Category Archives: Interface Features

Introducing the J. Walter Thompson Newsletters Digital Collection

The JWT Newsletters digital collection consists of over 1,600 newsletters of the J. Walter Thompson Co. advertising agency from 1916 to 1986.  These internally distributed newsletters touch on myriad topics of interest to the company such as account and client news; general and client-specific marketing surveys; developments in print, radio, and television advertising and marketing research; as well as personnel news such as new hires, transfers, promotions, and brief biographical sketches.

Digital Projects and Production Services have been excited to digitize and provide access to the JWT Newsletter digital collection (see more information about the collection on one of our sister blogs, the Devil’s Tale).  We recently started using OCLC’s CONTENTdm (an access tool used by many libraries to provide access to digitized materials) as part of our public interface in July with the Duke Chronicle digital collection.  Incorporating CONTENTdm with our public interface has allowed us to provide new services to our patrons using collections like the JWT Newsletters.  These include:

  • Full text search of the JWT Newsletters – you can see your search results highlighted in the scanned images!
  • Patrons can download a PDF of any item
  • Advanced search by date range and/or full text
  • Use a page Flip View to turn the pages of a newsletter.

We have more projects planned in the future to take advantage of these exciting features.  In the meantime, please enjoy perusing the JWT Newsletter and learn more about one of the oldest and most prominent advertising agencies.


A page from a 1986 newsletter in the page flip interface.
A page from a 1986 newsletter in the page flip interface.


AdViews at the Internet Archive

AdViews Internet ArchiveAdViews, our collection of nearly 9,000 digitized vintage television commercials, is now available via the Internet Archive.  The videos had previously been accessible only through iTunes U.

Since we launched the first batch from the collection back in July 2009, the commercials have amassed over 2.5 million downloads and 700,000 previews in iTunes (viewing a video from within iTunes without downloading). There’s no doubt that AdViews has been popular in iTunes. We have heard from several patrons how easy it is to get the videos using this familiar software.  Others have downloaded tracks directly through the iPad’s own iTunes interface for viewing on-the-go outside of a Wi-Fi hotspot.  One patron even sent us a virtual hug.

But iTunes isn’t for everyone. We have heard from folks using computers in public libraries where they are unable to install the software. We have also gotten emails from Linux users unable to run iTunes. We aim to make our collections usable through familiar, user-friendly interfaces (such as iTunes), but it’s also important that they are as open and accessible as possible.  We are happy to now extend the collection’s reach to a broader audience.

As of this week, you can now access AdViews videos in three different ways:

  • Our website. Now from our web interface, click any track title and an embedded video player will pop out (courtesy of the Internet Archive).  There are buttons to view each video “album” (or “subcollection”) in either iTunes or the Internet Archive.
  • Internet Archive.  View the videos directly in your web browser.  You can download different sizes of MP4s, or even Ogg Video, if that’s more your thing.
  • iTunes U (iTunes software required).  View or download MP4 videos through iTunes on your computer, iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.  Downloading will automatically add the videos to your iTunes library under the “iTunes U” category.

Special thanks go to Skip Elsheimer at A/V Geeks, Jeff Kaplan at the Internet Archive and Will Sexton here at Duke University Libraries for their contributions to this project.

Try Our New Digital Collections Site (Now in Beta)

I’m happy to announce the availability of a beta version of our new Digital Collections web interface, the result of the Tripod2 project at Duke. Try it now! It will be available “in beta” for a few weeks at so you can give it a spin and tell us what you think.

Over the next few weeks, we will be tying up loose ends so we can replace the existing site at


34,000 items from 22 digitized collections, cross-searchable in a common index. Includes a wide range of formats: photographs, advertisements, books, sheet music and more.

PDF export for items

Save or print a PDF of any item. Especially useful for our sheet music collections.

Zooming & Panning

Zoom in close on images to see the smaller details or read the fine print.

Continue reading Try Our New Digital Collections Site (Now in Beta)

Redesigning Duke Digital Collections

This fall, we’re redesigning the web interface to our Digital Collections.  And we want your help.

We unveiled our current interface back in January 2008, starting with a modest six collections, mostly of photographs and other images.  The system/website we built was pretty sufficient for that group of content.  It did some things well that marked significant progress at the time: it let you search across collections, it gave you facets to narrow your search results, and it gave you nicely bookmarkable URLs for items and search results.

Fast forward 18 months to today.  Our Digital Collections Program is firmly established and clicking on all cylinders (see our past blog posts for a recap of the past year & a half).  We’re now hosting almost 30 collections in this system, and we’re introducing new collections all the time.  We have a diverse and growing range of digital formats like videos and books.   We have explored hosting content in places like YouTube, iTunes, Flickr, and Internet Archive.  The Web has been rapidly evolving around us.  And our site has now been around long enough for us–and our users–to have kicked its proverbial tires to get a good sense of what it’s doing well versus where it’s falling short.  It’s getting pretty clear that we have outgrown this site.  It’s time to take it to the next level.

It’s the perfect time for a redesign.  Change is in the air.  Our team has been working hard on building our new repository, metadata editor tool, and index (Codename: Trident), and all that behind-the-scenes wizardry opens up a wealth of opportunities for improving the ways that you, as someone who uses our website, will be able to discover our digital treasures.

We have some ideas of our own for improvements, and we’ll share them here on the blog shortly.  But we really want to hear from you about your ideas.  Join in the conversation here on this blog in the comments section.  Tune into this new category (Website Redesign), where we’ll share information throughout the fall, including updates, mockups, analysis, and more.   You can also give us feedback privately at this page, if you prefer.  Everything’s fair game, from aesthetics to information organization to functionality.

We’re looking forward to hearing from you soon!

Library Digital Collections? There’s an App for That.

Amid the excitement surrounding the new iPhone this month, we’ve got our own exciting announcement: an iPhone app for Duke Digital Collections! A mobile interface to search and browse 20 of our collections (over 32,000 images) is now included in the free DukeMobile app. [press release in ‘Duke Today’]

Here’s a 3-minute demo of the app:


Providing an iPhone interface to the collections helps us to reach an audience–whether at Duke or beyond–that is increasingly mobile. Continue reading Library Digital Collections? There’s an App for That.

Digital Collections… on Paper!

Have you ever tried to print out anything from our Digital Collections site, like a cool historic advertisement, an old documentary photograph, or a list of search results?  If so, you probably got a printout with some less-than-ideal formatting and some extraneous near-blank pages.

Today, we implemented a print-specific stylesheet, so give it another try and let us know what you think!

One of our core aims for our system is to be able to deliver items from our collections in the formats that are most ideal for the various ways people will use them.   Lots of people print web pages, and what works on-screen isn’t always best on paper.

Here were our goals for the print styles:

  • maintain branding for Duke LIbraries, Digital Collections Program, and individual collection
  • remove interface elements like search boxes and facets that do not provide value on paper
  • write out the URL of copyright & reproduction information for items
  • eliminate unnecessary page breaking
  • support landscape & portrait orientation
  • support all major browsers/platforms
  • make table headers repeat on subsequent pages

There’s another feature we’re working on implementing (in the not-too-distant future) that should also make things easier to print:  PDF generation.  It should be especially useful for multi-paged items. We’ll keep you posted on this blog about all coming interface updates…

Happy printing!

Does this still fit?

shoesEver go to a shoe store, try on a pair of shoes and think, “Wow, these are great”? Ever wear those same shoes around town for a bit and realize that they are actually too tight?

After wearing them for a year or so, we’ve decided that the Digital Collections home page and individual collection home pages are just too tight — we want to squeeze more great stuff into the current designs than they will comfortably hold.

The challenge?

We want the standard introductory text, contact information, navigation, copyright and usage info as before — but we want so much more:

  • Cooliris galleries
  • YouTube videos
  • Term clouds
  • RSS feeds of recent comments (oh, wait, we don’t have a commenting system)
  • RSS feeds of other stuff (since we don’t have a commenting system)
  • Interactive widgets (Simile Timeline anyone?)
  • Mashups (Data, meet Google maps. Google maps, meet data.)

Yes, we have Web 2.0 on the brain. Maybe this will pass. Until then, we will re-think a variety of pages with greater content flexibility in mind.

Stay tuned…

3D Wall View in Search Results

Yesterday, we introduced a new feature in our digital collections interface: the 3D Wall. This is an exciting new interactive view of search results that enables quicker navigation through pages of thumbnails and between items, smooth zooming to high-quality images, and image slideshows.

Here’s a 4-minute demo:

(see larger, high-quality version)

3D Wall uses the program CoolIris. The embedded version requires only that your browser has Flash player; through to use full-screen view, download the CoolIris browser plugin from

Try it out and let us know what you think!

CHANGELOG, 2008 Oct. 24

We posted a major build of the digital collections site today.  The focus of the build was a set of five new collections; I know Jill intends to publicize them here, so instead of the prolix titles I’ll deploy their “collectionID” values:  blake, esr, songsheets, strong and vica.  In addition, we returned the asl collection to the internet after a rather lengthy, post-Texis hiatus.  Since we focused on these great collections for this build, there are relatively few upgrades to the system to report, but I’ll list them here. Continue reading CHANGELOG, 2008 Oct. 24