Western Name Authority File – NISO Presentation

Western Name Authority File - NISO Presentation

Anna Neatrour and Jeremy Myntti presented at the NISO Open Data Projects virtual conference on June 13, 2018 about the Western Name Authority File (WNAF), an Institute of Library and Museum Services (IMLS) funded project. Here is the abstract for our presentation:

The Western Name Authority File (WNAF) project was funded by an IMLS planning grant in early 2016 to explore and pilot a system for developing a collaborative, regional authority file for personal names and corporate bodies from digital collection metadata. As we near the end of the two year grant, we will provide information on the data model we’ve chosen for our vocabulary, what we’ve done to collect and reconcile names from a variety of partner institutions, and the emerging vocabulary workflows that we’re in the process of developing in order to make the WNAF available as JSON-LD. We will also discuss the platform we are using to make the data openly accessible.

We have also recently made the WNAF data openly available for searching. Click here to explore the WNAF dataset. You can also find additional information about this grant project on our project website.

Accessibility for Digital Audiovisual Resources

Jeremy Myntti (Head of Digital Library Services) and Molly Steed (Moving Image and Sound Archivist) have been awarded the Marriott Library Jumpstart Grant for 2018-2019. This internal grant program was designed to support new original research projects that address challenges in libraries and archives. The title of the project is “Accessibility for Digital Audiovisual Resources” and the term of the grant is July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019.

Through this project, we plan on researching and investigating methods for creating transcripts and captioning for digital audiovisual resources. Without a transcript or captioning available for this type of content, users with a disability such as hearing impairment are not able to fully use the resources, and the potential for scholarly digital analysis of the materials is limited. By looking at different tools that can be used for creating this type of data in-house as well as examining options for outsourcing some or all of the transcription of audiovisual items, this project will help to ensure that this content becomes more accessible to all of our users regardless of their needs.

Accessibility needs to be at the forefront of all library projects to make sure that we are meeting the needs of our patrons. It can be difficult to know all of the needs to our digital library users since we do not have face-to-face interactions with the majority of them. If a digital library patron is not able to get the information they need from our resources because we have not done the necessary work to make them accessible, we are not serving our patrons to the best of our abilities. This project will give the Marriott Library and its industry partners the practical information we need to effectively implement a program to make digital audio and audiovisual collections fully accessible to all users, including the hearing impaired.

Expect to see project updates throughout the year on this blog as we explore several of the options available for making our digital audiovisual resources more accessible for all users.

Hot Type: Digitizing Utah’s Historical Newspapers

Hot Type: Digitizing Utah's Historical Newspapers

At the Utah Library Association Annual Conference on May 17, 2018, Jeremy Myntti and Tina Kirkham presented “Hot Type: Digitizing Utah’s Historical Newspapers.” This presentation contained a history of the Utah Digital Newspapers (UDN) Program, and tour of the new https://digitalnewspapers.org/ website, information on how other institutions and partners can help build UDN, and a discussion about what the future has in store for UDN.

This session was sponsored by the ULA Genealogy Round Table, so we ended the presentation with information about how UDN can be used for family history research, such as finding birth announcements, obituaries, wedding announcements, military service, and many other tidbits of information about the lives of our ancestors.

As J. Cecil Alter, in Early Utah Journalism, said:

The old newspaper files, like the human lives they represent, are precious beyond valuation, for they cannot be replaced; and within their aging covers are the records of the chief events of every person that ever lived in the community, from the birth to the funeral—besides the stories in intimate detail of every event of public importance in the history of the town and country.

Alter, J. Cecil. (1938). Early Utah Journalism. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society. Page 15

Drake! Drake! What did you die for?

Like the throngs of other Americans, I visited several cemeteries on Memorial Day to pay tribute to my ancestors. Every time we visit my wife’s grandparents grave in the Provo cemetery, we see a nearby monument to John M. Drake. According to a family legend going back several generations, if you stand in front of this headstone and say “Drake! Drake! What did you die for?”, he will answer. The answer we always get is silence or “nothing at all.”

John M Drake Headstone, Provo City CemeteryJohn M Drake Headstone, Provo City Cemetery

Since my wife’s family has visited this grave site for many decades, telling the family legend to all who come, I have been curious as to who he was and why he has such a large headstone. In order to discover his story, I turned to Utah Digital Newspapers to see if there was any information about him and why he really died.

Utah Enquirer | 1889-07-12 | Martin & Drake IncorporateSalt Lake Times | 1890-07-31 | Park City NewsPark Record | 1890-08-09 | Death of John M DrakeProvo Daily Enquirer | 1891-01-06 | Legal Notice

With the information from his headstone and these newspaper articles, I now know that after service as a Union soldier in the 42nd Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the Civil War, John moved to Utah in hopes of profiting from the boom in the mining industry. He apparently went on to earn a quite a fortune in the Woodside mine and as a partner in the Martin & Drake Live Stock Association and had “unostentatious and cordial manners [and] won the friendship of all who knew him.” His estate was auctioned off after his untimely death in 1890 due to “paralysis of the brain” at the young age of 42.

While his story didn’t have the happiest of endings, it was great to be able to find so many stories about him in Utah Digital Newspapers to learn more about this mysterious monument that we have seen for many years.

New Digital Exhibits

One of the things I’ve been working on for the past year is developing support and workflows for digital exhibits in the Marriott Library. My first exposure to digital exhibits was back when I was involved in the Mountain West Digital Library, as part of a grant we produced a set of three exhibits for DPLA.  The exhibit I worked on was Roosevelt’s Tree Army: The Civilian Conservation Corps. DPLA used Omeka for their exhibits, and as we were considering developing our own program for exhibits at the Marriott Library we debated between Omeka Classic and OmekaS. We ended up going with OmekaS, and we now have 4 exhibits available on that platform. The new exhibits page is available here: https://exhibits.lib.utah.edu and we have several more exhibits in development that will be available soon.

One of my goals for the exhibits is to provide additional context and narrative for items that are in the Digital Library and Marriott Library Special Collections. So far, we have collections centered on Hotel Utah, Glen Canyon, the Japanese American experience in Utah and the West, and Fighting Words, a multimedia exhibit focusing on rare books during the Revolutionary War era.

One of the most enjoyable things about launching a digital exhibits program like this is finding new ways to collaborate with people in the library. The new exhibits have been a team effort, with support from staff in IT on web development and design, and exhibit content being developed by librarians and part-time student workers. Alison Elbrader and I spoke about the new digital exhibits at the Utah Library Association conference recently, and slides from that presentation are also available.

Digital items are only as good as their metadata

I was browsing through some photographs in the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts’ Larson Studio Negative Collection yesterday and noticed that over 1600 of these photographs were titled either “Unknown Woman” or “Unknown Man.” As I reviewed some of these, I kept thinking to myself that these are real people with names that have families somewhere that probably don’t even know that these photos are online since they are currently unidentified. The more I looked through these photographs, I started to wonder what we might be able to do to identify some of the people when out jumped the following image.

Shirley Van Cott

The photo was labeled as “Unknown Woman”, but I knew her! This is a picture of my mother-in-law, Shirley Van Cott. I quickly shared this photograph on my family’s Facebook page so everyone could see it. Once my father-in-law saw this, he let me know that the photo was taken not long after they were married while they were both still in high school (they eloped in 1955, but that’s a story for another day!).

With this information, I was able to update the metadata for that item and now this photo of Shirley Van Cott is now discoverable rather than being lost in a sea of unidentified photos. In looking through many of the other photos around this one, it began to look like a set of photographs taken for a high school yearbook. Now I want to pull out the yearbook from Provo High School and Brigham Young High School from the mid-1950s and see if they match up with other photos in this collection.

This also made me wonder what other family members might have a photo in this collection. I started searching a bit more and found some photos of my father-in-law’s brothers, sister, and a couple of their kids. Most of these photographs had the correct people identified, but I was able to update a few more records for photos where children’s names were missing (Tuffy and Tommy), my wife’s aunt was identified by her father’s name rather than her own (Marsha Baum), or another of my wife’s aunts was only identified by her husband’s name (Mary Alice Baum).

Tuffy Baum and Tommy Baum Marsha BaumMary Alice Baum

If you ever notice any metadata record within our digital library that could be improved, please let us know so we can have more accurate metadata and make sure these items are discoverable. Without good metadata, digital items are as good as lost.

Fun for all! And you might learn something, too.

Good day to you, fine reader!  Or maybe you aren’t having a good day?  Well, a wise person once told me that if you aren’t having a good day, you should go out and do something to make it good.  Alright.  Maybe the wise person wasn’t so wise and he was actually just me talking to myself at 3 in the morning (not out-loud), but that is not the point!  The point is that I practice what I preach.  Therefore, I did something recently that was guaranteed to result into an exceptionally good day.  I attended a fantastic event called the Nihon Matsuri.

The Nihon Matsuri is entirely unique and one of the most fun festivals to attend in Salt Lake City.  This festival celebrates Japanese-Utahn life and culture. It happens once a year in an area the locals call Japantown, behind the Salt Palace along 100 South between 200 West and 300 West.

The festival offers entertainment for everyone.  Two large stages bookend a closed-off street where live dancing and music are performed throughout the day.  They also have martial arts demonstrations, taiko drum performances, and even a cosplay contest!  Along the street you can find traditional Japanese cuisine, souvenirs, children’s activities, and information about the community. Everywhere you look people are smiling, chatting, and having a wonderful time.

Not to be outdone by all the outdoor activities are the tours of the Buddhist Temple.  Inside, you find a simple worship hall highlighted with ornate shrines dedicated to the teachings of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism.  A guide walks you through its history and philosophy, which emphasizes living a spiritually-awakened life in the midst of ordinary circumstances.

Sitting opposite of the worship hall was a very popular and fascinating exhibit hall.  This area was packed with people throughout the day, including local and foreign dignitaries.  Those who ventured through were rewarded not only with air conditioning, but with captivating showpieces from the J. Willard Marriott Library’s Japanese Archive.  This archive offers a glimpse into the unique world of Japanese-Utahns from the early days building the railroad to the present day. The exhibit included photographs, oral histories, and artifacts set up by Lorraine Crouse, who manages the archive for the Library.  She was also instrumental in adding the extraordinary Utah Nippo Newspaper to the archive, which was on display as well!

The Utah Nippo chronicles Japanese-American history for over 78 years.  Founded in 1914 and printed until 1991, its immense value is not only historical. The newspaper speaks of life, struggle, and the perseverance of its founders and the Japanese American community. Interestingly enough, the Utah Nippo was the sole privately-owned Japanese newspaper allowed to be published in the U.S. during World War II.  Therefore, it became the primary source of reading for many Japanese-Americans housed in internment camps like Topaz. It is a rare gem of knowledge and information that can now be read online at https://digitalnewspapers.org/

Spoiler alert!  I, too, work at the J. Willard Marriott Library as the Assistant Head of Digital Library Services.  I attended the Nihon Matsuri to enjoy the festivities as well as to help get the word out on the fascinating digital collections we host online!  Check them out!  You’ll be amazed at what you might find.  And definitely don’t miss out on next year’s Nihon Matsuri festival.  I guarantee you’ll walk in and away delighted for the experience.

New user interface feature – Facet by year range

Since Solphal, the Marriott Library’s Digital Asset Management System, is a homegrown system built off of open source tools, we are able to add new features to the user interface as different needs are discovered. One new feature that was recently implemented is a date range slider to facet by year. This year facet is on the left side of a search results page at the top of the facet list. You can either select the starting and ending year that you would like to limit your results to or else use the slider bar to scroll to the desired years. This enhancement should make it easier to identify digital items by date in order to discover more relevant items when searching.

Celebrate the history of the Internet with an ARPANET Training Video

We have a bunch of great audio visual materials in our digital library, but one of my favorite items so far is this detailed dive into the past of the Internet, with this ARPANET training video. The University of Utah was one of the first four sites to host this early network, and the training video provides a window into what was involved in keeping an early packet switching network up and running.

What were the parts of a network??

Learn all about Packet Switching Nodes!

Watch as the ARPANET node coordinator gets essential help with troubleshooting his network, including issues with disk drives.

Fortunately, everything gets all fixed up!

In addition to this video, the University of Utah Institutional Repository has a variety of technical reports, articles and theses that provide even more information about ARPANET, if you are interested in learning more!

1931 Salt Lake Telegram predicts the future

A 1931 reporter in New York predicted a day when families would reside in “house machines,” researchers would work from rooftop laboratories, and Americans would attend school remotely, via the radio. Automation and robotics were frequent topics in U.S. newspapers in the 1920s and 1930s. In keeping with that tradition, Utah Digital Newspapers is now on Twitter!

Families reside in "house machines." This and much more coming your way via Utah Digital Newspapers new Twitter account.

“A New Yorker at Large,” reprinted in The Salt Lake Telegram, April 30, 1931, page 4. 

Every day, UDN will tweet out a front page from one of Utah’s amazing historical newspapers. Follow us at @UtahDigNews  and get a daily blast from the past from one of 160 titles dating back to 1850.