Monday, 17 September 2007

Papers Past

Way back when, [2001] I was invited into the office of Graham Coe of the National Library of New Zealand to be shown the early draft of a project they were working on - Papers Past.

I also met its midwife - Steve Knight - who when asked , is it searchable, said - 'not yet'. Well, it is now! Take a bow the newly relaunched - re-designed [very smart linconshire green] and of course a search box.

I love this project. For the record, it's an online resource of 19th-century New Zealand newspapers and periodicals. From the New Zealand Advertiser and Bay of Islands Gazette in Northland to the Mataura Ensign in Southland. At its launch in 2001, it carried 300,000 digitised pages of New Zealand newspapers held in the Alexander Turnbull Library collection. Today, the site features more than one million digitised pages from 44 publications.

Critics
I know it's had its critics - "Why digitise these papers? Why not these over there. Why not this photographic collection? "

How can you answer this ?

Doesn't it all just come down to choice - that no matter how many collection policy manuals you write, and how many stakeholders you consult, at the end of the day you do just that. Choose.

And if in the process you get a mile of expertise, and a bunch of staff who have figured out what do , and what not to do, the next time, then that, as they say, 'is a very good thing indeed'.

So take a bow the newly searchable Papers Past.

Detachable Search Box / API ?
But please , can I have a detachable search box? Then I can put it on my blog - and other web sites, likes your peers in the public library world could embed it on their heritage pages?
Now there's an idea? You might even want to think about an API so that people can start using the material it in their own projects?

[I know - never satisfied some people - just can't please them - have they ANY idea of the amount of work it took to get to this stage!]

4 comments:

Jason Kemp said...

The search box idea is a good one - especially on other sites.

If the search code can be extracted then a simple search box can be setup in most blog sidebars using the Text box option.

Someone can probably work it out.The actual box code form is simple - we just need the search syntax

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