possible by a grant from the 1998 Library of Congress/Ameritech National Digital Library Competition. The grant enables Duke Library’s Digital Scriptorium and the Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising and Marketing History to make available rare advertising history resources.

Over 9,000 images are presented and illustrate the rise of consumer culture, between the time after the American Civil War to the birth of U.S. advertising industry. In all eleven categories, the images shown represent only a portion of a particular collection or series and include primarily items or pages that are especially informative and visually interesting. They chose not to scan some pages of dense text from books and pamphlets, and items that are very large or significantly damaged.

Purpose:

  • To make a range of important, interesting, and rare advertising items widely available for study and research,
  • To enhance the usefulness of the illustrative material with essays, a timeline, and bibliographies.

This project complements Duke Library's earlier project Ad Access which contains over 7,000 print advertisements organized into five subject categories from mainly U.S. magazines and newspapers.

Audience:

The images and texts on this web site have been made available for use in research, education, and private study.

Copyright:

For purpose of research and study, users may reproduce materials without prior permission. The site further states that under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research."

Comments:

Nicely organized but could have a little better visual appeal. It was created in the 90s, so that could be why it seems a little dated in its design. It’s an amazing collection and was chosen in 1997 as the Library of Congress/Ameritech Digital Library contest winner. It includes fairly extensive metadata that thoroughly explains the images. By simply clicking on a link, the user can see the image in different sizes. The images are of exceptional quality, especially considering the age of some of the collection. The collection can be easily browsed by narrowing a search by company, product, subject, and year. The collection categories are further explained in detail. For users who are not familiar with the history of advertising, there is a timeline of important events. I would definitely recommend viewing the Ad Access collection as well.