Thursday, October 18, 2007

killer digital libraries and archives

Yesterday the Online Education Database released a great list of "250+ Killer Digital Libraries and Archives." It lists sites by state, by type, has a focus on etexts, and is a remarkable compendium of digital resources.

Of course, the first thing I did was look for our digital collections on the list. The UVA Library hosts the wonderful Virginia Heritage resource, which brings together thousands of EAD finding aids for two dozen institutions across the state of Virginia. We have our Digital Collections, with more than 20,000 images, 10,000 texts, and almost 4,000 finding aids.

Nope. Not on the list.

Not surprisingly, our former Etext Center was on the list under etexts (the Center no longer exists as a unit and its texts are gradually being migrated). The Virginia Center for Digital History was there, as it should be with its groundbreaking projects and its great blog. IATH was there with its many innovative born-digital scholarly projects.

I sulked about this for a few minutes while thinking about the likely reason we weren't on the list -- for the past few years we've been talking nonstop about our Repository and Fedora and not about our collections. Now, we wanted and needed to talk about Fedora and our Repository because we we really trying new things and solving interesting problems with our development and participating in building a community around Fedora. But users don't care about how cool our Repository development is. They care about the collections in the Repository.

We've spent the last few months working at raising awareness about what we have. Our new Library home page now has a number of links to the digital collections. We have pages on how to find what you're looking for in our digital collections. We have feature pages for all of our collections in the Repository. We're making progress in migrating collections and making the Digital Collections site a central location where they're visible. We have an RSS Feed for additions to the collections. We now have a librarian and a unit dedicated to shepherding collection digitization through the process and working more closely with faculty. I hope the next time someone creates a list like this we'll be visible enough to be on it.

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