We have a problem with “Digital Collections.” It’s a phrase that’s exclusive to libraries and librarians, mysterious to patrons and web site users, and inadequate for its purpose. It describes what it references with about the same precision that “athletic endeavor” describes a Duke-UNC basketball game.
Yet it seems a given that libraries use the phrase to refer to their online installations of digitized primary sources from unique or rare collections. I remember talking about “digital collections” when I was a graduate student in Information and Library Science in the 1990s; the phrase just seemed to stick in our field, despite having almost no meaning outside of it.
We use it at Duke, and our usability studies show time and again that it’s one of the least understood things on our web site. People tend to be excited when they find our collections and understand what they are. We just seem to have a problem providing the context they need to get there.
I don’t have the answer to the problem today, but I’ve begun to do some thinking on how libraries cue web site users on their digitized collections, how we describe the resources, and how we might better convey what we’re doing for our audience. At Duke, we’re preparing to update our design for our “Digital Collections,” and my hope is that when we’ve finished, we’re calling it something entirely different.
Your Duke Digital Collections team, as well as most of the rest of the university have been locked down at home for the past two days due to snow, ice and the dreaded “wintry mix”. If you, like us are looking for ways to entertain yourself and celebrate Valentine’s Day, you are in luck!
Among the treasures in the Emergence of Advertising digital collection, we have a cookbook specially designed to help you plan and execute meals for all holiday occasions from children’s parties to, you guessed it, Valentines Day! Check out some of the recipes below.
Nothing says, be my valentine like Chicken a la King and Drip Coffee!!
Prior to publishing the new NC recordings the Behind the Veil digital collection, contained 100 recordings. Although we were able to build on the existing collection without developing new technology we essentially QUADRUPLED the number of interviews available online!! The digital collection was created by digitizing the original audio cassettes and scanning any existing transcripts. The entire collection (over 1,200 interviews on audio cassettes) is available for research at the John Hope Franklin Center for African and African American History and Culture in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Visit the Devil’s Tale (the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library blog) for more details.