As one small part of the Library Company’s ongoing efforts to bring our closed stacks to the public, I am pleased to announce an additional 3000 broadsides, playbills, ribbons, maps, song sheets, and more from our Civil War-era holdings are now available in the Library Company of Philadelphia’s digital repository.
Digitization is time-consuming and expensive but can be an excellent tool for providing access. A high-quality photograph of a plate within a book that doesn’t have accompanying descriptive metadata doesn’t implicitly carry the context that the entire book does as a physical object. Making collections available online in a way that actually carries some of that ever-necessary context is dependent on a team effort.
In our case at the Library Company, the team covers just about every member of our staff. Curators and administrative staff propose and help plan projects that make fascinating collections available online. We may digitize collections in-house, partner with our neighboring institutions, or work with vendors. Our Conservation Department does repairs and oversees the condition of objects in our collection before and after digitization. The Cataloguers create detailed, item-level records for each item we digitize. This metadata is the backbone of our library catalog. Our Photographer (and in-house digitization expert) takes photographs, maintains equipment, and ensures the images we produce are as true-to-life as possible.
As the Digital Collections Manager, my role in making collections available online is dependent on the hard work of my coworkers. I organize and check all of the image and metadata files, preparing copies for both our digital repository and long-term preservation. I load images and metadata in combinations meant to facilitate access and mirror the structure of their analog counterparts.
Please visit the Civil War Graphics and Ephemera and keep an eye out for future additions to our digital collections!
Digital Collections Manager