Digital North Carolina Blog

Digital North Carolina Blog

This blog is maintained by the staff of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center and features highlights from the collections at DigitalNC, an online library of primary sources from institutions across North Carolina.

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Six Months Later and We’re Not Done: Underrepresented Voices on DigitalNC

About six months ago we asked our partners to help us increase the diversity of voices shared on DigitalNC. We had an outpouring of interest, and partners have shared a number of rich collections from the African American and LGBTQ communities. Here’s an update of what has been added to DigitalNC as a result of this call.

Excerpt of a census page that includes school house census details and student names.

This 1903 Census Report for Morton Township, Alamance County, lists names, ages, and the names of parents of African American students. 

Alamance County Public Libraries shared a wide variety of materials documenting African American communities in that county. Two groups of photographs, the Heritage of Black Highlanders and Asheville YWCA Photograph Collection, are parts of larger collections held by University of North Carolina at Asheville

Several partners added African-American newspapers to those already shared online at DigitalNC. 

We’ve also been working with University of North Carolina at Charlotte to share issues of Q-Notes, which covers updates, events, and issues of the LGBTQ community.

Diversifying DigitalNC isn’t a one-time event – it’s ongoing every day. If your institution has or will be targeting collections that document racial, ethnic, or geographic communities who are underrepresented on DigitalNC, and you’re interested in sharing these materials online, get in touch.


NCDHC Strategic Themes, 2017-2019

We’re pleased to announce the Digital Heritage Center’s first set of strategic themes, which we’ve just released. These themes reflect what we’ve heard from partners and other institutions around the state over the last year. They join our longstanding but slightly revised Mission and Values statements.

If you’ve followed our work for awhile, these themes will be familiar. But there are nuances here that will drive some of our newer initiatives, such as scanning on location and increasing the diversity of voices available through DigitalNC.

Let us know if you have any questions or concerns. We look forward to working hard to help our partners share North Carolina’s cultural heritage.

NCDHC 2017-2019; empower cultural heritage professionals by offering services and training;, strengthen community identities through history and culture; increase access to information for all through freely available online resources


We Want to Come to You! New On Location Digitization Service Begins

On Location Digitization Services icon with young boy riding in a toy car

Logo image courtesy the Braswell Memorial Library! “Ricky in Toy Car” 

Have you been interested in working with the Digital Heritage Center but find it difficult to get to Chapel Hill, or have concerns about having your materials off site? We want to come to you! We’ll be working with two or three cultural heritage institutions over the next nine months to try out on-location scanning.  If you’d like to nominate your institution, read on and use the nomination form linked at the end of this post.

What We Do

Here’s what nominated institutions will receive as part of this process.

  • We will bring our scanners, computers, and staff to your institution to digitize and describe materials from your collections. We would be there for one full weekday, at a minimum.
  • We’ll host the scanned images and associated metadata on DigitalNC.org, and give you copies of the original scans to use in any non-profit context.
  • Optionally, we can do a presentation for staff and/or the public related to any of the following topics:
    • The Digital Heritage Center’s services (for staff at your institution and/or other local cultural heritage institutions)
    • A demonstration of what we’re doing while we’re there (for staff at your institution)
    • The variety of resources you can find on DigitalNC.org and other fantastic digital collections in North Carolina (staff or the public)

What We’ll Need from Partners We Visit

If you’re chosen, we’d need:

  • At least one conference call before arrival to clarify expectations, work with you on scheduling, and talk through the materials you’d like scanned.
  • Description and a light inventory of the items we’ll be scanning, if there isn’t one already available.
  • Some assembly and preparation of the materials you’ve chosen. This might include physically pulling all of the content together before we arrive and removing staples if the materials are stapled at the top corners.
  • A designated staff contact regularly available to ask questions regarding what we’re scanning while we’re there, and to help with logistics like getting equipment in and out of the building, etc.
  • An indoor location that has:
    • at least two power outlets,
    • internet connectivity,
    • a work area large enough for 2 scanners and 4 laptops as well as extra room for materials handling,
    • seating for four people, and
    • is away from the public so we can get the most scanning accomplished in our limited time (ideal but not required).

Additional Guidance for Nominations

  • We’ll be giving priority to nominations from institutions furthest from Chapel Hill and to new partners. If you are a prospective partner, please check to make sure you’re eligible.
  • The materials have to be owned by your institution.
  • The materials should cover North Carolina subjects, events, and people.
  • For these on-location sessions, we’re accepting nominations for the following types of items:
    • photographs (prints) and/or postcards
    • looseleaf print materials up to 11×17”
    • bound items may be considered, but in very limited numbers and only if transporting them to Chapel Hill would be impossible
  • Materials can be fragile but should be stable enough to withstand gentle handling and placement on a flatbed scanner.

We’ll review nominations according to the following criteria, so you may want to address these in your nomination form:

Category Point Value
New partner 1
New town 1
New county** 2
Materials document an underrepresented
     community or population
1
Materials are well described/inventoried 5
Majority of materials date from 1945 or earlier        1
Materials are believed to be unique 1

** We have yet to work with any institutions in the following counties: Alexander, Bertie, Bladen, Camden, Caswell, Chowan, Clay, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Graham, Greene, Henderson, Hoke, Jones, Mitchell, Northampton, Onslow, Pamlico, Swain, Tyrrell, Yancey

Use this nomination form to submit!

We’ll start reviewing nominations on September 30 and will notify selected institutions shortly thereafter. If a selected institution ends up not being able to host us, we’ll continue down the list.

We’re excited about trying out this new service. Please contact us with any questions and share this with any institutions you think might be interested.


We Run on IMLS: Who and What Supports NCDHC

We Run on IMLS BadgeDigitization is faceless work – you rarely see the hands that carefully place fragile scrapbooks under the camera and click capture, or hear the voices debating the best description of that great photograph a partner sent us. And we don’t stick a price tag on each item, parsing out how much our funders contributed to get that item online. 

So today’s post is about two things I think don’t get noticed often enough. The first thing is money. All of the accomplishments of the Center have been supported in very large part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, through Library Services and Technology Act funding disbursed by the State Library of North Carolina. In other words, we run on IMLS. Digital libraries often include funders in footers or on “About” pages, but I decided to take this opportunity to bring it up front. Together, IMLS, UNC-Chapel Hill, and the State Library of North Carolina are the why, how, and whether DigitalNC exists. The power of this funding partnership is in its efficiency, its statewide view, and the way our work boosts what’s being done by counties and towns in their local institutions. It’s how our partners supercharge their collections, moving them beyond shelves to your screen. And we really hope it sticks around

A Wayne County scrapbook page that includes the gloved hand of the student scanner.

A rare shot that includes the gloved hand of a student worker as they gently lift up a document to capture the letter underneath.

The second thing is people. Behind each of the hundreds of thousands of images on DigitalNC.org are multiple individuals from multiple communities, who want YOU to see, share, build upon, question, and participate in North Carolina’s culture, wherever you are. These are the caring librarians, archivists, curators, or history-minded individuals with a passion not only for preserving their community’s history but also for giving that history legs. These are the full-time NCDHC staff who answer questions, juggle schedules, write code, and try to best serve users. These are the 20 student workers who have scanned, and scanned, and scanned over the last six years, whose professional development we have fostered and who were exposed to information-rich, quirky, poignant, and various special collections from all over the state.

Our goal is to make the materials front and center so you don’t see us or think about us.  But next time you find that great article on your hometown’s history, we hope you’ll think about who helped get it there and the funding it took to make it happen.


Announcing a 6-Month In-Depth Digitization Effort at NCDHC: Underrepresented Communities

The Wilson Tau Gamma Delta Sorority, Date Unknown

Here at the Digital Heritage Center we’ve been talking about what we can do to increase representation of underrepresented communities on DigitalNC.org. Serving these communities in ways that respect their priorities and beliefs has become a focus for many libraries, archives, and museums, and we hear partners and other DigitalNC fans asking us about this as well.  We have a few ideas in the works that we’ll be talking about over the next year.

I’m writing today about one of those ideas. We’d like to try a 6-month in-depth digitization effort during which we focus on working with you to share items in your collections representing traditionally underrepresented communities. This may be groups including but not limited to African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos/as, American Indians, LGBTQ. If you feel sharing those items online would be useful to your users, we’d like to make that happen.

Our goals with this idea are to (1) bring partners together in a shared initiative (2) discover new collections and (3) better represent the diversity of North Carolina on DigitalNC.org.

If you are eligible to work with the Digital Heritage Center, have something that fits with this effort, and would like to collaborate, contact us.

Have other digitization priorities? No problem! This won’t preclude other projects you had intended to plan with the Center. 

Thanks for considering participating in this effort, and please share this post broadly.


Call for Nominations – North Carolina Newspaper Digitization, 2016

Young Man on Bicycle for Newspaper Delivery, photo by Albert Rabil, April 23, 1951. Courtesy the Braswell Memorial Library.

Young Man on Bicycle for Newspaper Delivery, photo by Albert Rabil, April 23, 1951. Courtesy the Braswell Memorial Library.

It’s time to announce our 5th annual round of microfilmed newspaper digitization! As in previous years, we’re asking cultural heritage institutions in the state to nominate papers from their communities to be digitized. We’re especially interested in:

  • newspapers published 1923 or later,
  • newspapers that are not currently available in digital form elsewhere online, and/or
  • newspapers covering underrepresented regions or communities.

If you’re interested in nominating a paper and you work at a cultural heritage institution that qualifies as a partner, here’s what to do:

  • Check out our criteria for selecting newspapers, listed below.
  • Verify that the newspaper you’d like to see digitized exists on microfilm. Email us (digitalnc@unc.edu) if you’re not sure.
  • Send us an email with the name of the newspaper you would like to nominate, along with the priority years you’re interested in seeing online. Please talk briefly about how the paper and your institution meet the criteria below.
  • Be prepared to talk with the local rights holder(s) to gain written permission to digitize the paper and share it online. We can give you advice on this part, if needed.

Nominations will be taken through the end of 2016. However, don’t wait! We typically get many more requests than we can accommodate. Please contact us at digitalnc@unc.edu or 919-962-4836 with any questions. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

Criteria for Selecting Newspapers to Digitize from Microfilm

Titles to be digitized will be selected using the following criteria:

  • Does the newspaper document traditionally underrepresented regions or communities?
  • Does the newspaper include significant coverage of the local community?
  • Does the newspaper come from an area of the state that has little representation on DigitalNC?
  • Are the images of the pages on microfilm legible, or are there significant sections where it is difficult to read the text?
  • Is the institution willing to obtain permission from the current publisher or rights holder(s) to digitize older issues and make them freely available online?
  • Is there a demonstrated demand for online access to this paper?
  • If the newspaper is digitized, will the nominating library promote the digital project through programs and announcements?

Calling all North Carolina High School Alumni Associations

davie_county_training_school_reunion

Davie County Training School Reunion (1980s) Courtesy Davie County Public Library.

Yearbooks and other types of school memorabilia are some of the most popular types of items we digitize. They bring out nostalgic feelings, in addition to being sources of information about individuals and communities.

Some of the most prolific preservers of school memorabilia are High School Alumni Associations, and we’re pleased to announce that the Digital Heritage Center will now work with them to help share their collections online.

For the last 6 years, the Digital Heritage Center has served cultural heritage institutions throughout North Carolina. While many Alumni Associations may not have a brick and mortar presence, they are often entities with long histories and an active and coordinated membership. We are looking forward to helping them share their history online, along with the libraries, archives, museums and other institutions we currently partner with.

It’s important to us that users of DigitalNC.org can get in touch with the institutions that hold the collections we digitize over time. To that end, we’re happy to work with Alumni Associations that are organized and persistent. To participate, the Alumni Association must be associated with a North Carolina high school and have at least a few of these characteristics:

  • have contact information (phone, email, address) belonging to the association and not just held by an individual or individuals,
  • have been in existence longer than 5 years,
  • be incorporated as a 501(c) organization,
  • hold regular meetings or events,
  • maintain an online presence (an updated website or active Facebook page),
  • operate with some sort of governance structure.

If you’re part of an Alumni Association and are interested in becoming a partner, please read about how to participate and get in touch with us. We’d love to hear from you!

cove_creek_high_school_class_of_1949_reunion

Cove Creek High School Class of 1949 Reunion (1997) Courtesy Watauga County Public Library.


200 Partner Institutions – A Digital Heritage Center Milestone

 

Celebrating 200 Partners

When people ask me to sum up the Digital Heritage Center, I usually tell them what we do. We provide digitization and digital publishing services to cultural heritage institutions throughout North Carolina. And DigitalNC.org has some pretty healthy stats to back it up.

2.7 million scans online

87,590 total objects, including…

Over 57,000 newspaper issues

More than 6,100 college and high school yearbooks

16,000+ photographs

505 scrapbooks

Beyond this, the site receives about 280,000 pageviews per month, 58% of which come from users in North Carolina. That’s a lot of our state’s history being shared online, 24/7.

But really, the heart of the Digital Heritage Center is people. It’s the hard work and expertise of our staff making North Carolina’s history available online. It’s the guidance and support we get from the staff at the State Library of North Carolina, which provides most of our funding, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Wilson Library, which hosts the Center and its technology. Above all of this, it’s the partnerships we have with cultural heritage professionals from Bryson City to Ocracoke. That’s why I’m so pleased to announce that this month, we add the following number:

200 partner institutions

in 119 communities,

in 73 counties

Since opening its doors in 2009, the Digital Heritage Center is showing the nation that North Carolina has a strong and collaborative cultural heritage community. This state has so many deep, rich, compelling — and quirky collections. They are stewarded by staff who have a passion for preservation, and a genuine love of providing access to users near and far. We are proud to be a part of that community, offering many institutions the opportunity to bring their collections to a broader audience for the first time.

We hope you will take the chance to explore the map above, and DigitalNC.org. And we hope that you’ll find a contributing institution in your area and stop in. Thanks for reading, and for your support. And here’s to 200 more.

Cheerleaders, From Western Carolina University's 1940 edition of the Catamount yearbook.

Cheerleaders, From Western Carolina University’s 1940 edition of the Catamount yearbook.

 


We’re Looking for AV Materials to Digitize

Charlie Barnet and his Gospel Stars, Shared by UNC-Charlotte's Atkins Library.

Charlie Barnet and his Gospel Stars, Shared by UNC-Charlotte’s Atkins Library.

Does your organization have audiovisual materials you’d like to digitize and share online? The North Carolina Digital Heritage Center is looking for nominations of film, video, and audio materials to digitize and add to DigitalNC.org’s Sights and Sounds collection.

If you’re part of a cultural heritage organization and have audiovisual materials you’d like digitized, let us know. The Center will evaluate all of the nominations (see evaluation criteria below) in an effort to select a variety of content in different formats and which represents the cultural and geographic diversity of North Carolina.

Nominating items is easy! Email us at digitalnc@unc.edu with a description of the items you have. Please include the following:

  • number of items
  • types of formats represented
  • what the items contain, to the best of your knowledge

Deadline for nominations is April 14, 2016. We’re  happy to answer questions if you’d like more information, by emailing us at the address above or calling (919) 962-4836.

Selection Criteria for Audiovisual Digitization

  • Is the film, video, or tape believed to be unique to your collection, or are there copies at other institutions?
  • Do you have equipment available to play the media you’re nominating?
  • Is the media believed to be at least 40 years old?
  • Are you willing to have the media sent to a vendor to be digitized?
  • Is there a catalog record or anything describing the content of the media?
  • Does the media cover a time period of historical significance?  (For example: Civil War, Great Depression, World War II).
  • Was the media created by, or does it contain significant content by or about one of North Carolina’s historically underrepresented communities?
  • Is the media from a county or region that is already represented on DigitalNC.org or other digital library projects?
  • Is there a demonstrated demand for online access to the media?  If so, are there examples, such as requests from users or community members?
  • If this media is digitized, is the contributing institution willing to promote the media through press releases and other announcements or programs?

DigitalNC.org Honored with 2015 North Carolina Genealogical Society Award

NCGS 2015 Award Winners

NCGS 2015 Award Winners at the Annual Luncheon in Raleigh. (left to right) Helen F. M. Leary, CG (Emeritus), FASG; Ginger R. Smith; Pam Toms, Awards Chair; Vickie P. Young, NCGS President; Sharon Gable; Maryann Stockert Tuck; Judi Hinton; and Lisa Gregory

On Saturday, at the North Carolina Genealogical Society Annual Meeting luncheon, we were honored as co-winners of the NCGS 2015 Award for Excellence in Web Presence.

We work hard to make sure our site represents the materials shared by our 180+ partners in a professional and easy-to-use manner, and are thrilled at the recognition from NCGS. It’s our hope that genealogists everywhere continue to find our site helpful for their research. We share this award with the State Library of North Carolina and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, without whom our work wouldn’t be possible. Even more, we share this award with all of our partners, who are making their collections more accessible for users all over the world through DigitalNC.org.