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Nothing to Sneeze At: Lessons Learned While Creating an Interdisciplinary Digital Repository
 

Nothing to Sneeze At: Lessons Learned While Creating an Interdisciplinary Digital Repository

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Poster presented at American Library Association Annual Conference, 2012 (Anaheim, CA) ...

Poster presented at American Library Association Annual Conference, 2012 (Anaheim, CA)

In October 2012, the University of Michigan Medical School's Center for the History of Medicine (CHM) launched an open access digital collection of archival and interpretive materials related to the history of the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic in the United States. The American Influenza Epidemic of 1918: A Digital Encyclopedia (AIE) (http://www.influenzaarchive.org) documents the experiences of fifty diverse communities when influenza ravaged the country and took an estimated 675,000 lives. The project, awarded a prestigious "We the People" designation by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), collocates 50,000 pages of archival materials gathered by the CHM staff at 140 national institutions during a multi-year federally funded historical study. This poster outlines the major challenges faced, including curating and digitizing a collection of primary sources already rendered as surrogates (photocopies, microfilm), securing permissions at the national level, keywording the diverse but narrowly focused materials, collaborating with an interdepartmental team, and designing a method of user testing.

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    Nothing to Sneeze At: Lessons Learned While Creating an Interdisciplinary Digital Repository Nothing to Sneeze At: Lessons Learned While Creating an Interdisciplinary Digital Repository Presentation Transcript

    • Nothing to Sneeze At: Lessons Learned While Creating an Interdisciplinary Digital Repository about the 1918 American Influenza Epidemic Julie Judkins, Digital Librarian Origins The AIE collection originated as research materials for a commissioned report for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The final report, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association in 2007, became the basis for the United States government’s pandemic preparedness policy. The historians on staff originally intended to publish a print-based encyclopedia drawn from their research. However, when it became clear that a comprehensive volume would be cost-prohibitive, they decided to adapt the project for a digital format. With the guidance of colleagues from the University of Michigan’s MPublish- ing, the CHM staff began to prepare a digital library, known as The American Influ- enza Epidemic of 1918: A Digital Encyclopedia. www.influenzaarchive.org October 2012 Designing A Taxonomy The narrowly focused yet diverse sub- ject matter posed a challenge for key- wording. Our solution was to create an original taxonomy based on our research. Keyword templates with sig- nificant People, Places and Organiza- tions were compiled for each city, along with a template featuring information of national significance. A separate Sub- ject keyword list was compiled from major themes and topics. After all 16,000 items were entered into our FileMaker Pro database and all keywords were uploaded, we ap- plied keywords via a search-and- retrieve/drop-down menu. Finished Product Digitizing Surrogates Project Planning Securing Permissions Materials were collected at 142 archival repositories across the United States, resulting in a complex permissions process. The majority of our collection consists of photocopies made from archival materials. They were originally intended only for short-term use. User Testing Credit: frankideaworks (Flikr)