Electronic finding aids.


Because image collections lend themselves well to digitization and are heavily used, they are often the first to be put into the virtual environment. Instead of creating elaborate virtual resources or online exhibits, many organizations choose to provide electronic copies of their finding aids or resource guides. Linking digitized images to the finding aid entries results in a tool similar to a full-text index.

Northwestern University Library Special Collections' Siege and Commune of Paris 1870 - 1871 (http://www.library.nwu.edu/spec/siege/) is an example of this type of full-text index. Technically not an exhibit because a story is not being told, it resembles, in some ways, the virtual resource. This site provides a searchable index of the materials available at Northwestern University's Special Collections Department. Keyword or subject searches in this type of full-text finding aid will retrieve images of the items; the originals are held in the library. Materials that can be accessed from this site include photographs, caricatures, and other documents.

Another example of a full-text image archive is the Eastman's Originals Collection (http://www.lib.ucdavis.edu/speccoll/html/newstuff.html) at the University of California at Davis Special Collections Department. This site represents a large collection, 12,500 images, of photographic material. Like the Valley of the Shadow Project, this is a vast undertaking. A draft of the project proposal is available from this site and can be used a guideline for similar projects. Images in this collection can be searched by keywords as well as by subject.

The University of Georgia Hargrett Library has digitized its Rare Map Collection (http://www.libs.uga.edu/darchive/hargrett/maps/maps.html). Instead of photographs, this is an image collection of maps held by the University of Georgia Libraries. In contrast to the elaborate search mechanism found in the Eastman's Originals Collection, this site provides access to the images via a narrative description. Hypertext links from this...

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