Friday, April 25, 2008

Digital Library of Appalachia

Digital Library of Appalachia, Appalachian College Association Central Library

Description of what was digitized: The Digital Library of Appalachia provides online access to archival and historical materials related to the culture of the southern and central Appalachian region. The thirty-four member libraries, archives, and museums associated with the Appalachian College Association, known collectively as ACA Central Library, seek to generate interest and encourage continued scholarship for the entire region. Digitized items include: color or black and white photographs, reformatted typed pages, published books, unpublished manuscripts, personal diaries and correspondence, journal and newspaper articles, musical recordings, oral history recordings and transcripts, and other related reproductions.

Audience for the project: General Public

Purposes of the Digital Library of Appalachia:
  1. To improve scholarly access to research resources related to Appalachia. Improved access, particularly to primary source material, will strengthen academic offerings in Appalachian Studies.
  2. To bring together research resources that are currently scattered throughout geographically remote locations. The digital library allows items to be viewed side-by-side, even if they are physically located in different states. The opportunity for comparison and contrast will foster new learning about Appalachian experience.
  3. To share information about Appalachia with scholars worldwide. Students, faculty, and researchers will be able to draw upon the Digital Library of Appalachia for authentic information, and thereby gain a greater understanding of the region.
  4. To broaden opportunities for classroom instruction. Faculty will be able to design new or revised courses based on the resources newly made available through the Digital Library of Appalachia. Likewise, students and teachers in regional schools may find the Digital Library of Appalachia revitalizes their courses in state and local history and culture.
Sample of the search interface:

International Music Information Retrieval Systems Evaluation Laboratory (IMIRSEL) Project

International Music Information Retrieval Systems Evaluation Laboratory (IMIRSEL) Project

“The virtual home of music information retrieval research.”

Description of what was digitized: The objective of the International Music Information Retrieval Systems Evaluation Laboratory project (IMIRSEL) is the establishment of the necessary resources for the scientifically valid development and evaluation of emerging Music Information Retriev
al (MIR) and Music Digital Library (MDL) techniques and technologies. Part of the project is the creation of secure, yet accessible, large-scale collections of music materials in a variety of audio, symbolic and metadata forms. These collections, when coupled with a set of standardized experimental tasks and standardized evaluation metrics, will allow members of the international MIR/MDL research community to participate in TREC-like evaluation "contests" so they can scientifically compare and contrast their various approaches to making the world's vast store of musical heritage materials ever more available.

Audience: Musicians and other Music Professionals

Principal Project Components: The IMIRSEL project comprises to major subprojects:
The Virtual Research Labs (VRL) using Music-to-Knowledge (M2K) project
The VRL subproject is being undertaken to provide a uniform mechanism for the international MIR/MDL community to access the standardized resources of IMIRSEL in a robust, yet secure, manner. The VRLs are constructed using IMIRSEL's M2K rapicd prototyping and evalution environment. M2K is an open-sourced ext
ension of the D2K (Data-to-Knowlege)/Text-to-Knowlege (T2K) Java-based datamining framework, developed by the ALG at NCSA. For more information on M2K please read our M2K (Music-to-Knowledge): A tool set for MIR/MDL development and evaluation pages.

There are 6 ways to find in
formation in this collection:
* search for particular words
* access publications by title
* access publications by author

* access publications by subject

* access publications by date

* access background readings by topi

The Human Use of Music Information Retrieval Systems (HUMIRS)

The HUMIRS subproject is desi
gned to provide answers to the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How questions as they pertain to the use of MIR and MDL systems. By focusing on real-world examples of music information seeking the HUMIRS subproject will allow IMIRSEL to develop a set of experimental MIR/MDL evaluation task grounded in reality. This real-world grounding will thus make the set of evaluation tasks much more meaningful as developers prepare their MIR/MDL systems for real-world deployment.

Background: IMIRSEL is located at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Project Principal Investigator is J. Stephen Downie of GSLIS and Co-Principal Investigator is Prof. Michael Welge of the Automated Learning Group (ALG) of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA).

Monday, April 21, 2008

The International Children's Digital Library

The ICDL Foundation's goal is to build a collection of books that represents outstanding historical and contemporary books from throughout the world. Ultimately, the Foundation aspires to have every culture and language represented so that every child can know and appreciate the riches of children's literature from the world community.

• Organization

ICDL is a project of the Human- Computer Interaction Laboratory at University of Maryland and was founded with the Internet Archive.

• Description of what was digitized (partially excerpted from an article on the ICDL in the Boston Globe --

Run by a local nonprofit, the electronic database contains thousands of digitized historic and contemporary children's books in dozens of languages, from Chinese to Croatian, including rare and fragile works that have been largely hidden from public view. …

Most important, it is easy-to-use. Rich with simple graphics and primary colors, the kid-friendly website enables visitors to search for, say, books with red or yellow covers, or fairy tales, or stories about imaginary creatures, or books with chapters and pictures…

Designed using feedback from children, the site recognizes that young readers rarely search for books the way adults do, such as by title or author. As a result, it lets children choose books by age level (from 3 to 13) or length ("short," "medium," or "long"), or tales that are happy or sad, or stories that include poems and rhymes. They can also select not simply animal books, but books specifically about ducks, or bears, or magic dogs….

The website, which lets children choose passwords guarded by monsters, is also making literary treasure troves widely available to the public for the first time. The BPL, for example, is sharing a grant with the digital library to post online a portion of its Alice M. Jordan Collection, a 160,000-volume storehouse of children's literature that is not available for general circulation….

Because the website's collection is available in multiple languages, it can be used worldwide - including in obscure places where, paradoxically, an Internet connection can be more common than a public library, thanks to organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that are working to spread technology. In a partnership with the World Bank, for example, the digital libary recently created its first "branch library" in Mongolia by digitizing more than 250 Mongolian children's books and installing a computer server in Ulaanbaatar, the country's capital….

The website has appeal to large urban US school systems, whose student populations speak dozens of languages. It also provides a solution for parents who may not have time to take their children to a library, or for parents whose first language is not English and who want their children to read books published in their native tongue.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Aerial photography Florida

Aerial photography Florida is a fascinating collection of photographs offering a bird's eye view of Florida during most of the 20th century (1930-2000). The initial digitization project in which 100,000 photographs were digitized was funded by a grant from 2002-2004 to the University of Florida Libraries. They plan to continue adding materials to the site. There is more information about the collection including the technical aspects of the image capture methods and hardware on the website.

One browses the collection via a zoomable map of Florida. As you zoom in you colored dots represent photos that are listed in the lower part of the window. Clicking on the camera icon allows the viewer to see the photograph. There are choices for magnification. There is also a search interface that allows input of place names that is shown after clicking on the cryptic "Basic" in blue letters at the bottom of the screen. However, I couldn't get it to return any results to me.

This site is designed for researchers, both historical and contemporary as well as educators and students. The site has curriculum materials for teachers to use.

Overall it is a nice project, rich in content. Unfortunately the user interface, while innovative in its idea, pales compared to other map applications like Google Maps and will probably frustrate users familiar with the fast response of that technology. Since searching didn't work for me, I can't determine whether that would be a better way to access the collections.

19th-Century American Sheet Music Digitization Project

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
19th Century American Sheet Music Digitization Project

The UNC-Chapel Hill Music Library has digitized and made available 82 volumes (3300 pieces) of 19th-century American sheet music and made it available online. Each volume consists of a young woman from the time period’s favorite pieces of sheet music that had been gathered and bound into a volume. The audience is specifically stated as those using this collection for class use and research in a variety of disciplines, including Music, History, Art, English, Political Science, Sociology, and the curriculum in American Studies. Not much background information is provided about the project, though information regarding the importance of the collection, as well as historical background on three of the volumes is provided. Users may search or browse by title, volume, composer, or keyword. Interestingly, not all of the contents of each volume have digital images available, but even just the metadata that is provided is interesting in the history it represents.

Minnesota Digital Library

• Project name:

Minnesota Digital Library

Organization name:

The Minnesota Digital Library Coalition

• Description:

The Minnesota Digital Library presents the user with a collection of the state’s unique resources and special collections. “Minnesota Reflections” contains more than 20,000 images and documents shared by more than 75 cultural heritage organizations across the state.

• Audience:

The site’s intended audience is researchers, educators, students, and the public.

• Background information:

The website offers this background information: “’Minnesota Reflections’ is the initial digitization effort of the MDLC. This digitization project, conducted from 2004-05, involved more than 50 participating historical societies, special archives, and libraries. The MDLC and participants digitized more than 6,000 unique photographs and images, collected the information on these images, and is creating a searchable database to help people access and use them. Search Minnesota Reflections at

Administratively, the Minnesota Digital Library is a grant-funded project operating under the umbrella of the MINITEX Library Information Network.”

Presentation, Metadata and Review:

One thing I like about this project is that it devotes a portion of the site to “Standards and Practices” including metadata guidelines, curriculum standards, program best practices and a project guide. This is an especially great resource for information students and professionals that I really enjoyed exploring.

I also really like that so much of the site is devoted to education and offers such great teacher resources.

The collections themselves can be browsed by region, by topic or by collection. There is a wide range of topics covered, including agriculture, religion, social issues and Native Americans, among others. There are also basic and advanced search tools. On the opening page for Minnesota Reflections, there is a section titled “Spotlight” that features links to different items within the collection with a brief introduction. This is a great way to introduce materials to the user that he or she wouldn’t have found otherwise.

The items themselves are cataloged using CONTENT software. Items are displayed with a thumbnail image alongside their title, subject and description. The metadata for each item includes title, creator, contributor, description, date of creation, general subject, specific subject, local subject, Minnesota city or township district, Minnesota county, state, country, contributing institution, rights management and local identifier. One of my favorite features is that the user can save items to his or her “Favorites” for easy access later on.

I really appreciate the links to related sites and organizations offered in addition to the artifacts themselves. This site is truly a wonderful resource.

The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation

Project name:

The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation

Organization name:

The Lemelson Center, Smithsonian Institution

• Description:

The Lemelson Center offers this mission statement, which I think sums up the website very well:

To document, interpret, and disseminate information about invention and innovation

To encourage inventive creativity in young people

To foster an appreciation for the central role of invention and innovation in the history of the United States


The site is devoted to showcasing the invention-related holdings of hundreds of archives throughout the United States. The collection covers inventions from the medical, consumer, scientific, household and legal fields, among others.

• Audience:

As one can gather from reading the mission statement, the Lemelson Center’s online project is geared toward young people and students, but anyone can find interest in this site. The variety of topics is so vast; the site appears to include everything! The “Centerpieces” portion of the website leads the user to virtual exhibits ranging from watches to guitars to artificial hearts.

• Background information:

The website offers this background information: “The Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation was founded in 1995 at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History through a generous gift from the Lemelson Foundation.”


Presentation and Review:

The website is divided into a few different sections: “About Us,” which gives the user background information on the project, “Centerpieces,“ where virtual exhibits are featured, “Events,” “Resources,” with educational matierals, research opportunities, articles, archives, books and websites, among other things, “Video and Audio” and a “Press Room” with links to different press releases.

Records can be searched by subject, inventor name, and collection title or repository name. A simple keyword search will reveal what materials exist on the chosen subject, which institution holds them, and how to contact them for more information.

Each exhibit is different, with no standard format or layout, which makes the site lack some cohesion. I found that a little overwhelming as I explored the site; I would prefer some uniformity or standardization in the way exhibits are presented. Nonetheless, the site is an incredible resource, with great stories attached to each artifact. One of my favorite exhibits was “Inventing Ourselves” where one can “Explore how wearable and implantable inventions for the body are changing the way we live, and how we think of ourselves as human beings.” So cool!

One feature I really like is that on the side of each page, under the menu, is a little “teaser” piece of information that the user can click on to be lead to a different part of the site. (For instance “Who invented the electric guitar? Find out in our virtual exhibit” or “Did Edison invent anything besides a light bulb? See what other bright ideas he had.”) I think this is a great way to get users to explore the collection deeper.

The Podcasts under the “Video & Audio” section are also a great feature that I really liked.

Overall, this is a great website, though a bit overwhelming!

National Library of Australia Digital Collection

Organization name:

National Library of Australia

Description of what was digitized:

Pictures, rare historical maps, early Australian sheet music, manuscripts, selected printed works from the collection and selected audio recordings.
As of December 129,088 items across all collection and formats have been digitized.

Audience for the project:

The audience spans from scholars, to researchers, students and general public. Anybody interested in Australia’s cultural heritage.


According to the website “the library is committed to maintaining and promoting appropriate standards for creating, managing and providing access to its digital collections.”

There is an in-depth description about used metadata.

The digital collection is using the Australian Government Locator Service (AGLS) metadata standard, which is closely based on the Dublin Core standard.

Audiences seeking more information can read the Website Metadata Strategies and Guidelines.

Digital Capture Standards:
This digital collection uses quality control assessment and a frequently updated Digital Capture Standard. Here are described among others, the digital capture equipment, the format for images and more.

Presentation of digital objects:

Pictures: Pictures can be viewed either using the Picture catalog site or browsing through different collection organized by themes.
Additionally one can search for pictures via the search functions.

All pictures can be ordered or links to the picture can be emailed. Pictures can saved and downloaded for research purpose only. For all other purposes users need to fill out a permission request form.

Maps: as with the pictures, they can be viewed either by a thematically ordered collection or via the digital collection map site. Most of the maps zoom over a function.
All other digitized items are presented in a similar fashion – either through the digital collection catalog or by browsing through selected showcases.

Project background information
This site offers a tremendous amount of background information.

For example it describes digitization guidelines, digitization policy, digitization infrastructure and much more.

What I liked:

This site offers many great collections, but the most interesting for me was how thoroughly and well the site offered its background information. This is extremely helpful for anybody involved in digital libraries or for people like myself currently studying digital libraries.

UCSF Japanese Woodblock Print Collection

• Project name:

UCSF Japanese Woodblock Print Collection

Organization name:

University of California, San Francisco

• Description:

This website showcases a collection of 400 Japanese woodblock prints on the subject of health and medicine, the largest collection of such in the United States. The prints “provide a window into traditional Japanese attitudes toward illness, the human body, women, religion and the West.” Themes include contagious disease, drug advertisements (the largest category), foreigners and disease, religion and health and women’s health. The majority of the prints date mid-to late nineteenth century, just as Japan’s self-imposed isolation was ending and the country opened to the West. The collection shows a gradual shift in attitudes towards health and medicine, from “reliance on gods and charms… to the adoption of Western, scientific principles as the basis for medical knowledge.”

• Audience:

The audience for this collection would be scholars of Asian medicine, the history of medicine, Asian religion and Japanese art. It has also attracted the interest of health care practitioners, especially those interested in Traditional Chinese Medicine or Alternative Medicine.

• Background information:

The website offers this background information: “In 1963, UCSF Provost and University Librarian, later Chancellor, John B. de C. Saunders, M.D., started the East Asian Collection, which was then developed over the next thirty years by Librarian/Curator Atsumi Minami. Mrs. Minami traveled to Japan and China and purchased items from various smaller, private collections, acquiring the woodblock prints as well as hundreds of rare Chinese and Japanese medical texts, manuscripts, and painted scrolls.

In 2003, the California Digital Library funded the project to make digital images of the prints available online. The project involved translating titles of the prints into English, updating catalog information, digitally photographing the prints, and ingesting the metadata and digital images into the CDL's website Calisphere.”

Presentation and Review:

The user can browse the entire collection, or browse by theme. There is a search function, but no advanced search options are given, unfortunately. The site offers some search tips to users, which I think is a great idea.

The images themselves are vibrant and beautiful! A brief list of details is given for each print including the title in Japanese and English, the creator/contributor, the date and the contributing institution. Clicking for more information brings the user to a different page with further details like the subject, type, physical description and origin. Printer-friendly versions of the images are offered, with or without details. Browsing by theme is a great option. A brief introduction is given for each theme on its opening page, ending with a link to further information.

References are listed should the user wish to find more information on the subject, but I wish the site offered links to related pages.

Krieger's Watercolors of Fungi

Organization name
University of Michigan Herbarium

Description of what was digitized
The collection consists of images of watercolors created by Louis C. C. Krieger from 1918 to 1928 for the collection of Dr. Howard A. Kelly. The watercolors depict various types of fungus. The library contains 332 records and 365 images.

Audience for the project (stated or assumed)
The library is designed for mycologists and other interested in studying fungi.

Type of project background information available on the site
Documentation for the project is located on the University of Michigan Digital Library Production Service page ( However, most of the documentation is related to the software, DLXS, with little information available about the actual conversion process or metadata types. The library does offer a digital conversion service and information on processes are available on the Digital Conversion Services page (

Is it easy to use?
The collection is very easy to use, if not very pretty. The main page offers links to browse the images or records or to search the collection. The search function allows you to search by genus, species, scientific name, common name, or keyword anywhere. The browse function allows you to sort the images by genus, species, common name, or age and allows you to view 20 records at at time. The images are displayed with a caption, though the user can also view the captions with no image or the images with the first part of the record. In the images with record display, 20 thumbnails are displayed and the selected record is displayed to the side. Clicking on the image displays a resizable version of the watercolor with a few details about it. Clicking on the description tab displays the entire metadata record. The navigation for the library is intuitive and easy to use, though hyperlinking searches from the record would improve its accessibility.

Notable New Yorkers

Organization name
Columbia University Libraries Oral History Research Office (OHRO)

Description of what was digitized
The collection consists of ten of the oral histories collected by the OHRO. Both the audio and a transcription are available for use. Included with the oral histories are a variety of photographs of the individuals.

Audience for the project (stated or assumed)
This project is intended for New York historians. However, the individuals included in the library have had an affect far beyond the borders of New York and will be of interest to anyone studying the history of the US.

Type of project background information available on the site
The OHRO site offers a lot of detail regarding the collection and its practices for collecting oral histories, but little information on how the items were converted and what if any metadata was used.

How are the digital assets presented?
The Notable New Yorkers collection is beautifully presented, but appears to be more of an online exhibit than a digital library. However, there is a lot to be learned from a site like this. Physical libraries generally include exhibits of current materials, so creating a display of notable material that brings together disparate pieces from various collections with additional description might make increase use and understanding of the collection.

The Museum of Musical Instruments

• Project name:

The Museum of Musical Instruments

Organization name:

The Museum of Musical Instruments

• Description:

The Museum of Musical Instruments is an online collection of fretted musical instruments that looks at the relationship between art and the musical instrument. The website offers an interesting mix of history, art and design expressed through instruments, artists and music. Online collections include “Dreadnoughts,” “Rebels and Rolling Stones,” “From Ragtime to Riches,” “Getting Hip in the Roaring 20’s,” “Roots of Music in the Jazz Era” and more. The user can also find exhibitions (given at fine institutions like the Museum of Fine Arts, The Smithsonian and the Museum of Modern Art) like “The ZigZag Moderne Style,” “Bound for Glory: The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie,” and “The Private Life of Mark Twain” among others.

• Audience:

This website isn’t geared toward any particular audience; anyone with an interest in music, musicians, musical instruments, art or design will probably appreciate all this site has to offer.

• Background information:

MoMI offers the following background information: “Hank Risan and Bianca Soros established MoMI in early 2000, choosing to build a virtual museum to reach the largest possible audience of music lovers throughout the world. Risan and Soros feel that guitars are an enlightening medium for examining our society, conveying important developments in technology, communication, and fashion. These soulful and beautiful icons of our culture now have a home where they will be preserved for enjoyment by future generations. Plans for constructing a physical museum are underway, with groundbreaking ceremonies tentatively scheduled for Spring 2002.” (Source:

• Presentation:

The website is divided into several sections: Collections, Exhibitions, Our History, Articles, and Manufacturers. The home page gives a good introduction to the site and promotes several of the site’s collections and exhibitions. Choosing a collection brings the user to a new page where photos of different instruments are laid out with their model name and year. Selecting one of these examples brings up a larger photograph of the instrument; the user can hover his cursor over different parts of the image for a highly detailed zoom-view. A brief description of the instrument is given, along with related articles and links.

• Review:

My favorite part of this site is the integration of art history with musical instrument design. I love the material on different art movements’ impact on musical instrument aesthetics and the examples given (Van Gogh, Cezanne, and so on).

The biggest problem with this site is that there is no search function. I enjoyed browsing through the collections but wish there were a way to search for exactly what I was looking to find without having to go collection-to-collection.

Also, I wish the site included a glossary of terms for people who are not familiar with the various anatomies of the instruments featured or with different music vocabulary.

Columbia River Basin Ethnic History Archive

• Project name:

Columbia River Basin Ethnic History Archive

Organization name:

This site is a collaboration between five institutions located in the Columbia River Basin: Washington State University Vancouver, the Idaho State Historical Society, Oregon Historical Society, Washington State Historical Society, and Washington State University Pullman.

• Description:

The Columbia River drains a 259,000-square-mile basin that includes territory in seven states -- Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Wyoming, and Utah -- and one Canadian province. This website “brings together selected highlights of the ethnic collections from leading repositories in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.” The site also offers tutorials on information literacy and attempts to spark an online discourse on ethnic history sources and issues. Some of the ethnic groups featured are African Americans, Basque Americans, Chinese Americans, German Americans, Italian Americans, Japanese Americans, Jewish Americans, Mexican Americans, and Russian Americans. A historical background is given for almost each of these groups (for certain groups, the historical overview is still in the works), with select images along side the text to support each story. Native Americans are not included in the collection, but the website offers links to other projects devoted to representing Native American history and culture.

• Audience:

The audience for this website would be anyone interested in the history of the Columbia River Basin and the immigrants who found a home there. The site would also hold special interest to someone looking to improve their information literacy skills, as well as teachers who offer instruction on information literacy, who will be able to find lesson plans in the “Tutorials” section.

• Background information:

The site offers the following background information: “Funded by a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services, the collaborative project sought to create a database with thematic coherence that would engage online researchers in thinking more deeply about the significance of the rich primary resources available in museums, libraries, and historical societies. We also hoped the project would serve as a model for other institutions that wanted to share collections and stimulate public interest in and use of those collections.”

• Presentation:

The website is divided into four sections. Section I offers an introduction to the website and gives background information on the project as well as a map of the region. Section II takes the user to the database, where he or she will find selected documents, reports, records, maps, photographs, newspapers, artifacts, and oral history interviews. The entire collection can be browsed using CONTENTdm, where documents are presented as a thumbnail with their title, subject and description. Section III will lead the user to tutorials and lesson plans. Finally, Section IV holds the discussion forum, where topics include “Discrimination and Equal Rights,” “Family Life, Religion and Social Customs,” “Immigration and Migration,” “Work and Labor,” “Ethnicity and Race” as well as sections devoted to each individual ethnic group. There are roughly 4,000 users registered with the site.

• Additional Information:

The CRBEHA gives general history links and a list of resources used by the project in acquiring information about each ethnic group.

• Metadata:

The metadata used includes the title, description, date, subject, type, coverage, collection source, identifier, repository, relation, contributors, project identifier, language, format and rights.

• Review:

I really enjoyed browsing this site and exploring the rich cultural heritage of the Columbia River Basin. The tutorials really set this site apart from the other digital libraries I have explored. I love that the project tries to promote information literacy and even offers teaching guides. What a great resource!

Dorothea Lange Collection 1919-1965

The Dorothea Lange Collection was created by The Oakland Museum of California to allow researchers, students and other interested persons access to the huge body of documentary photographic work by Dorothea Lange. This collection of nearly 21,000 items spans the work of Dorothea Lange from her early Native American photographs through her work with migrant workers in the 30's up to her later years traveling the world. The images are available in thumbnail or high-resolution versions with significant metadata. However, the hi-res jpg files are not very high resolution. Most that I looked at were less than 100 KB. Another criticism of the site is that it is very slow to browse through. Even when using the search function, which is very handy, the results are displayed as text only and images can only be viewed by clicking on them.

According to the sites Scope and Content page, the negatives were digitized in the 1990's. The entire negative as captured, giving additional information to the researcher.

It is wonderful to see all of this great photographers work available online.

Samuel Proctor Oral History Program

Project name and URL

Samuel Proctor Oral History Program

Organization name

The University of Florida's Department of History

Description of digitized materials

This collection is made up more than 85,000 pages of transcribed documents, originating from over 4000 interviews with individuals about various elements of Florida history. At this time, only the transcribed pages are available on the project's site.

Audience for the project

The stated audience for this project includes research scholars, students, journalists, genealogists, and other interested groups.

Presentation of digital assets

The information is organized into multiple categories, including:
  • Native Americans
  • African Americans in Florida
  • Civil rights activities in St. Augustine (1964)Q
  • Women in Florida
  • Pioneer settlers
  • Florida education
  • The citrus industry
  • The Florida Highway Patrol
  • Florida politicians
  • Florida newspapers
  • Growth Management in Florida
  • History of the University of Florida
  • The UF Law School
  • The UF Medical School
  • The Civilian Conservation Corps
  • African Americans in the Korean War
  • Florida business leaders
  • History of Florida's Water Management Districts
  • The UF Women's Studies Program

Individual files contain the following metadata fields:
  • Bibliographic ID
  • Volume ID
  • Resource Identifier
  • Title
  • Publication Date
  • Source Institution
  • Holding Location
  • Attribution Statement
  • Subject
  • Spatial Coverage
  • Subcollection
Is it easy to use?

Yes. The main interface allows users to conduct either a basic or an advanced search, and they are able to search across all collections or select individual collections. The site offers searching tips, and the presentation of the information is simple. The site is very easy to navigate.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Story

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Story

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Story exhibits the area’s local history online and is the website of the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room of PLCMC (located in the Main Library in uptown Charlotte). It’s a part of N.C. ECHO, North Carolina’s history portal to state cultural institutions’ websites and their holdings. The Robinson Spangler Carolina Room is an important repository of historical and genealogical information with special collections including sound recordings related to the North and South Carolina Piedmont Region, photographs of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, archives and manuscripts, surname and biography files, local and state government documents, and area maps. Their website includes all of their online exhibits (currently 20), which are each digital collections of materials from the library. Each project (online exhibit) includes information about the project, which mainly includes only acknowledgements of community members and organizations who assisted with the project and a list of resources related to the project where users can find more information on the subject matter. The audience of these projects are anyone interested in the history of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, including those researching their genealogy or family history.

One thing that’s overwhelming to me sometimes when looking at digital collections is that if I don’t have a specific interest in mind I wish to search for, I’m sometimes left to hunt around for a way to browse, beyond just a list of titles or authors in any meaningful way. With The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Story, I can view each of their digitization projects as a separate site with materials only related to that exhibit. Though these might be seen as individual silos, limiting search capabilities of the materials housed there, it creates a specific destination for those with a focus on what they’re searching for, as well as for the casual browser, like myself.

Louis L. McAllister Photographs

Organization name
University of Vermont

Description of what was digitized
This library contains 745 photographs taken by Louis Lloyd McAllister between 1897 and 1963. The photographs are of Randolf and Burlington landmarks and people. The collection contains a large number of group photographs since Louis was one of the few photographers with a panoramic camera during this time.

Audience for the project (stated or assumed)

The photographs document a time of significant growth in the Burlington area and are of interest to those studying the history of Burlington. While many of the photographs have descriptions of the scene most of the photographs do not contain the names of the person photographed making the collection less useful for people studying their families genealogy.

Type of project background information available on the site

The Center for Digital Initiatives (CDI) web presence provides many details about this and other projects completed at UVM. The site includes information on the equipment used and the standards adhered and includes a list of resources from which they made their decisions.

What metadata is present?

According to the CDI website, the collection uses MODS and DC for descriptive metadata, METS for the encoding standard, and EAD and TEI as mark up languages. Each image is initially displayed with its title, a portion of its description, and the creator, but a link takes the user to more detailed information. The detailed information is not displayed with the photograph and includes details about the format of the original and its digital image and where the original is located. The only change I would suggest would be to make the subjects hyperlinked to a search of items in the collection.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Internet Sacred Text Archive

Project name and URL

Internet Sacred Text Archive

Organization name (Internet Sacred Text Archive)

Description of digitized materials

The digitized items include texts from religious traditions ranging from Islam to Buddhism to Christianity to Mormonism. The site also provides selected texts from lesser publicized religious movements and traditions such as Oahspe, Sky Lore and Grimoires. Additional digitized material include subject information on Women and Religion, Shakespearean texts and books related to the study of UFOs.

Audience and background for the project

The designers and caretakers of the Internet Sacred Text Archive have taken materials from various religious and philosophical traditions and made them available for free online. The targeted audience includes anyone interested in learning more about their own tradition or the traditions of others. Persons studying world religions, book history or various theological tenets will find the site of interest.

The site is also currently targeting users to purchase the sacred texts on DVD or CD-ROM in order to keep the materials "free for the entire world to read." The digital library went 'live' in 1999 and has since collected and scanned books and articles in the public domain encompassing over a dozen world religions and humanities topics. The designers of the site wanted to draw attention to some of the under-represented traditions by making some of the writings available for a global audience.

Presentation of digital assets and metadata

The front page of the website includes a listing of various world religions to the left of the page. Users click on these links to get to material particular to each tradition. I selected Judaism and was sent to a page that highlighted texts such as The Talmud, the Tanakh and The Kabbalah. Selecting the text 'The Talmud' (Joseph Barclay, 1878) takes the reader to a series of hypertext links that indicate individual chapters from the scanned item. Once the user clicks on the chapter link they are taken to the text.

The descriptive metadata for each text is helpful in that it provides the author (if known), the date of publication (if known), and a helpful paragraph contextualizing each book. Before reading the text the user will have a better idea of what to expect from the selection. Overall, the website was not overly impressive visually but does provide dozens of texts from religious traditions around the world. The site will be somewhat helpful for persons planning to digitize documents but, it seems, may not be functional much longer unless more users purchase the texts available for free online.

The African American Experience in Ohio, 1850-1920

Project name and URL

The African American Experience in Ohio, 1950-1920

Organization name

The Ohio Historical Society

Description of digitized materials

The digital materials include: manuscripts, newspapers, photographs and pamphlets. The manuscripts include letters, handwritten materials and account books. The newspapers include the Colored Citizen, The Informer and The Palladium of Liberty. The photographs range from stereopticon views to images from books to pictures related to The Underground Railroad.

Audience for the project

The audience for the project is not mentioned. Persons interested in the materials from this site would include scholars of African-American history, researchers interested in Ohio history, students working on projects related to American history, and religious historians analyzing the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Background information on the project

The African American Experience in Ohio project was a collaborative effort between the Library/Archives of The Ohio Historical Society and the National Afro-American Museum & Cultural Center. The website identifies an assortment of scanners used for the project as well as information related to image resolution and database construction. These notes are helpful for those beginning similar projects as benchmarks to identify what scanned images will look like online when digitized by certain scanners at certain resolutions.

Presentation of digital assets

The website provides two options: a 'search' function by keyword or a 'browse' function to search by format. By selecting the browse function the user is taken to a list that links to the manuscripts, newspapers, pamphlets, photographs and serials. I selected the 'photographs and prints' section. This took me to a variety of individual photographs ranging from images of people, landscapes and buildings. The images were high resolution TIFF scans of particularly good quality.

The metadata identified the collection, description of each image, and the date the photograph was taken. This information is especially helpful for researchers looking for particular images for their research. Genealogists will also find the metadata helpful for identifying particular individuals. Overall, the site is a great example for persons planning to build a digital library. The site is easy to navigate and the accompanying metadata provides helpful descriptions of each object.

Documenting the American South

Documenting the American South

“Documenting the American South” (also referred to as DocSouth) is sponsored by the University Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with the texts and materials coming primarily from its southern holdings, which includes texts, images and audio files related to southern history, literature and culture. There are eleven thematic collections of primary sources, each accessible separately with its own index of materials limited to that collection. The site for DocSouth also features a Google-powered search box that can be used to search all of the collections, though for the browser, each collection has its own page with information regarding what materials are included, information on the subject, a formal introduction, information regarding the ways in which to browse and then specific information about the collection’s subject and resources for more information.

I don’t believe I’ve ever seen such extensive information regarding a digitization project (DocSouth is called a “digital publishing initiative”). Along with general information, a guide to citing DocSouth materials, readers’ comments, a timeline of the collections, remarks by University Librarian on DocSouth’s 1000th title, information on the Advisory Groups and Editorial Board, as well as links to other resources “for the study of the American South” at UNC-Chapel Hill are included, providing an incredibly rich online resource.

I am truly impressed by the plethora of ways in which to search the collections. With the Google search, the different ways to browse each collection and also the links to author, title, subject and geographic indices, DocSouth users should be able to find what they are looking for and many other resources they weren’t. The Classroom Resources page is also a nice addition with information on how to use DocSouth in the classroom, plus lesson plans (divided by subject within the realm of History) and digital narratives and associated resources. The depth of information seems never-ending!

Historical State - NCSU

Historical State

“Historical State” was created by North Carolina State University Libraries and the Special Collections Research Center “to be a single access point for resources on the history of the University.” The content is divided into three categories: “University Images,” “Texts and Audio,” and “Web Resources.” The first seems self-explanatory, but is broken down further by subject, while “Texts and Audio” includes “Course Catalogs,” “Published Resources,” “Oral Histories,” and “NCSU Audio-Visual Collection.” “Web Resources” include “University Timelines,” “Internet Resources on NCSU History,” and “Centennial Campus.” There are brief descriptions of each on the Home page and each link opens either a search screen (with options to browse by keyword, title or subject, or other specific search terms related to that particular collection or links to related resources. No background information is provided beyond the quote I gave at the beginning of this post, which solely states its purpose and creators.

As an NCSU alum, I feel like I’m the target audience as I sit here and keep exploring without any attention to time! The target audience does appear to be anyone with an interest in NCSU’s history.

Though I’m intrigued by the amazing photographs from the University’s history on a personal level, from the perspective of someone learning about digitization, I am also interested in how some of the collections are integrated into NCSU Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center within their Digital Collections site. This is opposed to the separate site for “Historical State” as well as the sub-sites launched in the images collection.

Quotes from:

Spencer Museum of Art Digital Collections

Project name and URL:

Spencer Museum of Art Digital Collections

Organization name:

Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas

Description of what was digitized:

The project is made up of 17,700 images relating to world art history from the collections of the Spencer museum. The images are photographs and scans of the museum’s materials with strengths in the following areas medieval art; European and American paintings, sculpture, and prints; Japanese Edo-period painting; 20th-century Chinese painting; photography; regional art; and more than 150 quilts.

Audience for the project (stated or assumed):

The primary audience for the collection is students and faculty members studying fine art, art history, and related subjects both around at higher education institutions around the world and at the University of Kansas. In addition to this audience, any individuals outside these organizations concerned with art or humanities may find the collection of interest.

Type of project background information available on the site:

The collection was started in 1917 with the donations of Sallie Casey Thayer, a Kansas City art collector. The collection as contains approximately 25,000 items and with 17,700 images in the digital library this is a very thorough project in terms of the percentage of items represented. As for as the digital library project itself, little background information was available on when it began or how it was performed.

How are the digital assets presented?

The digital images are presented in an Insight® browser with the user being able to choose between the basic version and Java version of the client with expanded functions and capabilities. The images are presented for selection as thumbnails with the control panel on the left side of the browser. Once an image is selected in the Java client, a separate workspace is opened for viewing the image that gives the user the ability to magnify or reduce the image, measure items, print, and other functions. The workspace can be used with more than one image at a time if desired.

The images typically open as JPEG files, but in the Java client images may be exported to PowerPoint, HTML, or JPEG. However, even images displayed as JPEGs are named with .tif extensions, which may indicate that the master scans were made as TIFF files.

What metadata is present?

This project has very detailed metadata, it was one of the few I ran across that actually provided file specific metadata such as file format, filenames, compression, height, and size of images. This information is very useful for other institutions trying to implement digitization plans. As well, the descriptive metadata for materials providing all the basic information as well as giving subtitles, series titles, detailed creator information beyond the name of the individual responsible, and other details not always included for researchers by other projects. This level of metadata was probably fairly time consuming but allows users fuller control in researching and understanding of the materials. This level of description should be the “gold standard” for scholarly research collections.

Is it easy to use?

It took me a little while to get used to the interface and searching functions of the project. The Java browser workspace is fairly minimalistic with no text describing its functions so you have to mouse over the control panel to understand what the tools perform what functions. However, after a few minutes I was fairly confident in my use of the system and think it provides a lot of functions that could be extremely useful for researchers. One of them is that users have the ability to attach links and annotations to images. This function was a little confusing, however, as it was not fully clear if these additions are for that user only, or will be visible to all users of that image like social tagging.

Final Thoughts

I think this is an excellent project in terms of size and scope as well as material description and functions for users. The combination of all these factors should make the collection very useful to art scholars and students.

The Fenian Brotherhood Collection

Organization name
American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives (ACUA)

Description of what was digitized
ACUA digitized its manuscript collection of materials related to the Fenian Brotherhood. The collection consists of letters to and from John O'Mahony, James Stephens, John Mitchel, O'Donovan Rossa, and other Fenian leaders, speeches, pamphlets, newspapers, chromolithographs, cartes de visit photographs, tickets, and legal records that record the activities of the Brotherhood. Items in the collection are mostly from the 1860's to the 1880's, but additional items that address Irish history and nationalism into the early 1900's are also included.

Audience for the project (stated or assumed)
No audience is stated, but the collection appears to be designed for researchers interested in the Fenian Brotherhood and Irish nationalism of that time period.

Type of project background information available on the site
Little information on the creation of the library was available on the main website, but it is part of the Washington Research Library Consortium and was created by its Digital Collections Production Center (DCPC) which contains information about the project. Included are sample project plans, project summaries, document handling instructions, a Dublin Core Template, and a copyright status statement. There are also details of the digital library architechture.

What additional information is presented? Enough? Too much? Worthwhile?
Included with the collection is the EAD Finding Aid for the collection. This document contains lots of details about the history of the collection and the importance of the items in it. Items listed in the finding aid are linked to the actual document loaded in the library. The finding aid is in addition to the search and browse functions of the library. This is an interesting use of the EAD and offers multiple ways to access the documents.

NBII Digital Image Library

Organization name
The National Biological Information Infrastructure

Description of what was digitized
The library contains images of nature from the NBII collection and the collections of contributing partners. There are currently 7349 images in the library.

Audience for the project (stated or assumed)
Scientists, conservationists, decision makers, educators, students and the general public worldwide. The site also includes a Kids Corner that is specifically geared towards a younger audience.

Type of project background information available on the site
The site includes a downloadable factsheet that contains details about the project, how to use the database, and who to contact if you have any questions. Additional information can be found on the NBII website.

How are the digital assets presented?
The main page of the site is a little busy, but it provides quick access to many areas of the site. I especially liked the featured image section that allows you to link to the collection the image is from or information on the image itself. Other options include a search box and tabs to topics, special collections, and a Kids Corner. The topics and special collections areas contain labeled images that take you either to the a collection of images on the topic or an area to further break down the topic.

Search results are presented as 12 thumbnails on a page with descriptions and the photographers name under the photo. Clicking on the photo brings to a larger view of the image with associated Dublin Core metadata. The metadata includes both the key words, location of the image, and rights information. The site also gives you the ability to download high, medium, and web resolution versions of the photos.

Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature

The Baldwin Library of Children's Literature is part of the University of Florida Libraries digital collections.

Description of Items Digitized
The collection consists of over 3,000 fully digitized examples of children's literature dating from the early 1700's to the present. The items were published either in Great Britain or in the United States. Covers as well as interior pages are all digitized. Strong collections within this larger collection include editions of Alice in Wonderland, editions of Robinson Crusoe and related texts, and St. Nicholas Magazine (a 19th century magazine for children).

The audience is likely to be made up primarily of scholars of children's literature, illustration, publishing and history in general. However, given the engaging subject matter, a much wider audience should be assumed.

How Assets are Presented
The collection is searchable, and browsable by title, genre, and subcollection. As stated above, the items are fully digitized, so users can page through each item literally cover to cover. Users can also jump from page to page quickly, or zoom in closely on a particular page to examine wear and tear on the item, or to view illustrations in extreme detail. Users can also view thumbnails of an item's pages all on one page. Metadata such as publisher and origin are viewable if desired, but do not clutter up the main view of the item.

Background Information Available
Funding information for the project, and some basic background information on children's publishing, is available. However, there little detail on the digitization process itself - a pity, as many of the items digitized are obviously fragile, and the process by which these were digitized is likely useful to know about.

Ease of Use
The collection is extremely easy to search and browse, and items are easy to page through. The only potential problems I observed were the need for high bandwidth due to high resolution images (not a problem unless you have a slow connection), and a slight difficulty in navigating back to the collection's main page from item records. On the whole, an amazing collection and one I plan to revisit again in my spare time!

Fuuta Tooro Oral History Project

The digitization of the Fuuta Tooro Oral History Project is being accomplished under the auspices of the African Online Digital Library. This larger digital library project is a partnership among the following agencies:
  • Institut Fondemental d'Afrique Noire (IFAN)
  • West African Research Center
  • MATRIX: Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online

  • International Development Research Centre
  • National Science Foundation
Description of Items Digitized
The items digitized (and yet to be digitized) are recordings of interviews/monologues recorded in West African from 1968 to 1969. The individuals interviewed were/are custodians of oral history, and the recordings are comprised of extended descriptions of local history dating back decades and in some cases centuries. The spoken language on the recordings is Pulaar; French and English text transcriptions accompany the recordings.

The assumed audience would be scholars of African history, and individuals worldwide interested in West African history, oral history in general, as well as the historical spread of Islam in Africa. Students of West African languages might also find the recordings to be of use.

Background Information
Extensive historical background information is provided in order to place the recordings in context. Furthermore, a great deal of detail is provided about the recordings themselves; how they were gathered, and the manner in which they were recorded. However, there is little technical information provided on the actual digitization of the recordings (although the digital library as a whole has posted extensive best practices materials, which could be mined for information on the digitization process).

How Assets are Presented:
Since the digitization of the Fuuta Tooro Oral History Project is still very much a work in progress, the presentation of the items is quite bare bones. At the moment only a few sample interviews are provided, and the recordings (as noted above) are accompanied by English and French transcriptions when played back. The name of the individual interviewed and the general subject of the interview are provided, as well as the format of the audio file. Finally, each interview is accompanied by a brief description of the individual giving the interview, and his personal background (as this has a strong bearing on the content of his monologue).

Ease of Use:
This small collection as it exists now is certainly easy to use (if rather text-heavy). Whether the collection will continue to be easy to use as more items are digitized remains to be seen; a different finding aid and/or search function will need to be implemented if a great many more assets are included in the final project.

National Museum of American History Online Collections

Project name and URL:

National Museum of American History Online Collections

Organization name:

National Museum of American History

Description of what was digitized:

The digitized items in this collection are a small selection from the wide variety of artifacts significant to American history within the Smithsonian’s collection relating to social, cultural, medical, scientific, and technological topics. These items can be anything from clothing, music, furniture, or tools to printed and written works as well as many other types of objects of cultural significance.

Audience for the project (stated or assumed):

The primary audience for the project is the American public since the Smithsonian’s mission as a government run free museum is to educate and inform Americans about their history while preserving it. Other audiences would include anyone interested in or researching American history around the world.

Type of project background information available on the site:

The background information on this project informs users that the online collections are not complete and many items have yet to be digitized, unsurprising given the 3 million objects in the Smithsonian’s collection. The “About Our Collections” section also includes information on what is and is not included in the online collection as well as search tips. However, there is little or no information provided about the institutional history of the project such as when it began, etc.

How are the digital assets presented?

The digital assets in the collection are primarily photographs of objects in JPEG format, due to the number of three dimensional artifacts in the collection there are fewer scanned items. No information was available on the technological standards used to create the assets.

Selected items open with a thumbnail version of the photograph presented with its associated metadata. Images can be enlarged for closer viewing by clicking on the photograph itself or the enlarge icon marked with a magnifying glass underneath.

What metadata is present?

Metadata provided for the items includes a title for the object, generally a descriptive one, such as “Spinning Wheel” or “Grand Piano.” Other provided information includes the Object ID number used to identify the item, the name of the museum division the item is held by, and the subject terms applied to the item. The subject terms are controlled vocabulary terms chosen from the Smithsonian’s set of 28 broad, pre-selected subject areas rather than more specific free text keywords. When applicable, the metadata also includes a Credit Line which identifies gifts and donors.

As well, each item has a one or two paragraph description explaining its significance as it would in a museum exhibit.

Is it easy to use?

The collection is primarily designed for the casually interested viewer and is easy to use for those who want to browse the collections. The items are presented most readily for browsing by the Smithsonian’s predefined subject areas, which when selected bring up a number of the selected items for that topic. As well, those interested in more specific topics can look through the smaller collections of items on narrower topics the Smithsonian calls “Object Groups” such as sub-collections on patent medicine or coin collecting. Users can also search by keyword and limit the search to only items that contain images, but there are no advanced search options for in-depth research. It is also important for users to remember that the online collections cover only a small part of the entire collection when looking for information.

Final Thoughts:

Overall this site is well designed, and provides a good overview and selection of highlights from the museum’s vast collection. This online collection is especially important currently since the museum has been closed physically to the public for the past two years and will not reopen until the fall.