A digital collection, which can contain just a few or thousands of items, can be an incredibly useful tool for a researcher who needs a searchable database of digital files relating to an academic project or area of interest. For example, you may visit multiple archives and obtain dozens or hundreds of digitized documents, images, and audio-visual files as background information for a book or article.

A digital collection would allow you to:

Never Were Two Pieces of Indian Pottery Exactly Alike, [page 52 and 53], 1920, from American Indians: First families of the Southwest by the Fred Harvey Co.

  •    Search and retrieve these files in a single repository,
  •    Make items available to other researchers and/or the public through a link
  •    Preserve the information over the long-run.
  •    Use innovative ancillary applications, like mapping and digital exhibits.

Creating a digital collection is not difficult, but it does require planning. Three main components make up a digital collection:

  1. digitization,
  2. cataloging/metadata creation
  3. digital collections software

Software, such as Omeka.net, allows people to view the digital files and their corresponding, searchable metadata record together.

If you would like to learn how to build a digital collection, register for our two-part workshop, Omeka.net Workshop: Build A Digital Collection, Part 1 and Omeka.net Workshop: Build A Digital Collection, Part 2, held September 7 (12:00-1:00) and September 8 (1:00-3:00). Please remember to register for both parts.

The Norwick Center for Digital Solutions (nCDS), a unit of Central University Libraries (CUL), is making available online tens of thousands of items from CUL special collections, including the DeGolyer Library and Bywaters Special Collections, in the CUL Digital Collections web site. CUL Digital Collections have received millions of hits and are being used in hundreds of research projects both at SMU and around the world.

nCDS offers advice and training to faculty, students, and staff on how to create digital collections. We also offer a Digital Humanities practicum on digital collections development. For more information, contact Cindy Boeke, Digital Collections Librarian, cboeke@smu.edu.

 

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