Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Penn State Special Collections on the Web

I just recently realized that I have not used this blog to spread the word about our new Finding Aid Search Page.

[You can click the link above, or from our departmental website look under the left-hand navigation bar for "Search Collections".]

For those who aren't big users of archival terminology, Richard Pearce-Moses' handy Glossary defines a finding aid as:

n. ~ 1. A tool that facilitates discovery of information within a collection of records. – 2. A description of records that gives the repository physical and intellectual control over the materials and that assists users to gain access to and understand the materials.

You can search the finding aid titles only, or full text. It ain't perfect, foks, but it's a darn sight better than nothing! (We are currently generating HTML finding aids from our in-house database, but I'm hoping we'll get a new database and EAD finding aids in the near-ish future.)

In addition to this handy new search page, I'd also like to spread the word about some of our digital collections. Thanks to the hard-working staff of the University Archives, we're able to answer many  reference questions by simply referring our patrons to the digital versions of the Penn student newspaper (the Collegian) the Penn State yearbook (LaVie), and blueprints of campus buildings.

But the University Archives isn't the only Special Collections unit putting collections on the Web. The Historical Collections and Labor Archives unit has posted audio excerpts from oral histories and air war video footage from the 8th Air Force Collection; and the Rare Books and Manuscripts unit has created an online exhibit of Pennsylvania German Broadsides and Fraktur.

(These are just a few selections from Penn State University Libraries' digital content, more of which can be found here.)

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