Thursday, March 26, 2015

Two New Collections from Utah Valley Univesity - Visit Historic American Fork and Fillmore

The folks at Utah Valley University have been hard at work digitizing new collections!

The American Fork City Public Library created a great collection for the Public Library Partnerships Project, the American Fork City Royalty Collection. Now you can learn more about the history of American Fork in the newly available Historical American Fork collection.

Main Street American Fork, Utah, Looking toward Mount Timpanogos 1957

UVU also worked with the Utah Territorial Statehouse State Park Museum to make available treasures from their collection. Browse photos from family albums, historic buildings, and more when you explore historic Fillmore from the early to mid 1900s in the Utah Territorial Statehouse State Park Museum Collection.

Young Woman on 'Miss Pioneer of West Millard' Parade Float.

These collections were made possible with funding from the Digital Public Library of America and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

New Collections from the University of Idaho

We recently added three new collections from the University of Idaho!

The Idaho Forester - This publication from the University of Idaho's Forestry Department contains research articles, forest industry information, and much more.

The Idaho Forester, 1923

Kyle Laughlin Photographs - This collection features photos of the Laughlin family, as well as historic and natural sites from Idaho and the northwest United States.

Snake River across the mouth of the Palouse River showing the Northern Pacific bridge

Lee Morse Collection - Learn all about one of the most recorded female singers of the 1920s.

Lee Morse Headshot

Friday, February 6, 2015

Monsters and Earthquakes from Utah State University

We have just added two very interesting collections from Utah State University Merrill-Cazier Library!

San Francisco (CA) Earthquake Snapshots - This collection of 25 photographs taken by John Lorin Taylor document the aftermath of the earthquake of 1906.

View of the Hall in ruins from Market Street after the San Francisco Earthquake, San Francisco, California, April 16, 1906
Bear Lake Monster - Learn about the Bear Lake region's legendary monster in this collection which includes folklore, interviews, and many other materials from Utah State University Special Collections.

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster book

Friday, January 30, 2015

Making that pesky "Rights" field a little less pesky

Those of you who have submitted collections to the Mountain West Digital Library know that "Rights" is one of MWDL's eight required fields according to the MWDL Dublin Core Application Profile. The reason for this is that it's incredibly important for users to know if there are any copyright restrictions on the items available through our library. The copyright status of an item determines whether or not an item can be used and how. Can it be downloaded? Shared? Reproduced? Remixed? Used in a PowerPoint?  Posted to social media? The rights of an item determines those things.

Unfortunately, rights statements in digital collections don't always give the user much guidance on how the item can actually be used. Sometimes the Rights field just says, "All rights reserved. Contact [holding institution] for permission to use." Sometimes it says, "©1978. Smithsonian Institute." In an ideal case, it may say, "Public domain. May be used freely without permission or restriction." Really it can say anything because the Rights field is a free-text field.

Recently the DPLA did an assessment of 1.4 million rights statements from their service hubs as part of one of their new projects "Getting It Right On Rights." They determined that almost 50% of the statements that they looked at said "All Rights Reserved" and 13% of the records were in the public domain. Only 3% of records had a Creative Commons license on them and 7% had no copyright statement at all.

At MWDL we are encouraging our partners to pay close attention to the Rights field and to create rights statements that help users to know what they can do with the items they find online (this is often referred to as an "access statement"). For instance, yesterday I recommended this language to a partner who wants to start using a Creative Commons license on her materials. It's the most restrictive CC license but it's still light-years better in the information it conveys to users.

Here was the suggested language that I gave to our partner:

 ©[copyright holder’s name], [date of creation for the work]. This item is available under a Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND license. The license allows this work to be downloaded and shared with others with proper attribution to the copyright holder, but this item cannot be changed in any way or used for commercial purposes. For more information about this license go to

Any user who finds this partner's items online now knows exactly what they can legally do with the work. They can share it and use it for scholarly/ educational purposes. They cannot however alter the items (sorry, no funny memes) and they can't profit off the item commercially (e.g. You can't print the items on aprons and sell them).

Inspired? Want to learn more about copyright? Check out this great list of resources below, compiled by our friends at DPLA: 

Articles, blog posts, and presentations
Blogs to follow 

Monday, January 26, 2015

January Harvesting Update

We've been adding a bunch of new collections in January and have a few more on track to be added this week! Here's what we've added recently:

From Salt Lake Community College:

Salt Lake Community College Culinary Arts Program Archives - There are over 800 menus in this impressive archive!

From the Montana Memory Project:

Books, Pamphlets and Ephemera from the University of Montana 
Bud Moore Photographs and Sound Recordings - experience the Montana landscape
Char-Koosta News - Local newspaper from the Flathead Indian Reservation
Chipppewa Cree Tribe Water Rights Settlement Record
Diaries, Letters and Ledgers from the University of Montana
Charles M. Russell Research Materials from the James B. Rankin Collection
Justice Under the Big Sky
Bozeman and Gallatin Valley (MT) Photographs 
Northern Montana College (Montana State University Northern) Yearbooks 
Missoula County High School - The Bitterroot Yearbooks 
John J. Powers Safety Poster Collection - Great examples of graphic design in this collection!

From the Arizona Memory Project:

Town of Carefree, Arizona - Check out the photos of their landmark sundial!

From the American Fork City Public Library, working with Utah Valley University, we have our first PLPP collection:

American Fork City (UT) Royalty

As always, if you are curious about what we've been working on, you can check out our ingestion status page. Feel free to submit any new collections you have to add to MWDL too!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Diversity of cultural heritage items: We can do better

We have done some good

Our colleagues at the Digital Public Library of America reviewed harvesting statistics from 2014 in a recent post, "Tracking DPLA’s growth in 2014." 
See full-sized graph.
Of the hubs serving up metadata to the DPLA, the Mountain West Digital Library had the largest number of cultural heritage materials about diverse groups in America (see graph). With over 30,000 items from MWDL representing America's underrepresented groups, we can be proud to be reflecting some of the diversity of our region and its history. Thanks to our many collection partners who are building these collections and sharing them with MWDL and DPLA.

We can do better

With access to almost 1 million items in MWDL, however, the number of items about diverse groups ought to be much higher. Do you have collections of photographs, diaries, films, oral histories, books, and artifacts from any of these groups in the Mountain West? If so, we encourage you to work with one of our partners -- a library, museum, or archive in any of the six states of the region -- to digitize and share unique perspectives of our history, from all our region's citizens, including these groups identified in the DPLA review:
  • historically non-white racial and ethnic groups
  • cultural/religious minority groups (Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc.)
  • women
  • LGBTQ communities
  • disabled communities (including the physically, sensorily, and developmentally disabled)
  • rural communities
  • populations with lower socioeconomic status (focusing on poverty, working class issues, labor issues)
  • elderly populations
Let's keep working together to reflect the full history and heritage of the Mountain West.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

New Collections in MWDL for November and early December!

Here is a quick summary of the great new collections that we've been adding to the MWDL over the past few weeks!

From Salt Lake Community College, we have the Salt Lake Community College Audiovisual Archives and the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art Collection.

SLCC: The Bottom Line Advertisement

We've added new collections from Utah State University, the Barre Toelken Fieldwork Image Collection and a oral history collection, Central Utah Project: Capturing Utah's Share of the Colorado River. This collection nicely complements the other water-related collections we have in MWDL.

Bob Bennett Interview, May 10, 2013

We also recently added three new collections from the Arizona Memory Project, Marshall Trimble on Arizona, Southwest Airways and Thunderbird Field #1, and Civilian Conservation Corp in Patagonia, Arizona.

School Canyon Looking from Top of Earthen Dam to the West

MWDL is getting even more jazzy with new collections from the University of Idaho, including the Al Grey and Rosalie Soladar Memorial Collection, Ray Brown Collection, and the Leonard Feather Jazz Collection.You can also explore some wonderful photos of Idaho with the Stonebraker Photograph Collection.

Pack train near Monumental Creek
If you're curious about what we've been working on recently and our upcoming projects, you can check out the MWDL ingestion queue page.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

UVU's Pioneers in Your Attic Collection

Last fall, many of the people in the MWDL network participated in the Pioneers in Your Attic project. The premise of the project was to have representatives from different digital libraries take their scanners on the road and encourage people to bring their family histories out of their attics to be scanned and added to online library collections. Over the course of several months, members of the MWDL network held 42 scanning events all around Utah.

I had the chance to participate in four different events, and it was a librarian's dream to see the items that came through: old photographs, letters, a boat ticket from Europe to America, pioneer journals, and maps of the Mormon trail. Donors would come in with items and tell family stories that have been passed down from generation to generation.

Two of my favorites at the Spanish Fork PIYA event

Of course we all eagerly awaited having some of these items available online so I was thrilled when Utah Valley University had their first 29 items from PIYA go live a few months ago. Pioneers in Your Attic by Utah Valley University is a collection of items -- mostly photographs and journal entries -- scanned by Catherine McIntyre and Brent Seavers at UVU. For anyone that doubts the quality of items you can get from mobile scanning projects, I encourage you to check out the gems in their collection.

Snippet of homepage for UVU's PIYA collection

One of my favorite items in the collection is "Briggs, Rachel Amelia Tuttle, Remembrances" which is a series of captured recollections from Rachel Briggs, particularly about the many serious injuries she incurred throughout her life. Rachel's parents were among the early settlers in Utah, and she was born in Bountiful in 1858. Among her many accidents, Rachel was hooked by cow horns twice, burned severely in a fire, run over by a double-bed wagon, she fell through a trap door and broke three ribs, and was partially blinded while chopping wood. Although the tone is somewhat humorous, it also emphasizes how difficult life was for early Utah settlers.

Opening paragraph from the remembrances of Rachel Amelia Tuttle Briggs

Another interesting item from UVU's PIYA collection is the hand-written journal of Daniel Crook, an early convert to the Mormon church. Daniel joined the LDS Church in England and sailed to America with the hopes of making his home in Salt Lake City, UT. Unfortunately for Daniel, he was a skilled wheelwright and was asked by Church authorities to stay in Council Bluffs, Iowa to help others prepare for their journey to Salt Lake City rather than travel there himself. Daniel Crook never made it to Utah and his family said that because of this, he died of a broken heart.

In one of his drawings, Daniel shows how to tell time by holding a stick in your hand. 

I hope you enjoy Utah Valley University's well-curated collection of PIYA items and, like me, eagerly await everyone else's PIYA collections!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Congratulations to University of Nevada Reno on their Digital Collections Redesign!

Digital Collections at MWDL Partner University of Nevada Reno have a new site! Check out the new portal and explore their great digital resources.

I was interested to see some of the new ways UNR is encouraging users to interact with their digital collections.

You can help identify people in photos on a Pinterest page with the UNR Photo Who's Who Project.

There's a new crowd-sourced transcription project available too. You can click and transcribe a page from the University of Nevada Reno Summer School Diary. I have to admit, as I was composing this blog post, I clicked over and transcribed a page. It is quick and easy to do!

I was also interested to see the new Reno Historical exhibit from UNR Special Collections, built in Omeka.

Congrats to UNR!

Friday, November 14, 2014

MWDL Collections Word Cloud with Voyant Cirrus tool

I'm thinking a bit about the subject coverage across MWDL collections, and the patterns that emerge when we get collections on the same topics across the different states that MWDL serves. I'm just starting to explore the idea of doing some work with visualization tools, and I thought I would put up my first try at using Voyant's Cirrus, which is a tool for working with text. Documentation on Voyant is available at I'm interested in exploring more about the tools used in digital humanities work, and how that might also help us engage with digital collections in new ways. So, here's my first, very simple word cloud! To get the data to run through Voyant, I exported all the MWDL collection names I have saved in the handy tracking spreadsheet that I use for my ingestion work. I added the words "collection" and "collections" to Voyant's pre-populated list of stop words. Here's a link to the MWDL collections information loaded into Voyant.

I'll post more as I continue to work with these ideas, I'm just getting started!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Treats from the University of Idaho Digital Library

This Halloween MWDL is bringing you treats in the form of three newly added collections from the University of Idaho Digital Library. The three new collections are:

The Lewiston Orchards Life Newsletter - This newsletter from the 1900s provides a window into the lives of a unique community. This newsletter from October 1913 covers topics such as homes in the area, fruit crop production, travels of the community members, alfalfa crops, the value of cooperation, and using evergreens for lawn planting. Browse all the records from this collection.

The Idaho Historic Aerial Photographs Collection features over 2,000 photos taken from the 1930s-1940s.

J3940 - Aerial Photograph of the St. Joe National Forest
Browse all the photos in the Idaho Historic Aerial Photographs collection.

The Robert E. Higgins Collection contains representative photographs from a professor of plant science at the University of Idaho from 1946 to 1999. During his lifetime, Professor Higgins’ photographs were accepted in over 70 juried international salons, and he had one-artist exhibitions in Idaho, Washington, and California.

Hill City Elevator from the Robert E. Higgins Collection

Browse all the photos in the Robert E. Higgins Collection.

Monday, October 27, 2014

MWDL Primo Outage November 1st and 2nd

There is a service upgrade to Primo happening over the weekend of November 1st and 2nd, which will result in the MWDL search being taken offline temporarily. The outage will start at approximately 9:00 pm on Saturday November 1st, and may last as long as 20 hours. Thank you for your patience during the brief outage. Please feel free to e-mail Anna Neatrour at if you have any questions or concerns.