D-Lib Magazine
October 1997

ISSN 1082-9873

Clips and Pointers

University of California Announces the California Digital Library

Richard E. Lucier to Head the New Service

October 14, 1997, San Francisco. The newly-created California Digital Library aims to integrate the holdings of the nine universities of the UC system and provide international access to the collections via the Internet. The university also announced plans to join with the California State Library, the California Library Association, and the California Library Services Board to extend the new digital library into development of similar services for the state's library users. The charter collection of the new service will focus on science, technology, and industry, building on existing technologies (e.g., MELVYL) and digitized materials, such as those at UC Berkeley (see, for example, The Bancroft Library Pictorial Collections), UC Santa Barbara, and the California Museum of Photography at UC Riverside. There has been substantial interest in creating and managing digital content at many institutions in the state, such as initiatives undertaken by The Getty and the College of Siskiyous, which has converted portions of John Muir's diaries; future partnerships with other organizations are also envisioned.

Richard E. Lucier, university librarian at UC San Francisco, will be the founding university librarian and executive director of the new digital library, which he sees as a "collaborative effort among all the campuses." UC is spending $1 million this year to launch the effort and in the next budget cycle will seek $3 million in general funds from the state to be matched by $1 million from the university.

The Virginia Historical Inventory (VHI) Digital Project: The Library of Virginia Wins Mellon Foundation Award

Elizabeth Roderick
Assistant Director, Library Development and Networking Division
The Library of Virginia
Richmond, Virginia

The Library of Virginia has been awarded a grant of $270,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a digital initiative that will make the records of the Virginia Historical Inventory (VHI) accessible to the public on the Internet. By the year 2000, researchers who currently have to visit the Library in person to use this valuable resource will be able to search the VHI collection from their homes and offices anywhere in the world.

The Virginia Historical Inventory, part of the 1930s Works Progress Administration (WPA) Virginia Writers' Project, is an incomparable collection of photographs, maps and detailed reports documenting the architectural, cultural and family histories of thousands of 18th- and 19th-century buildings in communities across Virginia, many of which do not survive today. Workers for the Virginia Historical Inventory photographed and assessed early structures creating a pictorial and textual prism through which architects, economists, social historians, journalists, researchers and the general public can study a unique record of Virginia's past.

For example, in one report on a house in Botetourt County, a twenty-three-year-old woman provided location, the probable date of construction (circa 1813), a detailed chronological list of owners, an extensive transcription of a family will, and a description and history of the property. Also included was a list of "informants" and citations to deed books and other primary sources needed to complete the seven-page, single-space report.

Every structure's file also included a summary sheet, providing details on the structure's size and roof type, weatherboarding, cornices, shutters, porch, and entryway, as well as on interior features such as the stairway, basement, and styles of doors. In many instances, confronted with marvelous or unusual detailing, field-workers added pencil or pen-and-ink sketches to their reports.

There are approximately 20,000 survey report files containing approximately 60,000 to 90,000 total images.

There are approximately 5,000 to 7,000 photographs of structures. The views are predominantly in three-by-five-inch format, with some five-by-seven sizes, and a few as large as eight-by-ten.

Maps are a vital component of the VHI collection and document the location of every site studied. The maps range in size from twenty- two by twenty-three inches to thirty-eight inches square. Each map includes a series of circles, each containing a survey report number, with a line connecting the numerical identification to the location of the subject. This feature in particular will aid researchers in locating sites of structures and other features no longer extant.

Bibliographic MARC records will be created for each survey report. Fortunately, because of the standard structure of the actual survey report forms, it is possible to create data fields in the records for all of the critical information in each report. Search capabilities will be provided for, at a minimum, the following data elements:

  1. Name of Virginia County/City
  2. Subject Headings (i.e. Hotels, Prisons, Deeds, Music, Parks)
  3. Survey Report Map Locator Numbers
  4. Name of Structure, Site, Object, Topic (i.e. "New Inn," "Old Baxter Home," "Monmouth Church," "Old Home of Leander Wright")
  5. Name of Field-Worker and Location
  6. Date of Report
  7. Whether or not a photographic image exists

The reports will be scanned by an operator on-site. The digitized images of the reports will be linked to these bibliographic records via the 856 Field for retrieval and viewing.

A bibliographic record will also be created for each photograph, indicating its subject matter and its corresponding survey report after the photographs are identified and matched to their survey reports. At the same time, each image will be re-photographed to create 35mm slide negatives. Each slide will be labeled according to a file-naming protocol for later linking to the bibliographic records. The slides will be scanned to Kodak Photo CD and the base images will be manually enhanced and converted to low level surrogates and compressed in the JPEG format for access over the Internet. The images will then be programmatically linked to the 856 Field in the bibliographic records, which will enable researchers to search the database then retrieve the relevant image(s).

The maps will be digitized to provide full interoperability between the survey report map locator numbers, the photographs, and the survey reports. A bibliographic record will be created for each map, with the map images linked to the records via the 856 Field.

Finally, the bibliographic databases will be integrated to include crosslinks for all components. Thus, a researcher may search the survey report database, view the image of the report, then retrieve the corresponding map and the photograph. Or, the researcher may search the map database to locate a specific geographical location, and then search for the specific survey report for that site. Or, a researcher may search the photograph database, and retrieve the corresponding survey report to get a context for each image.

Work on this digital initiative, which will be incorporated into the Library's ongoing Digital Library Project, will begin December 1, 1997 and last for approximately two years. While the primary objective is to increase the public's access to this rare collection, the Mellon Grant will allow the Library to create a model for comparing the costs of storing and assessing the collection in both traditional media and digital format. The Library will evaluate the use and acceptability of digital and printed versions of the VHI reports and will test the long-term economic viability of maintaining and serving these digital collections. The findings of this evaluation will be shared with other organizations contemplating digitization of collections. The Library of Virginia, located in downtown Richmond, Virginia, has served the archival and research needs of Virginians since 1823. Established as the reference and research library at the seat of government, it holds Virginia's official records from 1607 through the present day. It serves as the official repository for state and local government records.

The Library's Digital Library Project <http://leo.vsla.edu>, started in 1995, now includes more than 2 million digital images and more than 70 electronic finding aids and catalogs. The Library also sponsors the Virginia Library and Information Network (VLIN), providing Internet access and services to more than 570 public, special, institution and state agency libraries. For more information on the VHI Project, contact Elizabeth Roderick, project director, at 804/692-3761 or eroderic@leo.vsla.edu.

In Print


Goings On

Pointers in This Column:

College of Siskiyous http://www.siskiyous.edu/
Conference on Scientific and Technical Data Exchange and Integration
December 15-17, 1997
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, Maryland
Digital to Microfilm Conversion
A Demonstration Project, 1994-1996
Faxon Institute's Second Annual Colloquium on Scholarly Communication Issues
January 7-8, 1998
New Orleans, Louisiana
French Ministry of Culture
  • Catalog
  • http://www.culture.fr/cgi-bin/mistral/joconde
  • The Age of Enlightenment in France's National Museums
  • French
  • English
  • http://mistral.culture.fr/lumiere/documents/musee_virtuel.html
  • http://www.culture.fr/lumiere/documents/files/imaginary_exhibition.html
  • The Getty http://www.getty.edu/getty.html
    Heinz Electronic Library Interactive Online System
    Carnegie Mellon University Libraries
    Instructional Management Systems (IMS) Project http://www.imsproject.org/
    International Symposium on Research, Development & Practice in Digital Libraries : ISDL'97
    November 18 - 21, 1997
    Tsukuba Science City, Japan
    Library of Virginia Library
    Virginia Historical Inventory (VHI) Digital Library Project
    PreText Magazine: Intelligence on the Web http://www.pretext.com/
    Proceedings of the Second IEEE Metadata Conference
    September 16-17, 1997
    Silver Spring, Maryland
    Scholarly Communication and Technology
    Papers from the Conference Organized by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation at Emory University
    April 24-25, 1997
    Report of the Santa Fe Planning Workshop on Distributed Knowledge Work Environments: Digital Libraries
    (March 9-11, 1997)
    Seventh International World Wide Web Conference http://www7.conf.au/
    SIGIR Workshop on Networked Information Retrieval
    July 31, 1997
    Twelfth International Unicode/ISO 10646 Conference and Computing Showcase
    "Software and the Internet: Creating a Unicode(r) Foundation"
    April 8-9, 1998
    Tokyo, Japan
    Call for Papers
    University of California
    The Bancroft Library Pictorial Collections
    University of California
    California Museum of Photography at UC Riverside
    University of California
    Santa Barbara
    The Alexandria Digital Library Project

    Copyright © 1997 Corporation for National Research Initiatives

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