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Archive for December, 2008

A Selection of Web-Accessible Collections–Harvard

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on December 4, 2008

One of my classmates blogged about Harvard’s open access database for faculty. This site is a different effort. A Selection of Web-Accessible Collections is a fine example of digital efforts. Chinese Rubbings is one such collection, but on that caught my attention, and I don’t know why Is Contagion: Historical Views of Diseases and Epidemics. As I started looking at it, I saw the Spanish Influenza in North America, 1918-1919.

This was a pandemic and killed over 500,000 people during World War I. The collection is organized around other major outbreaks of disease worldwide. Obviously there was a real fear worldwide. According to the website the flu broke out at Ft. Riley, Kansas.

Cover up your cough and sneeze, Otherwise you’ll spread the disease.” From the U.S. Public Health Service, “Spanish Influenza” Three-Day Fever” “The Flu”, Supplement No. 84 to the Public Health Reports, September 28, 1918: 4.

Other diseases include Cholera, Plague, Smallpox, “Pestilence,” Syphilis, Tropical diseases, Tuberculosis, and Yellow Fever. What makes this a great digital collection, are the grouping of items that are digitized and the connections to the time are shown.

It is a great example of a digital library, in my opinion.

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Country Profiles and Country Studies

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on December 3, 2008

Believe it or not, the US government has lots of digital collections. Since I work with government documents everyday, I probably have a different perspective than many SLIS students. Government documents are not what you think they are. Yes, there are plenty of dull and dry and statistical docs, but there are plenty that are interesting. Take for instance the Country Studies. This is a “digital collection” of 101 countries that have been arranged, digitized and searchable through the Library of Congess. Since I am an armchair traveler, I enjoy browsing through this collection. Another link is the home page at: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/cshome.html.

While they were published during the years, 1988-1998, they still occasionally appear in print. For example, this year the Country Study of Iran was published. Our depository recently received our copy. Some countries changed names during that timespan and some countries disappeared and others emerged. This is an interesting series because of the information about the countries tha is covered. There is more information in these pages than would normally be found in an Encyclopedia. The Country Studies digitized text in the Library of Congress and in Google. (Google’s has advertisements inserted)

Shorter and probably more interesting are the Country Profiles. Click on a country you want to know more about. There are maps and text in these profiles. They are fully digitized and are truly a “digital collection.”

As many of you know, government documents set the goal of becoming a digital collection. In many ways they have succeeded. Most new docs appear online and not in print.

As a depository, we struggle to identify our selections and provide links from our catalog, OPAC, to the new publications online. (That is our metadata to the digital depository collection!). We use a PURL (Rersistent Uniform Resource Locator) that keeps the link alive to the doc, even if it moves. The PURL is a service of OCLC. As most people know, web pages move around. Metadata such as a PURL keeps the links alive. This is the PURL to the Country Study of Iran http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS40299. That PURL probably will not work without the referral from the library catalog where it was taken. However, thanks to PURLS we can keep links to the government documents digital collection alive.

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NPS digital collection

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on December 3, 2008

The National Park Service is one of my favorite Web site and digital collections. Yes, I think it is a digital collection. Lots of images, mingled with text. Interactive. Seems to be intuitive, so that I don’t have to think about what to do. (Another good resource—Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug.) With your mouse, hover over a state and see an image of Federal Park Service land in that state. I think digital collections should be that way, easy to manuver.

Here is a little tour I took. The resources on these pages are set up for educators, but are interesting for all to see. The Website is transitioning, so even more digital images should soon be available.

For other learning styles (think Dr. Lester’s class 5053), there are sounds of nature.

Click on the picture to hear the sound.

Bringing it back to the NPS page and then home to Oklahoma.

Chickasaw National Recreation Area

National Trail is the Trail of Tears, National Historic Trail.

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Washita National Battlefield

This digital collection is interactive and interesting. Since I like the outdoors, it is fun to see (and hear).

The National Park Service has done a great job in setting up this site. Makes me wish they would include even more for me to see.

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Grand-daddy of digital collections

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on December 2, 2008

Maybe not “the grand-daddy” of digital collections, but I don’t know what actually is the oldest. This is definitely one of the first digital collections that I ever saw. The NARA collection, otherwise known as The National Archives of the United States still continues to impress. I went back recently for a look-see and found that it has simply gotten better.

Originally, it was a bit tricky to navigate. Yet with lots of time on my hands, it was worth it to see the images that were contained in the collection. I searched by names and places and saw lots of images.

Today was easier. I discovered that today’s document, or document of the day, was from Project Bluebook. This image is of the actual report by the pilot who saw a UFO on Nov. 27, 1957. Wow!

Pilot sights UFO

or how about a link to that page?

http://www.archives.gov/foia/ufos

Even more profound, the document was linked to more information about UFOs and to background information about Project Bluebook. The metadata explained the image and provided a means to additional information. Before I took digital collections, I did not realize that metadata could perform in this fashion. Yes, I know MARC records can refer to other MARC records, but not as seamlessly as this. The digital collection is superior and has images of the documents that made this country what it is today. Yet what impressed me today was the progress that has been made with digital collections. Oh, I will definitely be back to see what else has been digitized and how they have done it.

Here’s the link to America’s Historical Documents. Take a minute, or even several. This is the stuff that makes digital collections worthwhile.

http://www.archives.gov/historical-docs/

The digital vaults with 10 billion records looked promising, at http://www.archives.gov/nae/index.html 

and they have selected more than 1200 for me to see. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see them tonight. the server did not want to co-operate when I tried it. Maybe the server will co-operate when you do.

http://www.digitalvaults.org

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Privacy and digital collections

Posted by Librarian/Information Professional on December 1, 2008

This semester I have been inundated with articles and WebPages. I am not complaining, because I found a lot of useful information in the deluge. One such article proved more thought provoking than anticipated. This article is about privacy and research on health conditions that may exist in family groups. My paper was about genealogical files, so this article didn’t seem to relate at first glance.

Yet something compelled me to read it, and I could not put it down. Cook-Deegan discusses the issues of confidential information being disclosed about family to researchers. As the family files were built, secrets were disclosed about family lineage. Since the research was being conducted about a condition, the researchers hoped to publish it. Some family members objected to publication for various reasons, even though the persons who were actually involved in the situation gave their permission. It becomes a matter of ethics and privacy when disclosure is sought. How that question is answered depends upon the researcher.

Genealogical files that are”simply family history,” if there is such a thing, contain gems like Cook-Deegan describes. Some examples: Children who are adopted and don’t know it. Previous marriages that have not been disclosed. Other “family secrets” that might be OK to tell in a family gathering, but not broadcast in a global forum such as the Web. These are important issues that digital collectors should think about when writing about family history. There are no easy answers.

Cook-Deegan, Robert Mullan. 2001. Privacy, families, and human subject protections: Some lessons from pedigree research. The Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions 21: 223-237.

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