Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Mountain West in Pop Culture

From the wild west to giant airplanes and the Las Vegas strip, Mountain West has it all. This week we want to point out which collections to peruse if you're looking for wild stories, movies, monsters and more.

Here's a highlight of some of the most poppin' cultural heritage collections in our library.

Buffalo Bill/Wild West traveling shows

A wild west battle reenactment involving horses an riders chaotically racing around a field.

Mountain West hosts more than 70 awesome collections from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Their records include the photographs, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, and ephemera surrounding the true history of Buffalo Bill and the spirit of the American West. These are the real people and events that have inspired countless stories and movies.

Speaking of movies...

Movies Made in Utah

Scene of the meeting at the rails in Paramount's Union Pacific.

The Movies Made in Utah collection boasts 49 behind the scenes still images of classic western cinema, including Paramount's "Union Pacific" and MGM's "Billy the Kid". Unfortunately it doesn't include info about movies that are yet to be made, such as "The Bear Lake Monster".

Luckily, we've got you covered!

A painting of the serpentine Bear Lake Monster approaching the shore of the lake.

The Bear Lake Monster collection hosts a plethora of records pertaining to the Bear Lake monster, an infamous prank and local legend surrounding the lake in Northern Utah/Southern Idaho. This collection comes to us from Utah State University which, in Logan, UT, sits just an hour away from the monster. It's quite common for summer cabins and homes around bear lake to boast felt recreations of the scene above, or some other reference to this popular legend. 

Welcome Home, Howard!

The Spruce Goose floating atop the water before its flight.

The fabulously successful business magnate and record setting aviator and aircraft designer, Howard Hughes's personal story is as much a part of the popular culture of the west as his films. RKO, Hughes's production company produced classic films like Scarface and The Racket!. Meanwhile Hughes designed the largest aircraft ever flown (by wingspan). Though it only ever embarked on one flight, the story of the spruce goose is still taught in schools today. Through the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Mountain West has more than 800 records pertaining to Howard Hughes. Many of these can be read about in detail in UNLV's wonderful digital exhibit, "Welcome Home, Howard!".

Showgirls Collection

Pair of ballet-style dancers in white leotards with turquoise tights, capes and headpieces.

The Las Vegas Showgirl, and the shows which exemplified them, have a history all their own. From the distinct theatrical traditions of burlesque, vaudeville, dance and music halls, the French cancan, comic opera and operetta, Broadway, speakeasies and nightclubs, and movies, came a cosmopolitan adult entertainment popular in New York, Hollywood, Paris, Miami Beach, Rio, and ultimately Las Vegas. These records exhibit the designs and photographs that went into the colorful shows of quintessential Las Vegas.

Reno Street Art

This mural depicts a large brown octopus mixed with peacock feathers and a human-like figure.

Just as colorful is Reno's thriving street art scene, which the University of Nevada, Reno exhibits in this collection featuring hundreds of pieces created during competitions and festivals. Some of the murals date back as far as the 90s, though more are from recent years.Some are political statements. Some masterpieces. Some graffiti. All of them add to the vibrant atmosphere of both Reno's streets and our collections. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Where in the world is MWDL (being used)?

Have you ever wondered where MWDL users are? We naturally think of our own local user communities comprising students, researchers, genealogists, and the general public, but were you curious where else MWDL users might be located? 

Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) recently launched a new analytics dashboard for hubs. In addition to a variety of typical usage statistics like website use times, click-through stats, and counts of views from different sources, they also offer a view of users by location! This view displays the "[l]ocations of users who viewed or clicked through at least one of your items on the DPLA website. Equivalent to "location" or "geo network" in Google Analytics."

In August 2018, MWDL items in DPLA had views all across the United States:

August 2018 US users
Unsurprisingly, we had a large number of users in Utah and throughout the Intermountain West (with the highest number in California with 274!), but also across the rest of the United States. How does this compare with views globally in August?

August 2018 World users

Wow! While the numbers are certainly less concentrated, MWDL items in DPLA got views from places as diverse as Argentina (6 users) to Japan (24 users). 

If we look at 2018 year-to-date users, we can see users in a majority of countries: 

2018 YTD World users
Who wants to travel to Greenland, Papua New Guinea or Madagascar to help fill in a blank? Happy travels!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Back-to-school News Roundup!

Arash Tadjiki -- Our new Web Developer.

Arash, thinking about web development.
We're excited to welcome Arash to the Mountain West team and back to the Marriott library. Arash worked at the Marriott Library in one of the computer support groups during his undergrad in CS. He recently returned to the University of Utah to start a Masters Degree in Entertainment Arts and Engineering (aka Video Game Design), and will work with us as a web software developer while he completes his program.

Article in Code4Lib Journal

Our very own Teresa Hebron, has published an article in Code4Lib about the MWDL metadata audit tool! In the article, Teresa discusses problems encountered during the successful project to adapt the Metadata Audit tools to work with the configuration of the OAI-PMH provision from Oregon Digital's Samvera repository. You can read it here!

MAP Revision Taskforce

Following the MWDL Summer Conference in July and building on the excellent MWDL Application Profile review done by the Bulk Digitization Task Force, the MWDL Metadata Application Profile (MAP) Revision Taskforce formed and began meeting in early August.

The MWDL MAP was last revised in 2011, so the taskforce has undertaken a comparison of MAPs from other digital libraries as well as DPLA and will be issuing a survey in the coming weeks to assess member needs. Be on the look out! Thanks to all the members of the taskforce:


Emily Boss (University of Nevada, Reno)
Lisa Chaufty (University of Utah, McKay Music Library)
Marina Georgieva (University of Nevada, Las Vegas)
Teresa Hebron (Mountain West Digital Library)
Becky McKown (Brigham Young University)
Darnelle Melvin (University of Nevada, Las Vegas)
Anna L Neatrour (University of Utah, Marriott Library)
Char Newbold (Utah State Library)
Cory Nimer (Brigham Young University)
Andrea Payant (Utah State University)
Gina Strack (Utah State Archives)
Rachel Jane Wittmann (University of Utah, Marriott Library)
Liz Woolcott (Utah State University)


(From Left) Kinza Masood [MWDL Director], Teresa Hebron [MWDL Metadata Librarian], Arash Tadjiki [MWDL Web Developer], Keegan Dohm [MWDL Metadata Assistant]

MWDL staff talked to over 100 participants at Marriott Library's annual fall welcome event. The whole MWDL team attended to represent Mountain West to the University of Utah student body. With candy, a clown game, and the combined charisma of a top-notch team we spoke with more than one hundred participants and saw MWDL alum Rebekah Cummings showcase some outstanding balloon sculpture skills.

Utah History Conference

Call for papers and award nominations for Utah's Annual State History Conference on Sept 27-28, 2018.
MWDL will be on site Sept 28 for the 66th Annual Utah History Conference in West Valley City, UT. We will have a table from 8am-4:30pm. During this year's conference, speakers will explore the ways that transportation and movement of ideas, people and goods has influenced the social and physical landscapes of the state over time. Check it out here.


We have completed our August harvest with a total of over 975K records! Congrats all for hard work. Keep an eye out for the big 1000K announcement when we hit a million records. Can digital libraries go platinum? If so, we'll be there soon!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Summer in Central Asia

Hi, I’m the Metadata Assistant here at Mountain West. I returned last week from a long hiatus from work during which I partook in an intensive Russian language program in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan as an awardee of the Foreign Language and Area Studies scholarship (FLAS) grant for the 2018-2019 school year. For those that were interested, here is a short rundown of my experiences this summer and some background about Kyrgyzstan.
A picture of two yurts on a grassy plain against the dramatic backdrop of the Ala-Too mountains.
I spent roughly 11 weeks in Kyrgyzstan. The majority of this time I lived in the capital city of Bishkek (called Frunze during the Soviet period). I studied with a group composed of students from several universities in the U.S. for much of the summer we attended language classes 4 days a week, and traveled to cultural sites the other three. A few of us even took the opportunity to travel on our own to Osh in the south and Almaty in Kazakhstan observe the cultural differences between the different regions of the country. In Osh there are many more people who speak Uzbek than in the north, due both to proximity to Uzbekistan and to the way borders were drawn up by Joseph Stalin in the 20th century. Kyrgyzia was intentionally drawn to include populations of several rival ethnic groups in order to promote internal conflict. So Osh and Bishkek contain a multitude of cultural variances. Almaty in Kazakhstan is thought to be the origin place of apples and during the 5 days we visited there was experiencing some turmoil regarding the construction of a giant straw squirrel statue. I recommend reading into that. It’s quite entertaining and provides some insight into political discourse under an authoritarian regime.
Issyk-Kul against the mountains.
We also visited and Cholpon-Ata and Barskon on the shores of Issyk-Kul, the second largest high-mountain lake in the world. It has the bluest waters you can imagine set against the backdrop of the Tian Shan branch of the Himalaya range. In fact, we visited here more than once, just to escape the heat.
In this photo, several of us are eating a typical Kyrgyz meal at the home the family hosting us in Talas region. From left, Me, Danar, Farhan, Sultan, and Johnny.  
We rode horses several times throughout the program. Going into this program sans equestrian experience I admit to feeling a bit nervous, but it turns out that I am a natural on horseback. The last few weeks of the program we went on an extensive trek through the mountains around Issyk-Kul with ample opportunity to experience the breathtaking nature of the Kyrgyz landscape and the hospitality of the Kyrgyz people. We regularly stopped at yurts occupied by families following a centuries old nomadic tradition. They consistently invited us to eat with them and we were offered to eat the best of their food. Kyrgyz food uses simple ingredients and spices to create subtly flavored and very filling dishes. If you’re invited to eat in a Kyrgyz home, you might expect to eat more food than you have room for. We also accepted several invitations to try kumis, a dairy beverage made with fermented mare’s milk. While most Kyrgyz people will drink a few glasses in a sitting, I found the desire to continue drinking it entirely absent.
Pictured below is a small sampling of the 3000 photos I took as the de facto photographer on the program. 
Despite all these wondrous experiences, I'm excited to return to regular life and continue working with MWDL. This spring I will finish my degree in Applied Mathematics and I've already met a ranch owner who wants me to come ride her horses each month. So, I look forward to more exciting times in the coming year.
Morning snow on one of the higher peaks in the Tian Shan. We had planned to stay there the previous night, but (luckily) thought better of it.
Crossing a fast moving river on horse back. From left we have Matthew, Syimyk (one of our guides on this trek), and Joseph. Taking a photo from horseback in the middle of the river is no easy feat.

A picture of several of us eating fine treats left over from the first birthday of the little boy on the left.