FALVEY MEMORIAL LIBRARY



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The one that got away…

Not all artifacts of material culture are able to be readily digitized; there are a number of physical and intellectual hurdles to be crossed before an item makes it to the scanner. Each candidate item must evaluated to determine if it can by scanned without damage to the object, at the same time each item is examined to see if it is even possible to scan the item due to some physical characteristic such as the nature of a very tight binding, or a binding that obscures the text. Finally each item is examined to determine the copyright status. Here are some sample items from Villanova’s Special Collections that are candidates for scanning but due to a physical or intellectual impediment scanning is not possible:

Too fragile
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Too tightly Bound
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Too small (and too tightly bound)
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In copyright
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(This copy of the Secret Life of Salvador Dali has the author’s distinctive signature with hand-drawn illustrations).

Scrapbooks and albums present unique challenges in digitization. Component parts of these works often are physically and intellectually possible to scan, but display and presentation issues make it difficult to show the interrelationships between distinct objects. As well, objects contained within other objects often are physically connected, making opening and closing the parts and pages and scanning the front and back of each item problematic. Below are 4 images from two scrapbooks in Special Collections that highlight these difficulties. Images 1 and 2 are pages from a scrapbook created to show the related early historic preservation efforts in the creation of the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia and the U.S. National Park at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. This work contains bits of wood from buildings at both locations along with photographs, postcards, and pamphlets. Thus it is possible to scan all of the component parts of this work but showing the physical relationships of the component works in our existing digital library software is problematic. Another scrapbook from Special Collections, depicted in images 3 and 4, collects the hundreds of congratulatory letters (still contained in their stamped envelopes), and telegrams sent to Robert Maitland O’Reilly upon his appointment as Surgeon General of the United States on September 7, 1902, as well as the newspaper clippings announcing the appointment. Image 4 is one of these letters, authored and autographed by the then President of the United States – Theodore Roosevelt. The letters can be scanned individually but then they lose the relationship to the scrapbook as a collective whole. Some libraries have experimented with creating a distinctive scrapbook interface to present these works in a more complete and rich form; this is an area of future investigation and development for us at the digital library. For now these rare works must still be accessed in person.

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Usage Statistics point out growth and unique treasures

Implemented during the summer of 2008, the usage statistics module of the Digital Library provides a glimpse of the active user population, currently and back to the inception of the Digital Library in Fall 2006. In addition to the number of users and their paths through the Digital Library, and the most viewed items and collections, the most searched for terms and keywords are also identified. All of the collected statistics are for users that are accessing the Digital Library from off-campus locations, this is done in order to eliminate the page views used by staff in describing the specific materials. Given that the Digital Library does have many additional users on campus, these statistics and patterns are qualified and conservative.

In January 2007 the number of monthly unique visitors to the Digital Library was 1,797; by January 2008 that number had risen to 2,343 and by March 2008 had grown to 4,163. September 2008 showed a near equal figure to March with 4,100 visitors. The busiest days of the week are Wednesday and Thursday, and the busiest times are 1 to 5 PM.

In 2007, the most frequently visited collections were the Joseph McGarrity Books Collection and the Image Collection.

In 2008, the most frequently visited collections are the Catholica Collection, the Joseph McGarrity Personal Paper Collection, and the Cuala Press Broadside Collection. For 2007 and 2008, the most frequently visited item is the Portrait gallery of pugilists of America and their contemporaries from James J. Corbett to Tom Hyer. This Philadelphia-published richly illustrated volume, from the Pennsylvaniana Collection, provides biographies and photographs of the best boxers of the late 1800′s. A search of the national bibliographic database Worldcat shows only 8 other institutions beyond Villanova University owning a print copy of the work.

The next most popularly viewed title and the one linked to the most frequently searched keyword phrase – “Baldwin Locomotive Works” – in the Digital Library search software is the Baldwin locomotive works : illustrated catalogue of locomotives. This work provides a richly illustrated view of the sale offerings of the Philadelphia-based Baldwin Locomotive Works for the year 1871, the perfect work for a railroad tycoon to read in their own Pullman compartment while contemplating the newly opened (1869) Transcontinental Railroad!

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Last Modified: October 3, 2008