January Partner Spotlight: Oregon Digital

At the sharp time of 8 am MST (much earlier for dear Julia) our Metadata Assistant Keegan Dohm interviewed Oregon Digital’s Julia Simic about the latest projects, updates, and general status of Oregon Digital. Oregon Digital is a collaboration between the University of Oregon (UO) and Oregon State University (OSU), which has turned out to be a great arrangement for both institutions. Oregon Digital is rife with activity right now, read on to find out what.

On the Oregon State University side they have been focusing on making collections on institutional history available to transformative effect. The digitization and inclusion of OSU Historical Publications (which includes Yearbooks, General catalogs, Alumni magazines, and Sports information guides) in Oregon Digital has equipped Special Collections & Archives Research Center (SCARC) with a very powerful tool for conducting research and has boosted their reference capacity a ton. Questions that could not have been answered easily or at all are now very solvable with just some simple searches. They’ve essentially created their own little Google for OSU-specific content and it’s made a profound impact on their work.

Oregon Digital gave SCARC a platform for Larry Landis (soon to retire Director of SCARC) to make available all of the images that he selected for his pictorial history of OSU and to use the extensive captions and metadata that he created as part of his process. Given that he is retiring in June, this workflow put them in a position to collect a bit of his institutional memory and subject expertise for future use by patrons and staff alike.

University of Oregon has embarked on several collaborative projects with faculty to facilitate the reuse of Oregon Digital collections in their research and teaching. In 2017 they received a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation called, “Leveraging GLAM Assets in Research, Teaching, and Learning: Mellon Faculty Fellowships to Advance Library-Museum Collaboration” which will provide two years of funding in support of faculty research using collections from the UO Libraries’ Special Collections & University Archives (SCUA) and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (JSMA.) The first round of projects from 2018 led to the creation of three web-based publications:

View from the Lincoln Memorial toward the Washington Monument during the march on Washington.

The March, by David Frank (Professor of Rhetoric), explores the making of James Blue’s film The March which documented the March on Washington in August of 1963, where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Consider this a complete behind the scenes special feature documenting the planning, participants, and actuality of the most iconic protest in American history.

Getrude Bass Warner and Family
Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Eugene, Oregon, Daoist Priest’s Robe (Jiangyi) with Four-Clawed Dragon Rondel Design, Qing dynasty (circa 1850-1900), MWCH45:1.

The Artful Fabric of Collecting, by Ina Asim (Professor of History), is all about Chinese textiles in the JSMA that were from the collection of Gertrude Bass Warner, an American art collector who lived in Shanghai in the early 20th century. What’s really special about this exhibition is that the Museum re-photographed a number of these textiles and produced extremely high resolution images that show details that you could not see even if you were standing in front of the object on display in the Museum.

Senjafuda from a series representing souls and ogres in hell, Gertrude Bass Warner Memorial Library, Japanese Art, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.

Yōkai Senjafuda, by Glynne Walley (Professor of East Asian Languages and Literature) highlights the collections of Japanese votive slips housed in both SCUA and JSMA. It presents a selection of senjafuda (or nosatsu) that depict monsters and ghosts and also talks about the culture around the production, collection and trading of senjafuda in Japan. There’s even a board game from the 19th century that shows the same yōkai.

Three new Mellon projects are being developed this year on topics just as interesting as the last three. Professor Akiko Walley’s (Professor of the History of Art and Architecture) project working with an album of and a collection of individually mounted Japanese calligraphic fragments (tekagami); Mary Wood (Professor of English) and Kristin Yarris’ (Professor of International Studies) project on the Morningside Hospital, a private Portland, OR mental hospital that treated patients from Alaska Territory during the first half of the twentieth century; Daphne Gallagher’s (Assoc. Dean in the Clark Honors College and Senior Lecturer of Anthropology) project to develop an undergraduate course focusing on the value of collections and the challenges and commonalities between collection curation in museums and archives (this project will not have a digital component as planned.)

A final project of note is the Kevin McDowell, the Japanese Studies Librarian, is leading an effort to upload nosatsu content to the Ten Thousand Rooms Project at Yale to make the Warner collection of nosatsu in OD available for crowdsourcing.

Oregon Digital 2.0 is on its way!

In 2014 Oregon Digital settled on Samvera as a replacement to contentDM. In 2020 Oregon Digital will finish undergoing a complete overhaul of their website through Hyrax. Hyrax is another offering from Samvera that uses the full power of Samvera and “extends it to provide a user interface around common repository features and social features”. This will result in the inclusion of myriad new features, and of course a much prettier user interface. Alongside the vastly improved UI, you will find better relationships between items and folders, a much more visual layout, and the ‘myshelf’ feature which will allow users to create their own personal collections. Additionally, with Hyrax, Oregon Digital can manage all of this through a convenient administrative dashboard. In theory this means a much more streamlined user and administrator experience. Read about Hyrax and Samvera here.

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