Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Africa Focus: Sights and Sounds of a Continent

Africa Focus: Sights and Sounds of a Continent

Africa Focus is a digital collection that is part of the University of Wisconsin online digital collections database. Africa Focus's collection has not only books and photos, but also sound clips of songs, dialects, music, greetings, rites and ceremonies. The University of Wisconsin has an extensive section on outlining their selection criteria, and one of the biggest requirements is that it be a type of collection with great potential for academic use or research interest. Africa Focus's introduction states that interest pursuing African studies as an area of university study is increasing, yet the resources available are largely inaccessible. The purpose behind digitizing pictures, books, and sound clips was to make the "garden-variety" resources more accessible in hopes that it brings about more "high-quality" resources.

As for metadata, each digital item that is featured has its own series of Dublin Core metadata, with the 15 fields filled out as extensively as it could. The search features are a bit confusing and not very accessible. While looking through this collection, I kept wondering if they were still developing the Website because the site looks a bit unfinished and rather poorly put together. But I digress; the search features are divided up into an image search which is catergorized by subject. There is the option of a keyword search. The full-text collection merely a bibliography that is hyper-linked to the scanned book. Altogether, I think that the accessibility to the individual parts of the the Africa Focus collection is rather poor.

The collection itself is rather neat; the University of Wisconsin's African studies program submitted most of the items for digitization. It comprises of photos, books, and sound clips of Africa and its people. The collection traces Africa from the last thirty years to present day.

The audience for this digital collection is pretty self-explanatory: African studies students.

Overall, I'd have to say that the University of Wisconsin needs to redo their search features for greater accessiblity and generally update the look their digital collection online.

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