Thursday, March 11, 2010

Two New DMR Collections

We are pleased to announce two new digital collections available in the Digital Media Repository: The Muncie Souvenir Booklets http://libx.bsu.edu/cdm4/collection.php?CISOROOT=/MunHistBklt
and the Vietnam Era Veterans Oral Histories http://libx.bsu.edu/cdm4/browse.php?CISOROOT=/VtnmOrHis.
The Muncie Souvenir Booklets collection contains booklets promoting the city of Muncie, Indiana, ranging from 1897 to 1924. (You can even read how industries should come to Muncie because we have the White River to dump their waste in.) They were produced by organizations like the Dynamo Club, Muncie Commercial Club, and Muncie Natural Gas Land Improvement Company, mainly doing the Gas Boom and shortly after, to attract investors, industries, and businesses. The original items are in Archives and Special Collections.

This digital collection was prepared by Kate Givens, who is doing a residency in Metadata and Digital Initiatives. Thanks to her and everyone else who worked to make this collection available.

The Vietnam Era Veterans Oral Histories collection consists of video interviews conducted by students in Professor Michael Doyle’s History 499 Oral History Workshop class in Fall 2009. The videos are available; the students are working on the transcripts and we will make those available as soon as they are ready.

All the veterans are residents of East Central Indiana, and you will see that many of them are affiliated with Ball State.

Ball State University’s Digital Media Repository Gets a New Look

by Carolyn F. Runyon, Archivist for Digital Development and University Records, and Amanda A. Hurford, Digital Initiatives Multimedia Developer
Last September 2009, the University Libraries began to revise the public interface and feature set for the Digital Media Repository (DMR), an electronic resource that provides digital content to a global audience.

System administrators, public service librarians, metadata librarians, and archivists worked cooperatively to develop a new user experience by updating the overall look of the interface, improving navigation, incorporating interactive Web 2.0 technologies, and adding new search options. The DMR Public Interface Working Group utilized data collected using Google Analytics to inform decisions regarding the site’s width and interactive features.
For example, during the 2008-2009 academic year, 95.4% of DMR researchers accessed the site using monitors capable of viewing 1040px or wider resolutions. Based on this finding, the group decided to widen the 700px width to 940px.

Furthermore, the working group determined DMR visitors’ browsers capabilities to interact with Java applets and embedded flash objects. Last year, 95.5% of DMR researchers used browsers that supported Java, and all site visitors had some version of flash installed. To offer more interactive elements to the DMR Web site, the group included the Flash-based media viewer, Cooliris, on the home page and a new collections spotlight Java applet to interface pages.

Another interesting statistic gathered was that 85% of DMR researchers preferred to browse collections using an alphabetically arranged list of collection titles. This finding indicated that users were relying on the A-to-Z list of titles because it was the default browsing option. In order to make browsing choices clearer and to improve overall site navigation, the DMR Public Interface Working Group decided to implement a left hand navigation bar. The new navigation encourages users to browse collections by subject, location, format, and contributor by making direct links to browsing options available on all public interface pages.

A social bookmarking tool, AddThis, was also included as part of the interface. This tool allows users to share DMR content on social networking sites such as Digg, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and Delicious. In the 2008-2009 academic year, Facebook was the seventh most popular referral site, sending a total of 224 visitors to the DMR. By encouraging users to bookmark DMR resources on social media sites, the working group hopes to promote visits from referral sites.

Other enhancements to the updated interface include additional ways to search content by subject, location, format, contributor, and individual collections directly from the browse pages. For example, DMR visitors may search all collections related to the study of architecture simultaneously, without using the Advanced Search features. By pre-selecting titles related to the subject of architecture, researchers do not need to know specific collection titles to search all architecture-related collections. A search box has also been added to the individual collection pages, making the research process even more intuitive to users.

Another way the DMR’s updated interface helps students, faculty, and staff make choices about a collection’s applicability to their research needs is the addition of a brief description on A-to-Z, subject, location, format, and contributor browse pages. Based on anecdotal evidence from DMR researchers, the working group found that titles and images alone were not sufficient to provide site visitors with enough information to make decisions about collections they might find useful. The new interface includes brief descriptions of collections to help users quickly and easily find relevant information.

Members of the DMR Public Interface Working Group are Eric B. Fisher, Information Services Librarian; Amanda A. Hurford (co-chair), Digital Initiatives Multimedia Developer; Carolyn F. Runyon (co-chair), Archivist for Digital Development and University Records; Amy E. Trendler, Architecture Librarian; and Budi Wibowo, Head of Digital Libraries and Web Services. We welcome comments about the new interface. To learn more or make suggestions, contact Amanda A. Hurford at AAHurford@bsu.edu or Carolyn F. Runyon at CFRunyon@bsu.edu.

Landscape Architecture Collection Grows in DMR

Carol A. Street, Archivist for Architectural Records

Students and faculty in Ball State’s nationally top-fiveranked landscape architecture program, as well as researchers around the world, now have global access to digitized works of a noted Indiana landscape architect’s collection housed in the Drawings and Documents Archive, a collaboration between the University Libraries and the College of Architecture and Planning.

The University Libraries are digitizing landscape architectural collections for worldwide access in the Digital Media Repository (http://libx.bsu.edu), beginning with the Schuyler N. Nolan Landscape Architectural Records Collection. “Adding to the record of landscape architecture and landscape architects stored in our Drawing and Documents Archive is very important,” said Professor Malcolm D. Cairns, Department of Landscape Architecture, when he first heard of the Nolan Collection going online. While the digital collection currently has 70 items available, it continues to grow as more digital assets are added. It can be found online at http://libx.bsu.edu/collection.php?CISOROOT=/NlnArchRcrd.

Schuyler N. Nolan (1894-1981) grew to love working with plants and designing gardens at a very young age by helping his father work on residential landscaping projects in Vincennes, Indiana, where he grew up, and later in Plymouth, Indiana, after his family moved there. His only formal design training came from a three-month mechanical drafting course he took at the Chicago Technical School. He supplemented his brief formal education with, as he wrote, “a great amount of time spent in libraries” studying any materials related to landscaping.

Nolan’s extensive use of the local library paid off when he began his own landscaping company while still in Illinois. He steadily built his reputation in residential landscape design and did very well until the Depression affected his clientele. He then worked at the Indianapolis Parks Department, where he designed gardens for the 1933, 1934, 1937, and 1939 Home Shows, and worked at the Indiana State Highway Commission, where he designed roadside plantings throughout the state from 1935-1937.

After 1937, Nolan practiced as a landscape architect and experienced much success designing a wide range of commissions. From his work during World War II designing aircraft building plants and naval officers’ quarters, to tony residential work for many of Indianapolis’ elite, such as J. K. Lilly and Harrison Eiteljorg, Nolan built functional yet artistic spaces for his clients.

After Nolan’s retirement, an unfortunate basement flood destroyed most of his drawings and business records. He donated the surviving drawings to Ball State’s Drawings and Documents Archive in 1979, thus preserving his work for future researchers and landscape architects. For more information, contact Carol A. Street, University Libraries’ Archivist for Architectural Records, CAStreet@bsu.edu, 765-285-8441.

University Libraries Utilize Facebook

The University Libraries have recently revised their strategy for utilizing Facebook. Previously, Libraries staff updated the account periodically with photos and selected articles from the Library Insider, which were posted as photos. Beginning in December 2009, the Libraries began to keep the account more current and stepped up active promotion of the account in order to reach students, faculty, and other University Libraries fans.

The Ball State University Libraries’ Facebook account is ballstatelibraries. Anyone interested in following the Libraries can go to www.facebook.com/ballstatelibraries instead of having to search within Facebook. Katie M. Bohnert, Marketing and Communications Manager, took on the task of regularly posting fresh and timely content to the Libraries’ Facebook account. New items and services, current and upcoming exhibits, workshops and instructional sessions have all been highlighted on the Libraries’ Facebook account. There are also reminders and links to timely services, such as reserving study rooms, checking print balances online, and employing wireless printing services.

Katie also began posting selected Library Insider newsletter articles as notes instead of images, which makes the text searchable and more likely to be indexed by search engines such as Google. Facebook also proved to be a valuable tool for communicating with students and faculty in December 2009, when the University’s Web site experienced a brief campus-wide interruption. The Libraries were able to share with our Facebook fans the direct links to unaffected resources, such as CardCat, Articles and Databases, E-Journals, and the Digital Media Repository. When service was restored, another posting alerted fans that the problem had been resolved and thanked them for their patience.

Future possibilities for the ballstatelibraries Facebook account include promotion of musical and theatrical previews in Bracken Library, taking advantage of the photo and video sharing capabilities native to Facebook, and using the Facebook Markup Language (FBML) to provide a way to search the online catalog, CardCat, as well as Articles and Databases from within Facebook, which would be especially helpful for those using mobile devices. If you are a Facebook user and would like to be a fan of the University Libraries, join us at www.facebook.com/ballstatelibraries.

Publications and Presentations

Publications
Amanda A. Hurford, Digital Initiatives Multimedia Developer, and Maren L. Read, former Archivist for Manuscript Collections, recently published an article related to their creation of the Middletown Women’s History Collection, which uses photographs, films, posters, and interviews from the different Middletown Studies projects to “document the experiences of women in Muncie, Indiana, from the 1880s through the 1930s.” This collection is the result of a Library Services and Technology Act digitization grant. View the Middletown Women’s History Collection in the Digital Media Repository at http://libx.bsu.edu/cdm4/collection.php?CISOROOT=/MidWmnHis.

Presentations
Carolyn F. Runyon, Archivist for Digital Development and University Records and Amanda A. Hurford, Digital Initiatives Multimedia Developer, (pictured above) presented “Innovative Tools for Access: Enhancing Digital Collections with Emerging Technologies” at the Electronic Resources and Libraries Conference in Austin, Texas, on February 1, 2010.