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collection awareness and usage Rebecca J. W. Jefferson, Lourdes Santamara Wheeler, Laurie N. Taylor (An abridged version of the paper submitted for the ACRL Conference Proceedings to accompany the PowerPoint presentation at the ACRL A nnual Conference, Indianapolis on April 12, 2013) SLIDE 1 by offering an apology on behalf of my co presenters and project collaborators for their absence today Lourdes Santamara Wheeler could not make it to the conference due to having just recently given birth to a little bundle of joy! Dr. Laurie Taylor could not make it due to conflicting work commitments or a large bundle of woe So please bear with me while I take you thr ough our joint presentation SLIDE 2 The University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC) employ internally designed software ( called SobekCM) to maintain month ly usage statistic s for the digital collections. The statistics viewing popularity. Reviewing these statistics for the Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica Digital Collections in 2012, I was surprised to note that one of the most regularly viewed items was a n obscure Yiddish periodical entitled Gerekhtigkayt (Justice). I was intrigued by the unexpected rise in interest for this foreign language magazine, and it realized that the upsurge in viewing figures arose from the fact that the arresting front cover of Gerekhtigkayt with the figur e almost beckoning the viewer to look closer linked to the digital collection. This discovery raised the idea that if a simple, arresting display linked to the full on line version could drive up viewing statistics, then perhaps the visual impact and storytelling power of online exhibitions could be harnessed to direct viewers t o the online version and, by doing so generate a greater awareness and usage of hidden collec tions. I n order to explore this idea further, I assembled a unique collaborative team for a formal assessment project
Lourdes Santamara Wheeler, the Digital Humanities Librarian, Dr. La urie Taylor ( both of whom had worked together previously to promote access to hidden collections through online exhibitions ) any myself, the curator for the Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica. SLIDE 3 We decided that the items chosen for the project, like Gerektigkayt sh ould be scarce, somewhat un invit ing looking, foreign visual and an arresting story would take the reader beyond any perceived barriers with individual items to an awareness of the wider collection and then beyond that to an aware ness and appreciation of the library collections as a whole. The Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica at the University of Florida has in storage a collection of un cataloged materials, many of which are scarce periodicals. A good number of these materials were collected by Rabbi Leonard C. Mishkin of Chicago, the original owner of the Judaica and they reflect his unusual collecting phil osophy of amassing anniversary issues of Jewish newspapers and newsletters, calendars and other community inspired commemorative publications from around the world From this collection of about 500 pieces, we selected an initial thirty titles which were all German and Yiddish publications from Europe on the eve of the Second World War These pieces many of them only previously available to a select number of scholars who were able to gain access to microfilm editions will add greatly to ou r knowledge about Jewish life in Europe in the lead up to the Second World War. While the subject of Jewish experience during the war has been widely explored, life for Jewish people in the p eriod immediately beforehand is less well known and therefore dem ands greater research I n order to create a more coherent and engaging display, the selection was narrowed down to twenty items. The se pieces all fell into four neat categories, based on the ir date and provenance. The four on display here are repres entative of the se categories: Jewish life in Germany in the early 1930s, Germany under the new Nazi government, Germany under the Nuremberg Laws and Jewish life in Eastern Europe from 1935 1939. They are also among the rarest pieces: the Rabbinatsbezirk ( Rabbinic circular ) from Landau/Pfalz for example is not known to be held by any other library; the Riga calendar on the right is only owned by the Price Library and the Library of Congress. SLIDE 4 We believe that online exhibitions are more than a marketing tool: they are another way to grant users access to unique and/or hidden collections. Many academic institutions are already providing access through curated digital collections, yet this is ofte n insufficient. Curated digital
collections do not provide the interpretation or background necessary to further understand an individual object. A good example is t his unappealing looking, torn and yellowed page This leaf from a Leipzig Jewish community newsletter actually tells us a great deal about Jewish life under the racist and restrictive Nuremberg Laws. The section at the top is a reminder to the community to pay their community dues to assist the general welfare, and the text in the box is asking for char itable donations to the Jewish Winter F und for the many Jewish people struggling during the harsh winter months to pay their fuel bills now that they were excluded from the main German fund In fact, this short newsletter, just four pages in lengt h, contains three separate advertisements for this charity. SLIDE 5 This is the home page for The Gathering Storm exhibition designed by Lourdes Santamar a Wheeler A short introduction describes the exhibit, and a link to the complete list of included works is provided. Viewers move through t he exhibition by clicking the tab labels in the grey bar. SLIDE 6 The first section of the exhibition contains f our items that relate to Jewish life in Germany in the early 1930s. A summary description providing the context and background for the selection of the four pieces is provided and the viewer looks at each individual piece by clicking on the image thumbnail. SLIDE 7 Each individual item has a four page display, an object label and a descriptive label. The labels are designed to tell an engaging story about each object. brings up the next piece in the section. SLIDE 8 This is th e second section with six scarce periodicals representing Jewish life in Nazi Germany from 1933 1935. SLIDE 9 Section three contains four items that were published in Nazi Germany during the period after the creation of the Nuremberg Laws SLIDE 10 The final section, section four, contains five ti tles (but six pieces) from Eastern Europe between 1935 and 1939.
SLIDE 11 Mo st online exhibitions present static, partial display s of the selected materials. By linking the page displayed to the fully digitized item, an exhibit can provide a portal to a realm of greater discovery for the viewer and increase overall collection awareness. The George A. Smathers Libraries believe in linking as many of their objects on display as possible to th e fully digitized versions. In this exhibit, each individual page from the four page display button, links to and opens up the digital object in the U FDC SLIDE 12 The George A. Smathers Libraries strive to ensure that works are ac cessible, preserved, findable and integrated within the larger scholarly communications landscape rather than existing as separate silo projects. Items in the UFDC are word searchable; each item can be viewed as a set of thumbnail images, or as a single p age; each page has enlarge and zoom functions; the item can also be read as a MARC. You can see that in order to demonstrate the zoom function that I have zoomed in on the address stamp on the side of the page. Th e stamp is from Frankfurt Fahrgasse 146 the location of the Jewish community center in the 1930s and the location of th e Jewish community archives. SLIDE 13 Online exhibitions from the George A. Smathers Libraries are publicized much the same way as physi cal exhibitions; although digital collections are not often given the same treatment. For The Gathering Storm the Exhibits Coordinator worked with the Li br Communications Barbara Hood, to write a press release which was then widely distributed to local, state, and national media outlets, as well as cam pus faculty. The exhibition was also The Gathering Storm was also included in the Smithson tabase and in various Wikip description were included in postcards and publicity materials for a future physical exhibition on a related theme, entitled Testimony The various methods of promotion and the provi sion of multiple links increase awareness of the exhi bition and the materials. These methods of outreach also increase search engine optimization (SEO) for The Gathering Storm with a knock on effect of en hanced visibility for the previously hidden items fea ture d in the exhibition.
SLIDE 14: Having done as much as possible to increase the visibility of the online exhibit ion, we now turned to the usage statistics to analyze the results. The statistics for the month of February do indeed show a significant rise i n the number of views. For example, t his scarce festschrift from Germany survived the Nazi destruction of books and came to the U.S. through the Offenbach Archival Depot. Its interesting story, as told in the online exhibition, may be why this item received 127 views or after it was f irst mounted in the Digital Collections in January, 2013 and as many as 622 after the online exhibition was launched a month later in February. And had these views turned into a greater number of visits? Indeed, w e were not disappointed to see that in the month following the launch of the exhibition, the Judaica Digital Collections received 346 visitors : a rise from 85 visitors from the previous month Unfortunately, due to a time lag in the way the statistics are generated, we are only able to display the results for January and February 2013. However, I can tell you that the statistics for March were loaded online this very morning, and there has been another rise in the viewing figures. The abovementioned festschrift was seen by a further 29 visitors meaning that the item has now been viewed or hit 1150 times within 84 vi sits. SLIDE 15 We can also look to the results from previous online exhibitions. The physical exhibition Jewish Jacksonville on di splay in April 2012, was accompanied by an online exhibition. Following the launch of both, the Digital Library Center recorded an increase in the number of queries received about materials relating to this subject in the Jewish Jacksonville Digital Collec tions and in the Price Library of Judaica. This scarce community souvenir from the 1920s has been since been viewed 1401 times within 187 visits. SLIDE 16 Examining the overall usage statistics for the Judaica Digital Collections, we can see significant increases during periods when the Price Library of Judaica is displaying and publicizing its online exhibitions. Awareness of the Price Library holdings ha s significantly increased. Five visits to the Judaica Digital Collections were recorded in November 20 10; less than three years later, and the number rose to 346 visits in February 2013, and it has risen again in March 2013 to 1049 bringing the total number of visitors to 7,579. G reater awareness of our hidden collections is growing and badly needed funding for endangered items I feel,
SLIDE 17 To conclude: the idea of linking items in online exhibi tions to full digital copies is simple but surprisingly under used. We hope that by sharing our experience of working collaboratively we will help inspire other institutions to realize the potential in har nessing the immediacy and visual impact of exhibi tions and linking them to digital collections to engen der greater awareness and usage of hidden collections. SLIDE 18 For more information about the Judaica collection s online exhibitions, or the UF digital collections, please conta ct: Rebecca J. W. Jefferson Curator, Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Lourdes Santamara Wheeler Exhibits Coo rdinator, George A. Smathers Libraries Email: email@example.com L aurie N. Taylor Digital Humanities Librarian, George A. Smathers Libraries Email: firstname.lastname@example.org