Category Archives: Announcements

Announcing Multispectral Imaging Service, version 1

As regular Bitstreams readers know, a cross departmental team within Duke University Libraries has been exploring Multispectral Imaging and its potential to make Duke collections more accessible to researchers in the Duke scholarly community and beyond since 2015. []. After spending 2017 developing MSI workflows, building expertise, writing documentation, and responding to experimental imaging requests, we are now ready to unveil the first version of Duke University Libraries MSI service for researchers!

Our first service model version accommodates small requests that are not urgent. The MSI team wants to partner with researchers to facilitate their requests as well as hear feedback about our current service and any other needs for MSI. We are offering MSI services for free for the next few months, but will institute a fee structure on or before July 1.

The service breaks down into 4 general steps:

  • First, researchers submit a request for MSI services using a webform. The form prompts requesters to share their research question and details about what they want imaged. We also want to know where researchers are from, as we are expecting both Duke and non-Duke affiliated patrons.
  • Second, the MSI team will review all requests, as MSI is not the ideal imaging solution for all materials and research questions. Requests that will not benefit from MSI will not be approved.
  • Third, we schedule approved requests for imaging and processing. We plan to conduct 1 imaging and processing day per month, so it may take several weeks to a month for approved requests to make it though our full process.
  • Fourth, we deliver the processed files to our patrons along with a report that details the imaging and processing procedures and outcomes.

Please note the following:
We are currently only imaging Duke University Library holdings.
We are limiting requests to 1-3 individual items or 1-3 pages within a bound item (which is the number of items we can generally image and process in 1 day).
Allow 2-4 weeks for vetting and up to a month for imaging.

If you are interested in requesting MSI services, but your needs do not fit the service described here, we still want to hear from you! Please do not hesitate to fill out our researcher request form to get the process started, or contact Susan Ivey directly.

If you want to learn more about MSI, check out the recent talk we gave at the Friday Visualization Forum on February 23.

Interactive Transcripts have Arrived!

Interactive Transcripts have Arrived!

This week Duke Digital Collections added our first set of interactive transcripts to one of our newest digital collections: the Silent Vigil (1968) and Allen Building Takeover (1969) collection of audio recordings.   This marks an exciting milestone in the accessibility efforts Duke University Libraries has been engaged in for the past 2.5 years. Last October, my colleague Sean wrote about our new accessibility features and the technology powering them, and today I’m going to tell you a little more about why we started these efforts as well as share some examples.

Interactive Transcript in the Silent Vigil (1968) and Allen Building Takeover (1969) Audio Recordings

Providing access to captions and transcripts is not new for digital collections.  We have been able to provide access to pdf transcripts and caption both in digital collections and finding aids for years. See items from the Behind the Veil and Memory Project digital collections for examples.

In recent years however, we stepped our efforts in creating captions and transcripts. Our work began in response to a 2015 lawsuit brought against Harvard and MIT by the National Association of the Deaf. The lawsuit triggered many discussions in the library, and the Advisory Council for Digital Collections eventually decided that we would proactively create captions or transcripts for all new A/V digital collections assuming it is feasible and reasonable to do so.  The feasible and reasonable part of our policy is key.  The Radio Haiti collection for example is composed of thousands of recordings primarily in Haitian Creole and French.  The costs to transcribe that volume of material in non-English languages make it unreasonable (and not feasible) to transcribe. In addition to our work in the library, Duke has established campus wide web accessibility guidelines that includes captioning and  transcription.  Therefore our work in digital collections is only one aspect of campus wide accessibility efforts.

To create transcripts and captions, we have partnered with several vendors since 2015, and we have seen the costs for these services drop dramatically.  Our primary vendor right now is Rev, who also works with Duke’s Academic Media Services department.  Rev guarantees 99% accurate captions or transcripts for $1/minute.

Early on, Duke Digital Collections decided to center our captioning efforts around the WebVTT format, which is a time-coded text based file and a W3C standard.  We use it for both audio and video captions when possible, but we can also accommodate legacy transcript formats like pdfs.  Transcripts and captions can be easily replaced with new versions if and when edits need to be made.

Examples from the Silent Vigil (1968) and Allen Building Takeover (1969) Audio Recordings

When WebVTT captions are present, they load in the interface as an interactive transcript.  This transcript can be used for navigation purposes; click the text and the file moves to that portion of the recording.

Click the image above to see the full item and transcript.

In addition to providing access to transcripts on the screen, we offer downloadable versions of the WebVTT transcript as a text file, a pdf or in the original webVTT format.

An advantage of the WebVTT format is that it includes “v” tags, which can be used to note changes in speakers and one can even add names to the transcript.  This can require additional  manual work if the names of the speakers is not obvious to the vendor, but we are excited to have this opportunity.

As Sean described in his blog post, we can also provide access to legacy pdf documents.  They cannot be rendered into an interactive version, but they are still accessible for download.

On a related note, we also have a new feature that links time codes listed in the description metadata field of an item to the corresponding portion of the audio or video file.  This enables librarians to describe specific segments of audio and/or video items.  The Radio Haiti digital collection is the first to utilize this feature, but the feature will be a huge benefit to the H. Lee Waters and Chapel Recordings digital collections as well as many others.

Click the image above to interact with linked time codes.

As mentioned at the top of this post, the Duke Vigil and Allen Building Takeover collection includes our first batch of interactive transcripts.  We plan to launch more this Spring, so stay tuned!!

A Year in the Life of Digital Collections

2017 has been an action packed year for Digital Collections full of exciting projects, interface developments and new processes and procedures. This blog post is an attempt to summarize just a few of our favorite accomplishments from the last year. Digital Collections is truly a group cross-departmental collaboration here at Duke, and we couldn’t do complete any of the work listed below without all our colleagues across the library – thanks to all!

New Digital Collections Portal

Regular visitors to Duke Digital Collections may have noticed that our old portal ( now redirects to our new homepage on the Duke Digital Repository (DDR) public interface. We are thrilled to make this change! But never fear, your favorite collections that have not been migrated to DDR are still accessible either on our Tripod2 interface or by visiting new placeholder landing pages in the Digital Repository.

Audiovisual Features

Supporting A/V materials in the Digital Repository has been a major software development priority throughout 2017. As a result our A/V items are becoming more accessible and easier to share. Thanks to a year of hard work we can now do and support the following (we posted examples of these on a previous post).

  • Model, store and stream A/V derivatives
  • Share A/V easily through our embed feature (even on Duke WordPress sites- a long standing bug)
  • Finding aids can now display inline AV for DAOs from DDR
  • Clickable timecode links in item descriptions (example)
  • Display captions and interactive transcripts
  • Download and Export captions and transcripts (as .pdf, .txt.,or .vtt)
  • Display Video thumbnails & poster frames

Rights Statements and Metadata

Bitstreams recently featured a review of all things metadata from 2017, many of which impact the digital collections program. We are especially pleased with our rights management work from the last year and our rights statements implementation ( We are still in the process of retrospectively applying the statements, but we are making good progress. The end result will give our patrons a clearer indication of the copyright status of our digital objects and how they can be used. Read more about our rights management work in past Bitstreams posts.

Also this year in metadata, we have been developing integrations between ArchivesSpace (the tool Rubenstein Library uses for finding aids) and the repository (this is a project that has been in the works since 2015. With these new features Rubenstein’s archivist for metadata and encoding is in the process of reconciling metadata between ArchivesSpace and the Digital Repository for approximately 50 collections to enable bi-directional links between the two systems. Bi-directonal linking helps our patrons move easily from a digital object in the repository to its finding aid or catalog record and vice versa. You can read about the start of this work in a blog post from 2016.


At the end of 2016, Duke Libraries purchased Multispectral Imaging (MSI) equipment, and members of Digital Collections, Data and Visualization Studies, Conservation Services, the Duke Collaboratory for Classics Computing, and the Rubenstein Library joined forces to explore how to best use the technology to serve the Duke community. The past year has been a time of research, development, and exploration around MSI and you can read about our efforts on Bitstreams. Our plan is to launch an MSI service in 2018. Stay tuned!

Ingest into the Duke Digital Repository (DDR)

With the addition of new colleagues focussed on research data management, there have been more demands on and enhancements to our DDR ingest tools. Digital collections has benefited from more robust batch ingest features as well as the ability to upload more types of files (captions, transcripts, derivatives, thumbnails) through the user interface. We can also now ingest nested folders of collections. On the opposite side of the spectrum we now have the ability to batch export sets of files or even whole collections.

Project Management

The Digital Collections Advisory Committee and Implementation Team are always looking for more efficient ways to manage our sprawling portfolio of projects and services. We started 2017 with a new call for proposals around the themes of diversity and inclusion, which resulted in 7 successful proposals that are now in the process of implementation.

In addition to a thematic call for proposals, we later rolled out a new process for our colleagues to propose smaller projects in response to faculty requests, events or for other reasons. In other words, projects of a certain size and scope that were not required to respond to a thematic call for proposals. The idea being that these projects can be easily implemented, and therefore do not require extensive project management to complete. Our first completed “easy” project is the Carlo Naya photograph albums of Venice.

In 2016 (perhaps even back in 2015), the digital collections team started working with colleagues in Rubenstein to digitize the set of collections known in as “Section A”. The history of this moniker is a little uncertain, so let me just say that Section A is a set of 3000+ small manuscript collections (1-2 folders each) boxed together; each Section A box holds up to 30 collections. Section A collections are highly used and are often the subject of reproduction requests, hence they are perfect candidates for digitization. Our goal has been to set up a mass-digitization pipeline for these collections, that involves vetting rights, updating description, evaluating their condition, digitizing them, ingesting them into DDR, crosswalking metadata and finally making them publicly accessible in the repository and through their finding aids. In 2017 we evaluated 37 boxes for rights restrictions, updated descriptions for 24 boxes, assessed the condition of 31 boxes, digitized 19 boxes, ingested 4 boxes, crosswalked metadata for 2 boxes and box 1 is now online! Read more about the project in a May Bitstreams post. Although progress has felt slow given all the other projects we manage simultaneously, we really feel like our foot is on the gas now!

You can see the fruits of our digital collection labors in the list of new and migrated collections from the past year. We are excited to see what 2018 will bring!!

New Collections Launched in 2017

Migrated Collections

Change is afoot in Software Development and Integration Services

We’re experimenting with changing our approach to projects in Software Development and Integration Services (SDIS). There’s been much talk of Agile (see the Agile Manifesto) over the past few years within our department, but we’ve faced challenges implementing this as an approach to our work given our broad portfolio, relatively small team, and large number of internal stakeholders.

After some productive conversations among staff and managers in SDIS where we reflected on our work over the past few years we decided to commit to applying the Scrum framework to one or more projects.

Scrum Framework

There are many resources available for learning about Agile and Scrum. The resources I’ve found most useful so far in learning about the framework include:

Scrum seems best suited to developing new products or software and defines the roles, workflow, and artifacts that help a team make the most of its capacity to build the highest value features first and deliver usable software on a regular and frequent schedule.

To start, we’ll be applying this process to a new project to build a prototype of a research data repository based on Hyrax. We’ve formed a small team, including a product owner, scrum master, and development team to build the repository. So far, we’ve developed an initial backlog of requirements in the form of user stories in Jira, the software we use to manage projects. We’ve done some backlog refinement to prioritize the most important and highest value features, and defined acceptance criteria for the ones that we’ll consider first. The development team has estimated the story points (relative estimate of effort and complexity) for some of the user stories to help us with sprint planning and release projection. Our first two-week sprint will begin the week after Thanksgiving. By the end of January we expect to have completed four, two-week sprints and have a pilot ready with a basic set of features implemented for evaluation by internal stakeholders.

One of the important aspects of Scrum is that group reflection on the process itself is built into the workflow through retrospective meetings after each sprint. Done right, routine retrospectives serve to reinforce what is working well and allows for adjustments to address things that aren’t. In the future we hope to adapt what we learn from applying the Scrum framework to the research data repository pilot to improve our approach to other aspects of our work in SDIS.

New and Recently Migrated Digital Collections

In the past 3 months, we have launched a number of exciting digital collections!  Our brand new offerings are either available now or will be very soon.  They are:

  • Duke Property Plats:
  • Early Arabic Manuscripts (included in the recently migrated Early Greek Manuscripts):
  • International Broadsides (added to migrated Broadsides and Ephemera collection):
  • Orange County Tax List Ledger, 1875:
  • Radio Haiti Archive, second batch of recordings:
  • William Gedney Finished Prints and Contact Sheets (newly re-digitized with new and improved metadata):
A selection from the William Gedney Photographs digital collection

In addition to the brand new items, the digital collections team is constantly chipping away at the digital collections migration.  Here are the latest collections to move from Tripod 2 to the Duke Digital Repository (these are either available now or will be very soon):

One of the Greek items in the Early Manuscripts Collection.

Regular readers of Bitstreams are familiar with our digital collections migrations project; we first started writing about it almost 2 years ago when we announced the first collection to be launched in the new Duke Digital Repository interface.  Since then we have posted about various aspects of the migration with some regularity.

What we hoped would be a speedy transition is still a work in progress 2 years later.   This is due to a variety of factors one of which is that the work itself is very complex.  Before we can move a collection into the digital repository it has to be reviewed, all digital objects fully accounted for, and all metadata remediated and crosswalked into the DDR metadata profile.  Sometimes this process requires little effort.   However other times, especially with older collection, we have items with no metadata, or metadata with no items, or the numbers in our various systems simply do not match.  Tracking down the answers can require some major detective work on the part of my amazing colleagues.

Despite these challenges, we eagerly press on.  As each collection moves we get a little closer to having all of our digital collections under preservation control and providing access to all of them from a single platform.  Onward!

New Digitization Project Proposal Process and Call for Proposals

At Duke University Libraries (DUL), we are embarking on a new way to propose digitization projects.  This isn’t a spur of the moment New Year’s resolution I promise, but has been in the works for months.  Our goal in making a change to our proposal process is twofold: first, we want to focus our resources on specific types of projects, and second, we want to make our efforts as efficient as possible.

Introducing Digitization Initiatives

The new proposal workflow centers on what we are calling “digitization initiatives.” These are groups of digitization projects that relate to a specific theme or characteristic.  DUL’s Advisory Council for Digital Collections develops guidelines for an initiative, and will then issue a call for proposals to the library.  Once the call has been issued, library staff can submit proposals on or before one of two deadlines over a 6 month period.  Following submission, proposals will be vetted, and accepted proposals will move onto implementation. Our previous system did not include deadlines, and proposals were asked to demonstrate broad strategic importance only.

DUL is issuing our first call for proposals now, and if this system proves successful we will develop a second digitization initiative to be announced in 2018.

I’ll say more about why we are embarking on this new system later, but first I would like to tell you about our first digitization initiative.

Call for Proposals

Duke University Libraries’ Advisory Council for Digital Collections has chosen diversity and inclusion as the theme of our first digitization initiative.  This initiative draws on areas of strategic importance both for DUL (as noted in the 2016 strategic plan) and the University.  Prospective champions are invited to think broadly about definitions of diversity and inclusion and how particular collections embody these concepts, which may include but is not limited to topics of race, religion, class, ability, socioeconomic status, gender, political beliefs, sexuality, age, and nation of origin.

Full details of the call for proposals here:

Proposals will be due on March 15, 2017 or June 15, 2017.

Proposing non-diversity and inclusion related proposal

We have not forgotten about all the important digitization proposals that support faculty, important campus or off campus partnerships, and special events. In our experience, these are often small projects and do not require a lot of extra conservation, technical services, or metadata support so we are creating an“easy” project pipeline.  This will be a more light-weight process that will still requires a proposal, but less strategic vetting at the outset. There will be more details coming out in late January or February on these projects so stay tuned.

Why this change?

I mentioned above that we are moving to this new system to meet two goals. First, this new system will allow us to focus proposal and vetting resources on projects that meet a specific strategic goal as articulated by an initiative’s guidelines.  Additionally, over the last few years we have received a huge variety of proposals: some are small “no brainer” type proposals while others are extremely large and complicated.  We only had one system for proposing and reviewing all proposals, and sometimes it seemed like too much process and sometimes too little.  In other words one process size does not not fit all.  By dividing our process into strategically focussed proposals on the one hand and easy projects on the other, we can spend more of our Advisory committee’s time on proposals that need it and get the smaller ones straight into the hands of the implementation team.

Another benefit of this process is that proposal deadlines will allow the implementation team to batch various aspects of our work (batching similar types of work makes it go faster).  The deadlines will also allow us to better coordinate the digitization related work performed by other departments.  I often find myself asking departments to fit digitization projects in with their already busy schedules, and it feels rushed and can create unnecessary stress.  If the implementation team has a queue of projects to address, then we can schedule it well in advance.

I’m really excited to see this new process get off the ground, and I’m looking forward to seeing all the fantastic proposals that will result from the Diversity and Inclusion initiative!

SNCC Digital Gateway goes LIVE

sdglogoA new documentary website: SNCC Digital Gateway: Learn from the Past, Organize for the Future, Make Democracy Work ( debuted on Tuesday, December 13th. It is the product of collaboration between the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Legacy Project, Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies, and Duke Libraries. SNCC, which grew out of the student sit-in movement in 1960, was brought into being by Ella Baker, one of the 20th century’s most influential activists. Tuesday would have been her 113th birthday.

Made possible by the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the SNCC Digital Gateway tells the story of how young activists in SNCC united with local people in the Deep South to build a grassroots movement for change that empowered the Black community and transformed the nation.sdghomepage

Using documentary footage, audio recordings, photographs, and documents, the site portrays how SNCC organizers, alongside thousands of local Black residents, worked so that Black people could take control of their lives. It unveils the inner workings of SNCC as an organization, examining how it coordinated sit-ins and freedom schools, voter registration and economic cooperatives, anti-draft protests and international solidarity struggles.

In this new documentary website, you’ll find:

  • Historic materials including documents, photographs, oral history interviews, and audiovisual material hosted in digital collections at repositories across the country
  • Profiles examining individuals’ contributions to the Movement
  • Events tracing the evolution of SNCC’s organizing
  • Inside SNCC pages unveiling the inner workings of SNCC as an organization
  • Perspectives presenting aspects of SNCC’s history from the eyes of the activists themselves
  • Map connecting users to the people who worked—and the events that happened—in a specific place.

In 2013, the SNCC Legacy Project (SLP) and Duke University formed a partnership to chronicle the historic struggles for voting rights and to develop ongoing programs that contribute to a more civil and inclusive democracy in the 21st century.


SNCC veterans shaped the vision and framework of the SNCC Digital Gateway. They worked collaboratively with historians of the Movement, archivists, and students to weave together grassroots stories, digitized primary source materials, and new multi-media productions to bring this history—and its enduring legacy—to life for a new generation.

The SNCC Digital Gateway is a work in progress. We will continue to add more stories and fill out its content in the year to come.

The story of the Movement told on this website is one of unsung heroes: domestic workers and sharecroppers, young organizers and seasoned mentors, World War II veterans and high school students. The SNCC Digital Gateway is here to share their story—and to help continue their legacy of organizing for self-determination and democracy in the generations to come. We feel certain that the site not only provides an unprecedented and valuable window onto past civil rights struggles, but a valuable tool for all those interested in social change today.

The Chronicle Digital Collection (1905-1989) Is Complete!

The 1905 to 1939 Chronicle issues are now live online at the Duke Chronicle Digital Collection. This marks the completion of a multi-year project to digitize Duke’s student newspaper. Not only will digitization provide easier online access to this gem of a collection, but it will also help preserve the originals held in the University Archives. With over 5,600 issues digitized and over 63,000 pages scanned, this massive collection is sure to have something for everyone.

The ever issue of the Trinity Chronicle from December 1905!

The first two decades of the Chronicle saw its inception and growth as the student newspaper under the title The Trinity Chronicle. In the mid-1920s after the name change to Duke University, the Chronicle followed suit. In Fall of 1925, it officially became The Duke Chronicle.

The Nineteen-teens saw the growth of the university, with new buildings popping up, while others burned down – a tragic fire decimated the Washington Duke Building.

The 1920s was even more abuzz with construction of West Campus as Trinity College became Duke University. This decade also saw the death of two Duke family members most dedicated to Duke University, James B. Duke and his brother Benjamin N. Duke.

Back in 1931, our Carolina rivalry focussed on football not basketball

In the shadow of the Great Depression, the 1930s at Duke was a time to unite around a common cause – sports! Headlines during this time, like decades to follow, abounded with games, rivalries, and team pride.

Take the time to explore this great resource, and see how Duke and the world has changed. View it through the eyes of student journalists, through advertisements and images. So much occurred from 1905 to 1989, and the Duke Chronicle was there to capture it.

Post contributed by Jessica Serrao, former King Intern for Digital Collections.

1940s & 1950s Chronicles Are Live!

The Digital Projects and Production Services is excited to announce that the 1940s and 1950s Chronicle are now digitized and accessible online at the Duke Chronicle Digital Collection.  These two new decades represent the next installment in a series of releases, which now completes a string of digitized Chronicles spanning from 1940 to 1989.

Headline from December 9, 1941
Army Finance Officers living at Duke, September 16, 1942

The 1940s and 1950s took Americans from WWII atrocities and scarcities to post-war affluence of sprawling suburbias, mass consumerism, and the baby boom.  It marked a time of changing American lifestylesa rebound from the Great Depression just ten years before.  At Duke, these were decades filled with dances and balls and Joe College Weekends, but also wartime limitations.  

Omicron Delta Kappa Fraternity Symbol, November 22, 1940

A year before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Duke lost its president of thirty years, William Preston Few.  The Chronicle reported Few to be “a remarkable man” who “worked ceaselessly towards [Duke University’s] growth” during a time when it was “a small, practically unheard-of college.”  While Duke may have been relatively small in 1940, it boasted a good number of schools and colleges, and a lively social scene.  Sorority and fraternity events abounded in the 1940s and 1950s.  So, too, did fights to overhaul the fraternity and sorority rushing systems.  Social organizations and clubs regularly made the Chronicle’s front page with their numerous events and catchy names, like Hoof ‘n’ Horn, Bench ‘n’ Bar, and Shoe ‘n’ Slipper.  These two decades also saw milestone celebrations, like the Chronicle’s 50th anniversary and the 25th Founders’ Day celebration.

Duke captures the wrong ram, November 13, 1942

Sports was another big headliner.  In 1942, Duke hosted the Rose Bowl.  Usually played in Pasadena, California, the game was moved to Durham for fear of a Japanese attack on the West Coast during World War II.  The 1940s also saw the rivalry between Duke and UNC escalate into violent outbursts.  Pranks became more destructive and, in 1945, concerned student leaders pleaded for a “cease-fire.”  Among the pranks were cases of vandalism and theft.  In 1942, Duke “ramnappers” stole what they believed to be Carolina’s ram mascot, Rameses.  It was later discovered they heisted the wrong ram.  In 1949, unknown assailants painted the James B. Duke statue in Carolina blue, and Duke administration warned students against retaliation.  As one article from 1944 informs us, the painting of Duke property by UNC rivals was not a new occurrence, and if a Carolina painting prankster was captured, the traditional punishment was a shaved head.  In an attempt to reduce the vandalism and pranks, the two schools’ student governments introduced the Victory Bell tradition in 1948 to no avail.  The pranks continued into the 1950s.  In 1951, Carolina stole the Victory Bell from Duke, which was returned by police to avoid a riot.  It was again stolen and returned in 1952 after Duke’s victory over Carolina.  That year, the Chronicle headline echoed the enthusiasm on campus:  BEAT CAROLINA!  I urge you to explore the articles yourself to find out more about these crazy hijinks!

The articles highlighted here are only the tip of the iceberg.  The 1940s and 1950s Chronicles are filled with entertaining and informative articles on what Duke student life was like over fifty years ago.  Take a look for yourself and see what these decades have to offer!

Digitizing Divinity: New Duke Chapel Recordings Digital Collection

Allow me to introduce the new, and delightfully improved…

…Drumroll please!…

Duke Chapel Nave
Duke Chapel Nave

Duke Chapel Recordings Digital Collection!  

I think I speak for all of us in the Digital Collections Program when I say how excited we are to roll out this complex collection of digitized audio, video, and manuscripts that document sermons at Duke Chapel from the 1940s to early 2000s.  You can now watch, listen to, and read sermons given at the Chapel by an array of preachers, including Duke Divinity faculty, and notable female and African American preachers.  Many of the recordings contain full worship services complete with music by the Chapel’s 100-voice choir and four pipe organs.  There are also special services, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. memorials, Good Fridays and Christmas Eves, Baccalaureates, and Convocations.  

Digitization of this collection was made possible through our collaboration with Duke University’s Divinity School, Duke Chapel, University Archives, and Duke University Libraries’ Digital Collections Program.  In 2015, the Divinity School received a Lilly Endowment Grant that funded the outsourcing of A/V digitization through two vendors, The Cutting Corporation and A/V Geeks, and the in-house digitization of the printed sermons.  The grant will also support metadata enhancements to improve searchability and discovery, like tagging references within the recordings to biblical verses and liturgical seasons.  The Divinity School will tackle this exciting portion of the project over the next two years, and their hard work will help users search deeper into the content of the collection.

Duke Chapel, September 1950
Duke Chapel, September 1950

Back in 2014, digital collections program manager, Molly Bragg, announced the release of the first installation of digitized Duke Chapel Recordings.  It consisted of 168 audio and video items and a newly developed video player.  This collection was released in response to the high priority Duke Chapel placed on digitization, and high demand from patrons to digitize and view the materials.  Fast forward two years and we have upped our game by expanding the collection to over 1,400 audio and video items, and adding more than 1,300 printed sermon manuscripts.  Many of the printed sermons match up to a recording, as they are often the exact document the preacher used to deliver their sermon.  The online content now represents a large percentage of the original materials held in the Duke University Archives taken from the Duke University Chapel Recordings and Duke Chapel Records collections.  Many of the audio reels were not included in the scope of the project and we hope to digitize these in the near future.

Divinity student delivers practice sermon before faculty and students, undated
Divinity student delivers practice sermon before faculty and students, undated

The Lilly Grant also provided funding to generate transcriptions of the audio-visual items, which we outsourced to Pop Up Archive, a company that specializes in creating timestamped transcripts and tags to make audio text searchable.  Once the transcriptions are generated by Pop Up Archive and edited by Divinity students, they will be made available on the web interface alongside the recordings.  All facets of this project support Divinity’s Duke Preaching Initiative to enhance homiletical education and pedagogy.  With the release of the Duke Chapel Recordings Digital Collection, the Divinity School now has a great classroom resource to help students learn about the art of sermon writing and delivery.

The release of the Chapel Recordings marks yet another feat for the Digital Collections Program.  This is the first audio-visual collection to be published in the new Tripod3 platform in conjunction with the Digital Collections migration into the Duke Digital Repository (see Will Sexton’s blog posts on the migration).  Thanks to the hard work of many folks in the Digital Repository Services and Digital Projects and Production Services, this means for the user a new and squeaky clean interface to browse the collection.  With the growing demand to improve online accessibility of audio-visual materials, Chapel Recordings has also been a great pilot project to explore how we can address A/V transcription needs across all our digital collections.  It has presented us all with many challenges to overcome and successes to applaud along the way.

Chapel scene, 1985
Chapel scene, 1985

If you’re not intrigued by the collection already, here are some sermon titles to lure you in!

From contemplative, to entertaining, to historical, the sermons cover a broad range of topics. I encourage you to take a look and a listen!