Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Worthington Memory

Worthington Memory is a community focused digital collection created by the Worthington Libraries and the Worthington Historical Society in Ohio. Worthington is a northern suburb of Columbus, Ohio, located less than 10 miles from Dublin, home to the OCLC. Items in the collection number 1,373, according to the main webpage. The site describes the collection as a collaborative effort to preserve local history through digitization, provide wider access to materials, and promote awareness of the history of the area to the public. Collaboration does seem to be important as they actively request materials from the public (with a disclaimer, of course, that not all materials will appear online). The collection contains a mix of letters, photographs, brochures, maps, oral histories in mp3 format, and other materials.

To access the items, users can use a keyword search, or browse several categories in 5 main groups of subjects. Users can also browse items by selecting decades from drop down lists. Results of searches or browsing present the items in a list with thumbnails and basic descriptive metadata. As a nice asthetic touch, the thumbnails are displayed in decorative, old-fashioned-looking, frames. The list can be sorted by title or date and users can jump to other pages of results with drop down menus. From the list, one can click on the thumbnail for larger images, where multi-page items can are displayed one page at a time. No further zoom controls are available for the items, but the jpeg can easily be downloaded. Also from the list, one finds a link to the expanded record for each item. The descriptive data at the expanded record page includes a short abstract, as well as more standard title, creator, subject, and rights information. A nice addition to the expanded records are links to text transcriptions of the items and the Dublin Core record for the item.

A special feature of the site is the "My Worthington Memories" function that allows users to register and store items in a personalized collections. From the basic description list of the items, one can click on an "Add to My Worthington Memories" link to put the item in their own collection, and the site allows for as many personal collections as you wish. Also notable about the site is the extensive background information about the project, which includes the project history, preservation and conservation efforts, copyright issues, selection criteria, and technical information. The site even provides documents on their digital imaging workflow, image production records, and database map. And for educators, several lesson plans are listed and freely available, most apparently tied into the bicentennial of the state of Ohio in 2003.

Developers of this project put a lot of work into their collection for such a relatively narrow, regional focus. Perhaps the librarians involved have benefited from their proximity to Dublin. Other regional libraries and societies should be so lucky, but one factor missing from the information about the site is how the project was funded.

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