Our Digital Collections program aspires to build “distinctive digital collections that provide access to Duke’s unique library and archival materials for teaching, learning, and research at Duke and worldwide.” Those are our primary stated objectives, though the reach and the value of putting collections online extends far beyond. For instance, these uses might not qualify as … Continue reading The Elastic Ruler: Measuring Scholarly Use of Digital Collections →
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My last several posts have focused on endangered–some would say obsolete–audio formats: open reel tape, compact cassette, DAT, and Minidisc. In this installment, we travel back to the dawn of recorded sound and the 20th Century to investigate some of the earliest commercial recording media. Unlike the formats above, which operate on post-WW2 magnetic and … Continue reading …and We’re Putting it on Wax (The Frank Clyde Brown Collection) →
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Children are smoking in two of my favorite images from our digital collections. One of them comes from the eleven days in 1964 that William Gedney spent with the Cornett family in Eastern Kentucky. A boy, crusted in dirt, clutching a bent-up Prince Albert can, draws on a cigarette. It’s a miniature of mawkish masculinity … Continue reading Mini-memes, many meanings: Smoking dirt boy and the congee line bros →
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We all probably remember having to pose for an annual class photograph in primary school. If you made the mistake of telling your mother about the looming photograph beforehand you probably had to wear something “nice” and had your hair plastered to your head by your mother while she informed you of the trouble you’d … Continue reading Sports Information negatives sneak preview →
Ah, the 1980s…a decade of perms, the Walkman, Jelly shoes, and Ziggy Stardust. It was a time of fashion statements I personally look back on in wonderment. Fashionable leotards, shoulder pads, and stirrup pants were all the rage. And can we say parachute pants? Thanks, MC Hammer. If you’re craving a blast from the past, we’ve got you covered. … Continue reading Back to the ’80s – Duke Chronicle Style →
When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to do while visiting my grandparents was browsing through their collections of old National Geographic and Smithsonian magazines. I was more interested in the advertisements than the content of the articles. Most of the magazines were dated from the 1950s through the 1980s and they … Continue reading Advertising Culture →
Before you let your eyes glaze over at the thought of metadata, let me familiarize you with the term and its invaluable role in the creation of the library’s online Digital Collections. Yes, metadata is a rather jargony word librarians and archivists find themselves using frequently in the digital age, but it’s not as complex … Continue reading The Value of Metadata in Digital Collections Projects →
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I recently, while perhaps inadvisably, updated my workstation to the latest version of OS X (Yosemite) and in doing so ended up needing to rebuild my setup from scratch. As such, I’ve been taking stock of the applications and tools that I use on a daily basis for my work and thought it might be interesting … Continue reading What’s in my tool chest →
One of the greatest challenges to digitizing moving image content isn’t the actual digitization. It’s the enormous file sizes that result, and the high costs associated with storing and maintaining those files for long-term preservation. Most cultural heritage institutions consider 10-bit uncompressed to be the preservation standard for moving image content. 10-bit uncompressed uses no … Continue reading The Pros and Cons of FFV1 →
Adventures in metadata hygiene: using Open Refine, XSLT, and Excel to dedup and reconcile name and subject headings in EAD
OpenRefine, formerly Google Refine, bills itself as “a free, open source, powerful tool for working with messy data.” As someone who works with messy data almost every day, I can’t recommend it enough. While Open Refine is a great tool for cleaning up “grid-shaped data” (spreadsheets), it’s a bit more challenging to use when your source data is … Continue reading Adventures in metadata hygiene: using Open Refine, XSLT, and Excel to dedup and reconcile name and subject headings in EAD →
Part of my job as Digital Collections Program Manager is to manage our various projects from idea to proposal to implementation and finally to publication. It can be a long and complicated process with many different people taking part along the way. When we (we being the Digital Collections Implementation Team or DCIT) launch a … Continue reading Getting to the Finish Line: Wrapping Up Digital Collections Projects →
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We have digitized some fairly complex objects over the years that have challenged our Digital Collections team to push the boundaries of typical digital library solutions for digitization and publication. It happens often: objects we want to digitize are sort of like something we’ve done for a previous project, but not quite, so we can’t … Continue reading A Look Under the Hood—and the Flaps—of the Anatomical Fugitive Sheets Collection →
You’re going to lose: The inherent complexity, and near impossibility, of developing for digital collections
“Nobody likes you. Everybody hates you. You’re going to lose. Smile, you f*#~.” Joe Hallenbeck, The Last Boy Scout While I’m glad not to be living in a Tony Scott movie, on occasion I feel like Bruce Willis’ character near the beginning of “The Last Boy Scout.” Just look at some of the things … Continue reading You’re going to lose: The inherent complexity, and near impossibility, of developing for digital collections →
On Monday, March 2nd, the new website, One Person, One Vote: The Legacy of SNCC and the Fight for Voting Rights, went live. The launch represented an unprecedented feat of collaboration between activists, scholars, archivists, digital specialists, and students. In a year and a half, this group went from wanting to tell a grassroots story of SNCC’s … Continue reading Launching One Person, One Vote →
Fifty years ago this week, Duke students faced off with computers in model car races and tic-tac-toe matches in the annual Engineers’ Show. In stark contrast to the up-and-coming computers, a Duke Chronicle article dubbed these human competitors as old-fashioned and obsolete. Five decades later, although we humans haven’t completely lost our foothold to computers, … Continue reading Man to Fight Computers! →