Digitizing History

July 31, 2015

tablet with historical document

Cambridge goes online

Cambridge Archive Editions (CAE), in partnership with East View Information Services, has digitized its collection of British archival documents from the 18th to the 20th century, including original print volumes and accompanying maps, and made them available as online editions via the East View ebook platform.

Twenty-five years’ worth of accumulated CAE content on the history, national heritage, and political development of the Middle East, Russia and the Balkans, the Caucasus, Southeast Asia, and China and the Far East will be accessible—more than 1,000 volumes with almost 700,000 pages of primary sources. The material is particularly useful for the study of boundaries, claims, and disputes. The full image files, along with metadata, are included.

East View’s web-based platform provides basic and transliteration search functions and allows browsing by specific title, collection, or subject area. An optimized database lets users create custom collections that can be downloaded, printed, and shared via email. Additional features include thumbnail images, a page zoom function, highlighted text search results, and a virtual keyboard display.

CAE online titles are available in individual sets or in their entirety. For more information and to request a trial or price quote, visit archive​ archiveeditions.co.uk/Online-Editions.asp.

Gale unlocks the past

Gale, part of Cengage Learning, has made several new collections available on the Gale Artemis: Primary Sources platform.

The new collections include the next three installments of the Associated Press (AP) Collections Online series and Brazilian and Portuguese History and Culture: The Oliveira Lima Library. Gale has also completed the migration of several historical newspaper and periodical collections onto the Artemis platform, which now includes more than 125 million pages of content.

AP Collections Online supports research and teaching in journalism, regional studies, international affairs, government, politics, and other disciplines. The new offerings include the Middle East Bureaus Collection, which provides records from the AP’s most active international bureaus. These include Ankara, Beirut, Jerusalem, and surrounding areas; the European Bureaus Collection, a source for research on the Cold War, with dispatches from Prague, Vienna, and Warsaw, and in-depth press analyses on the Cold War; and the Washington, D.C. Bureau Collection, Part II, which covers developments in the United States from 1915 to 1930, such as World War I, the Jazz Age, the Roaring Twenties, and the 1929 stock market crash.

Brazilian and Portuguese History and Culture: The Oliveira Lima Library includes the digitized library of Manoel de Oliveira Lima, a Brazilian diplomat, historian, and journalist. The collection covers colonialism, the Brazilian independence period, slavery and abolition, the Catholic Church, indigenous peoples, immigration, ecology, agriculture, economic development, medicine and public health, international relations, and Brazilian and Portuguese literature.

For more information on these new collections, visit gale.cengage.com.

CASE STUDY: DDD for Digitization

Betsy PostProduct: Digital Divide Data (DDD), digitaldividedata.com

Details: DDD is an impact sourcing services provider with expertise in project management for digitization projects.

User: Betsy Post, head librarian, Digital Library Program, University Libraries at Boston College

How do you use DDD’s services? DDD provides METS/ALTO—XML standards maintained by the Library of Congress (LC)—with article segmentation for our newspapers.bc.edu site, which currently contains nine ­titles comprising 5,006 issues, 88,697 pages, and 318,875 articles. Our relationship with DDD began in 2010, when we were beginning to create a body of digital content to support Boston College’s 150th anniversary in 2013. At that time we had no experience with newspaper digitization, and we worked directly with DDD to figure out how to accomplish our goals.

How does DDD serve University Libraries at Boston College’s needs?

For our initial project, DDD staff helped us find an imaging subcontractor and also facilitated work with our interface provider. DDD’s primary function is to create the “magic” that makes the newspapers full-text searchable and provide search results at the article level. We believe that adherence to standards is a critical factor in building lasting collections. The fact that DDD uses METS/ALTO standards to encode the output is important.

What are the main benefits?

Our newspaper-use statistics are impressive. Users come from all over the world. The collection has been used as part of the history curriculum; and alumni, staff, and current students use it to build community and understand our history.

Ninety-thousand pages formerly available only through fragile newsprint or microfilm are now widely accessible and readily discoverable. The accuracy of the text indexing and the parsing of the content into article zones provide a great user experience. Our work with DDD allows us to attain some of the virtues identified by S. R. Ranganathan in his five laws of library science. The full text and article segmentation “saves the time of the reader” and the wide online accessibility ensures that even our rare and fragile “books are for use.”

Finally, newspaper digitization has had a positive impact on our reference function. With the online availability of our newspapers, staff time once spent poring through print and microfilm to answer reference questions can now be directed to other useful work.

What would you have liked to see improved or added to the service?

In the future, we’d like to work with DDD to deliver output with check sums that can be validated. This might be accomplished using the BagIt specification standard that emerged from the California Digital Library’s work with LC.


Ephemera from the local history reference collection at Albany County (Wyo.) Public Library in Laramie.

What To Collect?

Building a local history reference collection at your library

K. C. Boyd (Photo: Andrew Nelles)

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