Finding Primary Sources and Digital Collections on the Web
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Finding Primary Sources and Digital Collections on the Web



Terminology and Search Tools to help you find archival collections and digitized cultural heritage materials on the Web.

Terminology and Search Tools to help you find archival collections and digitized cultural heritage materials on the Web.



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  • ZOOM IN:Ask them: What is the Object Title?What is the Item Title?In which section (“Object Description” or “Description”) will you find the list of Board Members present on 9/9/1862 and why?
  • Systems that Search Finding AidsUsually direct you to physical collections, but sometimes digital materials are connected to the finding aid.Systems that Search Digital Collections and/or Library CatalogsReturn listings of collections and sometimes individual materials within collections.

Finding Primary Sources and Digital Collections on the Web Finding Primary Sources and Digital Collections on the Web Presentation Transcript

  • February 20, 2014 HIST 6002 Gena Chattin, Digital Initiatives Librarian Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans
  • Who Can Help?  Gena Chattin, Digital Initiatives Librarian (M-F 8-4:30 by appointment)  E-mail: Phone: 504-280-6554  General Reference (Usually, same hours as the library.)  E-mail: Phone: 504-280-6549 IM: (chat box on site) Twitter: @ekl_library or #unolib  UNO Library Website and Catalog: Digital Collections at UNO: Archives and Manuscripts at UNO:  
  • TERMINOLOGY It is useful to know certain library and archival terms whether searching for physical or digital collections. Our software uses a lot of this jargon, which can make a difficult research task even harder. Arm yourself with terminology!
  • Special Collections, Archives, and Manuscript Collections (Often used interchangeably, but some organizations may make distinctions.) Special Collections Archives Library items separated Materials created or from the main collection received by a person, usually due to rarity, family, or organization in fragility, value, theme, etc. the conduct of their affairs (examples are rare books, and preserved due to manuscripts, papers, enduring value or as etc.). evidence (i.e. business records, personal papers, etc.) Manuscript Collections Usually indicates mixedmedia collections of predominantly unpublished materials. May include typescripts, photographs, diaries, scrapbooks, news clippings, printed works, and more.
  • Institutional Repositories Software/system housing digital materials produced by an organization (i.e. dissertations, creative work, datasets, and research). For example: UNO ScholarWorks
  • Finding Aid A document that describes an archival and/or manuscript collection including:  its history,  its “provenance” (where it came from, how it came to be here, where it’s been before),  its location,  and, sometimes, an inventory. At UNO, these are often called “inventories,” although an inventory is only a part of a full finding aid. A finding aid encoded as XML may also be referred to as: “EAD” (Encoded Archival Description)
  • For Example: the Marda Burton Collection ( Can you find:  Inclusive Dates? Bulk Dates?  Biographical Note?  Series List?  Container List?  Boxes?  Folders  Items? (NOTE: Item-level processing is unusual. See for an example of a finding aid at item level.)  Index Terms?
  • Catalog / “OPAC” (Online Public Access Catalog) A searchable database of all the materials a library/an organization has. UNO Library Website: Archival materials may or may not appear here depending on the organization. UNO’s currently do not, but we’re working on it.
  • Searching a Catalog for an Archival Collection:
  • Metadata Metadata is the data that describes materials (“data about data”) and comes in many different formats/standards. There are three main types, and you may see these terms in a digital library/online catalog:  Descriptive Metadata: describes the material (i.e. URL/location, physical attributes, title, creator, etc.)  Structural Metadata: gives structure to the materials and identifies relationships between them (i.e. book chapter, page, paragraph, photo caption, etc.)  Administrative Metadata: technical data such as scanner used to create digital file, resolution, file format, copyright and license information, etc.
  • What is a Digital Library? a software/system housing digital collections (which house digital objects (which may contain digital items)) CONTENTdm is the software used by the LOUISiana Digital Library. The CONTENTdm object model goes something like this (see next slide):
  • Digital Collection Digital Object Digital Item A group of digital Abstract Concept: a Part of a digital materials with work that has been object. For example, enough description to digitized (i.e. a book, a book (digital object) make them a photograph, an contains many pages searchable. Materials music album, etc.). (items). Or the record are usually related May contain one or for a photo (digital somehow. many digital items object) may have (i.e. images, song scans of the front (i.e. a collection of tracks, metadata and back of the books) file/description, etc.). photo (digital items).
  • In action! Orleans Parish School Board Collection Minute Books: Object = Volume Item = Page Image Volume: 9/9/1862 – 11/29/1863 (“Object Description”) Section: MeetingPublic School, Second District, 9/9/1862 (“Desciption”) PAGE LINK:
  • Research Tools: Now that you know the lingo, where do you find the collections? Two main types of search tools for primary sources:  Systems that Search Finding Aids  Systems that Search Digital Collections and/or Library Catalogs
  • Tools that Search EVERYTHING: WorldCat (searches library catalogs “worldwide”) Two flavors of WorldCat:  FirstSearch WorldCat (Subscription Database – Go through UNO Library Website): and scroll down  Open WorldCat (Free Version – Get there through Google or however you like):  “Subject” searches can be very powerful in WorldCat if you use a controlled vocabulary (i.e. Library of Congress Subject Heads)
  • WorldCat (FirstSearch) Search Screen
  • Digital Collections  Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) (everything)  Hathi Trust (book collections, partnership of several large academic and research libraries)  Internet Archive (everything from old magazines to concert recordings – check the source in the metadata)  Internet Archive “Wayback Machine” (archives of old websites)
  • Digital Collections (cont.)  Library of Congress: American Memory (digitized materials from the Library of Congress)  National Archives Online Public Access (digitized materials from NARA)  Getty Research Portal (Digitized texts, rare books, and related literature. Contributors include the Getty, the Smithsonian, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.)
  • Digital Collections (cont.)  Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog (Searchable database of photos held by the Library of Congress. Digital versions may be available where copyright allows.)  OAIster (Searchable database of freely available digital libraries, institutional repositories, and online journals.) or
  • Finding Aids: (In addition to some of the above resources and Web search engines…)  ArchiveGrid Spotty history, support. Currently a beta site. Not fully supported but is still updated with new archival collections.
  • State and Regional Resources listings, resources: Library of Congress  State Digital Resources: Memory Projects, Online Encyclopedias, Historical and Cultural Materials Collections (grouped by STATE):  State Resource Guides (Library of Congress holdings organized by STATE):  Library of Congress Virtual Programs and Services (Library of Congress Holdings and External Sites organized by TOPIC):
  • International Resources  Europeana  France: Gallica (BNF – Bibliothèque Nationale Française)  Germany: Deutsche National Bibliothek ublikationen_node.html  United Kingdom: The British Library (Collections tab – Digital collections)
  • Louisiana and UNO-Hosted Resources UNO:   Portal to all UNO Earl K. Long Library digital collections: UNO EKL Finding Aids: LOUISiana Digital Library: Historical Archives of the Louisiana Supreme Court: KnowLA: Encyclopedia of Louisiana History, Culture and Community (LEH): Louisiana Secretary of State: Historical Resources:
  • Which source to find… • Bootlegs from a 1993 Grateful Dead concert in Ohio? • A list of the state digital library projects in Alabama? • A scan of a 17th century printing of Traité de la mécanique by René Descartes? • A finding aid for the Salman Rushdie collection (which you think is at Emory University but you’re not sure…)? • A photo of Richard Nixon posing with Elvis Presley?
  • Search Tips! When searching (esp. in WorldCat), here are some helpful terms to try searching in addition to your topic:          sources documents correspondence interviews personal narratives speeches pictorial works diaries oral histories
  • Search Tips! (cont.) Topic/Subject Searches – “Controlled Vocabularies!” Library of Congress Authorities – or Includes:  Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH)  Library of Congress Name Authority File (LCNAF) – people, companies, etc.  Thesaurus of Graphic Materials (TGM)
  • Search Tips! (cont.) Controlled Vocabularies (cont.) Getty Vocabularies (The Getty Research Institute) –  Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT)  Cultural Objects Name Authority – search on “Mona Lisa” or “La Gioconda?”  Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN)  Union List of Artist Names (ULAN) – search using “Titian” or “Tiziano Vecellio?” Sometimes you can click on subject terms in the search results and be taken to a list of items classified under that term.
  • Where to find out…  Whether it’s better to search for “Burnett, Chester Arthur, 1910-1976” or for “Howlin’ Wolf, 1910-1976?”  Whether it’s better to search for “St. Louis,” “Saint Louis,” or “Saint Louis (Mo.)?”
  • Questions? Gena Chattin 504-280-6554 Please fill out survey (five questions!), and hand them to me before you go. Thanks!