Category Archives: Digital Libraries

Digital Public Library of America – Not Just for Public Libraries

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is a project which hopes to enhance existing services of all libraries by providing single source access to materials.  What types of materials? The digitized collections many of us already have  . . . at least to start.  Although many libraries have created searchable databases of digitized materials from multiple libraries, this project goes a step further, hoping to include all digitized collections that can be harvested using the Open Archives Initiative (OAI). Imagine being able to search not only local databases, but also the collections at the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress – and this is only the first step.

In addition to providing an integrated search, there will be tools to help you integrate, use, and adapt the collections for your own use. By providing APIs and toolkits (technical processes that help you work with data in the collections), you could create a web page of all the materials about President Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ); or a link on your page that will display all photos of LBJ between the years  of 1950 and 1964; or create a public interface for your teens that is different from the one for your genealogy patrons. No technical expertise necessary. The DPLA will be looking for ways to provide these types of services for libraries at little or no cost.

Although the name of this project includes the phrase “public library,” it is important to realize that this is not meant to be just another public library or even a replacement for public libraries. Rather, the founders see this project as benefiting the public, thereby using the term “public library” in a slightly different fashion than we’re used to. By benefiting the public, librarians in all types of libraries have a stake in working with and furthering this project.

If you are interesting helping – or just in keeping up – they have mailing lists, wikis, and blogs that detail their work. It’s a very open process and your thoughts and ideas would be very welcome.


WebGL Bookcase – Another Google Experiment

Have you noticed that companies are playing with new interfaces for presenting library collections? Here’s another that uses the Google Books API and is based on 3D – the WebGL Bookcase. It only works in Google Chrome for me, but if you don’t have it, this video shows you how it works.


Scanning Dead Sea Scrolls

Google will be scanning the Dead Sea Scrolls and, with the Israel Antiquities Authority,  making it publicly available. Use and photography of the scrolls has cause preservation concerns. The hope is that, using the latest in spectral and infrared imaging technologies, there will no longer be a need to expose the scrolls again.

CNN Video

[from CNN]


Last fall, MusOpen was a project struggling to get donations. Their focus was to provide copyright-free recordings of music. Since then, they have more than met their goal and now provide links to music, primarily classical, that can be streamed or downloaded, as well as some sheet music.

Although there is much more music to go, if you like classical, this is a great start. Check out their radio! I think it basically shuffles through all their music.

UTSA Bookless Library

Texas is at it again — another first for us! This time, it is The University of Texas at San Antonio leading the way by creating the first bookless library in the US.

The library, the Applied Engineering and Technology Library, is a branch of the John Peace Library. The AET Library has a capacity of 80, has 10 desktops, and space for study and collaboration.

As you might guess, their collection consists of e-books and e-journal subscriptions. Students are noticing that the librarians and library staff have more time to help them with their work and research, and that books that used to be “checked out” are now accessible by more than one person.

[from UTSA Today]

80-Year-Old Edison Recording Found

It is truly incredible how far people will go to preserve an old photo – or in this case, an old audio recording.

In the basement (isn’t it always the basement?) of the Schenectady Museum & Suits-Bueche Planetarium, the staff found 20 of the earliest radio broadcast recordings. They were originally heard on Schenectady’s WGY radio station between 1929 and 1931.

Among the shows was one of Thomas Edison celebrating his 50th anniversary of the incandescent light bulb, possibly the first recording of the NBC chimes, and a high school basketball game thought to be the second oldest surviving sports broadcast.

They were recorded on a machine called the pallophotophone – an early device GE developed to record sound. When the museum staff and GE engineers finally figured out how to play the recordings, they found another problem — there are no pallophotophones in existence. So, they created one using more current technology. Here’s what they created:

[from GE Reports]

SMU & TSLAC in Flickr Commons

Both Southern Methodist University and the Texas State Library and Archives have joined the Flickr Commons project. The objectives of this project are two-fold:

  • To increase access to publicly-held photography collections
  • To provide a way for the general public to contribute information and knowledge by either adding tags or comments

Check out the SMU photostream and the TSLAC Archives photostream.

[from ResearchBuzz]

Twitter at Library of Congress

If you have posted a public tweet, you’re now at the Library of Congress – for posterity! I hope it was a good one!

Every tweet from 2006 on will now be archived at the Library of Congress. According to LC, Twitter processes more than 50,000,000 tweets a day, so you can imagine the size of this archive – or the size it could become.

You may ask yourself why the Library of Congress would even be interested. In their FAQ, they’ve answered that question:

Twitter is part of the historical record of communication, news reporting, and social trends – all of which complement the Library’s existing cultural heritage collections.

Recently the popular responses to Obama’s election and Iran’s Green Revolution are embedded in the tweets.

Terkel Interviews to be Available

Studs Terkel was one of the great interviewers, interviewing very important people, but also focused on oral histories of common Americans.

Currently, the Studs Terkel Oral History Archive resides at the Chicago History Museum. In a partnership with the Library of Congress, these oral histories will be digitally preserved.  Approximately 5,500 interviews will be converted, including those of Rosa Parks, Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King Jr and Louis Armstrong.

The Library of Congress states that this project should be finished in about 2 years.

[from New York Times]

C-SPAN Archives Online

Well, most of them anyway. The C-SPAN Video Archive has posted all programs since 1987; the earlier ones require more work and will be posted as they are able. Currently over 160,000 hours of programming is available.

There is a lot of functionality there: embedging a video in a web site, emailing a link to the video, posting it to Facebook, tweeting it, details about the program, who was in it, a transcript, tags,related programs, and information on purchase. Wow! The current programming seems to be posted in a timely fashion; at the end of the day today, I see 2 videos from this morning already there.

[from ResearchBuzz]