University of Virginia Library
Report to the Digital Library Federation
October, 2005


  1. Collections, services, and systems
  2. Projects and programs
  3. Specific digital library challenges
  4. Digital library publications, policies, working papers, and other documents

I. Collections, services, and systems

A. Collections

Albemarle County Aerial Photographs Index: 1957, 1966 and 1974

This collection provides access to comprehensive collections of historical aerial photographs of Albemarle County, Virginia and the City of Charlottesville. Over 900 photographs, originally produced by the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, were scanned at 1200 dpi by the UVa Library's Digital Library Production Services. A GIS-based finding aid was developed to allow users to make accurate selections by overlaying street and water data on centerpoints of the photographs. Plans are underway to include photographs from the 1980s in coming months. Downloads include JPEG images and xml metadata files.

The Cavalier Daily

Digital Library Production Services and Alderman Library Reference Services are collaborating on a project to digitize the entire run of the UVA student newspaper, The Cavalier Daily. The text is being double-keyboarded by Apex Covantage, Inc. The project is currently in prototype while delivery standards specific to newspapers are being developed. Issues from Fall 1967 through Spring 1972 are available.

The Carmichael Letters: "Patient's Voices in Early 19th Century Virginia"

In 1998 the University of Virginia Libraries purchased a 700-piece collection of the correspondence and daybook of Dr. James Carmichael and his son, Dr. Edward Carmichael, of Fredericksburg, Virginia. The daybook, a record of credits and debits to their medical practice between 1816 and 1817, is the only document composed by the Carmichaels. The unique feature of the collection is that the letters, dated 1819 through 1830, are written primarily by patients or their family members. The letters provide interesting details describing nineteenth-century medical treatments and drugs and patients’ reactions to them. The correspondence also explores the health and medical care of slaves.

Civil Rights Video Archive

This digital archive is based on an extensive collection of 16 mm news footage from the Roanoke TV station, WSLS, now in the UVA Library collections. The Virginia Center for Digital History and the Digital Media Lab are collaborating on the digitization and delivery of selected streaming QuickTime video clips.

In Search of Native Azaleas: Henry Skinner's 1951 Southern Collecting Trip

Between March and August, 1951, Henry T. Skinner drove 25,000 miles through the southeastern and eastern United States searching for native azaleas. From this field survey, approximately 8,000 herbarium specimens and 500 living plants were sent to the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. During his travels, Dr. Skinner kept notes and lists of the azaleas he found in a two-volume Southern Collecting Trip Record Book that is now part of the Henry Thomas Skinner Papers in the Special Collections Department of the University of Virginia. Dr. Skinner also prepared daily Notes of Southern Collecting Trip Routes, and a year after his trip in August, 1952, he made a list of the 500 plants he had sent back to the Morris Arboretum; this list is entitled "Native Azaleas." This project includes images of the handwritten Record Book and Notes of Routes, with transcriptions, and images of the list of the Native Azaleas.

Latviešu tautas dziesmas (Latvian Dainas)

Dainas are Baltic folk songs in verse form. This project is an electronic edition of the 12 volumes of Latviešu tautas dziesmas, edited by Arveds Švbe, Kārlis Straubergs, and Edīte Hauzenberga-Šturma, published by Imanta, Copenhagen, 1952-1956. The editor of the electronic text is Maruta Lietiņa Ray, University of Virginia Department of Germanic Languages and Literature. The project is grateful to Mrs. Eiženija Reitmane, the holder of the copyright, for permission to create this electronic edition. The University of Virginia also gratefully acknowledges permission from Dr. Imants Freibergs to utilize his keyboarded text version of Latviešu tautas dziesmas in ASCII format.

Lillian Gary Taylor Family Personal Recollections Collection

Both Lillian's Memories and Collecting Journals are eclectic and fascinating documents. Her Memories consists of five hand-written volumes, recounting Lillian's life from early childhood memories through her experience of traveling in Austria during the outbreak of World War I. She writes of such fascinating experiences as watching the construction of the Panama Canal in 1912. Also inserted in Memories are photographs, menu cards, letters, and illustrations drawn by Lillian. Her stories and the inserted documents open a window into high-society life in Baltimore, New York City, and Europe at the turn of the century.

Middle High German Interlinked

A $250,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) supported the digitization of over 100 medieval German texts and several related dictionaries by the University of Virginia Library and the University of Trier, Germany. This resource was completed and launched in late 2004.

UVa Visual History Collection

The UVa Visual History Collection brings together images related to the University of Virginia from the last 175 years. It is a collaborative venture that brings together a fantastic assortment of images from several UVa units: the Special Collections Department; the Historical Collections Collection in the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library; University News Services; Development Communications; and the Law Library Special Collections Department.

Vanity Fair Caricatures

Over a span of nearly fifty years (1868-1914), the society magazine Vanity Fair established its reputation as one of the most popular and respected periodicals in English journalism. In its second year of publication, founder Thomas Gibson Bowles (1842-1922) decided to include in each issue a caricature of a prominent figure of the time. These color lithographs became the most recognizable feature of the magazine and are considered valuable collector's items today. This selection of Vanity Fair prints is part of a larger collection compiled by the late Cecil Y. Lang, Professor of English at the University of Virginia from 1967 to 1991. Noted for editing the letters of Victorian poet Matthew Arnold, Lang used the prints as a resource in identifying some of the individuals mentioned in Arnold 's correspondence. Lang donated his collection to the University Library in 2002. The gift comprised 900 of these remarkable portraits, each showcasing a noteworthy personality of the Victorian era.

Vietnam Powwow: The Vietnam War as Remembered by Native American Veterans

A collection of narratives written or spoken by Native American veterans about the Vietnam War. Developed in conjunction with James Parins of the Sequoyah Research Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

B. Services

Collections and Reference


Find@UVa is an OpenURL Resolver service that can be used to locate full-text documents in e-journals and e-newspapers from citations Sixty to seventy percent of UVA's current indexing and abstracting tools can work directly with the OpenURL standard. Find@UVa links from over 60 indexing and abstracting services, providing access to over 15,000 journal titles in the collections of the University Library, the Health Sciences Library, and the Law Library.

Document Delivery

The Library offers electronic document delivery for both ILL items and items held locally.  Articles are delivered in PDF format, and both borrowing and notification of availability are handled through the catalog and Z39.50 modules of VIRGO, the Library's SIRSI system.

Reference Instant Messaging

Following a successful pilot project in 2004, reference chat services are available seven days a week using AOL Instant Messenger (AIM).

Digitization and Media Creation

Digital Media Lab

The Digital Media Lab of the Robertson Media Center develops and provides collections of digital images, sound, and video for use in research and instruction.  The Lab offers consulting services in digital media production and project planning, hands-on tutorials and short courses, a full array of scanners and video and audio digitization equipment, and analog editing equipment.

Digital Research and Instructional Services

DRIS provides a range of services supporting digital scholarship, including instruction, consulting, project management, and limited production work for projects or classes requiring electronic texts, special collections materials, digital spatial data, social science data, and database development. Two units in DRIS, the Electronic Text Center and Geostat Center, unified their public service points this year, anticipating their relocation to a larger workspace for the public and staff. The joint public service lab provides access to equipment for creation and analysis of a range of media types, and assistance with the location and use of digital spatial, statistical, and electronic text resources. and

Instructional Scanning Services

Instructional Scanning Services is part of a suite of services maintained by the University Library to support the UVA faculty in its use of electronic materials for instruction.  Primarily, ISS services take the form of scanning materials into a .PDF format and uploading them to the Instructor's Toolkit learning management system as additional readings.  ISS also links materials already in electronic format to the Instructor's Toolkit, and scans materials for other instructional uses.  Material digitized by Instructional Scanning Services is made available as electronic course reserves through the Instructor's Toolkit system.  Course number or the instructor's last names are added into VIRGO records representing physical and electronic reserves, allowing online searching for all reserves, regardless of format.

Rare Materials Digital Services

Rare Materials Digital Services (RMDS) provides digitization of primary and secondary materials from the Library's rare materials to support the teaching and research mission of the University as well as to increase access to these unique items. Rare Materials Digital Services also delivers a variety of digital image collections, including the Holsinger Studio Collection, the Jackson Davis Collection of African-American Educational Photographs, UVA Visual History Online, and the Jefferson Architecture Electronic Archive. RMDS also produces the Department's online exhibitions.

Production Services

Digital Library Production Services

DLPS is charged with building a sustainable core digital collection befitting a world-class institution of higher learning. DLPS strives to create and maintain a cost-effective, efficient production line for producing consistent and preservable data. Among its recent projects, DLPS worked with stakeholders to review the high-level and micro workflows needed to properly move an image from digitizing through cataloging and ingestion into the Digital Library Repository. This workflow, when implemented in Fall 2005, will ensure a smoother and quicker processing and delivery of images. DLPS also developed a comprehensive web-based tracking system for text digitization.

Prototype for Resource Sharing

The Rare Materials Digital Services unit is working to implement a prototype project that will allow other units within the university to digitize their materials under their auspices. The goals for this prototype service include giving units that do not have access to resources required to digitize such materials the ability to do so in a standardized manner and provide them with the training and expertise they need; the unification of digital production and metadata creation standards for rare materials that will eventually be ingested into the Digital Library Repository; to provide units to share expenses with other units in a mutually beneficial manner; to allow other units to "test" hardware to determine whether or not they want to purchase their own; to identify a need within the library system for such services and include in resource planning; and to revisit the library's digital services support model for specialized services.

C. Systems


The University of Virginia Library' s Digital Library Research and Development Group is continuing to collaborate with Cornell to develop Fedora. Phase 2 focuses on the development of tools, utilities, and new interfaces for creating objects and submitting content; tools to support migration of existing digital collections into Fedora; enhancements to better enable the creation, management, and delivery of distributed, virtual collections; better integration with 3rd party search engines; support for alternative search interfaces to the native Fedora indexes that conform to emerging international standards such as SRW; development of a set of integrity and management features; and enabling the creation of peer-to-peer networks of Fedora repositories. Version 2.1 beta was released on October 24, 2005.

Digital Library Repository

In March 2002, UVA Library and Cornell University began work on Fedora™, and, alongside it, UVA began work on its first phase prototype of a Digital Library Repository. The first version production Repository and its end-user interface was released to the UVA community for its initial experimental year in October, 2004. Following a year of testing and assessment, approximately 15,000 images, almost 400 electronic texts, and over 3,000 UVA Special Collections finding aids have been loaded into the Repository. Users may search by metadata across all collection formats, or search full-text in each individual collection. All images and page image retrieved are accompanied by menus that allow the user to view the image in an ImageViewer (zooming, panning, brightness and contrast, rotating), or collect the image into personal portfolios using the Digital Object Collector Tool. Access to content is currently limited to the University of Virginia.

Digital Object Collector Tool

UVA Library's Object Collector Tool is a Java-based desktop tool that allows a user to "collect" references to images (including page images) retrieved via searches of the Central Digital Repository. Menus that accompany all images initiate the collection process. An Object Collection window allows a user to organize images into one or more collection portfolios. The references to these images can be saved to the user's local drive or to a mapped network location as an XML file. The Collector Tool also includes the same ImageViewer (zooming, panning, rotating) as is available to online users of the Repository. The Collector Tool can be used to create slides shows for use in the classroom, or HTML web pages for use as image reserves. The functionality of the Collector Tool will be expanded to include the ability to collect electronic texts and additional formats over time.

General Descriptive Modeling Scheme (GDMS)

Development has continued on GDMS, a DTD developed to create XML files that are structured, annotated descriptions of digital collections. An infinitely recursive set of structural units: each may contain a narrative, a descriptive metadata record and references to, and metadata about, any number of digital resources. GDMS is being tested in several faculty digital projects to describe buildings, archeological sites and artworks, creating structural metadata for digital objects that provide access to related sets of digital images. GDMS has now been incorporated into its first production system, serving as the XML standard used for Art & Architecture objects in the UVA Library Central Digital repository.

Metadata Specifications: UVA DescMeta and UVA AdminMeta

Development has continued on the UVA DescMeta and AdminMeta by our Cataloging department and Digital Library Research and Development. The goal is to produce a local set of descriptive elements for specifying the intellectual content of digital resources and administrative elements describing the provenance, source, rights, and technical specifications of each datastream in a digital object. Initially derived from the Dublin Core specification, they have been adapted and extended for local use. The UVA Library has developed DTDs, crosswalks to other standards, and use guidelines.

User Collection Tool

The User Collection Tool is a web-based application developed using MySQL and PHP by the Robertson Media Center for the management, organization, and annotation of personal media collections (images, video, audio, etc.) from any web browser in any location. The Tool can be used to organize media into different categories, enter and maintain metadata about the media files, publish galleries on the Web, and export XML files in the UVa GDMS format.

II. Projects and programs

A. Projects

New Project Announcements

Digital Herbarium

For more than 80 years, biology researchers have traveled to the Mountain Lake Biological Station in Virginia's Appalachian Mountains to explore the area's pristine and diverse flora and fauna. Library staff are now working with UVa faculty to digitize thousands of plant specimens to both preserve the fragile originals and make the collections more generally available.

Georeferenced Charlottesville Sanborn Maps, 1907 and 1920

In this enhancement project, two sets of Sanborn maps owned by the University were georeferenced and new finding aids and access tools developed. Previously digitized by an outside service, the maps were re-scanned by UVA's Rare Materials Digital Services to remove spatial distortion created by crowning and other artifacts of the print materials. The maps were then georeferenced to historical aerial photos, and new street name and browsable map indices are being developed. Due to go online in November 2005.

Framework for Digitization

Staff from Content Management Services and the Collections Group developed a Framework for Digitization that outlines priorities for all Library materials and formats for digitization and inclusion in the Digital Library Repository.

Project Access

The goal of Project Access is to implement a suite of products intended to improve access to content and services for users and staff. The scope of the project includes implementation of Director’s Station (Reporting), iLink (OPAC), Relais (Inter library Loan), Resolver (OpenURL resolver), and SingleSearch (Metasearch). In a companion project, the Library's web site will also be redesigned to better integrate the updated and new services. As of fall 2005, Resolver is in production as Find@UVA, iLink and SingleSearch are undergoing usability testing, and Relais and Director's Station are nearing the completion of their configuration.

UVa Community Digitization Guidelines

The Library has developed a document that provides guidance and minimum recommendations for the digitization of images, texts, and data that are in line with the Library's current practice for members of the UVa community who are planning digitization projects.

UVa Image Collections

Staff from the Fiske Kimball Fine Arts Library collaborated with their counterparts in the McIntire Department of Art, as well as with staff from Cataloging and the Digital Library Production Service, to create a virtual union of their two separate collections. Combined workflows are under development for production, and approximately 10,000 images have been cataloged, digitized, and loaded into the Digital Library Repository for use by a small group of faculty who will use the images and tools in instruction.

UVa TEI Guidelines

Staff from DLPS developed extensive TEI markup practices guidelines for use by keyboarding vendors and in local practice.

Update on Existing Projects

Japanese Text Initiative

The Japanese Text Initiative (JTI) now delivers its recently processed texts dynamically through XML, replacing its static HTML delivery of previous editions. These new titles display Japanese etexts in both horizontal and the traditional vertical formats, and with and without "furigana" (aka "rubi"), small characters that appear about or beside the text as a phonetic comment and reading aid.

The Renaissance in Print: Sixteenth-Century French Books in the Douglas Gordon Collection

Rare Materials Digital Services and the University of Virginia French Department received additional funding from the Florence Gould Foundation to digitize additional rare books from the French Renaissance era and make them accessible to the public on the Web. The online collection includes over 100 digital facsimiles of sixteenth-century printed books in the Douglas H. Gordon Collection and an on-line network of resources designed to situate the books within the rich context of the French Renaissance.

The Virginia Elections and State Elected Officials Database Project, 1776-2005

Election data for Virginia candidates running for U.S. Congress back to the 1960s, election and service data for candidates in 2004 elections, and campaign finance data for candidates running for state office in 2005 were included this year. Congressional data were added by students in a Politics class, who then used the query functions of the site to analyze the data they had entered. This process required Library development of online entry forms and data verification processes, which will be used to help develop systems to sustain regular updates of the site.

B. Programs

Collaborative Community Projects

The UVa Library is participating in a number of collaborative collection building and best practices projects, including the American West project at the California Digital Library, DLF Aquifer, DLF's Distributed Library: OAI for Digital Library Aggregation project, and the Open Content Alliance.

Scholarly Communication Institute

With sponsorship by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) and funding from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the UVA Library hosted the third in a series of Scholarly Communication Institutes. The SCI Scholarly Communication Institute (SCI) was funded to "provide an opportunity for leaders in the field [of scholarly communication] to study, plan, and organize institutional and discipline-based strategies for advancing the state of scholarly communication. Participants will be challenged to imagine the ideal scholarly communication system, and what the changing nature of scholarly inquiry might look like in such a system."

Sustaining Digital Scholarship

The Supporting Digital Scholarship initiative is working to determine how the Library can select, collect, and preserve scholarly digital projects.  The working group includes faculty, Library selectors, and staff from Production and Technology Services.  Pilot implementation projects are in the planning state for three born digital works of scholarship.

III. Specific Digital Library Challenges

Sustaining Digital Scholarship

The UVA Library sees it as vital that we collect and preserve digital scholarship. To that end, the Library is developing assessment standards and workflows through which subject librarians will review and select digital faculty research projects for processing and formal addition into the Library's collections. This requires the development of standards and processes for technical assessment of works alongside the more traditional assessment of their content, as well as the development of deposit agreements between the Library and faculty to collect and deliver their digital research. A companion issue is the development of holistic production and metadata standards that apply to the Library production and to production of digital projects by the greater UVA community.

Encoding and Enforcement of Access Restrictions

UVA would like to be able to apply community standards to the encoding of rights, and to establish a policy for the use of a digital object that could be matched with the characteristics of the user making the request.  Under consideration is the use of a digital certificate to authenticate the user coupled with a set of policies for either the objects and/or their components.

Scalability of Production

UVA is looking at the development of more efficient and effective workflows for digital content production, encompassing new local production, processing of licensed content for local mounting, and migration of legacy content to new standards and delivery systems.


As digital resources become more numerous and more complex, attempts to meaningfully assess access, use, and costs relating to their development become more difficult at the same time that they become more crucial. The UVa Library's Balanced Scorecard Committee is working to develop new measures and strategies for assessment of digital resources and services.

IV. Digital library publications, policies, working papers, and other documents

Publications and Presentations

Policies, Documentation, and Reports