Modern Political Archives Digital Library Project
For the Final Project of my INSC 565 – Digital Library course, I worked with three classmates to create a digital library that contains 43 political cartoons and caricatures featuring Senator Estes Kefauver and other political figures from the 1950s onwards, digitized from the Modern Political Archive (MPA) in order to bring awareness to the collection and increase visitation of the archive.
As the library’s infrastructure development lead, I supervised the planning of the website architecture and design, along with the input of the images and corresponding metadata, into the system. This work included adapting our architecture and design ideas, as well as our records and metadata, into a workable collection through our chosen platform, Greenstone. This open source digital library application allows users to create their digital library and provides a demo digital library skeleton and internal coding macros to help users create a collection that best suits their needs. As infrastructure lead, I was able to use the demo and macros, internal coding, to build our digital collection.
Besides developing our ideas into a workable design within Greenstone, I was charged with ensuring that all of the technical features of the digital library were up and ran correctly. I was also responsible for writing my section of the report that accompanied our digital library submission for the class which discussed our approach to creating and building the infrastructure of the digital library. You can access my part of the report here.
The same thought and planning that would go into creating a solid collection also take place in building a digital library collection. So many factors have to be considered before a collection can even take place from the access and use granted by the institution to how the digitization of resources and selection storage options will take place, to name a few. The Digital Library course went over the important components and processes of each of these sections as well as others which were vital in the creation of our digital library collection from start to finish.
INSC 598 – Web Design and INSC 520 – Information Organization and Representation courses along with the associated INSC 565 – Digital Libraries course for the project were instrumental in helping lead my team in the creation of a digital collection. My experience with creating a website from scratch in Web Design allowed me to comfortably use the Greenstone macros to personalize our digital collection so that it was user-friendly and easy to navigate. And as Greenstone is setup with the digital librarian in mind, the information I gained in Information Organization and Representation helped me contribute to the group’s selection of metadata schema and input that metadata into our digital library on Greenstone.
Since creating this digital library, my group has considered moving the collection to a cloud-based digital library application since Greenstone requires a server to house and make the collection available online. However, this is contingent upon the approval of the Howard Baker Modern Political Archive to showcase our work to potential employers.
Application to My Future Career
Given my interest in digital initiatives, I believe it is critical for me to be able to create a digital library from the ground up. Whether creating a digital library at future place of employment or managing a preexisting collection, I now have the knowledge and experience to not only create a digital library but the ability to produce a site that visually appealing and easy to use. As well, I now understand how the internal parts of a digital space go together and how to select resources for a collection so that my patrons receive the resources that will be most beneficial to their learning experience and research.
Collections like those found at the Howard Baker Modern Political Archive can easily be overlooked if attention is not given to the promotion of those lesser known collections. Working on this digital library project provided the opportunity to showcase what the archive could do if they decided to display a collection or two online. They can see the potential a digital collection can provide to the promotion of the collection and the even more so for the archive as a whole. Using a flexible digital library software like Greenstone created more options for the archive to consider since they were truly open to whatever designs and architecture schemes they liked. As the figures illustrate, Greenstone allows you to truly transform the visual design and content as you needs increase or change. This digital collection can easily expand or change as the needs of the Howard Baker Modern Political Archive grow.