Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Taste of Horton

A Taste of Horton

A selection of items from the Horton Collection of Children's Material.

The Horton Collection was created by the Aberystwyth University in Aberystwyth, Wales, located in the Thomas Parry Library Rare Books Collection and contains over 800 items showing the development of children’s literature during the two hundred years from the mid-eighteenth century to 1913. The collection is intended to be a research into juvenile literature, historical and analytical bibliography, publishing, illustration, costume and drama.

The archive is arranged in both a gallery format and an index format, which is organized into author, bookseller, engraver, general, illustrator, printer, publisher, series, and title indexes. Each book has an extensive metadata list, containing, when applicable, the book's call number, author, title, edition imprint, page size, collation, the printer, illustration details, binding information, annotations, collections, references, contents, and tracings. The images scanned from the book, only a handful of each, may be seen at a higher resolution. The archive further contains links to other children's literature archives, libraries, projects, and collections.

The gallery display is very well organized, with the books being listed in alphabetical order by title. The scans of the books are displayed on one side of the main table, and the book title, author, and illustrator are on the other. A handful of the images have some distortion from the scanning process, but the pictures overall are very clear.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ball State University Digital Media Repository

Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, uses CONTENTdm to create their Digital Media Repository, a resource housing 57 separate digital collections featuring a variety of materials. The repository's About page gives some information about the goals of this digital initiative (greater access, adding to international body of digital objects, etc.), but it also has a link to a video explaining the project from the perspective of those involved in its creation, maintenance, and use. I thought it was nice that the video conveniently had a link to the .wmv in Dial-Up or Broadband formats, by the way. The video does a good job of explaining the benefits of such an initiative to a relatively regional state school like Ball State, and to those outside of their community who may not get a chance, or may not think, to explore their collections.

Users can do a simple search of the collections or sort the collections by Subject/Geographic Area, Dept., Format, or Explore A-Z. Sorting by these categories brings up expandable mens from which you can further drill down to specifics. Two collections I enjoyed browsing were the Musical Instruments Collection and the Works Progress Administration Miniature Furniture collection. Both contain images, but also video and/or audio files to augment the item's display. As the repository uses CONTENTdm, the look and feel of browsing the items is relatively standardized. Each collection will display limited image thumbnails and descriptive information in sortable columns when listing the categories you are browsing. Metadata for each item in the collections is mostly descriptive with some administrative data. It is adequate despite a lack of technical data, which might be useful for the audio and video files. For all of the collections, audio files are Windows Media and videos are in Quicktime format.

The Musical Instruments Collection lists 141 objects to explore. The collection home page has very little background information about the collection or the intruments themselves. The images are simply digital photographs of the instruments. But each instrument image is accompanied by a short audio file of someone playing the instrument. In many cases, detail imags of parts of the instruments are available. When video is used, it is 3D rotation of the instruments with zoom functions. The audio files are great and let you hear everything from more cowbell to music boxes to didgeridoos. Fun.

The WPA miniture furniture was an unexpected find. This collections homepage has a link to an about page with a bit of background on the items. They come from an Indiana State Museum Project from the 1930's and 1940's centered in Evansville, Indiana, that sought to preserve in miniature typical furnishings of the era. The scale is reportedly 2 inches to 12 inches. The furniture was intended for display in libraries, museums, and schools throughout the state and the items were functional. The collection provide images of 33 objects and includes 3D rotating videos that you can manipulate, just like the musical instruments.

The repository contains several collections that include relative typical types of objects. The two particular collections above include 3D objects. Creating digital collections that come closest to recreating the experience of interacting with the real objects seems much more difficult with 3D objects. Augmenting with audio and video (especially that can be manipulated) is a step in the right direction.
The Massachusetts Historical Society's collection of the diaries of John Quincy Adams.

This collection is a digital representation of the entire collection of J. Q. Adams' diaries. He kept three simultaneously: a one-line diary (denoted "short"), a rough draft, and the final draft (denoted "long"), all of which are digitized. The site is somewhat curated as it does not allow searching of the text, but provides browsing by themes. The site states that "though every page is digitized, there is a curated selection of pages divided by people, events, topics, places, and career highlights." There is a slight attempt at a movement that might be in the direction of 2.0 with a link at the bottom of the front page to an "online feedback form." I was disappointed when I realized it said "form" and not "forum," which I believe would add tremendous value to the site.

The user is allowed to search by date, browse by volume (all 51 of them), or to browse a timeline based on the events recorded in the diaries. Specific dates (such as his inauguration) and "selected pages" from the diaries are highlighted for researchers.

The metadata is standardized but skimpy. Each digital page has a footer containing information regarding the physical diary and ownership, a persistent link, and credits to MHS and the digitization date.

The zoom function is powerful but does not offer much in the way of research beyond reading the text. The zoomed image is a JPEG and offers some unsightly but practical copyright information.

Page one of the long entry the day of Adams' inauguration.

“Reuter’s Seeds for the South”

This digital collection contains a series of catalog covers from Reuter’s Seeds Company. The collection is part of a larger digital library of Southeastern Architectural collections within the Special Collections division at Tulane University, though it is not exactly clear how these topics relate. The collection contains approximately 30 images dating from 1915 to 1966.

The collection level metadata provides surface detail about the materials. The librarian in the project is named, and contact information is provided. There is not any information related to the processes of implementing this collection. The selection criteria are vague, but it seems like the images were selected based on how well they reflect that particular genre. The description states “[the] covers reveal changing design styles, advances in hybridization (1927 brought "the new Wondermelon!"), and new approaches to advertising.”

Each individual object is described through title and date, and images are stored both in color, and black and white. The manipulation afforded through the site is the enlargement of scanned photos, but no other viewing option is available. The collection search capability includes the browsing feature, and a link to and from the home page of special collections.

The stated appeal of the collection is the “nostalgic, colorful, and very entertaining” nature of the materials, so they may be directed at a more general audience. The quality of the digital images afford only a limited view of the materials, making this a more casual experience for the site visitors.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The British Cartoon Archive

The British Cartoon Archive

Office Map

The current incarnation of The British Cartoon Archive’s site is a recent relaunch equipped with better functionality including the ability to zoom in on images. The archive is a part of the University of Kent’s Templeman Library and is a registered museum devoted to displaying the history of British cartooning over the last two hundred years. In includes over 130,000 original editorial, socio-political, and pocket cartoons as well as comic strips, newspaper cuttings, books and magazines. Some of these materials date as far back as 1904.

The objectives of the British Cartoon Archive are to conserve and catalogue cartoons, encourage research, plan and promote exhibitions of cartoon originals, and to service teaching. The audience is considered to be researchers, authors, teachers, the media and students.

The search function allows you to search the archive’s catalogue. There is no list of keywords provided or any sign of a browsing option besides the handful of “recently added records” which appear just below the search bar. An advanced search allows the user to input specific dates along with their text search. After searching “librarian,” two pages of results appeared including options to narrow the search by a list of provided artists and publishers. Beneath each thumbnail the title of the cartoon, its artist, where it was published, and the date of publication are listed. Selecting a cartoon yields an image with little metadata. A list of related terms occur under the heading thesaurus and the series title is displayed. Other than that there is only the reference number, the text of the cartoon’s caption, and whatever text is embedded within the cartoon itself. Clicking on “biography” leads you to a page describing the artist. There are also links on the side of the image to see more from the publication, more by the artist, to suggest an edit, and find more artwork from the same day. The touted “zoom” feature mentioned on the front page is an option but it does not load on my computer after repeated attempts.

This site, though clearly a work in progress, would benefit from adding more metadata to its images to give context to the cartoons. The artwork is engaging and interesting just as you’d expect such cartoons to be but they’d be far more useful if the information to which they were reacting was provided. They might also consider adding a function that allows users to browse by collection since currently the collections are listed on a separate page but there are no links to them. Also, the zoom feature does not work and needs to be fixed.

The Visual Front: Posters of the Spanish Civil War from UCSD's Southworth Collection

The Visual Front: Posters of the Spanish Civil War from UCSD's Southworth Collection is a cool digitization project designed to make availible to the public propoganda posters from one of the most harrowing conflicts of the 20th century. The site argues that the posters would have been a frequently encountered item in the wartime landscape as individuals struggled to go on with their daily lives. For all of their impact and motivations, these items are "vivid testimonies of the event." Given the scale of the tragedy and its historical importance, there is little question that the posters of the Spanish Civil War are important artifacts that would be of interest to everyone from scholars to average citizens. It is then all the more frustrating that all of the great information contained in this website is arranged in such an obtuse, unusuable fashion. Although there is a great deal of curation on the site, there does not appear to be any kind of ongoing curation.

For starters, there is no way to search the collection. The two access points for the information are 1) a list of the titles of the posters in Spanish and 2) an unlabeled visual index that provides a large list of thumbnails. Upon clicking on a thumbnail, the user is taken to a seperate page with the image, metadata including: the title and the title's translation, the artist, its source, medium, and size of the original poster. Underneath this information are well-written and information rich descriptions of the poster, the context of the imagery, and what details if any are known about the artist or specific subject matter. There is such a fascinating wealth of information here that it is just criminal that it is so cumbersome to access. The images of the posters themselves are enlargeable only once. To really represent the artifacts, they should have scanned them at a higher resolution. As it stands, they just aren't good for anything but looking at. This collection is a prime example of how terrific materials and great information can be rendered almost useless by a fundamental lack of understanding of how digital collections should be built and conveyed.

Van Gogh Museum of Amsterdam

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam

The Van Gogh’s Museum houses a permanent collection that can be search by alphabetical list, landscapes, self-portraits, Portraits, Drawings, Peasant live Still Lifes, Van Gogh’s work in periods. The site provides a history of the collection. The largest collection of his work – more than 200 paintings, 437 drawings and 31 prints – can be found in the Van Gogh Museum. Many other drawings and paintings by Van Gogh can be found at the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo (The Netherlands) and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.The collection can be viewed in eight language; Edderlands, Espanol, Francais, Deutch, Italiano, Japanese and English.

In this website you will find a selection from these letters, including references to paintings on this website.
Vincent Van Gogh was a passionate and fairly good letter writer. He put his thoughts and ideas to paper in over 800 letters, some to fellow artists such as Emile Bernard and Paul Gauguin, but most to his brother Theo, who was Vincent’s greatest source of support. Most of the manuscripts are in the collection of the Van Gogh Museum; they form an indispensable source of information about the artist’s life and work.
For the time being, this site does not provide information on all of Van Gogh’s works. The museum does, however, aim to present its own complete Van Gogh collection on the Internet within the next few years. A complete catalog of Van Gogh’s entire oeuvre is available on a website launched a few years ago by David Brooks, in close cooperation with the Van Gogh Museum’s documentation center. The museum regards this site,, as a reliable source of information.

The site offers an video overview of Van Gogh’s life and each Van Gogh’s pieces can be zoomed in and panned depicting minute detail. The metadata is robust with interesting data provided.

Crime Broadsides

Harvard Law School Library's collection of crime broadsides spans the years 1707 to 1891 and includes more than 500 broadsides. Broadsides were sold in Great Britain at places of execution. In their time they were called both dying speeches and bloody murders. This collection takes the time to carefully explain the historical context of the broadsides, the origin of the collection at the law library and that their entire collection is online.
In addition to several pages about the collection, the site allows users to browse the collection, or search by category or keyword. The search features have a variety of drop down menus and are a bit overwhelming, but they are very through. The records that match the submitted query appear as a short list of metadata elements, without any thumbnails. By clicking "display full record" the user is taken to a page with all of the metadata elements visible, including title, creator, description, genre, subject, ID number and any notes they have about the item. However, the image of the object itself is still not visible. By clicking on another link, the image is pulled up in a special viewer in a new window. The number of clicks required make viewing an object cumbersome at best.
The images themselves can be viewed in great detail, allowing zooming all around the page, though figuring out how to use the special viewer might take an inexperienced user a little bit of time. The images are also easily converted to pdf for downloading. Information about the digital object was not listed on the site.
It seems this collection is for a user with a passing interest in the subject. While the site itself could have been designed better, a scholar would only be able to begin his research online. To acquire more information, I suspect they would have to go to the law library in person.

International Children's Digital Library

The International Children's Digital Library is a project that digitizes children's books from around the world. The books are uploaded as digital scans; since the library's obtained the rights from publishers to digitize these books, they don't allow you to download, copy, or print them, just view them online (although I'm sure someone can find a way around this). Books are searchable by keyword, age group, length, and even cover color (which I think is a fun category).

The metadata isn't all that detailed--it lists the author, the illustrator if there is one, the publication year, language, publisher, and a short summary. I don't think this is much of a problem, though, since the users they're targeting, kids and possibly their parents and teachers, aren't going to be really concerned about much beyond that; it's a lot like a listing for a kid's book in a public library system. Rights information shows up in the scans. Books aren't translated into other languages, but that's because the project was created in part for children coming from other countries to the States, so they can learn in their native language while they're still young. Overall, this is an interesting and fun resource, and hopefully they'll be able to expand it in the future.

Cad é mar atá tú?

For our final blog posts of the class, we were instructed to find digital libraries of video or audio files. I found this collection of Irish language lessons within the BBC's website.

The collection principles of the site are very specific: two series of 15 five-minute lessons in the Irish language that were originally broadcast on a weekly basis by BBC Northern Ireland. While the collection is small and specifically tailored, the site is thoroughly curated. The collection is divided into two series, conforming to the series format of the original broadcasts. Each series may be accessed in two separate ways: through web pages featuring streaming lessons and text or by downloading the entire series as mp3s. In addition to this, the site also links to a secondary collection of streaming sound files of other BBC broadcasts related to the Irish language, an online animated vocabulary quiz, and a more involved mini-game on the Irish language entitled "Colin and Cumberland Learn Irish." (One gets the feeling that Colin and Cumberland might be recurring characters on the BBC Northern Ireland.) All in all, the extra features provided by the site, more than make up for the small and specific nature of the collection.

The objects themselves are four to five minute audio clips. They are available in two separate formats. First, they are presented as streaming audio in the format of ram files that my computer opened with real media player. Secondly, each lesson may be downloaded as an mp3 and put on a portable player, which I find really cool. (The entire lesson series may be downloaded as mp3s at once.) I do wish the objects contained a bit more metadata. The site identifies the talent (Fearghal Mag Uiginn), the production company (BBC NI "Radio Ulster"), the titles of the series and lessons, the format of the files, and the fact that the original broadcasts aired on Wednesdays. Sadly, it does not indicate which Wednesdays.

Despite the limited metadata and specific nature of the collection, I found the BBC Northern Ireland's Learning Irish collection to be quite interesting.


Chicago Historical Society - The Haymarket Digital Collection

Chicago Historical Society - The Haymarket Digital Collection

The Chicago Historical Society decided to put together a digital collection that focused on a major event that occurred in the 19th century that redefined labor laws and established a political divide within the psyches of the American population: The Haymarket Riots of 1886.

The Chicago Historical Society thoughtfully provides an article about their selection criteria for digitizing the material for this collection. First and foremost the creators of this digital collection determined to establish the boundaries of this collection to consist of primary documents that stemmed from the Haymarket Riots. The Chicago Historical Society already had a large collection of primary materials. Then they decided take an inclusive approach by digitizing most of the material, however as the bulk of their collection are the 3. 323 page transcript of the witness testimony and cross examination in the trial and the accompanying evidence books. Since there was a lot of material within that pile of documents, they decided to only the material concerning the twelve candidates chosen to serve on the jury along with the text of discussion that arose during the trial to showcase the procedure and law. The creators of the digital collection also wanted the project to display a series of events and the fallout that occurred afterwards.

The metadata is rather scanty in this project. Each image is scanned beautifully and comes in with a zoom in feature and a higher resolution option; however only the basic metadata (not any kind of schema is observed) is included: the format, the measurements, the creator/s, date of publication, all of which is presented in a more of a "bibliographic" format. Search features are almost non-existent in this collection. The collection is grouped by types of documents, for example, broadsides or trial documents. There is a table of contents that lists the materials within the collection, but no keyword searches or any other method of information retrieval, other than scrolling down and clicking on the title of a collection and going through each "exhibit" until you find the one you want.

Despite the ineptitude of the search and metadata, the contents of the collections are quite interesting. The Chicago Historical Society has done a great job in procuring primary documents and other material to convey the events of the Haymarket Riot. The collection consists of broadsides, artifacts (banners, revolvers used by the police during the riot), phamplets, photographs, trial documents, prints, and letters and manuscripts written by those who were involved in the melee of the Haymarket Riot.

The intended audience is directly stated by the Chicago Historical Society: "in digitizing its collections the Chicago Historical Society seeks to make the primary materials of history available to the widest possible audience." With that being said, I believe this collection targets academia, more specifically history majors and maybe even high school students, with the intent of showing the usefulness of primary material research.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dr. Walter Lindley's Scrapbooks

Dr. Walter Lindley's Scrapbooks is, naturally, a digitized collection of the scrapbooks compiled over the lifetime of Dr. Walter Lindley (1852-1922) who was an early resident of Los Angeles and a fairly prominent physician during his time. It is not, however, complete at the moment. Rather, it is a work in progress with Claremont College (CC) promising to add to the online collection in the coming months. Interestingly, CC divided the scrapbooks in its collection into series that appear to unify the scrapbooks thematically. For instance, those scrapbooks concerning Shakespeare are all combined into the Shakespeare series. Those dealing with Lindley's travels likewise are filed into the Travel series. In a bizarre twist, though, CC did not start their digitization project with the first series. They instead began, presumably, with the third and are now working through the second. No information is given as to which series will come next. Nor is any explanation given for why they began with the third series, which deals with Lindley's candidacy for mayor of Los Angeles. Perhaps, they did so thinking that series would draw more attention than any other series. Yet, no statement is given to explain if such was their reasoning or if, rather, they just haphazardly picked a series and began digitizing. Thus, one comes away with the impression that CC has, on one hand, taken the pain to exert some authority and intellectual control over this collection while, on the other hand, not taking the trouble to explain why they are putting up certain scrapbooks first.

Each digitized image in this collection is accompanied by a series of metadata fields that, together, remember the type of MARC record found in a regular online library catalog. The fields used are consistent over the entirety of the collection and include such unsurprising fields as Title, Creator, LCSH Subject Headings, and Date. There are, however, some unique fields. One such field is the Subjects - Local field which apparently contains information more pertinent to the specific document and, thus, less generic than those subjects found in the LCSH area. Another interesting use of a metadata field is how CC employs the Publisher field. Rather than having this field correspond to the publisher of the physical document, CC has instead used this field to declare the publisher to be the Special Collections department of its Honnold Mudd Library. This author sees no reason to fault CC for this as they do include the information of who created, for example, a newspaper article, but they put this information in the Creator field. Again, this makes a good deal of sense. It is only surprising and novel in the sense that this author does not believe he has seen the Publisher field used in this manner before.

One frustrating aspect of this collection is the ContentDM software it uses. This author is not a fan of ContentDM due to the fact that each iteration he has seen of it has not allowed a user to view an image in a standalone window. This collection is no different. An undeniably high-quality image - ostensibly a TIFF, although this is not quite certain - is displayed and the user is given a variety of options which include zooming to, but not beyond the image's full size, rotating the image clockwise or counterclockwise, panning in every direction, and choosing whether to have the image be displayed at maximum resolution or fitted to the screen or width. On paper, this may look like a plethora of options. This author, though, has always found these options in a ContentDM interface to be clunky and frustrating even if they are well-intended. Additionally, this author was puzzled as to whether these objects have persistent identifiers. It seems logical to suppose that the 'reference url' CC provides a link to is, in fact, this persistent identifier. Yet, there is no exact and unwavering statement to support this assumption. Thus, this too is a bit perplexing.

CC provides no precise declaration of who their intended audience for this collection is. However, one may suppose, given Dr. Lindley's apparent status in the burgeoning Los Angeles community just before and right at the turn of the 20th century, that this collection is aimed at a local constituency made up not only of scholars, but also citizens interested in exploring the influence and connections a prominent man had in the days before Los Angeles became the cultural and economic powerhouse it is today. It is hard for this author to judge how effective CC is and will be with respect to reaching these audiences. In spite of that, this author can attest that this collection is worth browsing simply for some of the fascinating newspaper clippings.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music

The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music is a digital initiative by Johns Hopkins University.  As far as I can tell, everything from the physical collection was scanned, except perhaps material published after 1923.  It's sad to see "Images are restricted due to copyright and are unavailable for viewing” for many items published after 1923, but there is still a text record for those entries, and the selection decision is mentioned in the site's FAQ and search tips section.

The scans of sheet music collections are available as downloadable .pdf’s, which seems like a good choice for keeping sets of sheet music together.  I can’t figure out the resolution of the .pdf images, but they’re quite clear, and seem to be fairly large, with one 4 page grayscale .pdf having a file size of 2.88mb.  For black and white images, a choice was made to scan as grayscale, while color printing is scanned in color.

The metadata is fantastic, with notable fields such as the first line of the song and its chorus, as well as a field for listing the “Engraver, Lithographer, Artist”.  The naming for items is related to their box # in the archive, which is effective for locating the original artifacts.  It is slightly awkward when this same convention is used for browsing the collection, limiting the user to browsing one box at a time.  One feature that I really like is the “tours” section, which combines lectures from Lester S. Levy with images from the digital collection, and seems like a great way to show off and activate a digital collection.  The only thing lacking is a direct link to the item in the collection from the tour.

The New York Public Library Mid – Manhattan library Picture Collection Online

The Picture Collection Online presents more than 30,000 digitized images from books, magazines and newspapers as well as original photographs, prints and postcards, mostly created before 1923. I think it is mainly because the works published before 1923 are in public domain. Obviously, there are no copyright problems for the online picture collection. The Picture Collection Online includes the following subjects: African-Americans, American History, Animals, Army, Birds, Clothing & Dress, Costume, Design, Dragons, Exploration, Fashion Drawings, Fur Fashions, Gloves, Hats, Hairdressing, Hosiery, Insects, Native Americans, New York City, Pioneer, Life, Punishments, Reptiles, Shoes, Slave Ships, Slavery, Snakes, Textiles, Umbrellas and Parasols. From the subjects mentioned above, I find the website has a wide variety of collections.

Browsing the picture collection is very easy. Users can browse by Folder Titles, Image Titles, Names, Subjects, Source by Author, and Source by Title. Then click the dropdown button, the list of available items will appears. Users can select the item you want to watch. If users like to see a large picture, they can click the thumb sized picture. The Metadata is provided with Title, Image ID, Creators, Physical Description, Material Type, Subjects, Date Published, Barcode Number, Struc ID, Source and In Folder. The problem I encounter is some pictures can’t be uploaded correctly.

For searching function, the collection provides keywords searching. In addition, users can also use advanced searching function through using “Search in all fields”, “Match all of these words” and “Include word variants”.

Furthermore, the collection offers users the opportunity to save the items they like to “My Gallery”, and users can easily visit their own collection at any time. For the picture collection, the intended audience should be students, researchers and individual interested in history pictures.

Corey and Nate's Beer Labels

Cory and Nate have amassed over 4800 beer labels from around the world in their collection. On their "about us" page their beer label adventure began in college drinking bad beer until they discovered micro-breweries during their sophomore year. Nate created the website using Perl. There is a link to Pay Pal to support them.

The "beer label" page has labels listed alphabetically by brewery with a key of icons including: bold for a brewery with more than 5 labels in the collection, a red star for "especially yummy beers", a yellow-highlighted NEW for a recent update, a notepad for a write-up, a green dollar sign for purchasing info and a red circle with a white bar (like a do not enter sign) for a beer to avoid.

When you click on a brewery link, thumbnail images of beer bottles with labels appear with names the spelled out underneath. A row of five pint glasses is the rating scale for the tastiness of the beer. There is also information on the brewery. Clicking on the image thumbnail will enlarge the image with a big "Beer Label" watermark across it. There are also links for viewers to update information about the brewery or to contact Corey and Nate about trading labels and bottles. The amount of information about a beer depends upon either information they have gathered themselves or from visitors to the site. There isn't any information about where the image came from or how it was digitized.
They have some interesting legal information pertaining to the images they have water-marked, particularly their claim of "this is a not-for-profit hobby site clearly covered under the Fair Use portion of the Copyright Law" and a link the Standford Reference Site. They also request if you want something taken down, skip the cease and desist and just ask them.

Definitely a site for beer aficionados.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Life-Your World in Pictures

Live-Your World in Pictures

I had heard of this collection but had never had the opportunity to simply browse the site. There are so many options to browse including “Today’s Top Photos”, Editor’s Pick, Most Popular, Would You Rather See, and Did You miss This?

The Life Collection can be scanned by news, celebrity, travel animals, sports and other searches that you may request. Then your search can be refined by date, person, location, types. The Meta data is found below the image along with the photographers name and the date. The image can be enlarged. In addition, there are additional subjects of human interest, or current interest.

One example of a human interest collection is the collection of 18 “Colorful, Cute Frogs”. These images can be viewed as either a thumbnail or as an enlargement. Below the image is the photographer, the gallery name, and date.

Each Image may be e-mailed, shared, rated, printed, or linked to. When you click and read the license link a wealth of data is presented including the title, where and when the photograph was taken. Additional information is provided information about the finding in this case more of these frogs and about their habitat. The license type, copyright information as well as a statement about the company’s right to pursue unauthorized use. There is an additional statement stating the following: “Availability for this image cannot be guaranteed until time of purchase. Getty Images reserves the right to pursue unauthorized users of this image or clip. If you violate our intellectual property you may be liable for: actual damages, loss of income, and profits you derive from the use of this image or clip, and, where appropriate, the costs of collection and/or statutory damages up to $150,000 (USD).”


The POP-UP World of Ann Montanaro

This exhibit is the first online exhibit created, and maintained, by the Rutger's University Libraries, of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. "The items in this collection were drawn from the collection of Ann Montanaro, who collaborated on the organization of this exhibit and authored its captions and discursive texts." (Source)

The "About POPUP World" section details the mechanics of how the exhibit was created, including the specific equipments used to record the images and be entered into the digital archive. The archive as a whole is extensively footnoted, and there are several pages of links to other pop-up archives and sources of information on pop-up books. There is also an extensive history of "mechanical books", the predessors of the pop-up.

The archive is organized into the following sections:
  • Past and Present I (1884-1949)
  • Past and Present II (1950-1993)
  • Images of Travel
  • Birds and Bees
  • Not for Children
  • Traditional Tales Reconstructed
  • The Miraculous and the Devout
  • Fanciful Beasts
  • The Beautiful and the Bizarre
  • Entertaining (and instructing) Children

Each image has extensive metadata attached, including the digital image size, book author, artist, paper engineer, publisher, source of specific book printing, book size, and number of pages in the book. The description then goes on to describe the text of the book and the content of the images and pop-ups. The specific pop-up photographed for the collection is then described in detail. Each image may be seen at a higher resolution by clicking on the link at the beginning of each image text.

Abraham Lincoln Paper Collection at the Library of Congress

The Abraham Lincoln Paper Collection at the Library of Congress is both a fascinating collection and an interesting digitizaiton project. The LOC's complete Lincoln paper collection consists of 20,000 seperate documents. The digitized part of the collection is a result of a collaboration between the LOC's Manuscript Division and the Lincoln Studies Center at Knox College. Altogether the digital collection includes about 61,000 images and 10,000 transcriptions. Each of these 61,000 images exists as a jpeg, a gif, and a tiff. The tiff masters were transferred to the National Digital Library Program (NDLP). The archival gif versions, however, are freely accessible online. The site design is very basic, and looks date. According to the homepage, the site was last updated March 21, 2002. I'm certain that the site is actively maintained, but the collection does not appear to be engagingly curated.

Before existing in a digital format, the Lincoln papers were captured on microfilm. The index created for this microfilm collection served as the backbone for the organization of the digital collection. The papers may be searched by keyword, or by textual content. It is also possible to browse the collection based on date. Upon retrieving an item, metadata is provided in the form of date, subject, to whom a paper was written (if it is correspondence), and series. The files enlarge very nicely so that you can really see all of the detail in the handwriting. This is a really superb collection, and is no doubt of great interest to historians, biographers, and other sorts of detail-oriented researchers.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African American Sheet Music

The E. Azalia Hackley Collection of the Detroit Public Library was the first to showcase the contribution of African Americans in the performing arts.  The collection contains over 600 works that feature African American themes published between 1799 and 1922.  The digital form of the collection was created in 2003 and originally was to include just 19th century works.  Later, 20th century works were added up to 1922 because they were in the public domain.  The collection was started in 1943 and contains other 20th century works.  The site mentions that future evaluation of works that come into the public domain will determine whether to add them to the digital collection or not.

Materials can be searched or browsed by title, lyric first lines, composer, contributor, subject, and dates.  Search or browse results pages contain thumbnails and quick descriptive information. The description pages contain full metadata and links to view a larger version of the image in an external viewer, similar to the DSpace I saw in my example from last week.  The description pages also contain a digital ID number and OCLC number for further cross reference.

For the most part, the titles and images of the sheet music covers would be considered mildly to outrageously offensive today.  But it offers an incredible snapshot into the times.  Also interesting is that the site includes some audio examples of selected works.   However, they are in MIDI format.  The project info page explains that this is because of the small file size and the availability on the internet of files of public domain works.  Only 7 audio examples are provided.

The site is a nice example of a digital collection that uses Greenstone, but incorporates it into a conventional website.  Other examples simply try to incorporate style sheets into the Greenstone environment.  The Hackley Collection keeps its supplemental information pages on their main web server and link to the Greenstone server only for the items.  The supplemental pages are very informative and lead users to many sources to learn more.  The "Project Info" page very helpfully includes information about the project's history, funding, and selection process, but also tells us technical data about image creation and metadata standards used.  It also mentions the use of Greenstone software.

Huntington Archive Black and White Photograph Collection of Asian Art (1969-1984)

This collection of black and white photographs taken by Susan and John Huntington from 1969 to 1984 is a mixed bag. The collection's content is cool, and it is apparent from the intense level of metadata on each object and the quality of the images that the National Endowment of the Humanities grant funding received by the project supported it well. However, the functioning of the site is very clunky and not entirely useful in some respects, and while there is a lot of data on each object, there is very little information about the collection as a whole of the decisions that went into making it.

1. Collection Principles
The opening page for the digital archive of photography taken in South Asia of Buddhist and Hindu religious art, sculpture and monuments gives some background on the collection, including who the photographers were, when they took the photos, in which countries they photographed, and so on. It also notes that the project was funded by an NEH grant and that the Huntington Archive is in a consortium with Ohio State, who played a major role in the project. The page notes that 30,000 images are included in the digital collection, but says nothing about how that number relates to the physical collection of photographs or how selection decisions were made. Further, on the search page, there is a short note that tells that the number of hits returned for a search denotes the number of digital images available to the public, as not all images are available for public use, but says nothing more about how many or why. There is a rather lengthy paragraph at the bottom of the page about rights for the collection.

2. Objects
The images are searchable by entering descriptive terms in the search box, and browseable by
iconography, original location, current location, material type, dynasty/period, and religious category. There is very detailed information on the search page for optimizing searches, including how to do diacritic-format spelling for Sanskrit words, which is nice. One really annoying thing is that there seems to be no good way besides hit "back" over and over to get from a results page to the search page again. Another problem, and the collection addresses this with apologies written out all around, is that the image files are big, and they take a long time to load. I have decent internet connection and usually never encounter a problem with images, but even for me they took a pretty long time. Once they are open, though, they are pretty awesome. You can select from tabs above the image a larger or smaller size to view and a smaller or larger image to use for zooming. You can zoom really super close and still have the image come across totally clear. The number of images is pretty staggering, and in order to browse you would have to be somewhat familiar with Buddhist, Hindu, Sanskrit, Tamil, Hindi, and/or Telugu terms or you will be clicking around blindly. There are also no thumbnails on the browsing page, just lists of terms that are links, which is a problem, but if you actually enter a search term in the box, your results appear as thumbnails.

3. Metadata
This collection has a strength in metadata for individual objects. On one image, for instance, the fields Country, Site Name, Monument, Alternate Name, Subject of Photo, Photo Orientation, Dynasty/Period, Date, Material, Dimensions, Current Location, Copyright Holder, Photo Year, and Scan Number all appear. On others, even the asana (body position, as in yogic systems) demonstrated and other more religiously-specific information about how the figure in the sculpture is positioned or what they are wearing/holding/using and so on appear. In all, it is easy to get a lot of information about any one of the images. As with most collections I have looked at, though, no information on the scanning equipment used or the process involved there.

4. Audience
The introduction page explicitly states: "The goal of the digital project was to provide web access to the original images and accompanying text database for educators, scholars, and students interested in the visual arts and culture of Asia." Based on the amount of metadata on the objects, the quality of the images and the extent to which you can clearly zoom in on them, I wouldn't doubt that this could be used for scholarly purposes.

Liberian Law at Cornell University Library

Liberian law at Cornell University Library
This digital collection of manuscripts and legal documentation from the Cornell University library has as its mission statement on the home page : “Liberian Law contains documents dealing with the creation of the nation of Liberia and the laws enacted at its foundation. These materials include the Constitution and the Laws of the Commonwealth going back to the Colonization Society.” This is a very clear definition of what the collection contains and there are no documents that could be considered outside this selection criteria. The site is easy to navigate with few superfluous icons and visual adornments. A user may either browse or search the collection based on author, text, and title key words that use Boolean search logic. Within the search function there is an option to limit the search terms, but when I tried this function the page did not redirect. The site does link to outside pages that I believe are run on a different platform or software due to appearance and format of the pages that are linked. It was not clear from the two times I tried to access these outside pages if the trouble was caused by neglecting site maintenance or if the site is under construction. The documents are broken into six primary categories that are divided by date and subject matter (acts passed, statutes, and constitutions). The images may be seen either as an “online book” or downloaded as a PDF. The online book view has no zoom capabilities and only one size of the image is available. The images are also in TIFF format and this treatment of the images seems to indicate that the purpose of the collection is more of a finding aid than a primary resource as much of the text is illegible and there is no transcript. The metadata for this collection consists of the title of the original document, the author (in many cases this a governmental body or group), the date, and the collection the document belongs to. It would have been nice to have more description of the document and this lack suggests that users must know exactly what they are looking for. The selection criteria for this collection appears to be all the documents relating to Liberian law at the Cornell University library. The page explaining the creation of the collection provides the history of the documents which all appear to be from the same geographical area and dealing with similar issues of Liberian law. The collection appears to be the product of one of Cornell’s professors interests and there is no indication that this collection has not been fully digitized. This collection was digitized based on an increase in demands by scholarly researchers requesting Liberian law documents and inquiring about the size and scope of the physical collection. The site claims this increase in scholarly research in the humanities and interdisciplinary as the reason for the digitization effort.
Cornell University has other digital collections that may be of note including home economics and a history of math collection. They can be found here:

Brigham Young University Campus Photographs

The Campus Photographs Collection at Brigham Young University consists of photos from their main campus, their Idaho campus and their Hawaii campus. The photographs are of "student life, athletic competition, campus buildings, portraits of individuals, aerial shots of the various campuses, and other views of life on a university campus."
The about section is very brief saying that the collection contains historically significant photographs. It does not explain if they consider their entire collection historically significant or if they have only placed the photographs they believe are historically significant online. They also neglected to explain who was deciding what was historically significant.
The collection can be searched and browsed by campus or in its entirety. The search results pull up a list that includes the thumbnail, title, subject and description of each image. By clicking on an item, the user is redirected to a page with a larger image and very thorough metadata. There are 29 different metadata fields for each image, including call number, holding institution, original date and digital date, as well as historic time frame and genre.
The images are all jpgs created from scanning in the originals. Each item contains information about the medium of the original as well as the size of the digital file and a link to the full resolution image. Each image is complete with notes of provenance and rights information.
Because of the extensive metadata provided with each image, the site seems to be geared towards users with a research interest in the university and its history, but it could just as easily be used by someone with a passing interest.

Ye Olde Archery Digital Library

The Archery Library describes itself as an online library containing digital versions of old archery books, prints and articles from times past. First of all, I should mention that the Archery Library seems more or less to be fairly amateur in its construction. It does call itself a non-profit and mentions that the proceeds of the google ads on the site go to site maintenance. This makes sense for a site devoted primarily to dated books on an activity that is essentially a hobby.

Despite its relatively amateur execution, the Archery Library possesses clear collection principles. It seeks to provide digitized texts related to the practice of archery. Sadly, however, the collection is not very large. (17 books, 8 articles, and 10 prints) Furthermore, the books and articles have been digitized as transcripts only which I find disappointing since the mostly encompasses publications from before 1900 with a couple of items dating from the Sixteenth Century! The most impressive object in the collection is Roger Ascham's Toxophilus, the fchole of fhootinge conteyned in tvvo bookes from 1565, albeit from an 1864 reprint. Unfortunately, the early modern English spellings are not quite as impressive in transcribed text as they would be with the use of appropriate characters, but again the site does seem rather on the amateur side. It was also created fairly early in the internet era (1996.)

The most disappointing feature of the site is its lack of metadata. This also stems, I feel, from the fact that this is an amateur site dedicated to a hobby containing objects from a personal collection. This would explain why many of the prints on the site contain only "origin unkown" as metadata. Still, the lack of metadata is particularly troubling for books. Only the author is mentioned consistently, and sometimes the edition. Nothing is said of even place of publication. Also, the site's curation is minimal. The FAQ hasn't been updated since the '90s. Objects are divided merely into books, articles, and prints (using an evolutionary ancestor of greenstone's?) and the only search function included is google search. A google search for "Agincourt" within the library site returned four pages of hits. I guess Agincourt was rather the high water mark for archers. Speaking of watermarks, the objects in the Archery Library all have them, which I find drastically out of place with the otherwise amateur hobbyish tone of the site. It is clear that the intended audience of the site is primarily hobbyists and archery enthusiasts.

As a digital library, the Archery Library receives pretty low marks. As an example of what one person can do with a computer, a hobby, and a personal collection in their spare time (in 1996, no less!) the Archery Library assumes more interest.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Native American Constitution and Law Digitization Project

Native American Constitution and Law Digitization Project
Native American Constitution and Law Digitization Project is a cooperative work coordinated by the University of Oklahoma Law Center and the National Indian Law Library and Native American tribes whose government documents appear on this site. They are published with permission of the tribes and rightfully in the public domain. “Tribal constitutions and codes are the heart of self-government for over 500 federally recognized tribes, and are the lifeblood of Indian sovereignty.” [] There are more than 500 tribal governments are recognized by US government and Native Americans are an integral part of the US social fabric. This project aims to make tribal more recognizable by today’s public and provides a chance getting access to tribal government documents. I am so surprised that it is a so called digitization project however I did not find even one digitized item on this site. The whole web site seems pretty tricky and it took a while to figure out what to do and where to start. I just randomly browse whatever I could click into and the content is exclusively represented in html format I don’t know how they made it and what does digitization mean here? I believe that original documents are all in paper and they have to digitize them. However I could not actually “see” the items and the content have been transferred to neat html format. Why they call this project a digitized project? It is a good website for purely research purpose and attractive to those who just care about content and want to read something rather then appreciate the original looks.


StoryCorps is an organization that records people's interviews with one another--family members or friends can come to a StoryCorps booth and get a CD-quality recording of their talk, and these interviews go into an archive at the Smithsonian Institute. The organization's website has a collection of clips available here. Most of the clips are "human interest" stories, but some record people's memories of things like the Holocaust or the Bath School disaster (a school bombing in Michigan in 1922), which might be of interest to historians.

While not a formal digital collection, these clips are still available publically for people to access and possibly use as a research resource, or simply for enjoyment. As a result, there isn't much useful metadata, although I am glad to say there is at least some--the website records the interviewer and interviewee, a short summary, and where the audio was recorded; on occasion, it records the organization that StoryCorps partnered with to collect the interview. It might be a better resource with more detailed metadata or if full interviews were made available, but some of the interviews might be sensitive or too personal in nature for the people involved to be okay with releasing them publicly (even though they're going to a national archive, but oh well). Obviously, this isn't a project meant for scholars, but for laypeople.

Monday, April 20, 2009

JARDA: Japanese American Relocation Digital Archives

JARDA is a themed collection within Calisphere, the University of California’s digital collection of primary resources from archives throughout the state. The collection includes an incredible range of significant materials that provide context for each other. The site doesn’t provide much information about how the librarians chose what would be digitized for this themed collection. The collection narrative simply states that it includes “heavily requested materials for research, classroom study, and other uses,” that these materials have historically been “difficult to access physically” because of their physical dispersal among collections. “The JARDA project was created to remedy this problem.” It is not clear whether the librarians evaluated which materials relating to Japanese American relocation were the most “heavily requested,” but it is implied that the creators of this collection looked for themes that could be generated out of their combined collections. JARDA draws from the organizing librarians’ ten sites of employment, including the Japanese American National Museum, the California State Archives, the California Historical Society, and seven university archives from University of California (Los Angeles and Berkeley), California State University, University of Southern California, and University of the Pacific. Building this consortium was the first part of the collection decision-making process. It appears that diversity of material types was also key; the collection includes diaries, letters, photographs, drawings, US War Relocation Authority materials, and oral histories conducted with people who lived in the camps and with people working as administrators of the camps.

This collection utilizes metadata at several levels. First, the introductory page offers a “Background and Timeline” narrative to contextualize the collection materials. Second, the collection is divided into four themed areas: People, Places, Daily Life, and Personal Experiences. Within each of these, there is overview information about what is in the themed area, a list of related browse terms that users can click on (including named locations, terms like repatriation and barracks, names of artists and authors, etc.), along with lesson plan materials. Each theme page also includes a series of thumbnails that invite users in visually as well. Once users click on an image, they see another layer of metadata. All images include title, the collection where the physical object is located, and the contributing institution housing that collection. Some of the collections and contributing institutions are linked to the home pages for these resources. Digital objects also include other metadata as relevant to and available for the object, including creator/contributor and date. The objects seem to have descriptive titles rather than including descriptions.

The digital objects appear to differ between separate collecting institutions. Most photographs appear to be 300dpi or 600dpi JPEGs, paintings also appear to be 600dpi JPEGs, sketches are 300dpi JPEGs, while many diary entries are 600dpi JPEGs. Many, but not all, of the images include a color strip or a grayscale strip to allow adjustment for true color.

The central audience for this collection is clearly gradeschool teachers and children. Each themed area includes “Questions to Consider,” a list of the “California Content Standards which lesson plans with these materials may fulfill, a list of “Terms to Understand” and their definitions, documents including lesson plans and activities, and a note (and disclaimer) about “Racial Slurs” that may be found in the original captions to photographs from the US Relocation Authority. The introductory page for the collection also includes three teacher-developed themed lesson plans for particular grades. The images in this collection are compelling and the context is well narrated. It is sometimes difficult to navigate back and forth, and not all of the images are scanned in the same quality, but the material is useful and presented in an interesting way.

The Boy Made of Meat

The University of New Hampshire has digitized three versions of William De Witt Snodgrass’s poem “The Boy Made of Meat” along with the images created by Gillian Tyler. Their site does a nice job of giving users a biographical introduction to Snodgrass and the poem’s creation but does not provide much information on the why and how of the collection. Readers simply know that Snodgrass created several drafts before publishing the final version with the wood cut images made by Tyler. It’s unclear where this piece could be found in their collection or what technology was used in creating the digital images.

It’s an interesting collection as it provides three separate drafts of the poem along with some correspondence sent between the author and editor. Unfortunately, there is no transcription to go along with the letters and many of them are difficult to read. But the content is interesting and the images are a nice quality even though they are not especially large. It’s a funny poem with interesting images but it’s unclear what the relevance is to New Hampshire’s collection. Additionally, there is no metadata for any of the images which is limiting.

UNH does have a page displaying their list of digital collections which is how I found the poem in the first place. This is the only place one can find metadata for the pieces in the collection but this information is sometimes incorrect or contradictory. For example, the introduction page claims Snodgrass wrote the poem in the 1960s but in some places the metadata lists his date of death in 1886. Additionally, the list which provides metadata only offers an abbreviated list of images rather than all the items in the collection.

It seems the project was completed in 2003 which may account for some of the problems but not all of them. Clearly cataloging problems could have been fixed making the data consistent throughout. If the project were much bigger these problems would have made the collection nearly impossible to use. Because it’s small it can still be a useful project but it certainly has much room for improvement.