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February 28, 2007

A Digital Museum at your mouse tip!

The Digital Media Center at OhioLINK is a vast resource that is available to all members of the Case community. The Digital Media Center contains electronic images, sounds, video, arial maps, and other multimedia.

Broadly, the DMC at OhioLINK includes nine (9) databases: Art and Architecture; Borror Laboratory of Bioacoustics, Digital Animal Sounds; Digital Video Collection (1,529 videos); Foreign Language Digital Videos; Historic and Archival Digital Media; LANDSAT 7 Satellite Images; Sanborn Digital Maps; Science Digital Media; Social Sciences Digital Media; each database is broken out into its own collection.

For instance, being a playwright, I was interested in Henrik Ibsen and discovered that searching the Digital Video Collection there was a video named Henrik Ibsen: The Master Playwright, from Films for Humanities and Sciences.

The Digital Media Center is available at http://dmc.ohiolink.edu/

There is so much in the DMC, though, that I thought I would highlight individual collections, starting with the Art and Architecture Database.

The Art and Architecture database contains 54,000 digital images and, as the name states, covers Art and Architecture. The database includes images from the following sources (as described on the site):

The ART Collection, images from museums and other art collections around the world

The ART Collection provides high-quality, digital images of works of art from museums around the world. The ART Collection highlights the creative output of cultures from prehistoric to contemporary times, and covers the complete range of expressive forms. Images include a broad range of works of the following genres: painting, sculpture, photography, print, drawing, ceramic, textiles, metalwork, furniture, books and scrolls, architecture, and archeological finds. Cultures and time periods represented range from contemporary art, Native American and Inuit art, to ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian works, along with Japanese and Chinese works.

This digital art collection was formerly organized by The Art Museum Image Consortium (AMICO), a consortium of museums and libraries. The collection is now licensed directly from individual museums. Clearance of rights to The ART Collection is coordinated by Archives and Museum Informatics.

The Saskia collection of illustrations used for teaching Western Art history

Saskia Art History Images is a collection of digital art images with a special emphasis on the core images required for teaching the history of Western Art, including the following text books:
• Gardner's Art Through the Ages
• Stokstad's History of Art
• Hartt's History of Italian Renaissance Art

Images from the Akron Art Museum

Art and architecture from the University of Cincinnati

WPA prints by Cleveland artists, from the Special Collections, Case Western Reserve

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Using the Database

The ART Collection database can be searched by Keyword, Creator, Creator Nationality, Title, Date, Object Type, and Museum/ Repository. Additionally, you can limit your search to specific collections: The Art Collection, the Akron Art Museum, Case Western Reserve University, Saskia Ltd, and the University of Cincinnati. Search results can be displayed as a list of items or in a light box format. Searches can be sorted by Creator, Title, or Date; and Displayed in groups from 12 to 45. Besides searching, you can also Browse collections by the very same fields listed above.

For instance, I ran the following search: Oskar Kokoschka as a Creator. I have become interested in Kokoschka as I am a playwright and he has been credited with founding expressionist drama with his play, Murderer, the Woman’s Hope. However, he was primarily a visual artist and 113 of his works are available in through the Digital Media Center.

By default, results are displayed in List View, which shows a thumbnail of the work at the left and a description of the work at the right. The description includes the Title of the work, the Creator, the nationality of the Creator, the location of the work currently, the item or catalog number, and the name of the collection, as well as a link to the Full Record for the piece. To the far right, access is provided to the navigational features of the Art & Architecture Database through DMC.

The full record can be accessed by clicking either the thumbnail image, or by clicking the “Full Record” link under the items description. This view offers more detailed information, including the lifespan of the Creator, the date the work was created, the type of object, its classification, measurements, materials, provenance, rights statement, and accession number.

From the full record, you may click the thumbnail image and see the “full view” of the item. Besides providing information that is available from the full record, at the bottom there are three choices which give some power to viewing options: Zoom, Compare, and Full Image.

Zoom opens a new window and allows for highly fluid zooming on areas of the item for detail viewing. A small thumbnail appears in the lower left corner that shows your location on the image, including a red box detailing the area currently on screen, and which can be dragged to pan to another area of the image. Panning can also be accomplished by simply clicking the image and dragging left or right. Four buttons at the lower right offer increased zooming, decreased zooming, a return to the original state, and help. Zooming in can also be accomplished by clicking on the image.

Compare opens a new window and allows you to select another image, such that you can compare the two. Compare seems to be based on the two images that you have most recently viewed in full view. It is somewhat disappointing that the compare thumbnails cannot be increased in size, but appears in necessarily restricted boxes; it seems to be dependent on the resolution of your display settings. However, the compare feature is quite nice, as I was able to compare two deer, one from The Dreaming Boys, Plate 2, The Sailboat; and the other from The Dreaming Boys, Plate 8, The girl Li and I.

Full Image simply opens a new window and presents you with the scanned item in the dimensions displayed to the right of the Full Image link, (640 x 551) for instance.

Stay tuned, over the next several days I'll look at more. Or better yet, go look around yourself!

Posted by twh7 at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2007

Scrotums and Hoo-Hahs

There is always debate in libraries regarding the role that the librarian plays in society. Is the librarian a filter between the information need of a patron and the collection: that is, does the librarian help narrow the scope and focus the search; is the librarian a tool or instrument to aid a patron in navigating the complexities of the library? After all, not everyone knows how to search a database or use an index or a catalog; the organization of information in libraries, which has been happening for thousands of years, is more complex than can be served by Google’s algorithms. What role does the librarian have? If a man comes to the reference desk asking for information about the value of his 1972 Pontiac, the librarian points the way and even shows the person how to find the information. But what if it’s a 15-year-old girl looking for information on abortion clinics? Or a man with a long beard looking for information on making a bomb? Or children reading a book that mentions the word “scrotum?”

My opinion on the matter has always been that of a passive tool. I will help the person find the information they desire. I will not judge the request nor will I interpret the information for them. I find it equally important in matters of collection development. Collection development is the process of selecting the material that will be included in a library collection. There are policies on this that state, usually, we will collect all books that meet this criteria: X Y Z. Policies are usually in place to ensure the orderly and unbiased purchasing of materials that represent a variety of viewpoints on a subject: after all, a library is purchasing material for more than one person: more than a hundred people; and in some cases, more than one thousand. So, who is to say what is right and wrong? My view on income taxes may be entirely different than yours. My view of alcohol consumption and smoking is likely different as well. No one person can posture his or her view as being the final view or the only view on a subject. This is why it is awful to see librarians willfully refusing to purchase a children’s book (a Newberry Award winner) because it mentions the word “scrotum.”

The euphemistic pattern in our country, especially with regard to bodily functions and bodily parts, is really quite comic and sad. Pathetic. Another recent example is the woman who complained of having to see the word “vagina” on the marquee of a theatre running the Vagina Monologues. Frankly, the fear of the body is the fear of the self and the denial of more than half of one’s existence. The people who fear the body will be greatly pleased in some distant future when the body is removed and our minds, brains, consciousnesses float around disembodied in some plastic manufactured container. Body experience will be relegated to the trash heap of history and will be re-phrased as inputs and outputs. The brain will live forever in Tupperware, but what will living be like? The fear of the body says as much about the person, who longs for a plastic body: hairless, odorless, neutered, removed of all reality, meaning, and vitality. These people feel the same about their children and their children’s minds: plastic, neutered, inoffensive. They are the same people who promote fairy tales stripped of the lightning flashes of mythic meaning; the unconscious depravity that makes life potent and worthwhile. The sisters of Cinderella don’t cut off their toes to fit the shoe; instead they struggle make it fit, or worse, just give over to apathy and don’t really care at all.

The librarians who refuse to purchase this book and place themselves in the Godly position of doing what the parents should do: decide what their own children will see, read, and know, are violating one of the most sanctified ideals of the library profession. They are accountants who embezzle. They are judges who take bribes. They are priests who molest. They are guilty of a great betrayal and are sad, sad representatives of their profession.

Each human should have the right to select the forms of human expression to which he or she will subscribe. For children, this is the role of the parent. If a parent doesn’t want his or her child exposed the word “scrotum,” that is their right. But parents all too often revoke this right, expecting society to do what they should in fact be doing: and then become outraged when it isn’t done to their taste: parents who use libraries as daycare centers; require televisions with vchips rather than actively engaging their children and paying attention to what they do and what they are exposed to; require schools to teach their children about sex, provide showers, feed them, baby-sit them: but not discipline them…in short, parents who dispose of their responsibilities.

Secret parts was the word in Medieval times. Unmentionables. Bathroom. Restroom. Behind. Hoo Hah. Peepee. Tinkle. It’s all enough to make one want to throw-up.

Posted by twh7 at 12:31 PM | Comments (1)

February 16, 2007

Scan Your Journal Articles?

Yesterday, a woman came into the Freedman Center looking for help scanning journal articles to PDF. She had around 24 current journals, and each article was around 10 pages in length. That’s 240 scans. At an optimistic 2 minutes per scan that comes out to 480 minutes or a minimum of 8 hours of scanning time. It likely would have been longer, and even worse, if she isn’t familiar with how to scan specifically for creating PDFs, her articles would have had massive file sizes.

While I understand the impulse to scan journal articles, I am always surprised at what people do not know about the modern library—or perhaps, what we in the library don’t communicate as well as we should. It has always been difficult communicating the very great benefits that the library offers, primarily, I think, due to the timing. Students are introduced to the library when they are not in the position of needing it: that is, as freshmen or sophomores (periods where there is a greater reliance on standard texts than on finding, reading, and interpreting material as an independent activity). By the time the independent activity starts, students have either forgotten what they learned, or don’t think to seek a librarian to discuss what the library offers them. Alternatively, the language of libraries is often drab and unexciting, often cloaking the truly exciting things that the library does offer: like Safari Tech Books Online, which I discussed yesterday.

In this case, what people don’t know is that the Kelvin Smith Library and Case Western Reserve University spend tens of thousands of dollars every year on subscriptions to electronic journals and tens of thousands of dollars on agreements with organizations such as OhioLINK to provide even more electronic resources: full text journals, online books, electronic databases, statistical and business sources, chemistry databases with full modeled molecular structures: incredible resources that everyone should take advantage of.

In the case of the woman mentioned above, of the 24 journals she brought in, nearly 80% of them had full text availability. That is, 19 of the articles she wished to scan were available for download. That alone saved her roughly 6.3 hours of scanning. Additionally, in the Freedman Center we have a scanner called the “Sidekick” that is a sheet fed scanner, scanning roughly 30 pages per minute: to PDF or TIFF on the fly. So, in cases such as hers, we recommend photocopying the articles and then feeding them into the sheet fed scanner. Unfortunately, this wouldn’t have helped her, as she was looking to save the .10c copy cost. I was going to ask her what an hour of her time was worth, and since she nearly had her PhD I would assume it was worth more than the cost of photocopying the articles—people often don’t think of that, either.

Regardless, for those of you out there who have considered scanning journal articles, know that the work may have been done for you already. Remember, the web is driven by HTML (or was) which is Hypertext Markup Language. This language is a subset of SGML: Standard Generalized Markup Language, which is used to describe, electronically, the structure of documents—generally for printing. That is, nowadays very nearly all journal articles are born digital, increasing substantially the likelihood that the electronic version you’re looking to carry around on your flash drive already exists.

If you need some help “navigating the electronic landscape” and finding the electronic copies of the articles you’re looking for, go to the Reference Desk. That’s what it is there for. If you can’t get in, hit the Live Chat button on most library web pages to get help wherever you’re at. Also, the library has tutorials that can show you how to find and access a journal electronically.

Podcast of this entry.

Posted by twh7 at 11:25 AM | Comments (2)

February 15, 2007

Online Books

I often receive emails asking if I am familiar with a certain piece of software or if I can help with a piece of software that I am familiar with, though not an expert. The list includes Adobe In-design, Latex, LAMP-related questions, podcasting, and more. Some questions I can answer, others I refer, but mostly I thought I would take the opportunity to point to some solid resources available to everyone on or off campus.

First, before I go too far, a plug: anyone on campus can always come to a CaseLearns course. These courses range from all day classes to two or three hour workshops. Topics covered include Adobe In-Design to Video workshops. For more information, including the Spring 2007 listing of courses, see http://library.case.edu/caselearns/.

The main resource that I wanted to bring to everyone’s attention is Safari Tech Books Online. This resource is available from any Case machine or any machine running the VPN client, by going to http://proquest.safaribooksonline.com/. For example, at Safari, when I ran a quick search on podcasting, and then clicked the “Multimedia” category, I was offered a selection of 28 books and 7 articles on the subject. For LAMP, in the “Internet/Online” category, I was offered 86 books, 9 articles, and 2 Safari guides.

For those of you who learn by reading and doing; or prefer the quietude of your office while learning something new, Safari is for you!

Podcast of this entry

Safari Tech Books Online Features
Safari offers Case 3,500 full text books on programming, IT, multimedia, along with easy access to the full text, individual chapters, or directly to code snippets. Publishers on Safari include such well-known names as O’Reilly, Sams, Macromedia, and Adobe Press; but there are many more.

Safari started offering this product in 2001 and offers products from 1993 to the present, including forward-looking works, like Adobe Photoshop CS3 Beta First Look with Adobe Bridge and Camera Raw…products that literally take you into the future (CS3 will be formally released in late March).

The Safari site is very well organized with a set of navigational menus along the left side of the interface that allow you to drill down into each of the 23 categories: from Artificial Intelligence to Multimedia to Software Engineering. Additionally, users can select to perform a quick search of the entire site or an advanced search combining numerous fields and even year ranges. With the quick search, users can search a subset of the site, including site section titles, book titles, authors, ISBNs, publishers, and even code fragments, for the hardcore programmer who just wants to find an answer. An added bonus is that when you type in your search query you will see an “autofill” feature below the search box that suggests entries—I’m not sure if this is based on searches previously entered or keywords that Safari has defined.

When a search is run, users are shown a Search Results screen that first tells you how many results there are and shows you your search criteria. Below that is a “Define Sort Criteria” slider that allows you to jockey between “Results by Popularity” or “Results by Text Relevancy.” Out to the right of that is a “Results by Content Type” box that gives you a flash overview of your search; for instance, I ran a quick search on “xml” and received 2771 books in 46601 sections (a section being a subdivision of the book or book chapter); but the box told me I had 2771 books, 887 articles, and 25 Safari Guides. The slider, when adjusted for popularity, changes the ranking of the books visually, and in the results area you can choose to have the results displayed by Section, by Book, and can select to view or hide the book covers.

Articles
Safari states that “Safari's related articles offer targeted treatments of technology topics that complement our existing library of more than 3,000 books. All articles are written by experts in their fields and presented via trusted sources. Currently in Beta release, O'Reilly Network and IBM DeveloperWorks are featured as our first sources for this editorial content.”

Guides
“Safari Guides deliver notes, tips, warnings and tricks in a variety of key topical areas.”

Within each Item
For books, once you are reading, the navigational features are quite similar to those in the main search area. The search solutions change, offering the ability to search the whole site, or to search within the book. Below that, the left side of the site features navigation within the book—by section or chapter; including the ability to enter a page number and move directly to that point in the book.

At the top of each page, within a book, you can quickly “Return to Search Results,” you can print or email, and you can add a note to or bookmark a page.

When you select a book for the first time, a thumbnail image of the work appears at the top, along with a button to “Start Reading Online” or to purchase the print book at a 35% discount. Below this information, there is a tool bar that allows you to view the Table of Contents, see the Index, or download the Example file used in the book. The examples are in zip files for easy, bulk download. As well, there are navigational arrows for the previous and next page contained in this toolbar and users can zoom on page, print a page, and switch to an HTML view.

Search terms you may have entered are highlighted in the text and can be easily turned on or off using the “Show/Hide” feature at the top of each page. And within the page view, navigation is simplicity. There are forward and backward bars alongside the page text: innocuous but immanently useful.

If you have not taken a look at Safari Tech Books Online, I strongly encourage you to do so, and take advantage of an excellent service provided by the Kelvin Smith Library.

Posted by twh7 at 09:15 AM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2007

CSS Box Model

I recently revised the Intermediate Dreamweaver CaseLearns workshop I teach. I moved the course from a table-based structure (using CSS for design) to a full CSS model that uses DIVs for the page/site structure. If you have taken my Intermediate Dreamweaver course in the past, I would recommend taking a look at the newly designed material for the wonderful flexibility that the CSS Box Model offers.

In re-designing the course, I relied quite a bit on the approach used by Betsy Bruce. Bruce is certified in several Adobe products, including Dreamweaver, and it was through an Adobe e-seminar that I learned of the Box Model’s comprehensive approach to site design.

Now, the CSS Box Model is nothing new, of course. In fact, I frequently point participants in the Intermediate Dreamweaver workshop to CSS Zen Garden for a fine example of what can be accomplished using CSS and DIVs. I have also created websites that take advantage of the visibility and hide attributes of DIVs in combination with javascript mouseover functions: Web Resources. But until I designed a workshop that centered around the use of the Box Model for a page structure I never fully realized how quickly pages could be laid out, nor how completely all aspects of the page could be controlled. And, of course, Dreamweaver makes it very easy to access the full functionality and power that DIVs offer web developers through the CSS Panel.

If you're interested in web design and haven’t taken advantage of what DIVs have to offer, please take a look at the CaseLearns material I have provided on my site or the material that Betsy Bruce offers on her own (link at my site). Additionally, if you are interested in more advanced features, including designing your own xml files and rss feeds, I encourage you to take advantage of Adobe’s online events and on-demand seminars.

Let me know what you think!

Posted by twh7 at 04:58 PM | Comments (0)