Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Work Projects Administration Prints - Cleveland, Ohio

The WPA prints collection is one of 38 digital collections in the Case Western Reserve University Kelvin Smith Library Digital Case. Other collections hosted online by the library include university archives documents and photos, lectures, audio-visual collections, and even images of papyrus and illuminated manuscripts. The WPA prints collection contains 261 items–all of them images of etchings, lithographs, engravings, etc.

According to the collection summary, the items date from 1935-1939, and were produced by Cleveland artists on relief. The Federal Art Project hired 350 artists in Cleveland, alone, during the program. The WPA project was led by the directors of the Cleveland Art Institute and the Cleveland Public Library. That collaboration resulted in a regional focus for the artists.

Each of the Digital Case collections pages starts with an abstract that has a "Collection Summary" tab and a "Full Record" tab. The summary typically only includes collection title, list of creators, subject, publisher, and formats of the items. The full record tabs expand to include more details about dates and rights information, a collection summary paragraph, and a unique identifier (URL in this case) for each collection. Likewise, when you navigate to each image in the collection, summary and full record tabs give you the level of detailed information you wish. A simple search and advanced search function are available on all pages so you can look for keywords from any point.

A prominent, "View This Collection," button takes you to a list of the items available for viewing. The list includes basic title, URL, and size information for each image. Unfortunately, there are no thumbnails on either the list page or the individual item summary page that allows one to get a quick view of the items. So, when you click on an item's title, you are taken the summary page, without preview, and must click on the title again to view the image.

The good thing is that images are all available in TIFF or JPEG2000. You can also download the full-resolution image, as well as two lower resolution JPEG versions. The main image is zoomable by a factor of about 4. Move, select box, zoom, rotate, reset image, and an interesting toggle thumbnail tools are available in the main view.

Over all, this is a neat collection on which the library did a nice job of including many versions of the images and including detailed information for researchers.

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