Reasons To Be Thankful

Thanksgiving is upon us, and this time of year we all have many things to be thankful for: the sound the cranberry sauce cylinder makes as it blorps out of the can; sitting in a dazed stupor in front of the Detroit Lions as your body struggles to process the food cataclysm you hath just wrought upon it; a pre-dawn fistfight with other shoppers over the last $3 curling iron….  Good times.  But since many of us are so abundantly blessed that we have trouble keeping track of everything we should be grateful for, let’s consult  Duke Digital Collections for reminders of reasons we should give thanks.

Be thankful … for consumer electronics. Finally, Dad got the hint and got us that Pentron tape recorder we’ve been Tweeting, Facebooking, texting, graffitiing the bathroom walls, and whining around the dinner table about! It’s just what we need to record the sounds of Little Susie stomping on his feet and holding his arms while Big Sister (or Mom or Crazed Neighbor or whoever that is) chokes him from behind.  Family togetherness!

Continue reading Reasons To Be Thankful

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

Continue reading An increasingly diverse range of formats

What It Wasn’t, Was Football

It’s October, so everyone’s thoughts have turned to football.  Or the Great Pumpkin.  But because we don’t have any images of the Great Pumpkin in our digital collections, let’s say football.  It’s hard to imagine, but in olden days we somehow managed to enjoy football without luxuries like high-def, Doritos commercials, high-def Doritos commercials, and four guys all yelling at the same time on The OT.  There were six quarters lasting 90 minutes each, the field was eight yards long, a common trick to confuse the other team was to have the homecoming queen run onto the field to kick the extra point, and the football was a big rock.  We are pretty sure all this is true.  Let’s look at some of the historic football images in Duke Digital Collections and see what else we can learn about the ol’ pigrock.  You can click on any of the images to see a larger version and learn more about the digital object.

Duke vs. Davidson football program cover, 1936 Sep 19

In the 1930s, players often wore sesame-seed buns as helmets, as seen on the cover of this Duke/Davidson program from our Duke Football Programs digital collection.  We originally thought the Davidson player here was falling down and throwing up, but upon closer examination we realized he has bitten the trousers of the Duke player.  We like our original interpretation better.  Either way, we love the 3-D Viewmaster-y style of the whole tableau. Continue reading What It Wasn’t, Was Football

AdViews in the Classroom at Duke

Duke University Markets and Management Professor George Grody used vintage commercials in the AdViews collection in his Fall 2009 course, “Marketing Across Borders.” In this video, five students from the course discuss their experiences using AdViews in their class.

In addition to to the Marketing Across Borders feature, we’ve also published our fourth and final batch of newly digitized content: [reposted from The Devil’s Tale]

Continue reading AdViews in the Classroom at Duke

All Hail Tiger Baby

One of the things we enjoy using the Digital Collections Blog for is to highlight notable items from Duke’s digital collections and tell you why we think they’re interesting, or thought-provoking, or important, or funny.  But there are some digital objects where it’s obvious why we love them, so no explanation seems necessary.  This image, from the Sidney D. Gamble Photographs, is one of those.

Tiger Baby

This is Tiger Baby, who we love BECAUSE HE IS AWESOME.  Seriously, come on.  You can’t not love this.

What are your favorite things you’ve found in our digital collections?  Leave a comment about it and share it with the world!

Style on Screen: the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Video Archive


The Diamonstein-Spielvogel Video Archive was one of our first video digitization projects. Available free in both YouTube and iTunes U, the collection features interviews Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel conducted with prominent artists, musicians, architects, designers, photographers, directors, actors, writers, and art collectors, documenting the arts world during the nineteen seventies and the nineteen eighties.

We were delighted when the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center (ADAC) and Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles magazine found these interviews and planned a series of screenings for design professionals, entitled “Style on Screen: Films of Design Icons.” The first event is planned for tonight, June 17, 2010. If you can’t make it to Atlanta for the event, the three designers featured in the screening are…
Continue reading Style on Screen: the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Video Archive

Mockups for our New Interface


Here’s a first look at the new design for our Digital Collections site! Based on the blueprints from our initial wireframes, these designs include fully fleshed out HTML, CSS, images, and Javascript.

These designs focus on what we’re calling ‘portals’: useful starting pages for researchers to explore particular groups of items. These can be homepages to individual digital collections, or portals to groups of items from various collections.

We hosted a discussion session among library staff last week. I’ll capture the conversation from that session in the comments section of this post.




Branding & Navigation

Continue reading Mockups for our New Interface

Commencement 2010 career advice

This weekend Duke will award about 1500 undergraduate degrees  during the university’s 158th Commencement exercises.  While many graduates will prolong their education by pursuing advanced degrees, some will enter a competitive job market.  Sure, a Duke degree should give these graduates a leg up on the competition, but just in case, job-seekers (and parents) might want to look to our Digital Collections for some additional career advice.

Below are some important tips for you to consider:

1. Parents, “germs are not visible–but they are deadly.” Do your part in the “worldwide fight against dirt” to make sure potential employers find your children spotless and with a “wholesome cleanly odor.” Continue reading Commencement 2010 career advice

Here comes summer

May is here, which means summer vacation is just around the corner.  Those of you who have children are probably asking yourselves, “How on earth am I going to keep these bored kids from driving me crazy all summer can I make this a productive and educational summer for the little darlings?”  By now most of the best (i.e. least unaccredited) out-of-state camps and military boarding schools are all booked up and you may be wondering what you’re going to do. Well, cry yourself to sleep about it no more, because your friends here at Duke Digital Collections — many of whom have advanced degrees in child psychology or other fields (OK, mostly other fields) — have been thinking about this so you don’t have to.  We love kids, and in fact some of us used to be kids ourselves, but we also know that sometimes, especially at the end of a long day, they’re at they’re most lovable when they’re in another room being quiet.  Here we present some valuable tips and ideas on fun summer activities for kids found in our Protestant Family digital collection.  You can click on the thumbnails for a larger view of the image — trust us, some of them really need to be seen in their original glory to be fully appreciated.

Guerrilla training. A good way for children to meet others in the neighborhood and to get some exercise in the fresh air is to organize themselves into roaming gangs of armed bandits, like these kids.  These boys may not be learning meekness, but they do seem to be learning what their roles in life will be: from left to right we have the smart one, the shy one, the loose cannon with a heart of gold or whatever, and Schroeder from “Peanuts.” Continue reading Here comes summer