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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Viewing entries by Lisa Gregory


Nine More Yearbooks from Burke County Added to DigitalNC

two page book spread with photos of football players and newspaper article clippings about football game scores

Burke County Public Library has contributed nine additional yearbooks from Burke County high schools to their online yearbooks collection, which now spans the 1940s to the late 1960s. These latest yearbooks come from Drexel High School, Francis Garrou High School, Morganton High School, Oak Hill High School, and the first yearbook in the collection from West Concord School.

Click to view the newest additions, or browse all of the high school yearbooks from Burke County.


Three Yearbooks Added from Wake and Wayne Counties

Headshots of six women arranged in an oval, from the 1922 Tarpitur

We love filling in gaps in the DigitalNC yearbook collection as new volumes are uncovered. Today’s post mentions three such volumes from Wayne and Wake Counties.

Wayne County Public Library contributed the 1922 Tarpitur, one of the earliest volumes on our site from Goldsboro High School. You can also view all of the yearbooks we have available for Goldsboro High School.

We’ve also added the 1945 Latipac from Needham B. Broughton High School and the 1958 E’corde from Cardinal Gibbons High School, both in Raleigh.

Looking on the High School tab on our Yearbooks page is an easy way to discover what years we might be missing. Contact us if your institution can help fill in gaps!


What Should You Do With Your Scanned Photos? What We Suggest for Libraries, Archives, and Museums

We frequently get asked by institutions “what should I do with my scanned photos/documents?” This is a great question but not an easy one – digitization/scanning is the easy part.

What these institutions are often asking is how they should keep track of the files they created during scanning (scans) and the information about what they scanned (metadata). In addition to tracking, they’d like to know what their options are for sharing the scans and metadata with an online audience.

When you see websites like ours with extensive collections of scans paired with metadata (like in the screenshot below), there’s usually a piece of software behind it that keeps track of the scans and the metadata and then matches them up for online display. That’s what a content management systems (CMS) does, if you’ve heard that term before. The benefit of using a CMS is that it makes sure the scans and their metadata remain paired over time, and often allows users to do fun things like search, sort, and filter.

Color photograph of a woman in a WWI uniform.

Screenshot of an item on DigitalNC, as presented by a content management system called TIND.

There are different types of CMSs for different types of industries. This post focuses on options for cultural heritage institutions, because CMSs made for cultural heritage institutions generally address the things we care about most. They make sure metadata is shareable, that scans can be described really well, and that you can express one-to-many relationships (think: many scans linked up to a single metadata record).

If your institution is considering implementing a CMS, here are the very first steps we suggest considering.

First, Plan 

  • Decide on your goals. Do you want your scans to be available online? Or are you just looking for software that will manage your scans and metadata locally? Who will use the end product – your staff, your patrons/users, or both? Your answer will help guide where you go next.
  • Do some prep work. Like any other service your institution wants to maintain, figure out (1) how much money you have to spend both now and on an ongoing basis, (2) who will need to be involved in installation and support, and (3) what staff expertise you already have related to technology.
  • Talk to your administration and coworkers. What are their goals and needs for scanning and sharing those scans, if any? It’s a lot harder to implement a system if you don’t have the buy-in of others where you work. 
  • Be realistic. Start small and build up your capacity. We’ve never heard of someone saying “our first scanned collection was too small,” but we have heard a lot of people say “I bit off way more than we could chew.”

Options for Keeping Track of Scans Locally

If you just need to keep track of scans and metadata locally for staff use, you can do this easily with a spreadsheet and a really consistent file naming structure. The spreadsheet could include things like a title or description, maybe a physical location, any other helpful keywords or dates, and the file or folder names for the scans. Staff can search the spreadsheet for what they need, and then find the file or folder name so they can pull up the scans from storage.

If you’d like something more sophisticated for keeping track of scans and metadata locally for staff use, there are programs that allow you to tag and describe scans that live locally. If you search for “photo management software” or “photo organizing software” online you’ll discover a number of options. We’re not terribly familiar with these; just be sure that you can export whatever you put into the software before committing.

Options for Putting Scans Online

If you decide you’d like to put your scans online, here are some choices you can consider.

A Content Management System Already in Place

Examples Include: LibGuides (screenshot below), library catalogs, museum databases

Screenshot of a public library's LibGuide site.

Screenshot of a LibGuide with extensive information about North Carolina maps.

Typically Chosen By: Institutions who already have a CMS that they can stretch to serve their needs.

The Positive Side: You may be able to start sharing your scans faster because the CMS is already adopted and paid for by your institution and familiar to staff and online users. 

Possible Challenges: LibGuides, library catalogs, and museum databases do not always follow best practices and standards for digital collections. For example, it may not allow you to attach multiple scans to a single record, or it may not export your metadata in a structured way. In other words, you may be fitting a “square peg into a round hole.” In addition, if the features you want to use are secondary to the system’s main purpose, the vendor or developer could drop those features later. 

Recommended? Depending on your resources and needs this can be the best solution. Just be aware of the possible down sides mentioned above.

A Social Media or Photo Sharing Website

Examples Include: Facebook, Flickr (Screenshot below), Tumblr

Screenshot of a yearbook cover photo on Flickr

Screenshot of an item on Flickr.

Typically Chosen By: Private individuals, small organizations with limited technical staff, institutions seeking to engage with broad communities where those communities already congregate online.

The Positive Side: These reach broad, built-in audiences. There is frequently no cost up front.

Possible Challenges: These do not adhere to best practices and standards for digital collections, which can cause a lot of work later on. Sites like these can shut down or change their terms of service with little or no regard for or warning to users. There are ads displayed near to your files, over which your organization has no control. It’s frequently impossible or extremely difficult to get your files and metadata back out of these sites.

Recommended? Not recommended as the main mechanism for managing and storing your files and metadata. These sites are best used only for outreach and engagement.

Hosting your Content on DigitalNC.org

Typically Chosen By: Institutions of all sizes who prefer not to host their own software, possibly due to local IT limitations or as a result of strategic priorities;  institutions who would like their scans and metadata searchable alongside others from around the state.

The Positive Side: Your content reaches a broad, built-in audience. It would be searchable with similar digital collections from around North Carolina. Currently no cost to institutions.

Possible Challenges: We do the uploading and editing for you, and it takes place within a broader schedule. We’d ask you to create images and metadata that follow our standards before we could upload. (These could be positives, depending on your perspective.)

Recommended? Sure! Depending on your resources and needs this can be a great option.

A Content Management System Hosted by an External Company

Examples Include: CONTENTdm (screenshot below), hosted Islandora, ArtStor’s JSTOR Forum, Omeka.net, Past Perfect Online, or TIND (which is what we use, see screenshot at the beginning of this post)

Photograph of a man and boy with two dogs, along with metadata below it.

Screenshot of a hosted instance of CONTENTdm.

Typically Chosen By: Institutions of all sizes who prefer not to host their own software, possibly due to local IT limitations or as a result of strategic priorities.

The Positive Side: Many systems like these are built with best practices like consistency, standards, and integration with other systems. They will allow users to search your metadata, and often offer things like filtering, file downloading, and other desired user services. Your organization does not have to set up or maintain the software locally. You can establish a brand and dedicated site for your digital collections.

Possible Challenges: They require staff with specialized training in the system, and the ability to pay a vendor both initially and on an ongoing basis. You’re limited to the services or features the vendor chooses to offer.

Recommended? Sure! Depending on your resources this can be a great option.

Hosting Your own Content Management System

Examples Include: Self-hosted Islandora, Omeka (screenshot below), Samvera, Collective Access

Screenshot of a colorful campus map along with metadata.

Screenshot of a self-hosted instance of Omeka.

Typically Chosen By: Institutions with programmers on staff, dedicated IT support, and collections that require a lot of customization.

The Positive Side: Like the hosted systems above, these are also often built with best practices like standards and interoperability. They will allow users to search your metadata, and often offer things like filtering, image downloading, and other user services. When you host your own system you can frequently customize more features.

Possible Challenges: They require staff with specialized training, and a robust and flexible IT support infrastructure. They’re more time intensive and costly to maintain.

Recommended? Sure! Depending on your resources and needs this can be a great option.

Final Thoughts

In the end, there isn’t much that’s an “always wrong” choice. There are only choices that have different consequences down the road. We encourage people to choose the systems that adhere to digital collections best practices, because those best practices come from people who’ve made choices they regretted. In the end, it’s most important to choose a solution that meets your needs and fits the resources you have now and those you anticipate having in the future. Above all, always be sure that your scans and metadata are backed up and can be extracted from the system you choose!

Did we miss anything? Leave us a comment below.

If you’re considering one or more of these and have questions, get in touch. We’re happy to give you advice for what to ask a vendor or point you to similar institutions who may have already adopted what you’re considering.


Pinehurst High School Yearbooks from Moore County Now Online

High schoolers sprawled out and collapsed around a chair, with the caption "gooney club"

Moore County Historical Association has contributed 11 high school yearbooks for Pinehurst High School to DigitalNC, dating from 1951-1961. These are the first yearbooks for Pinehurst High School available on DigitalNC.

You can also browse other yearbooks from Moore County, or take a look at our list of available high school yearbooks, organized by county.


Catalogs and Yearbooks Added from Sandhills Community College in Pinehurst

Two page yearbook spread with headshots of students and their names

Pages 34-35 of the Sandhills ’78 yearbook.

Catalogs and yearbooks are now online from our newest community college partner, Sandhills Community College in Pinehurst, Moore County, NC. Most community colleges had at least short runs of yearbooks produced during the 1960s and 1970s, and Sandhills has contributed 1968-1978. We’re also pleased to share catalogs dating from 1967, one year after classes began, through 2017. 

We’ve now worked with 28 North Carolina community colleges to provide yearbooks, catalogs, photographs, and other documents related to community college history in North Carolina. Browse our contributor list or our college yearbook page for more information.


DigitalNC’s First High School Yearbooks from Graham County Now Online

two photographs of students on a bike, and a student riding a horse

Senior superlatives from the 1964 The Robin yearbook.

Graham County Public Library, one of our westernmost partners, has contributed our first Graham County yearbooks to DigitalNC. There are now 11 yearbooks from Robbinsville High School (1950-1967) available online. In addition they provided two from Tri-County Community College (1979-1982) in Murphy, NC (Cherokee County).

We were delighted to visit the Graham County Public Library back in June 2018, when we scanned photographs from their collection.

In addition to these yearbooks, you can take a look at our list of available high school yearbooks, organized by county. 


DigitalNC Website Improvements Coming Soon

A big change is coming to DigitalNC.org in the next few weeks. We want to give you a sneak peek

Over the past ten months we’ve been working hard to migrate the images and information found on DigitalNC.org to a new system called TIND. The parts of the website that look like this:

Screenshot of search results on the current DigitalNC website.

will soon look like this instead:

Screenshot of search results in TIND.

Why did we make this change? The company behind our current software had decided to withdraw support for sites like ours. In addition, we wanted to move to software that would be better at searching and browsing, and that could successfully share information out to search engines and other systems. We’ve been so pleased to collaborate with TIND staff, and we are excited about the possibilities opened up by this move. Oh, and one other important change – you will now be able to search across all of the yearbooks on DigitalNC.org! This was one of the most requested features for a new system, and we’re happy to deliver.

Banners across our website will give you a heads up before we integrate the new system completely into DigitalNC.org, but you can try it out here. If you run into any challenges or have any positive feedback, please drop us a line at digitalnc@unc.edu. We’d love to hear your thoughts.


2018’s Most Popular Items on DigitalNC.org

Today we’re taking a look at the most-viewed items on DigitalNC.org for 2018. Yearbooks and newspapers are the most populous and popular items on our site, so it’s no surprise that they took four of the five slots. What rose to the top and why? Take a look below.

#1 Pertelote Yearbook, 1981

Contributing Institution: Brevard College

This year our most viewed single item on DigitalNC was the 1981 Pertelote yearbook from Brevard College.

The Pertelote was popular due to the apprehension of a mailbombing suspect in October of this year and his ties to several North Carolina schools. Cesar Sayoc was a student at Brevard College in the 1980s and his photograph can be found in several locations within the 1981 yearbook, including this club photo from page 134.

A group photo of ten members of the Brevard College Canterbury Club

#2 The Outer Banks Fisherman

Contributing Institution: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

On a lighter note, the second most popular item on our site was a film from the early 1980s entitled “The Outer Banks Fisherman.” It features Freshwater Bass Champion Roland Martin fishing on the Outer Banks. This film had a few particular days of internet popularity when it was mentioned on a couple of North Carolina hunting and fishing forums.

Man in a yellow slicker fishing on the beach, smoking a pipe

#3 North Wilkesboro Journal-Patriot Newspaper, December 8, 1941

Contributing Institution: Wilkes County Public Library

The third most popular single item on DigitalNC was the December 8, 1941 issue of the North Wilkesboro Journal-Patriot newspaper. You can tell from this striking headline that it was published the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II. This paper generally received referrals via Google all year, but we’re not sure which search terms were leading users to this page so consistently.

#4 The Franklin Press and Highlands Maconian Newspaper, April 23, 1953, page 9

Contributing Institution: Fontana Regional Library

Many of our referrals come from Facebook, and that was the case with this fourth most popular item. It was featured in the Facebook Group “You May Be From Franklin NC If…” The original poster stated that Group members had looked for photos of the Old County Home over the years, and that they had recently uncovered this newspaper page which includes pictures of the Home’s state in 1953. Top half of the april 23 1953 Franklin Press and Highlands Maconian, page 9

#5 The Daily Tar Heel Newspaper, September 2, 1986

Contributing Institution: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Facebook sharing also boosted this item’s rating, after the UNC-Chapel Hill University Archives asked for memories of the legal drinking age being raised to 21 in 1986 and the “send-0ff” on Franklin Street before the law came into effect. They shared a quote from a police officer as well as a link to the article below, which documents the damage and disgruntlement caused by the downtown party.

Top half of Daily Tar Heel front page from September 2, 1986, with photo of crowd on Franklin Street at night

 

Thanks for coming on our tour of the top DigitalNC items from this year. For the curious, we topped 4 million pageviews and 400K users in 2018! We’re looking forward to working with partners to share even more of North Carolina’s cultural heritage in 2019. 


Microfilmed Newspaper Nominations Selected for Digitization, 2019

Back in August, we announced our annual call for microfilmed newspaper digitization. We asked institutions throughout North Carolina to nominate papers they’d like to see added to DigitalNC. As it is every year, it was an incredibly tough choice – we are typically able to choose between 40-60 reels out of hundreds or thousands nominated. This year we’ve chosen the following titles and years.

Title Years Nominating Institution
Carolinian (Raleigh) 1946-1959 Olivia Raney Local History Library
Chatham Record (Pittsboro) 1923-1930 Chatham County Libraries
Chowan Herald (Edenton) 1934-1956 Shepard-Pruden Memorial Library
Concord Times 1923-1927 Cabarrus County Public Library
Goldsboro News 1922-1927 Wayne County Public Library
Yancey Record / Journal 1936-1977 AMY Regional Library System

For our selection criteria, we prioritize newspapers that document underrepresented communities, new titles, papers that come from a county that currently has little representation on DigitalNC, and papers nominated by new partners. After selection, we ask the partners to secure permission for digitization and, if that’s successful, they make it into the final list above.

We hope to have these titles coming online in mid-2019. If your title didn’t make it this year don’t despair! We welcome repeat submissions, and plan on sending out another call in Fall 2019. 


Beer History in North Carolina Newspapers

Advertising for alcoholic beverages is far from new – ads promoting the perceived benefits and refreshment of beer go back quite a ways. In honor of National Drink Beer Day, we bring you beer trivia and ads from North Carolina newspapers. Raise a glass and enjoy!

  • They were importing London Lager to North Carolina as early as 1801. From the Wilmington Gazette
  • Go local! This 1860 ad is for a well-known area brewery, the Menzler brewery, near Charlotte. From the Western Democrat.
  • The Menzler brewery wanted to cater your party – 30 gallons available! From the Western Democrat.
  • 1888 saw 6 breweries erected in North Carolina. From the Wilson Advance.
  • This 1906 beer advertisement promises good health if you drink their pure beer. From the Hickory Democrat.
  • In 1936 beer ads were still promising health benefits – Schlitz is a glass of sunshine with Vitamin D. From The Enterprise.
  • Prohibitionists often used newspapers to persuade the public, like they did with this ad from the 1940s calling on voters to reject legalization of alcohol sales in Jackson County. From The Sylva Herald.
  • Promising comfort during outdoor adventures, legal sale of beer was deemed as the progressive standpoint in this 1961 ad. From The Duplin Times.