Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Digital Library of Appalachia

the Digital Library of Appalachia

The Digital Library of Appalachia is a collaboration of selected collections of 13 Appalachia-area academic libraries and the Library of Congress and is managed by the Appalachia College Association Central Library. The collections span various media, bringing together literature, photography, music and oral interview recordings, and contextual essays that date back to the 1930's and are updated regularly. The DLA digitized these collections for educational purposes and the copyrights and permissions for use are made explicit on the About tab.

The photographic material includes photographs of artifacts, photos from collections, and photos of people. Each has a decent resolution, but the zoom only magnifies the image once (and not every image can be magnified). It does allow the user to crop, rotate, and modify most images for personal use. The site also allows for users to pick favorites and organize their own collections to aid in education advancement.

Although the site is a bit dated in appearance, it is simple and straightforward. The search tool brings together all mediums, however I couldn't get the advanced search to work. Because of the extensive, standardized metadata, the regular search is able to narrow down the collections based on several different attributes (i.e. date, type, and keyword). The results are listed in a chart with a thumbnail image, title, subject, and description headings. The results can be sorted by any of these headings. This is useful, but there is no way to sort by geographic area or time span within a search. Browsing by topic gives context for the subjects with short paragraphs and image examples of the collection.

The site doesn't make explicit how to access this information in its physical form except through searching by library of origin. The DLA does not explain how it started or how it was funded, and it does not have any information about when it was created or updated.

This site combines the old collections with more recent recordings and information. There are photos from a flood in 2004, information about artists and musicians. The DLA makes continuing attempts to keep the information relevant and useful for educational purposes.

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