One of the biggest challenges digital libraries face isn't what happens before and during digitization, but what happens after. The Lehigh Libraries have been digitizing historical collections for nearly two decades, but the technology built to display these digital images online has been constantly changing. Keeping older material fresh and accessible through this technological evolution often requires files to be converted and moved to new software systems more in line with modern user interface and experience designs.
The Brown and White (B&W) digital archive is one example of this migration process. Initially digitized in the mid-2000s, the B&W archive had resided in Lehigh’s digital repository alongside thousands of photographs, postcards, and rare books. One of the key features of the digitized B&W is article segmentation, which enables users to identify and highlight individual articles across multiple pages of the original newspaper. Originally, this feature was a cutting edge proof-of-concept, designed to allow users to more precisely locate, read, and save the articles that are most relevant to them from among the thousands of pages of digitized material. However, this feature was custom built for the old digital repository system. When exploring how to migrate the B&W to a new system, it became apparent that a new software platform would be necessary to preserve crucial article segmentation and truly highlight the rich historical information the newspapers contain.
While article segmentation may have been futuristic 15 years ago, very few vendors support this feature today. Veridian, a digital newspaper interface made by the New Zealand based company DL Consulting, not only replicates this feature, but also enhances the user interface. Part of this migration process involved converting the old proprietary data used into an interoperable standard that will help ensure digital access to the Brown and White long into the future. Veridian is already used by a number of other academic institutions, including Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania, Vassar College, and Boston College. The Lehigh Libraries is excited to become a part of this wider institutional community. Veridian has turned Lehigh’s migration into an in-depth technical case-study, since it was their first time working with this particular form of article segmentation data. Some of the new features are a responsive website with mobile use in mind, text and image snippets in searches so users can see search results without opening specific pages, new facets and filters that help narrow down searches, user text correction, and the ability to create personal collections.
The Lehigh Libraries Special Collections invites you to try out the new Brown and White newspaper digital archive for yourself and discover 125 years of Lehigh history. This refreshed resource can be accessed from the Lehigh Libraries website or directly at https://bwarchive.lib.lehigh.edu.
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