Announcing the New Look of Our Digital Collections Homepage!

If you visited our homepage, say, any time prior to earlier this morning, it would have looked like this:

RIP our old homepage (2012-2014)

RIP our old homepage (2012-2014)

 

Serviceable, effective, longer than a 4:00 PM Friday staff meeting: you remember how that felt, right? Well, we’re proud to announce that, as of today, the homepage has gotten a much-needed refresh!

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Thanks to the combined efforts of a team from the Digital Projects Group and the Electronic Library’s Instructional Technology team, we have an “above the fold,” streamlined homepage to replace its endless-scrolling predecessor. Let’s take a moment to unpack some of the new features you’ll find next time you visit the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections!

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1. A rotating slideshow of highlights from the collections. Right now, it points to five collections we think would be of high interest to casual visitors, but we’ll be updating it when we add new resources or reach milestones with our collections. Click on an image to open that collection or use the dots at the bottom (or the arrows at left or right) to scroll through.

2. One of the biggest new features is what we’re calling our “institutional landing pages” – newly created pages scoped to present only materials from their source collection. Want to see all the digital collections from the Crouch Fine Arts Library? Just click its name and you’ll see this:

The CFAL Landing Page.

The CFAL Landing Page.

This page contains some basic info about the source library, a list of collection highlights, links to the library’s website and a listing of all the collections in the Digital Collections that come from that library. It’s a convenient way for the special collections and our other partners to direct their patrons directly to materials found only in their physical holdings, and it’s the big reason we’re able to eliminate the long list of collections on the homepage. (Note: you can still see that list by clicking on “Browse All Items” on the new homepage. This will take you to the long, scroll-heavy list that was the homepage before the update.)

3. Quick links to our social media outlets. Now you can connect with our Twitter, blog, Facebook, Tumblr and Flickr feeds right from the homepage with a single click. We’ve also added a new Social Media page to the homepage and each institutional landing page (in the gray navigation bar up top).

4. These quick-look icons give users a one-click entry into some of our most popular searches: locating materials by item type. Want to see all the newspapers in the collections? Click the icon. Hear all the audio? Click the icon. View every post? You know what to do. For casual users or people with limited familiarity with the Digital Collections, these fast-links are a fun way to explore the collections without performing more complex, focused searches.

5. Actually, this text didn’t change at all. It was completely copied over from the old homepage. But it is in a gray box now, so that’s something new!

You’ll also notice that the new homepage features the official Baylor University-sanctioned header and footer, something we were unable to do easily under the old design.

We want to give a big shout-out to our colleagues from the Instructional Technology team – David Taylor and, especially, Karen Savage – for their invaluable help on this. Having Karen’s programming expertise on board meant I could focus on things like lining up content for the page, creating icons, organizing and creating the new institutional landing pages (using Karen’s code for the homepage) and doing the requisite bug testing and grammar/spelling/punctuation checks that have to happen on projects like this.

We’re very pleased with the new look, but we want to hear what you think! Take some time to click around on the new pages, explore them, try some searches and tell us if you see something you like/love/don’t like/doesn’t work, etc. We expect something to be a little off somewhere – there always is when you launch something with as many changes as this update represents – so put those searching and sleuthing skills to work.

We hope you enjoy the new homepage as much as we do, and thanks for being part of the Digital Collections environment. We look forward to continuing to bring you amazing new content, rich contextual information and unparalleled access to the unique library and archival holdings of Baylor University for years to come.

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OH, and it stands to reason that, since this is technically a completed project, we must FIRE THE CANNON!

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Spring Break, Spring Cleaning!

Since this week is Spring Break here on the beautiful campus of Baylor University, we’re not going to post a full-on blog today. Instead, we hope you’ll enjoy two “spring cleaning” items of note!

1. We changed the look of our site to give it a fresh appearance for a new season. We’ve been at this whole “blogging about digital collections” thing since 2011, and a revamp to the site’s layout was definitely in order. If you see anything odd with your display, functionality or otherwise, let us know! Just shoot us an email at digitalcollectionsinfo[at]baylor[dot]edu.

2. After we announced our new Architecture Collection last week, we thought it’d be fun to periodically add digitally enhanced content to our various social media platforms, so this week we’re adding a revised version of an elevation for the McLennan County courthouse. This was an early version of J. Riely Gordon’s plans for the courthouse; this sheet is virtually identical to plans he’d drafted for the capitol of the state of Mississippi. Though his plans for Mississippi were not accepted, he was able to use a modified version of them to create our county courthouse in 1902.

McLennan County Courthouse, J. Riely Gordon, architect. Ca. 1901. Unretouched elevation of original proposed structure.

McLennan County Courthouse, J. Riely Gordon, architect. Ca. 1901. Unretouched elevation of original proposed structure.

Digitally enhanced image of courthouse plan.

Digitally enhanced image of courthouse plan.

 


 

Thanks for reading, and be sure to spread the word to friends, family, colleagues, strangers on the street, or anyone else you think would be interested in the work we’re doing for the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections!

This Just In! A Quick Look at the DPG in the News So Far This Year

Just a quick post this week to update you all on a couple of the places the DPG and the Digital Collections have been popping up in the media over the past couple of months. We’re always grateful for our work to be featured in any potential arena – digital, broadcast or print – and we thought we’d take this opportunity to share with our blog readers.

Baylor University Institute for Oral History Introduces Online Audio Files

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Baylor professor Robert Darden restoring vanishing black gospel music

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Vast New Additions to the Digital Archive of Browning Letters

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This Train is Bound for D.C.: The Smithsonian-Baylor Digital Projects Group Black Gospel Collaboration Confirmed!

 

Our thoughts on today’s news, as captured by this album from The Trumpets of Jericho.

Some big news regarding the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project was made official this weekend via the social media of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC): the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project (BGMRP), managed and maintained by our own Digital Projects Group, will become part of the permanent collection when the museum opens its doors in 2015!

According to the story from the NMAAHC’s Tumblr, we will contribute highlights from the collection for incorporation into an exhibition called the Musical Crossroads. From the Tumblr:

This permanent exhibition will tell the story of African American music from the arrival of the first Africans to the present day.

Both [NMAAHC curator Dr. Dwandalyn] Reece and [Baylor journalism professor Robert] Darden see these recordings as important additions to the new museum for the stories they can help tell. While planning for the exhibition is ongoing, the Baylor recordings may be used to explore the importance of gospel music to the civil rights movement.

Featuring select recordings from Baylor’s growing digital collection in the Smithsonian will give visitors an opportunity to learn these stories and to listen to many gospel recordings that may otherwise have been lost to history.

Dr. Reece also pointed out the ways is in which materials from the BGMRP can help us better understand the impact of black gospel music at a regional level:

The recordings may also be used to highlight the regional diversity of early gospel music. “Not all gospel recordings made during the pinnacle of gospel’s popularity were made on major labels,” Reece explained. “Many were done in connection with local churches and there are differences in style based on where these types of recordings were made.”

The collaboration announcement post, via the NMAAHC’s Tumblr page.

The project was sparked in 2005 by an op-ed piece written by Prof. Darden for the February 15 edition. In it, he bemoaned the loss of America’s recorded collections of black gospel music. That appeal generated a lead gift from collector Charles M. Royce that funded equipment and the first audiovisual specialist, Tony Tadey. From there, Prof. Darden’s tireless promotion combined with the technological and information handling mastery of the DPG to create a collection of more than 8,000 digitized tracks, 1,200 of which are available online with more added regularly. (For more on the history of the project, please visit the project website.)

We are obviously quite excited to be partnering with an institution with such an august reputation and world-wide name recognition as the Smithsonian Institution, and we look forward to working closely with Dr. Reece and her team at the NMAAHC in the coming months.

The Digital Projects Group is a part of the Electronic Library, a special collection within the Baylor University Libraries. DPG staff involved with the BGMRP are Assistant Director for Digital Projects Group, Darryl Stuhr; Audiovisual Specialist, Stephen Bolech; Digital Collections Curator, Eric Ames; and Digitization Coordinator, Allyson Riley.

For More Information

Read the NMAAHC’s Tumblr post

Read our previous blog post about the partnership

Visit the BGMRP homepage

View the BGMRP collection via the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections

Visit the NMAAHC website

Email us at digitalcollectionsinfo[at]baylor.edu

An Update on the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project

All good things require patience, as the Evangelistic Soul Seekers well knew, given the title of this ca. 1965 track.

If you’ve been reading the local newspapers of late – the Waco Tribune-Herald and our on-campus daily, the Baylor Lariat – you’ve seen Baylor’s Black Gospel Music Restoration Project (BGMRP) get some generous front-page coverage. This publicity has centered around last week’s Pruit Symposium, a two-day affair held at Truett Seminary celebrating the project and the impact of black gospel music on American culture.

One of the most tantalizing possibilities being discussed is the possibility of sharing content from the BGMRP with the still-in-development National Museum of African American Culture and Heritage (NMAACH), the newest project of the Smithsonian Institution. The NMAACH is currently under construction on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. (check out their live construction cam here!) and is scheduled to open in 2015.

In recent months, several members of the project – most notably Prof. Robert Darden of the Baylor University Journalism Dept. and Tim Logan, Associate Vice President for the Electronic Library – have been in talks with staff at the NMAACH about potential ways to integrate content from the BGMRP into an exhibit on black gospel music at the museum. These discussions have focused on ways to provide unique content from the project for access by patrons visiting the museum’s exhibits. While these discussions are in the very early stages, we have received positive feedback on working together to explore ways in which this partnership might benefit NMAACH visitors and further the goals of the BGMRP.

One thing that will not change, regardless the outcome of discussions with the Smithsonian, is the way in which the important work of gathering, digitizing and presenting online the materials from the BGMRP is being done. The project will stay at Baylor University, and it will continue to be carried out by members of the Digital Projects Group – a group housed in the Electronic Library, a special collection of the Baylor University Libraries. Control of the project will continue to reside with Baylor faculty and library staff.

Obviously, we are excited about the interest being generated in this important project, and we look forward to finding new ways – and partnerships – to promote the BGMRP and its impact on scholarship, research and enjoyment by people around the world. We look forward to sharing more details on the project’s growth and development as they are solidified, and we encourage you to direct any questions, ideas or offers to assist the project to digitalcollectionsinfo@baylor.edu.

Baylor University Libraries staff members involved with the project are:

–       Darryl Stuhr: Assistant Director for Digital Projects Group

–       Stephen Bolech: Audiovisual Digitization Specialist

–       Kara Scott: Metadata Librarian

–       Eric Ames: Curator of Digital Collections

–       Allyson Riley: Digitization Coordinator

–       DPG graduate assistants and undergraduate student workers

For more information on the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project, please visit http://www.baylor.edu/lib/gospel. The publicly accessible collection may be found at http://digitalcollections.baylor.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/fa-gospel30.