Monday, July 26, 2010

Expanding Digital Initiatives and Emerging Media Opportunities for Learning, Research, and Classroom Enhancement

One of the University Libraries’ strategic goals is to expand digital initiatives, increase the visibility and ranking of the Libraries’ digital assets globally, and facilitate development of emerging media opportunities for learning, research, and classroom enhancement. The collections, services, programs, and personnel of Archives and Special Collections play a vital role in achieving this goal.

Of the 83 collections and sub collections currently in the Ball State Digital Media Repository,, 62 are resources from Archives and Special Collections. As part of a University Libraries-wide collaborative effort, the development of these unique digital resources for global access has revitalized archival materials that used to sit in boxes on shelves waiting for students and other researchers to walk in the door and discover them.

To further advance use of the valuable educational and research resources found in Archives and Special Collections, personnel have leveraged new emerging media tools and standards to enhance access. Archivists’ Toolkit, an open resource archival data management system, was implemented this year to provide broad, integrated support for the management of our collections. Staff are now creating Encoded Archival Description and DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard) compliant finding aids for increased accessibility and improved searching capabilities via the Web. These user-friendly research tools allow students and researchers to locate archival materials in a more efficient and productive manner.

In addition to the essential part that our archival collections played in receiving five Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) digitization grants during the past few years, Archives and Special Collections has also been involved in several collaborative emerging media grant projects. As the recipient of an LSTA Innovative Library Programs grant a few years ago, the unit worked with the Center for Middletown Studies and the Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts and Animation to create a University Libraries presence in the virtual world of Second Life. The same three partners received a Ball State Emerging Media Initiative Grant for the coming year to develop the next stage of the project. The goal is to design a Virtual Middletown in the Blue Mars virtual environment, utilizing archival resources to create interactive spaces that students can use to experience life in a representative American community in the 1920s.
The unit collaborated with Library Information Technology Services and University Computing Services to make Archives digital collections available on Microsoft Surface. Current Microsoft Surface collections include Ball State campus maps and historical photographs, World War I posters, Indiana covered bridges photographs, orchid photographs, and Indiana county courthouses photographs.

In addition to collaborative grant projects, Archives and Special Collections works cooperatively with other units in the University Libraries on the development of digital resources, participates in classroom projects and immersive learning experiences with faculty and students, and develops partnerships with local, state, and regional historical, cultural, and educational institutions. 

Past collaborations have included immersive learning projects for community schools with the Teachers College, oral history digital projects with the Department of History and the University Teleplex, and development of digital resources with Muncie Public Library, Henry County Historical Society, local churches, U. S. Vice Presidential Museum, and Yorktown-Mt. Pleasant Township Historical Society. Archives and Special Collections, in collaboration with others in the University Libraries and throughout the University and community, is committed to developing and expanding digital resources, emerging media, and innovative collections and services to meet the needs of Ball State students and faculty, as well as researcher around the world.

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