Friday, October 26, 2012

Digital Collections for Lovers of the Obscure and Hard to Find.

Do you have a library patron who loves obscure, rare, and hard to find items? Perhaps they are into genealogy or avid history readers. Maybe they are researching turn of the century farming practices. Or perhaps they would love to browse through the stacks of a historical academic archive? It can sometimes prove difficult to find these items; here are a few free open access digital archives that may serve these patrons. You might even find yourself falling down the rabbit hole exploring these resources too!

  • The Hathi Trust (pronounced Ha-tea) is a partnership between research institution working to preserve and make the cultural records accessible for future generations. The digital library allows for searching by subject (Catalog Search), Full text – Search (keywords within the items) and by Collections. So far they have digitized 8,580 tons of materials - a full 10,560,508 volumes!
  • The Internet Archive is a non-profit founded in 1996 to build an internet library. The archive contains text, audio, moving images and archived web pages. The collection at the Internet  Archive is robust and diverse, from archival shorts played during the intermission at drive-ins, to a collection of NASA photographs, news & public affairs video clips, a web archive of Hurricane Katrina, and of course digitized collections of rare or out of copyright books. The Internet Archive has something for everyone no matter what their fancy.
  • For local information check out Peel’s Prairie Provinces, a digital archive created by the UofA. The archive contains newspapers, postcards, images, books and other ephemeral material. Especially of interest to local genealogists is the digitized Henderson’s Directory collection. Using Optical Character Recognition users can search by name or address.
  • Lastly is the Canadian Agriculture Library, I stumbled across this digitized collection while looking for a hard to find Interlibrary Loan item. This is a super simple collection to search and the specialized contents are sure to please patrons interested in the history of Canadian gardening, agriculture, home-economics, and sustainability.

All of these resources are free and available for use anywhere you can find a web connection - like a Chinook Arch library!

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