An increasingly diverse range of formats

As we continue to develop our new discovery system/site for Digital Collections (codename Tripod2), dealing with format complexity is one of our biggest challenges.

One of the library’s major strategic goals is to “increase the Libraries’ capacity to create, acquire, and manage digital scholarly content in an increasingly diverse range of formats.”  We’re doing our part.

Many resource discovery sites have to handle only a single item format. YouTube deals with videos. That’s pretty much it. And it deals with them very, very well. But within our collections, we have a mixed bag:

  • single-page image-centric objects (e.g., photographs or printed ads)
  • single-page text-centric objects with images (e.g., song lyric sheets or broadsides)
  • items with pagination (e.g., sheet music)
  • books comprised of hundreds of pages with accompanying text
  • PDF documents
  • digital videos
  • albums comprised of a series of videos
  • …and more formats on the horizon.

To complicate things further, some of our objects are hosted here at Duke on our servers, but some of them are elsewhere (YouTube, the Internet Archive, iTunes, Flickr, etc.).

We’re aiming to make these items all easily discoverable in our site and to present the best possible interaction options for each of the various item types you will find in the system.

Here’s a sneak peek at how some of our various resources will be presented.  The screen shots are from our actual web application (previous previews have been from mockups):

Single Image


  • options button above, item info below

Page With Text


  • Page image above
  • Text transcription underneath



  • Page through right within the page w/left & right arrows
  • Navigate thumbnails below

PDF Document



  • Embedded PDF if supported by browser
  • Prompt for open/download if embed not supported

Video Album


  • List of videos in the album
  • Prominent link to iTunes album



  • Pull in book & reader interface from Internet Archive
  • Link to other formats / search inside via Internet Archive

Exporting PDFs


The most frequently requested feature the new site will enable is the ability to download and/or print a PDF, especially from sheet music or other paginated items.  We have completed work on the exporter.  Here’s an example PDF generated on-the-fly from the new export feature.  Note the quality of the images and the page of item information at the end.

Let us know what you think!  We’ll be tackling the search results display next…