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J.Y. Joyner Library is the largest library of East Carolina University, a growing research institution in North Carolina with 104 bachelor's, 74 master's, 17 Ph.D., and 1 professional MD program. It serves as a center of academic support to students, faculty, and the citizens of Eastern North Carolina.
The library has been developing digital projects since 2000 through the Digital Collections department. The focus of the department's work has expanded over time from early efforts developing static HTML digital exhibits and other resources for faculty to the development of several large digitization projects. In 2006, Digital Collections completed the large LSTA-funded project, The Eastern North Carolina Digital Library (ENCDL), cementing the department's reputation as a leader in digital library development in North Carolina. Built on the ASP.NET framework and utilizing a sophisticated XML database, the digital library includes more than 400 full-text books from the library's collection, as well as images, video, and audio of artifacts from area museums, which highlight the history and culture of the region.
With the success of the ENCDL project, Digital Collections realized that increasing amounts of digitization would be done in the library. A common digital repository was needed to simultaneously ensure that users could search across all of the library's digitized content, and that the department would have the infrastructure needed to support these projects. Digital Collections began developing a repository to meet these needs in 2007, launching Joyner Library Digital Collections (JLDC) in February 2009. JLDC's XML database uses multiple metadata schemas (METS, MIX, MODS, TEI, DC) and accommodates a diversity of digital objects types, from single images to complex objects that combine audio with text transcription.
Along with the development of a repository, Digital Collections needed to develop the library's digitization program to deal with the increasing scale of work. The creation of a suite of repository tools to track digitization progress has allowed the library to store, track and provide access to images that might otherwise have been deleted, such as "ad hoc," or day-to-day digitization requests performed for patrons. In addition, the department has worked closely with both Special Collections and Technical Services departments to select materials for digitization and create metadata records. The current corpus of more than 10,000 digital objects is the happy result of this highly collaborative project.
Rather than a single theme or collection, as many other digital projects do, JLDC covers a broad spectrum of materials, mostly due to the inclusion of ad hoc digitization with larger projects. This scope gives users the ability to make their own connections between materials that may not have been grouped together previously. Specific features of JLDC's user interface were designed to aid browsing and discovery. These design features fall into three main types: Organization, Data-Driven Discovery, and Personalization.
Broad thematic collections
By creating sub-collections within JLDC that are organized around broad themes or topics such as University History or African American history, rather than the physical organization of the materials in the library, users are presented with an easy way to browse through material and gauge the scope and breadth of the collections at a glance.
Paired with the broad thematic collections, the creation of "templates" for a collection's visual layout and customization provide the ability to maintain a cohesive functionality and basic structure across all collections.
Data Driven Discovery
Subject "cloud" visualization
The subject "cloud" is one of the most striking features of JLDC. While clouds based on user-generated tags are common on the web, JLDC bases the cloud on the data at hand: LCSH subject headings every record in the repository is eventually catalogued and appropriate LCSH terms are added in the MODS descriptive metadata section of the METS record.
Hypertext links in records
To aid in exploration and cross-discovery of resources, connections between related materials are exposed through hypertext links. Clicking the collection names and subjects in a given item's metadata record retrieves other material in the repository indexed similarly. This feature brings together items that may not have been related through a broad thematic collection or keyword search.
Links to other resources
In addition to the links to other records, links out of the database into related library resources are included as "Additional Resources" in the results of any search. Obviously this feature will be most useful when a search fails, but it also helps to orient the user to the spectrum of library resources available to them and fosters discovery across resources.
Facets for refining searches
A faceted navigation tool is extremely important for a repository like JLDC that holds a large and diverse body of objects. The same LCSH subfields that are indexed for the subject cloud were used to populate the facet tool. Although the list of subfields in a given set of search results can be numerous, preliminary feedback has shown that this feature is useful.
Commenting/tagging on individual records
Public commenting and tagging of individual records provides multiple benefits, both adding vital information to materials and helping to engage the audience. Many local users, for instance, have commented on large numbers of images documenting local history, adding their own recollections and identifying people and places. In some cases, users even correct cataloged descriptions for instance, identifying equipment used in the cultivation of tobacco, formerly the region's primary industry. Capturing this conversation enables the community to share in the creation of this resource and to document their own history for future generations.
Joyner Library Digital Collections continues to grow at a pace of about 300 digital objects a week. Two new collections are planned for a summer launch.
The East Carolina University Joyner Library Digital Collections are located at <http://digital.lib.ecu.edu/>.
Copyright© 2009 East Carolina University