Tag Archives: earlymss

Recognizing the Garden While Managing the Weeds

Life in Duke University Libraries has been even more energetic than usual these past months.  Our neighbors in Rubenstein just opened their newly renovated library and the semester is off with a bang.  As you can read over on Devil’s Tale, a lot of effort went on behind the scenes to get that sparkly new building ready for the public.  In following that theme, today I am sharing some thoughts on how producing digital collections both blesses and curses my perspective on our finished products.

When I write a Bitstreams post, I look for ideas in my calendar and to-do list to find news and projects to share.  This week I considered writing about “Ben”, those prints/negs/spreadsheets, and some resurrected proposals I’ve been fostering (don’t worry, these labels shouldn’t make sense to you).   I also turned to my list of favorite items in our digital collections; these are items I find particularly evocative and inspiring.  While reviewing my favorites with my possible topics in mind (Ben, prints/negs/spreadsheets, etc), I was struck by how differently patrons and researchers must relate to Duke Digital Collections than I do.  Where they see a polished finished product, I see the result of a series of complicated tasks I both adore and would sometimes prefer to disregard.

Let me back up and say that my first experience with Duke digital collections projects isn’t always about content or proper names.  Someone comes to me with an idea and of course I want to know about the significance of the content, but from there I need to know what format? How many items? Is the collection processed? What kind of descriptive data is available? Do you have a student to loan me? My mind starts spinning with logistics logistics logistics.   These details take on a life of their own separate from the significant content at hand.   As a project takes off, I come to know a collection by its details, the web of relationships I build to complete the project, and the occasional nickname. Lets look at a few examples.

There are so many Gedney favorites to choose from, here is just one of mine.

William Gedney Photographs and Writings

Parts of this collection are published, but we are expanding and improving the online collection dramatically.

What the public sees:  poignant and powerful images of everyday life in an array of settings (Brooklyn, India, San Francisco, Rural Kentucky, and others).

What I see:  50,000 items in lots of formats; this project could take over DPC photographic digitization resources, all publication resources, all my meetings, all my emails, and all my thoughts (I may be over dramatizing here just a smidge). When it all comes together, it will be amazing.  

Benjamin Rush Papers
We have just begun working with this collection, but the Devil’s Tale blog recently shared a sneak preview.

What people will see:  letters to and from fellow founding fathers including Thomas Jefferson (Benjamin Rush signed the Declaration of Independence), as well as important historical medical accounts of a Yellow Fever outbreak in 1793.

What I see: Ben or when I’m really feeling it, Benny.  We are going to test out an amazing new workflow between ArchivesSpace and DPC digitization guides with Ben.  

 

Mangum’s negatives show a diverse range of subjects. I highly recommend his exterior images as well.

Hugh Mangum Photographs

This collection of photographs was published in 2008. Since then we have added more images to it, and enhanced portions of the collection’s metadata. 

What others see:  a striking portfolio of a Southern itinerant photographer’s portraits featuring a diverse range of people.  Mangum also had a studio in Durham at the beginning of his career.

What I see:  HMP.  HMP is the identifier for the collection included in every URL, which I always have to remind myself when I’m checking stats or typing in the URL (at first I think it should be Mangum).   HMP is sneaky, because every now and then the popularity of this collection spikes.   I really want more people to get to know HMP.

They may not be orphans but they are “cave children”.

The Orphans

The orphans are not literal children, but they come in all size and shapes, and span multiple collections.  

What the public sees:  the public doesn’t see these projects.

What I see: orphans – plain and simple.  The orphans are projects that started, but then for whatever reason didn’t finish.  They have complicated rights, metadata, formats, or other problems that prevent them from making it through our production pipeline.  These issues tend to be well beyond my control, and yet I periodically pull out my list of orphans to see if their time has come.  I feel an extra special thrill of victory when we are able to complete an orphan project; the Greek Manuscripts are a good example.   I have my sights set on a few others currently, but do not want to divulge details here for fear of jinxing the situation.  

Don’t we all want to be in a digital collections land where the poppies bloom?

I could go on and on about how the logistics of each project shapes and re-shapes my perspective of it.  My point is that it is easy to temporarily lose sight of the digital collections garden given how entrenched (and even lost at times) we are in the weeds.  For my part, when I feel like the logistics of my projects are overwhelming, I go back to my favorites folder and remind myself of the beauty and impact of the digital artifacts we share with the world.  I hope the public enjoys them as much as I do.

 

When it Rains, It Pours: A Digital Collections News Round Up

2015 has been a banner year for Duke Digital Collections, and its only January! We have already published a new collection, broken records and expanded our audience. Truth be told, we have been on quite a roll for the last several months, and with the holidays we haven’t had a chance to share every new digital collection with you. Today on Bitstreams, we highlight digital collection news that didn’t quite make the headlines in the past few months.

H. Lee Watersmania

waterschart
Compare normal Digital Collections traffic to our Waters spike on Monday January 19th.

Before touching on news you haven’t about, we must continue the H. Lee Waters PR Blitz. Last week, we launched the H. Lee Waters digital collection. We and the Rubenstein Library knew there was a fair amount of pent-up demand for this collection, however we have been amazed by the reaction of the public. Within a few days of launch, site visits hit what we believe (though cannot say with 100% certainty) to be an all time high of 17,000 visits and 37,000 pageviews on Jan 19.  We even suspect that the intensity of the traffic has contributed to some recent server performance issues (apologies if you have had trouble viewing the films – we and campus IT are working on it).

We have also seen more than 20 new user comments left on Water’s films pages, 6 comments left on the launch blog post, and 40+ new likes on the Duke Digital Collections Facebook page since last week. The Rubenstein Library has also received a surge of inquiries about the collection. These may not be “official” stats, but we have never seen this much direct public reaction to one of our new digital collections, and we could not be more excited about it.

Early Greek Manuscripts

An example from the early Greek Manuscript collection.
An example from the early Greek Manuscript collection.

In November we quietly made 38 early Greek manuscripts available online, one of which is the digital copy of a manuscript since returned to the Greek government.  These beautiful volumes are part of the Rubenstein Library and date from the 9th – 17th centuries.   We are still digitizing volumes from this collection, and hope to publish more in the late Spring.  At that time we will make some changes to the look and feel of the digital collection.  Our goal will be to further expose the general public to the beauty of these volumes while also increasing discoverability to multiple scholarly communities.

 

Link Media Wall Exhibit

In early January, the libraries Digital Exhibits Working Group premiered their West Campus Construction Link media wall exhibit, affectionately nicknamed the Game of Stones.   The exhibit features content from the Construction of Duke University digital collection and the Duke University Archives’ Flickr sets.   The creation of this exhibit has been described previously on Bitstreams (here and here).  Head on down to the link and see it for yourself!campus_constr

 

History of Medicine Artifacts

Medicine bottles and glasses from the HOM artifacts collection.

Curious about bone saws, blood letting or other historic medical instruments? Look no further than the Rubenstein Libraries History of Medicine Artifact’s Collection Guide.   In December we published over 300 images of historic medical artifacts embedded in the collection guide.  Its an incredible and sometimes frightening treasure trove of images.

These are legacy images taken  by the History of Medicine.  While we didn’t shoot these items in the Digital Production Center, the digital collections team still took a hands on approach to normalizing the filenames and overall structure of the image set so we could publish them.  This project was part of our larger efforts to make more media types embeddable in Rubenstein collection guides, a deceptively difficult process that will likely be covered more in depth in a future Bitstreams post.

Digitization to Support the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Legacy Project Partnership

Transcript from an oral history in the Joseph Sinsheimer papers.
Transcript from an oral history in the Joseph Sinsheimer papers.

In the last year, Duke University Libraries has been partnering with the SNCC Legacy Project and the Center for Documentary Studies on One Person One Vote: The Legacy of SNCC and the Fight for Voting Rights.  As part of the project, the digital collections team has digitized several collections related to SNCC and made content available from each collections’ collection guide.  The collections include audio recordings, moving images and still images.  Selections from the digitized content will soon be made available on the One Person One Vote site to be launched in March 2015.  In the meantime, you can visit the collections directly:  Joseph Sinsheimer PapersFaith Holsaert Papers, and SNCC 40th Anniversary Conference.

 

Coach 1K

Coach K’s first Duke win against Stetson.

This one is hot off the digital presses.  Digital Collections partnered with University Archives to publish Coach K’s very first win at Duke just this week in anticipation of victory # 1000.

What’s Next for Duke Digital Collections?

The short answer is, a lot!  We have very ambitious plans for 2015.  We will be developing the next version of our digital collections platform, hiring an intern (thank you University Archives), restarting digitization of the Gedney collection, and of course publishing more of your favorite digital collections.   Stay tuned!