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Postcards from the NY Waterways: 1898-1923

I’m currently working on a digital collection called “Postcards from the NY Waterways: 1898-1923.” It is part of my final master’s research project and involves migrating a collection of vintage postcards from a proprietary content management system called ContentDM to Omeka, an open source web publishing platform.

A trip on the Hudson River

The collection is courtesy of Professor Thomas Suprenant (Queens College). Son of a tug-boat captain, he traveled extensively around NY State collecting these postcards and has generously made his collection available to students of the School of Library and information Science at Queens College. In a course called “Introduction to Digital Imaging,” students have digitized, cataloged and preserved over six hundred postcards in this on-going project begun over five years ago.

I felt that ContentDM did not really do the Waterways collection justice. Its basic digital package is drab and unappealing. As manager of the collection, Professor Claudia Perry (Queens College) notes that customizing ContentDM is possible, but at a price that is prohibitive to most libraries and archives. ContentDM collections tend to look the same, and managing the collection has proved to be continuously troublesome due to unscheduled upgrades, outages, and poor support.

Thanks go to Dr. Perry, who had this idea for a research project, gave me access to this rich collection of historical artifacts, and lead me to investigate whether an open source Web publishing alternative such as Omeka can help make a collection like this come to life.

Posted in collections.



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