Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Digital Library of Appalachia

The Digital Library of Appalachia is a central point of entry for archival and historical materials for the 34 libraries, museums and archives known as the Appalachian College Association Central Library. The collection is designed to improve scholarly access across a wide geographic area and to promote understanding of the region and its culture. Of the 34 members, 12 colleges and universities are participants in the collection.

ADL is hosted by CONTENTdm ® and includes various types of image and recorded material that is cultural
y and historically relevant to Appalachia. The collection includes, photos (color, black and white), published books, newspapers, journals and musical recordings, postcards, printed menus, tickets, manuscripts, diaries, correspondence, oral histories and their transcripts, and reformatted typed pages. These primary sources are selected for their research value and to foster awareness of and value in Appalachia's cultural heritage.

Metadata for images includes: title, author, description, subjects, category, holding library, place (of origin), date (of event), format, note, type and full text. All the unique information are active links to other images or recordings. Metadata for recordings includes: title, primary performer/group, description, subject, DLA category, contributors (studio, radio station), place (of recording), time period, date (of recording), holding library, type, format, identifier, note, relation rights, full size, duration and thumbnail (image data).

Browse by college or university collection, general topics, or essay topic. A quick search can be made by keyword. Search options do not include a choice between image or recording. Browsing by library opens a page that can be searched using a grid containing a thumbnail image, the image's tittle, author, description (provided by the hosting library ) and image type. A keyword search brings up a grid with image, title, subject and description. I especially like the options that are available by clicking on the thumbnail. The image opens in a new window with a toolbar that allows magnification, rotation and clipping the image in a new window so it can be saved. Right-clicking in this window allows the user to view general information (file size, and Render Mode), Media (image type, dimensions, location), permissions (cookies, pop-ups) and security (identity, privacy).

In addition to the grid, results can also be viewed as thumbnails, bibliographic information, or title. Search preferences can be tailored by viewing options, sorting order, and number of results per page. Within preferences, users can create favorite preferences with choices of background color, number of columns per page and keeping or deleting cookies. Although ADL stresses its desire for the collection to serve researchers, users could include anyone interested in Appalachia. Musicians, genealogists, and casual historians would find this collection informative and worth exploring.

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