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University of Washington Libraries
Report to the Digital Library Federation
October, 2004

I. Collections, services, and systems

A. Collections

King County Snapshots

King County Snapshots presents King County, Washington, through 12,000 historical images carefully chosen from the twelve organizations' collections. These cataloged 19th and 20th century images portray people, places, and events in the county's urban, suburban, and rural communities. This collection is actually comprised of 18 collections contributed by the University of Washington Libraries, the Museum of History and Industry and 10 other project partners of the IMLS funded Crossing Organizational Boundaries project.

Menus Collections

This collection represents menus, place mats, and other graphic materials from many of the Puget Sound area's most famous restaurants and dining facilities in the years between 1889 and 2003. Restaurants in all styles and classes of trade are represented, from lunch counters to first class gourmet fare. Also included in the collection are travel-related menus from ships, railroads, and airplanes. Among the many historical menus in the collection are those from the Space Needle Restaurant, Ivar's Acres of Clams, the Dog House, and cruises aboard the Alaska and Pacific Steam Ship Lines.

Vietnam War Era Ephemera Collection

This database contains leaflets, posters and newspapers that were distributed on the University of Washington campus during the decades of the 1960s and 1970s. They reflect the social environment and political activities of the youth movement in Seattle during that period.

Clark Kinsey Photograph Collection

Clark Kinsey's work as a photographer documented a vital aspect of the Pacific Northwest's economic and industrial history. Raised near Snoqualmie, Washington, Clark first practiced photography in the early 1890's with his brothers Darius and Clarence. During the Yukon Gold Rush, Clark and Clarence operated a studio in Grand Forks, where they remained for several years. About 1906, Clark returned to Seattle to operate a contracting business throughout the Northwest until shortly before World War I. From that time he returned to photography and spent the rest of his career documenting the logging and milling camps and other forest related activities in Washington, Oregon, California, and British Columbia. He was said to be the official photographer for the West Coast Lumberman's Association, and it is believed that he made approximately 50,000 negatives until his retirement in 1945. The images presented here comprise only a part of his life's work as a photographer.

Alvin Waite Photograph Collection

Alvin H. Waite was an outdoorsman and traveler, and, along with his friends and associates Albert Barnes and Henry M. Sarvant, became one of Tacoma's most important landscape photographers during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. During his career he documented in detail street scenes and the waterfront in Tacoma, and scenes during his travels including bicycling trips and hiking adventures in the Cascade Mountains. Some of his most vivid photographs presented here are the monumental scenes captured on Mt. Rainier during his mountaineering expeditions to the park and vicinity.

Modern Photographers Collection

A selection of images from the work of nationally and internationally renowned local photographers Art Hupy, Ernest Kassowitz, Kyo Koike, Frank Kunishige, Mary Randlett and others. These photographers were active in the Pacific Northwest community from the late 1920's to the present. They operated both as commercial photographers and as artists documenting the cultural and scenic landscape of life in the Northwest. Through their lenses we see the Northwest transformed in styles reminiscent of Japanese artistic tradition. We also see portraits of artists and poets, the painters Tobey and Graves, artfully posed in local settings. Pacific Northwest architecture and local landmarks such as the Pike Place Market are also represented. All of these photographers have been frequently published and exhibited and represent some of the best of the Northwest.

Alaska and Western Canada Collection

The Alaska and Western Canada collection is a digital collection of historic photographs documenting the geographic area of Alaska and the Canadian provinces of Yukon Territory and British Columbia. The collection features images of the Seward Peninsula, the Aleutian Islands, and areas of interest in Alaska and the Yukon Territory relating to the Gold Rush of 1898-1900. Included also are images of mining activities, street scenes, Eskimo and Native Americans of the region, hunting and fishing, transportation, and World War II installations.

Pacific Northwest Sheet Music Collection

The Pacific Northwest Sheet Music Collection is part of the Ashford Sheet Music Collection at the University of Washington Music Library. The Ashford Collection was built from a core collection donated by Paul Ashford to the University of Washington in 1959. The collection has been augmented considerably since 1959 and now contains over a thousand titles. In addition to music from and about Washington State and the Pacific Northwest, the Ashford Collection also includes other Americana such as campaign songs and songs from the two World Wars.

B. Services

Digital Reference Services

The University of Washington Libraries provides digital reference services through email, web forms, and an online, interactive chat service. The Libraries was one of the first 16 libraries to join the Library of Congress's Collaborative Digital Reference Services project (CDRS) in the spring of 2000. When CDRS joined with OCLC to become QuestionPoint in 2002, the UW Libraries joined as part of a Washington State group. We participate as both a local and global partner.

The Libraries began offering an online chat reference service in collaboration with Cornell University in January, 2002, using software from 247ref.org. The service is available five days a week from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. The morning hours are monitored by Cornell staff, while the UW picks up the late afternoon and evening hours.


EthnoMed is a website containing medical and cultural information on immigrant and refugee groups. It contains information specific to groups in the Seattle area, but much of the cultural and health information is of interest and applicable in other geographic areas. The objective is to make information about culture, language, health, illness and community resources directly accessible to health care providers who see patients from different ethnic groups.


We are developing a digital knowledge base of critically appraised information to assist primary care providers in using the best available evidence in their daily management of patients. The specific aims of the project will help us determine if a simplification or reduction in the barriers to access and speed of information retrieval can enhance patient care. PrimeAnswers is a critical component of a broader initiative at the University of Washington to create a Clinical Digital Library that integrates fragmented knowledge dispersed across heterogeneous sources for health care providers.

Orbis Cascade Alliance

Orbis and Cascade, two successful academic library consortia, have merged to create the Orbis Cascade Alliance, a private & public collaborative venture serving faculty and students in Oregon and Washington. This alliance combines the services of both organizations to greatly expand the scholarly information made available to students, faculty, and staff. Members include 26 colleges, universities, and community colleges throughout Oregon and Washington. The new union catalog will include over 22 million books, sound recordings, films, maps and more.

C. Systems

II. Projects and programs

A. Projects

Olympic Peninsula Virtual Community Museum

Northwestern Olympic Peninsula communities and The University of Washington are working together to create a Web-based museum to showcase aspects of the rich history and culture of the region. This project is made possible by a 2003 National Leadership Grant for Library and Museum Collaboration from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Grant awarded October 2003.

Northwest Digital Archives

Northwest Digital Archives (NWDA) provides enhanced access to archival and manuscript materials in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington through a union database of Encoded Archival Description (EAD) finding aids. NWDA was established in June 2002 through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. NWDA successfully completed Phase I of the grant in December 2004. Accomplishments included training participants from the 15 participating institutions, creating best practices, developing style sheets, and encoding 2200 finding aids. With the completion of Phase I, the website hosts over 2,200 finding aids. During Phase II, six new institutions and 11 continuing institutions will add 1,600 finding aids. The University of Washington's contribution to this database was 210 EAD finding aids.


The University of Washington currently has nine active communities in DSpace and we are experimenting with different levels of support for input and metadata for them. The Libraries has convened a policy group - the Digital Repository Steering Committee - to address issues of policy and workflow for the Libraries and campus community.

III. Specific Digital Library Challenges

Digital Preservation

As with other institutions involved with digital projects and products, the University of Washington Libraries is struggling with the problem of digital preservation; we are currently looking at creating position for a Digital Preservation Librarian

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