Virtual Exploration: Library Blog, Exhibitions, Catalogue

A post about South African library holdings spurred by Nelson Mandela’s ninety-fifth birthday. An overview of materials about Native Americans written on the occasion of a visit to The Wolfsonian by staff members from the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum. An exploration of representations of labor history in the garment industry prompted by last spring’s tragic building collapse in Bangladesh and the May Day protests in Seattle.

The above are topics of posts published in The Wolfsonian’s library blog. The blog provides a fascinating glimpse into the library’s holdings, as do the library’s other digital projects, including its exhibition website and the online catalogues.

“Putting these materials online so the public can access them is a great way to promote the library collection,” says Francis X. Luca, The Wolfsonian’s chief librarian. “The blog is essentially a behind-the-scenes tour where we can showcase specific materials.” The blog got its start in September 2009 and has been going strong ever since, with posts at least once a week. The posts are written primarily by Luca, supplemented with contributions by library staff members Nicolae Harsanyi, Rochelle Pienn, and Michel Potop.

The library displays website has been online since 2007 and includes a virtual version of every library exhibition mounted to date, from early shows such as Collaborating with God in Creating: Some Works by Eric Gill to the current exhibition about Zeppelins, Giants Lighter than Air. The website is created and maintained by David Almeida, The Wolfsonian’s visual resources photographer. “This website is an invaluable resource in that it not only provides virtual access but also serves as an online archive of the exhibitions, preserving them digitally in perpetuity,” says Almeida.

The online library catalogue and the digital images catalogue both allow online visitors to search the library collection. The online library catalogue includes all of the catalogued records that the library has internally, displayed in MARC (Machine-Readable Cataloguing), a standard library cataloguing format. The digital images catalogue, which brings together the library and object collections, includes only those records that have digital images available. Both catalogues are continually updated and refined.

“These websites each have different functions but taken together, they provide valuable information and access. They are a wonderful showcase for the collection and a very satisfying way of using the power of the digital world to share our historic printed materials,” says Luca.

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Pamphlet, Half a Million Forgotten People: The Story of the Cotton Textile Workers, 1944
Textile Workers Union of America, CIO, New York City, publisher
The Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection,
The Wolfsonian–FIU