I’ve been working in academic libraries for fourteen years now, and I still haven’t been able to convince my grandmother that working for a university doesn’t mean you get the summers off. We certainly haven’t been taking the summer off in the Digital Collections Program here at the Duke University Libraries, even though you haven’t seen most of the results of our summer work yet.
We premiered the Duke Digital Collections iPhone app back in June, which has been getting positive and enthusiastic feedback (thanks!), but otherwise most of our work has been behind-the-scenes stuff that will pay off in the future. Among our projects:
- The metadata phase of the Broadsides & Ephemera digital collection has begun in earnest, with a team of eight catalogers and archivists using our new metadata editor to describe these rare and valuable resources.
- Work continues on Trident, our digital collections system. With a new repository, a new metadata editor, and all sorts of other new developments, we’ll be able to create and manage digital collections better, faster, and more seamlessly than ever before, and deliver content in new and exciting ways.
- Our Digital Production Center continues digitizing materials for future collections at a furious rate. As usual, they’re very speedy and the rest of us sometimes feel like we’re trying to play catch-up with them….
- We’ve introduced new ways to keep up with the Digital Collections Program, including a Facebook page (come be our friend!) and more frequent Twitter updates, where we’ve been tweeting highlights from the Duke Digital Collections since the spring. We’ve also been posting with our digital collections colleagues from across the state to the North Carolina Digital Collections Collaboratory blog.
- Last but certainly not least, we’re about to launch a huge, fantastic, exciting, FUN new digital collection — hopefully next week — that we’re going to have to keep secret a bit longer. We hate to tease you … well, maybe we want to tease you a little bit. It’s completely different from anything we’ve done before in several ways that will become clear when it’s published. We’ve been working like fiends on this one, but we think it’s totally going to be worth it, and hope you will, too, when you see it. Stay tuned.
As always, thanks for reading, and for your support and interest. We hope you’re having as good a summer as we are. Don’t forget the sunscreen and the frosty beverage of your choice….
In late-March 2009, we proudly published a digital collection entitled: Sam Reed and the Trumpet of Conscience. This collection documents the life and work of activist and organizer, Sam Reed, and the organization and publication, the Trumpet of Conscience, he founded in Durham, N.C., 1987-2000. The Trumpet of Conscience worked for social justice and to improve race relations, and the group’s mission was “To come together, to listen to one another, to strive toward reducing and eliminating the root causes of crime and divisiveness in our midst.”
TOC was open to all and attracted active involvement from numerous Duke University and North Carolina Central University faculty, as well as local Durham residents. According to William Willimon, former Dean of Duke Chapel, Duke and Durham’s Martin Luther King Day celebrations were established, in large part, because of Reed’s efforts. The Sam Reed and the Trumpet of Conscience digital collection includes newsletters, planning documents, photographs, awards, speeches, and interviews created and collected by Sam Reed. The collection also includes articles by and about Dr. John Hope Franklin.
We’re very excited to announce the Deena Stryker Photographs digital collection. It includes approximately 1,850 photographs shot in Cuba between 1963 and 1964, processed by Alberto Korda on the island. The collection features photographs of Fidel Castro and Raúl Castro, as well as other major figures in the Cuban Revolution, including Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Celia Sánchez, and René Vallejo. In addition to images of key members of the Castro government at work and relaxing, the collection documents everyday life in Havana and in rural Cuba, focusing on farms, development projects, and schools.
In our March build, we collaborated with Duke’s Divinity School Library to republish a collection entitled Images of mainline Protestant children and families in the U.S., which features articles and advertising images of children and families in the U.S. from Protestant-supported or targeted magazines.
The collection includes images depicting family size and health, articles and advertisements on scientific nutrition, and other images directly related to scientific progress and domesticity. Also included are images depicting families in Protestant mission settings. Content for the collection was selected by Dr. Amy Laura Hall and Andrew Keck in the Duke Divinity School.
We acknowledge the generous support of the ATLA/ATS Cooperative Digital Resources Initiative (CDRI), funded by the Luce Foundation, and the Valparaiso Child in Religion and Ethics Program, funded by the Lilly Foundation.
The collection is also part of the American Theological Library Association and the Association of Theological Schools Cooperative Digital Resources Initiative.
Over the the next few months, we’ll be writing a series of posts that offer a behind-the-scenes look at all of the work and decision-making that goes into building one digital collection, from selection, conservation, and physical processing to scanning, metadata, and publication. We’ve chosen to blog about our work on the Broadsides collection in particular for several reasons:
- It’s a relatively large-scale project that will test our ability to ramp up our digitization efforts (5,500 items from the U.S. and abroad, dated 1790-1940)
- It will serve as a test-case for the development and use of our new metadata tool–codename “Trident.”
- It will be a pilot project to get more library staff involved in generating metadata for digital collections.
So check in periodically to see how the project is moving along!
This month, we published a small collection of Bloomsbury Group-related materials in Manuscripts and Woodcuts: Visions and Designs from Bloomsbury. It features a handwritten, manuscript draft of Elizabeth and Essex by Lytton Strachey and a collection of woodcut illustrations by Roger Fry, as well as letters and book covers. This collection accompanies a Duke University Libraries exhibit on the Bloomsbury Group entitled “‘How Full of Life Those Days Seemed’: New Approaches to Art, Literature, Sexuality, and Society in Bloomsbury” that is part of a year-long celebration at Duke, Vision and Design: A Year of Bloomsbury,
Also published in the October 2008 build, the William Emerson Strong Photo Album contains 200 cartes-de-visite (card photographs) mostly published in the mid-1860s. Subjects include officers in the Confederate Army and Navy, officials in the Confederate government, famous Confederate wives, and other notable figures of the Confederacy. Sixty-four photographs can be attributed to noted Civil War photographer Mathew Brady, with nine photographs issued by Brady himself and 55 issued by E. & H. T. Anthony & Co., a photograph marketing firm that acquired the Brady negatives in 1865.
As of December 2008, the digital collection includes the cartes-de-visite images; we plan to add images of the photo album pages in 2009.
American Song Sheets, another new digital collection we published in October, includes approximately 1,800 broadsides and song sheets from nineteenth-century America. For this collection, we provide the song sheet images, as well as the searchable full text of the song lyrics. Will processed the full text to generate a collection-level “term cloud” based on commonly occurring words within the lyrics. This technique has proven useful for other collections, such as the Sidney Gamble Photographs of China term clouds (in two languages!) and the Americans in the Land of Lenin collection term cloud.
For the Song Sheets, Will also used full-text processing to enhance the metadata for each item with “more frequent words” and “less frequent words.” These approaches allow us to support additional browsing pathways for our users without the costs of hand-crafted metadata.
One of the five collections we published in our October build was the Michael Francis Blake Photographs digital collection. The collection features 117 photographs of men, women, and children taken between 1912-1934 by Michael Francis Blake, who opened one of the first African-American photography studios in Charleston, S.C. The images come from photographic album entitled “Portraits of Members,” which might have been used by clients in the studio to select the backdrop and props they wanted in their photographs.
We’re excited to announce the publication of the digital collection, Americans in the Land of Lenin: Documentary Photographs of Early Soviet Russia, 1919-1930. This collection of photographs of daily life in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is drawn from the personal papers of Robert L. Eichelberger and Frank Whitson Fetter, two ordinary Americans who found themselves in an extraordinary place and time. Both men left unique photos of their encounter with ordinary individuals of the self-proclaimed first socialist country in the world. Their images of life in the Soviet provinces between the World Wars reveal an agrarian, multi-ethnic country, still reeling under the impact of the revolutionary forces unleashed at the beginning of the 20th-century. This collection complements the resources in the University of Michigan’s Polar Bear Expedition Digital Collections.
Erik Zitser, the sponsor of this digitization project, published a longer description of the Eichelberger photos in his article: Images of the Russian Civil War in Siberia in the Robert L. Eichelberger Collection at Duke University Libraries.
Please feel free to leave feedback and suggestions for this collection in the comments.