Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Remarkable Ohio

Remarkable Ohio is a site sponsored by the Ohio Historical Society and the Ohio Channel (covering state government and local PBS programming) that provides a database of 1279 historical markers located throughout the state.  I find it interesting because it is not a collection of exclusively archival material, but also of photos of the markers themselves.  The markers are the focus of the site, so descriptive data is largely concerned with the signs' locations.  The site contains contemporary photos of each of the markers, mostly taken by registered participants from local historical groups or other citizens.  The site's collection is being created largely by these citizen participants with some historical materials from the OHS to augment the information available about each of the markers.  In fact, some markers have no photos, yet.

Unfortunately, any historic photos that are included offer very little information about the item itself.  Historical photos seem to be uploaded only by the OHS at this point.  A short narrative description of the subject of the photo, often including dates, is offered along with some sort of catalog number in parentheses.  As a result, I think the site, and specifically OHS, misses an opportunity to let users know where they can go see more historical materials, not to mention providing technical data for us library types.  Each marker's page has an option to scroll through small images (if multiple images exist) and include a link to "full resolution" images.  These are just JPEGs and are only slightly larger than the first image, in most cases.  No manipulation tools are available to inspect images further.

As mentioned, data about the markers is much more informative.  Both sides of the markers are transcribed on each marker's page.  Street addresses are included, along with latitude/longitude–participants are encouraged to use GPS devices to record the markers' locations.  Links are provided for imbedded Google maps to the markers' location, but every map link I attempted was broken.  Other information includes year erected, local sponsors, and category and subject keywords for the markers.  Those keywords can be used to search for specific markers, or users can browse the markers by county, title, or category.  Users can also register for a free account and save their favorite markers in a special collection.  If users wish to use the images, the site offers a means to request permission from image owners online.

The Remarkable Ohio program is presenting information about a different type of information carrier.  I feel it is sort of like a collection of photos of libraries.  Typically, inside the library is where most would expect to find the information, but on this site, the information is on the wrapper in some sense.  I also like that this digital collection is being created as it goes along.  A bit of Web 2.0 sneaking in? 

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