Bill Yungclas


Our Digital Collections include a variety of different things.  The digital collection management system that we use is CONTENTdm hosted by OCLC.  We try to come up with the best way to present our various materials online so that they not only look good but are as useful as possible to people that want to access them.  Sometimes they are individual images but often they are large multipage items so we combine the digitized images together into a PDF.  One interesting difference between a single image and a PDF is that while an image will look the same to all the people who view our collections online, a PDF can look different depending on the web browser a person uses.

Different browsers include their own PDF plug-ins for viewing a PDF online.  Below are three images of the exact same item in our digital collections.

The first one is viewed in Internet Explorer
InternetExplorer

The second one is viewed in Firefox
Firefox

And the third one is viewed in Google Chrome
GoogleChrome

While the images look similar, all the tools or buttons for using the PDF look different and are located in different places along the top and sides of the image.  I’ve found out from first-hand experience that this can be a little confusing if two people are viewing the same thing but on different browsers and they’re conversing on the phone or through email about how to use the various tools.  While this isn’t really a big deal, it’s good to be aware that even though we strive for consistency in the look and usability of our digital items, we can’t control the differences that show up when using different web browsers.

Until recently, I had never really given much thought to copyright.  There have been a wide variety of materials that I have been given to digitize and put online in our Digital Collections, however, somebody else had always decided before it came to me that we were allowed to put it online.  I was given whatever copyright statement was necessary for that material, I included it in the metadata for that digital collection, and that was all I needed to know.

Recently I have been asked to help out with our Digital Repository for a while.  Part of the work I’m doing includes checking some articles written by our faculty that have been published, to see if we are allowed to put them online in our Digital Repository.  Sometimes It’s easy to figure out and other times it takes some searching.  If it’s not obvious from looking at the published article online, I use the SHERPA/RoMEO website which shows if and how a publisher allows use of articles from their publications.  Sometimes they allow the original work to be put in an institutional repository like ours but they don’t allow us to use the published PDF version of the article from their web site.  Sometimes they allow us to use the article but they have an embargo period of anywhere from 6 to 48 months.  If so, we wait the specified amount of time after the original publication date before we put it online.

Some articles are published under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.  Works produced by employees of the U. S. Government as part of their official duties are not copyrighted within the U. S.  So if there is an article with a co-author who is an employee of the U.S. federal government, then we can use that as well.  I’m certainly no expert on the subject, but it has been an interesting introduction into the world of copyright.

The first agricultural engineering department in the world was started at Iowa State in 1905.  It’s now called the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering.  Jay Brownlee Davidson was a professor at Iowa State and is considered to be the “Father of Agricultural Engineering.”  Our archives has a lot of material from J.B. Davidson and we’ve digitized some of it to be available online in our Digital Collections:  http://www.add.lib.iastate.edu/preserv/cdm/agengineering.html

ag eng

Digital photographs were taken of entire scrapbooks that J.B. Davidson created from his trips to China and Europe.  In addition to the many photographs included in the scrapbooks, we also scanned many photographs from the early days of agricultural engineering at Iowa State.  We also have a link to our Digital Repository which has J.B. Davidson’s “Introducing Agricultural Engineering in China” from 1949.  With the variety of materials included in our Digital Collections we’ve tried to give people a look at some of the more visually interesting items in our collections and the Digital Repository includes the more scholarly works. This start could lead a curious researcher to find much more by visiting our archives.

It’s that time of year again, when warm spring weather signals the end of classes and brings on graduations.  This week is finals week here at Iowa State University and it will end with commencement ceremonies.  We scanned many of the earliest commencement programs from our archives and made them available online in our Digital Collections. http://cdm16001.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/search/collection/p16001coll27

Over the years, there are a variety of styles of printing and constructing the programs, with one even being held together with yarn.  Besides the programs, some include a list of commencement week activities.  It can be interesting to look back and see how things were done long ago compared to today.  You can see what kinds of music was played, the guest speakers and what they spoke about, and names of graduates and their areas of study.  One program from 1880, shown below, has an entry which reads “Shall We Encourage Irish Immigration” which is an interesting look at how some topics of popular concern have evolved over time.

Here is the front cover of a program from 140 years ago and a page of another program from 1880 tied with yarn.

cover

AdamsFamilyPapers

I continue to search digital collections of other university libraries to see the interesting things that they’re doing.  Each university has unique items to feature, so it doesn’t benefit every collection to be presented in the exact same way.  New and creative ways of displaying digital content at another institution might not necessarily be a good fit for our current collections, but they could help us think about possible projects to initiate in the future.

One feature I came across is only useful if you have multiple and different versions of a document.  The University of Maryland Digital Collections includes poems by the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven.  Each poem has between two and seven versions since she kept her original manuscripts as she worked from her first draft through to the final, finished poem.  They use a “Versioning Machine” which is an open source software that lets people view numbered line-by-line transcriptions of each version side-by-side for comparison.  http://www.lib.umd.edu/dcr/collections/EvFL-class/?pid=umd:2257

Besides being able to view digital images of the manuscripts, the transcriptions of those pages help a researcher see the step-by-step changes the author made.  It gives a person the ability to almost get inside the mind of the author from their first thoughts and throughout the creative process.  While this tool would not be useful for most collections, it’s a very good example of a creative way to provide specific viewing platforms for unique collections.

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