Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Miami University (OH) Digital Archive

The Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, has a very extensive Digital Archive comprised of collections ranging from University Documents thousands of photos to many papers on William Holmes McGuffey, creator of the famed McGuffey Readers of the 19th century.

The Digital Archives seems to be using Content DM, so the layout of the collections is similar to many other collections of this type. To get started, you can search the collections with simple keywords from the home page, or click on an advanced search option or "browse the collections." Also, the home page has a timeline with clickable decades that offers another way of getting to the collections.

In addition to the standard navigation, users can also use a tagcloud to find popular tags in collections. To use the tagcloud, you have to click on the Browse by Subject tab, then Tagcloud. However, when you click on a tag in the cloud, not all items in each collection are tagged properly. So, navigating to William Holmes McGuffey via the tagcloud yield 29 items when there are really 212 items related to McGuffey when browsing the collections. Still, the tagcloud is new and presumably will become more accurate with time and use.

For each of the items, the metadata is extensive and very useful. In addition to the standard title, author, subject information, the metadata also gives information on repository, accession numbers, digital publisher, and rights. I also like that the scanned images include not only the items, but in many cases, the typed label on the item's container. This serves to verify the original location for in person research. The scanned images are also searchable, with keywords highlighted on the images.

The Digital Archive contains thousands of items and is a nice asset for Miami University, who is celebrating its bicentennial this year. The inclusion of items related to the creation of McGuffey Readers is a valuable asset, alone.

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