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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Changes Coming to DigitalNC.org

Towards the end of this year, you’ll be seeing some changes on DigitalNC.org. We’re in the process of migrating out of the software that supports the parts of our site that look like this:

Search results page for a CONTENTdm search for "lumber mill."

and this:

Photograph of a Haywood County lumber mill with title and subject terms.

After years of investigation, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve chosen to migrate DigitalNC’s collections to TIND Digital Archive. TIND is an official CERN spin-off providing library management systems, digital preservation, and research data management solutions based on CERN open source software (Invenio).

Blue text on white background, spelling TINDWhat does this mean for users? The current site will remain active and available right up until we switch everything over. However, until the migration is complete, newspapers will be the items most frequently added to DigitalNC (newspapers live in a different system).

TIND addresses some of the biggest areas for improvement identified through surveys and by looking at years of feedback. Those are:

  • Faster response time for searches and viewing items,
  • More relevant search results,
  • Easier to page through multi-page items,
  • Files that are easier to find and download, and
  • Full text search across ALL yearbooks.

Our partner institutions are already in the loop about the migration. We will give users a chance to preview the new site (or at least extensive screenshots) before we switch everything over. Before we change anything, we’ll give you a heads up via posts to this blog and social media outlets as well as banners on our website. So watch this space in the coming months for updates!

If you manage your own digital collections and would like more technical details related to the migration or information about why we have chosen TIND, just contact us.


Feel Good Friday: Partners, Colleagues, and Fans Talk About the Digital Heritage Center’s Impact

We’re sending out gratitude to all of our partners, colleagues, and fans, who helped celebrate our selection as a National Medal for Museum and Library Service finalist. We’ve pulled together all of the stories in blog posts, and a selection of tweets are showcased below.

Medal winners will be announced in late April. Regardless of outcome, we’re part of a strong community and look forward to more partnerships, collaborations, and creative ideas that increase access to North Carolina’s cultural heritage.

 


Partners Share Their Stories: Watauga County Public Library in Boone

We are one of 29 finalists for the Institute of Museum and Library Services 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Now through April 13, IMLS is asking the people who have been impacted by the Digital Heritage Center to share their stories. If you have a story you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us or share via social media by tagging us on Facebook (@NC Digital Heritage Center) or on Twitter (@ncdhc).

Today’s story comes from Ross Cooper, Adult Services and Reference Librarian at Watauga County Public Library. We’ve worked with Watauga County Public Library to digitize a wide variety of photographs from their “Historic Boone” collection. They have steadily increased their local capacity for digitization and now make collections available to a broader audience at Digital Watauga.

Close up of around 30 boys and girls of elementary school age in a group, all facing the camera

Boone Elementary School Students, 1913 (Detail), Shared by Watauga County Public Library

“As a Reference Librarian at the Watauga County Public Library in Boone, North Carolina, I was fortunate to have been present when, with the help of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, our institution became first involved with historic preservation and digitization. A local group called Historic Boone wished to bequeath the historic images which their group had gathered, described, and cared for over several decades into the caretaking of our library, some ten years ago. Our then-County Librarian accepted the items and made a space for them. I was privileged at about the same time to attend a North Carolina Library Association annual conference presentation in which Nick Graham and Lisa Gregory of the University of North Carolina and the State Library of North Carolina presented on the ways that small public libraries and other institutions with limited resources might take some small steps towards preservation, scanning, and digitized sharing of materials within their collections which hold historical significance. This led us to a few small first attempts, including a blog-format web site with a few, piecemeal, scanned images. The offer of off-site digitization by the NC Digital Heritage Center which was additionally presented at this conference eventually led our library to transport the entire photograph archives of the Historic Boone society to the University of North Carolina to be digitized and shared online via www.digitalnc.org.

“The wide-spread community interest engendered by this undertaking and by the readily-accessible web presence was followed by the successful application by our new Regional Director for an EZ Digitization grant funded by the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). The NC Digital Heritage Center provided invaluable support, advice, and encouragement as we used this generous funding opportunity to purchase scanning and computing equipment and to fund a year-long temporary part-time position for a digitization technician. Our community was fortunate at this time to have a historian, Dr. Eric Plaag, move to our area and immediately begin actively and tirelessly working with our town, our library, and the local historical society on a number of projects involving preservation and dissemination of historical material. With his generously-volunteered expert advice, the steps which we had undertaken thanks to the NC Digital Heritage Center have now taken root and grown into a locally-based initiative, Digital Watauga, which is a cooperative venture between the Watauga County Historical Society and the Watauga County Public Library. Other local organizations, including the Junaluska Heritage Association, representing our county’s oldest historically African American community, and numerous interested individuals, have contributed to making this new and growing effort a success, on behalf of all of our area’s people. It was only through the expertise, assistance, and support of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center that any of this work ‘left the ground’! As just one small portion – perhaps the small, rugged, mountainous, Northwestern portion – of the vast array of resources which have been preserved and shared by NC Digital heritage – the strides which we have made in saving and sharing our local history are a testament to the greater work which this institution has done throughout our state, an effort which extends far beyond our local area and our state’s boundaries. I cannot highly enough express my appreciation, personally and as a community member, and I sincerely and heartily endorse the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center as a perfect exemplar of the ideas and ideals which are recognized by the IMLS National Medal for Museum and Library Service.”


Partners Share Their Stories: UNC Charlotte

We are one of 29 finalists for the Institute of Museum and Library Services 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Now through April 13, IMLS is asking the people who have been impacted by the Digital Heritage Center to share their stories. If you have a story you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us or share via social media by tagging us on Facebook (@NC Digital Heritage Center) or on Twitter (@ncdhc).

Today’s story comes from Dawn Schmitz, Associate Dean for Special Collections & University Archives at UNC Charlotte. We’ve worked with UNC Charlotte to digitize campus publications as well as, most recently, Q-Notes (mentioned and linked below). They have their own robust and growing digital collections site, which includes among other things motorsports photographs, papers documenting key figures in Charlotte history, and oral histories. Dawn’s comments are shared here today with permission.

Article text with rainbow colored picture of Charlotte skyline.

Front page article from the April 26, 2003 issue of Q-Notes.

“For several years, Atkins Library at UNC Charlotte has been working with partners in the Charlotte LGBTQ community to preserve and share their history. In 2015, Jim Yarbrough’s Pride Publishing agreed to donate to the library the entire run of Q-Notes, their high-quality and groundbreaking newspaper. We assured Jim we would do everything possible to have it digitized for the benefit of the Q-Notes staff and the entire community. But in the ensuing years, we found we were not able to raise the funding and did not have the staff to do the project in-house. We worried that we would let down the community that put their trust in us. Then, last year, NCDHC came to the rescue! When their call went out for collections to digitize that document traditionally underrepresented communities in our state, I answered it immediately to nominate Q-Notes. I think the answer “yes” came back  within 5 minutes! The digitization started right away, beginning with the first issue in 1986, when Q-Notes began publishing. As of this writing, nearly all issues have been digitized and made available on DigitalNC. Q-Notes frequently blogs to update readers as more issues have been digitized, and NCDHC has also written fabulous blog posts about Q-Notes that really capture its value for LGBTQ history. We are thrilled that this resource is being provided to the community open access, and we are so grateful to both NCDHC and Pride Publishing for making this possible. Too often, valuable resources such as Q-Notes end up behind paywalls and are essentially available only to a limited academic readership. And while Q-Notes is a treasure-trove for scholarly research about Southern queer history, it’s also vital to the broader community’s understanding of its past, including LGBTQ youth. We appreciate NCDHC and congratulate them on a well-deserved nomination for this prestigious award!”


Partners Share Their Stories: Ocracoke Preservation Society’s Past President

We are one of 29 finalists for the Institute of Museum and Library Services 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Now through April 13, IMLS is asking the people who have been impacted by the Digital Heritage Center to share their stories. If you have a story you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us or share via social media by tagging us on Facebook (@NC Digital Heritage Center) or on Twitter (@ncdhc).

Today’s story comes from Philip Howard, past president of the Ocracoke Preservation Society. The materials we’ve worked with OPS to digitize have helped the Society’s ongoing efforts at historic preservation. 

Page includes the text "Have Fun! Fish! Hunt! Sail! Swim! Camp! Ride! Dance! Eat! Sleep! Relax!" along with photographs of people engaging in fishing and other oceanside activities.

“As a chronicler of Ocracoke Island history [through his blog and newsletter] and one of the founders and a past president of the Ocracoke Preservation Society,  I am acutely aware of the importance of access to historic documents for research. The North Carolina Digital Heritage Center has digitized and placed on their web site numerous letters, brochures, booklets, photographs, and newspaper articles relevant to Ocracoke Island. These important documents are now readily available for anyone interested in Ocracoke’s history. In addition to being used in research for magazine & newspaper articles and books, they have played an important role in providing supporting documentation for the preservation of several homes and other significant structures in Ocracoke’s historic district.

One specific effort is the Society’s work on behalf of the Island Inn. A local group is hoping to purchase the property to protect it for the future and open it up for community use. Resources digitized and available on DigitalNC.org have helped them document that building’s known and hidden history.


Fans Share Their Stories: Professor Bobby Allen, UNC-Chapel Hill

We are one of 29 finalists for the Institute of Museum and Library Services 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Now through April 13, IMLS is asking the people who have been impacted by the Digital Heritage Center to share their stories. If you have a story you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us or share via social media by tagging us on Facebook (@NC Digital Heritage Center) or on Twitter (@ncdhc).

Today’s story comes from Professor Robert C. Allen, Professor in the Department of American Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill and faculty lead of the Community Histories Workshop. Dr. Allen shared the thoughts below in support of our Medal application and we reshare them today with his permission.

Looking down a main street in Gastonia, NC, showing a line of striking men and women while crowds watch from the sidewalks.

Textile Workers Marching in Gastonia, NC, 1929. From the Gaston County Museum of Art & History

“Since 2013, I have been working closely with the N.C. Digital Heritage Center on ‘Digital Loray,’ the most ambitious public humanities program ever undertaken by UNC. This project uses the adaptive reuse of an iconic industrial structure—in this case, Gastonia’s Loray Mill, one of the largest cotton mills built in the state—as a catalyst for a long-term community history and archiving initiative. The ‘heart of this open-ended project is an archive of more than 2500 digital objects, brought together in a single interface from the UNC North Carolina Collection and other Wilson Library collections, other institutional archives, community cultural heritage organizations, churches, and individual community contributors.

“The NC Digital Heritage Center was absolutely instrumental in our ability to undertake this kind of deeply collaborative community history work. It worked with the Gaston County Museum of Art and History—the primary cultural heritage organization in the county—to identify, digitize, and publish material from its collection that could be ‘added’ to Digital Loray. Three community members had saved many documents, photographs, maps, mementos, and other material from the mill at the time of its closing in 1993. Working with the N.C. Digital Heritage Center, we encouraged them to donate this material to the Gaston County Museum of Art and History, which, in turn, allowed the center to facilitate the digitization and publication of these unique artifacts…

In short, I could not extend my teaching, graduate training, and the work of my unit into communities in North Carolina without the invaluable assistance of the N.C. Digital Heritage Center. But I am not the most important beneficiary of its effectiveness and leadership: it enables hundreds of small museums, public libraries, historical societies, and other cultural heritage organizations to add a digital dimension to their work and, in doing so, to preserve and share the histories of their communities. These perennially threatened local organizations can undertake what otherwise would be impossibly expensive and technically complex digitization projects without the need for technical specialists or third-party software and hosting solutions.

“The N.C. Digital Heritage Center should be a model for other states. It deserves much more attention on a national level than it has received, particularly in the realms of public history, digital history, public humanities, and digital humanities. I have reviewed and attended presentations about ‘sexier’ and much better resourced projects over the past few years, but none I think has had a greater or longer-lasting impact than the quiet but profoundly important work of my colleagues in the N.C. Digital Heritage Center. I congratulate them and thank them for all they do to make my university a great resource for the people of North Carolina.


Fans Share Their Stories: Taneya Y. Koonce, Genealogist and Researcher

We are one of 29 finalists for the Institute of Museum and Library Services 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Now through April 13, IMLS is asking the people who have been impacted by the Digital Heritage Center to share their stories. If you have a story you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us or share via social media by tagging us on Facebook (@NC Digital Heritage Center) or on Twitter (@ncdhc).

Today’s story comes from Taneya Y. Koonce, a native North Carolinian, information professional, and a well known genealogist. She shares her research and methods on Taneya’s Genealogy Blog and her new Koonce surname site. One of her projects includes indexing names from digitized yearbooks to help improve searchability by transcribing names. Taneya shared the thoughts below in support of our Medal application and we reshare them today with her permission.

Screenshot of the home page for the yearbook index, including a description of the site and search boxes.“My interest in the NCDHC stems from my passion for researching family history and genealogy. I am a native North Carolinian and over the past 12 years I have been an active participant in the online genealogy community as I’ve researched not only my own family tree, but aided in the research of many others. I have high visibility in the genealogy community and maintain leadership roles in the national USGenWeb Project, a volunteer-driven group that provides free resources to individuals researching their family heritage. I am currently the Assistant State Coordinator in the North Carolina-focused component of the project (the NCGenWeb) and work closely with researchers from across the country who have family roots in the state. I spearhead several projects designed to further maximize the reach and impact of the NCDHC work (such as an online index to graduating seniors listed in the yearbooks from the digitized yearbook collection), and have become intimately familiar with the Center’s collections.

“When the NCDHC began, I was immediately excited by their emergence and the potential for the wealth of resources that would be made more broadly available to those with North Carolina-related family history and historical interests. The digitization of state materials offers increased access for many such as myself, who are unable to visit the physical locations where these resources are housed. The breadth of material the NCDHC makes available – yearbooks, newspapers, images & memorabilia, city directories, and audio-visual resources, are a cross-cutting representation of the many format types historians, educators, and genealogists leverage for our respective fields of inquiry. Staff at the Center also incorporate industry-leading approaches to content delivery; such as the reader used for displaying historic newspapers which is an adaptation of the Library of Congress (LOC) platform for their monumental ChroniclingAmerica.gov site. The NCDHC is just one of the few institutions that have adopted the LOC reader; a move which embodies the Center’s willingness to offer innovative solutions to site visitors. NCDHC participates in the Digital Public Library of America, contributes code to GitHub, and most recently has been purposeful in expanding the diversity of collection materials. These efforts are demonstrative of the Center’s strive for excellence. The Center has worked with steady focus to expand the geographical representation of the digital collection and currently has material from libraries, archives, schools, and cultural institutions from across the entire state – a quite admirable feat. Through their social media platforms, the Center also regularly engages in discourse with their constituents, providing timely and thoughtful replies to submitted questions; I’ve found their customer service to be at the highest caliber.”


Partners Share Their Stories: Richmond Community College in Hamlet

Cover shows a group of men and women in casual clothing smiling at the camera. Text: Join us this fall at Richmond Tech!

Cover of the Fall 1986 College Connection.

We are one of 29 finalists for the Institute of Museum and Library Services 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Now through April 13, IMLS is asking the people who have been impacted by the Digital Heritage Center to share their stories. If you have a story you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us or share via social media by tagging us on Facebook (@NC Digital Heritage Center) or on Twitter (@ncdhc).

Today’s story comes from Carolyn Bittle, Dean of Learning Resources at Richmond Community College in Hamlet. We have worked with RCC to digitize their yearbooks and other campus publications. Carolyn’s story is an example of digitization of print resources garnering attention and renewing interest in the college’s history.

I can say that since Richmond has been able to get some of our archival material digitized and online, it has increased interest from our administration.  

As a result of getting our older copies of the College Connection online, with your help, we are in the progress of “ rebirthing”  the College Connection [as RCC Connect]. The publication stopped in the spring of 2009, and now we are working on bringing it back into publication.  Hopefully, this will be available mid-March. The success stories, and class offerings were favored during its early printings, and it reached a lot of people in our two county area.  

So thank you for helping to get our publication back up! 


Partners Share Their Stories: Mauney Memorial Library in Kings Mountain

We are one of 29 finalists for the Institute of Museum and Library Services 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Now through April 13, IMLS is asking the people who have been impacted by the Digital Heritage Center to share their stories. If you have a story you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact us or share via social media by tagging us on Facebook (@NC Digital Heritage Center) or on Twitter (@ncdhc).

Today’s story comes from Sharon Stack, Library Director at Mauney Memorial Library in Kings Mountain. We have worked with Mauney to digitize a variety of materials, including an H. Lee Waters film of Kings Mountain in 1942 (shown below). Even more, we have enjoyed partnering with them as they expand their own digitization capacity through an LSTA grant joint project with the Kings Mountain Historical Museum. Sharon shared these thoughts in support of our Medal application and we reshare them today with her permission.

Two men and two women seated on the ground, with their legs crossed at the ankles and feet towards the camera.

Kings Mountain High School Students from the 1953 yearbook, courtesy Mauney Memorial Library.

Unique. Special. Important.
Tucked away. Forgotten. Inaccessible.

For the Mauney Memorial Library and the Kings Mountain Historical Museum, those words describe the archival and museum holdings of our respective collections. The NC Digital Heritage Center has been a lifeboat for these collections. Our partnership is simple. When staff are traveling near Chapel Hill, NC we 
take our collections and have the Center digitize and publish them. Now, years later, collectively we have built a body of work that is reaching critical mass. With funding from an LSTA grant, we are working with the Center to host the museum and library’s photography collection. This will give Kings Mountain and North Carolina residents’ unprecedented access to the library and museum’s holdings. These materials are helping us to weave a digital story to entice and engage residents to learn more about their hometown and the fundamentals of its soul and the people and events that created it. It is an honor to write this letter of recommendation for the IMLS National Medal on behalf of NC Digital Heritage Center. Lisa Gregory and her staff take very complex processes and make it easy for the professional working in the field to digitize and publish collections. They are easy to work with, accessible for questions, and technical expertise. They go the extra mile to finding solutions to make materials available electronically. This depth of service is what sets the NC Digital Heritage Center apart. For a small town North Carolina library and museum, the Center helps us to make our collections: 

Unique. Special. Important.
Findable. Memorable. Accessible.

The NC Digital Heritage Center is deserving of this recognition of the best at work in libraries and museums today.


We’re a Finalist for the 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service!

2018 FinalistNational Medal for Museum & Library Service, with image of medalWe’re honored and excited to announce that we have been named one of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) finalists for the 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service!

We are one of 29 finalists for the medal, which is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to their communities.  

We share this recognition with each of our 227 partners, who have worked to increase access to North Carolina’s many voices by sharing their collections online. With over 35,000 visitors to DigitalNC.org each month, they have definitely succeeded! 

The winners will be announced later in the Spring. Until then, IMLS will be celebrating these 29 finalists and their impact on the nation. We encourage you to tell us how the Digital Heritage Center has impacted your life and work on Facebook or Twitter. Use the #IMLSmedals and #ShareYourStory hashtags.