Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Chopin Early Editions

The Special Collections Research Center at the University of Chicago Library has digitized their collection of over 400 early edition scores of Frédéric Chopin. According to the project's website, the Chopin Early Editions collection contains digital images of all of the scores in the library's collection. The library includes on the site detailed background information about the project, intellectual access, and the in-house digitization process. The stated purpose of the project was to help Chopin scholars, music scholars, and performers who want access to the scores. To build the collection, the library used Greenstone Digital Library Software, which drew me to the collection because it is an example of a live project using the software we are all trying to learn.

The website is very basic, but seems to contain necessary information and straightforward navigation. Copyright on the site indictes the project dates from 2004. Users can access the collection by browsing one of four categories: Titles, Uniform Titles, Genres, and Dedicatees. A search box allows for keyword searching within one of eleven dropdown categories, in which the four browsing categories are included. The images are displayed (after clicking a browsing category or performing search) in a simple list organized alphabetically. If a category chosen contains more than one score, that number appears next to the title in parentheses. Top navigation allows the user to move to another browsing category or search.

When navigating to individual scores, the user first sees a bibliographic description page with information in many of the search categories described above. Additionally, more subject information, and URI and library Call Number are also listed. No technical or other administrative metadata seems to be available. Users can then click on a "View Score" tab to see a JPEG version of the image (the project's "About" pages mentions that the scores were scanned at TIFFs with the JPEGs intended to be quick access copies). A dropdown menu provides quick navigation to different pages of each score. The images contain a ruler along one side of each to provide the online viewer scale. At the bottom of each image, users can click a link to a higher quality version of each score. The higher quality images only allow for one zoom factor, but the final image is sufficiently large to view handwritten notes or small type easily.

For the time it was created, the project managers seem to have done a nice job of giving useful, though not entirely comprehensive, information along with good quality scanned images. Overall, it's nice to see a successfully completed project that used the Greenstone platform as we try to create our own digital collections.

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