FALVEY MEMORIAL LIBRARY

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Colorful Ads in Black and White

Written by: Cathleen Lu, Fall 2010 Digital Library Intern.

As Falvey’s Digital Library takes on the digitization of older issues of the campus newspaper The Villanovan, from its inception as a monthly in 1893 to its more recent years, we find content ranging from dependable sports sections detailing the many Wildcat and Owl rivalries between Villanova and Temple, to reflective discussions on racism, to historically heavy pages documenting a campus during wartime. Indeed, 1943 issues of The Villanovan announced the college’s new warning system for air raid drills among reports of Villanovans at the front and alumni casualty records. But, taken in aggregate through the years and through events in history that may or may not have reached the Villanova campus, the newspapers provide another interesting take on American life–advertisements.

Those of you who are fans of the AMC drama Mad Men might like to know that a little piece of the show exists in Falvey Memorial Library (figuratively speaking), and those of you who aren’t familiar with the cable series might find plenty of other surprises in early American advertising. Simple textual ads for naval uniforms and suits for 40 dollars eventually give way to fountain pens and Chevrolets in all their pictorial glory.

In Mad Men, one particularly famous scene features advertising wonder Don Draper pitching creative ideas to cigarette company Lucky Strike. His pitch? “It’s toasted.” A particular draw of the show has always been its historical accuracy and knack for details, but sure enough, in 1932’s Volume 4, Issue 11 of The Villanovan, Lucky Strike lets us all know: “It’s toasted.”

luckies

The idea of cigarette ads is anachronistic now, but from the 1930s to late 1960s, the ads, complete without Surgeon General’s warnings, were as consistent as they were prevalent. In the 1950s, Lucky Strike, Chesterfield, and Philip Morris were the bigger companies first battling it out, while L&M, Camel, and Marlboro came on the scene in later years. Through the decades, the ads change in tone to convey particular attitudes that include high society, campus cool, and a little bit of romance. And of course, celebrities always make an appearance. Barbara Stanwyck, Bob Hope, Joe DiMaggio, and Loretta Young are just a few of the recognizable faces.

stanwyck

The most recognizable of all, however, might be Santa Claus, just in time for the holidays.

santa

Despite whether our hindsight finds these ads agreeable, valuable, or even fascinating, it does speak to the relevance of advertisements in both history and culture. Perhaps even more, it emphasizes an important aspect of newspapers in their “original” form, where the research value may extend far past the article of the day.

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New Digital Library Administration Software

Falvey’s Digital Library has just been upgraded with new backend software that will improve its ability to continue growing and improving the online collection. The Digital Library’s first incarnation was launched in August 2006. Over the course of 4 years, the DL’s collection grew to over 9,000 items, and a substantial software functionality wish-list.

  • Add support for more file formats, so our collection can include a broader range of materials
  • Incorporate an OCR process to facilitate full-text searching of collection content.
  • Add support for inclusion of transcriptions with hand-written materials

 

Our initial software used a variety of technologies to achieve its goal of storing information about digital documents. Unfortunately, not all of these tools worked well together. While the new version of the software retains the METS metadata format and eXist-db XML database, it replaces nearly all of the other components with a suite of more closely-related technologies. The new, all-XML, all-Open-Source framework consists of the following components:

 

New Key Features:

Root level Document Attachment

document-transcriptions

Catalogers now have the ability to add document-level items to each object. The most relevant use of this feature is to attach a hand-transcribed, fully annotated companion document to a digitally scanned book. More information on this feature can be found here and a live example can be found by viewing the Lane Manuscript


AJAX-based metadata editor

metadata

The Orbeon forms Java-based XForms engine integrates with the YUI JavaScript Library providing a rich user interface for metadata editing.


Document layout and file attachment configurations

document-layout

The system incorporates a batch-attach routine for adding multiple files (in our case the pages of a scanned book) to a digital object as a single operation. An interface is available to customize the arrangement and location of these files, as well as adding and deleting files when appropriate.


OAI harvestable

oai

OAI/PMH is a standard for serving and harvesting metadata. The Digital Library is now fully harvestable using this standard.


In the coming months we will extend the software to include custom drivers for a VuFind front-end and modularize the metadata editor to support a wide-range of options including Dublin Core, MODS, EAD, and PREMIS support for preservation Metadata.

Our plan is to launch the software as a simple, open-source platform for preservation and presentation of digital collections. So stay tuned! We are targeting April 2011 for the Beta Release.

We are always looking for development partners! If you are interested, please contact us at digitallibrary@villanova.edu

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Last Modified: December 9, 2010