Friday, January 23, 2009

New Tech Solutions for Improving Access

University Libraries Explore New Technology Solutions for Improving Access to Resources in Archives and Special Collections

Archivists in the Ball State University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections are always exploring new ways to improve access to the unit’s unique resources for teaching, learning, and research.

This past autumn, Maren L. Read, Archivist for Manuscript Collections, and Carolyn F. Runyon, Archivist for Digital Development and University Records, attended a Society of American Archivists’ workshop at the University of Kentucky entitled, Implement DACS in Integrated CMS: Using the Archivists' Toolkit.

The workshop focused on describing, managing and providing greater access to archival collections through the use of Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS) and Archivists’ Toolkit (AT). Personnel in the Archives and Special Collections have begun implementing DACS for describing collections and have launched a pilot project to explore the use of Archivists’ Toolkit.

The Society of American Archivists officially adopted DACS in 2004 as the standard for describing archives, personal papers, and manuscript collections. The system provides both specific rules for describing archives and illustrates how these rules might be implemented in MARC and Encoded Archival Description (EAD) format.

Using DACS and creating XML-based EAD finding aids allows for bibliographic control and greater user discoverability of archival finding aids through search engines like Google. Our archivists hope to replace the existing PDF finding aids on the Web site with EAD finding aids over the next year.

Archivists’ Toolkit is an open source archival data management system. It was developed by a consortium of archivists from the University of California San Diego Libraries, the New York University Libraries, and the Five Colleges, Inc. Libraries and is funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The main goals of the AT are to support archival processing and production of access tools, promote data standardization, promote efficiency, and lower training costs.

Archives and Special Collections is currently testing the system to see how it might aid in better management of resources as well as establish greater bibliographic control. Using DACS and AT, Archives and Special Collections anticipates that they will be able to improve reference and online services for students, faculty, and researchers. For more information on DACS and AT, contact Maren L. Read, Archivist for Manuscript Collections, or Carolyn F. Runyon, Archivist for Digital Development and University Records,, 765-285-5078.

Upcoming Exhibit at Bracken Library: Making a Difference: Voices of Freedom throughout African American History

Celebrate Black History Month and explore resources by and about those who have changed, inspired, and affected African American history. The exhibit will feature abolitionists and slavery opponents such as Harriet Beecher Stowe and Robert D. Owen, publications such as The Muncie Times, and writings by Muncie’s own Hurley Goodall and others. Making a Difference: Voices of Freedom throughout African American History will be on display in the Archives and Special Collections on the second floor of Bracken Library through the month of February.

For more information, please contact Lajmar Anderson, Archives and Special Collections Supervisor,, 765-285-5078.

Digital Initiatives and Special Collections News

University Libraries Experience Digital Development Success in Past Year and Plan for Initiatives in New Year

Dr. Arthur W. Hafner, Dean of University Libraries, outlined the Libraries’ strategic goals in the June 2008 issue of this newsletter. One of those five goals was to expand the Libraries’ digital initiatives and facilitate development of emerging media opportunities for learning, research, and classroom enhancement.

The beginning of a new year provides us an opportunity to review progress on this goal and to look ahead and make plans for further achieving our goals.

The Ball State University Libraries have made many exciting advancements toward accomplishing digital initiatives in the past year, including:

• Increasing the number of digital objects in the Digital Media Repository (DMR) to over 112,000 items to support research, learning, and teaching
• Designing a new DMR public interface with enhanced features, new content, expanded menus, and improved navigability
• Implementing Zoomify in DMR collections to allow users to view, zoom, and pan detailed images in a quick and efficient manner
• Enhancing DMR collections by creating Google interactive maps for selected collections, such as Muncie Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps and the Man Haters Film Collection
• Developing the Cardinal Scholar Institutional Repository to provide global access to Ball State’s student and faculty work

In total, 14 new digital collections have been made available for global access in the Digital Media Repository (, bringing the total to 72. The University Libraries have been successful in receiving grant funding and in participating in collaborative grant projects to further develop digital resources for students, faculty, and researchers worldwide.

Here are a few digital developments to watch for in 2009:

• An emerging media project to create educational applications using Digital Media Repository collections and other University Libraries’ digital resources through Microsoft Surface™ that will allow for data and digital asset manipulation by students for class projects
• A partnership to create a digital collection of Delaware County aerial plat maps that illustrate property changes between 1976 and 2006, including land development and use, zoning changes, and urban sprawl
• Collaborative grant projects with other institutions for the University Libraries to provide digitization services and host their digital collections
• New enhancements to Digital Media Repository collections, including a portal to U.S. Veterans digital resources
• New collections in the Digital Media Repository, including digital audio and video interviews with United States military veterans, Ball State University monographs, early issues of the Ball State Daily News (then called the Easterner), Indiana archeological surveys, and rare books from Archives and Special Collections
• The opening of the Helen B. and Martin D. Schwartz Special Collections and Global Digital Complex on the first floor of Bracken Library.

Read future issues of The Library Insider for more of the University Libraries’ digital developments to provide opportunities for learning, research, and classroom enhancement in 2009 and beyond. For more information, contact John B. Straw, Assistant Dean for Digital Initiatives and Special Collections,, 765-285-5078.