The Library of Virginia and VTLS Inc. have completed the first phase of a complex digitization project that preserves significant Virginia archival and library collections and extends access to these collections to anyone with Internet access. "From the beginning, I have been most impressed with the vision and 'can do' attitude of the VTLS staff assigned to help us," said Elizabeth Roderick, Assistant Director, Library Development and Networking Division for the Library of Virginia.
The Project is available via the Library of Virginia Home Page. Over 600,000 images were scanned, and 40 electronic finding aids were created to access the images as well as other materials in the Library's collection. The major components of Phase I are the Virginia Colonial Records Project, the U.S. Army Signal Corps Photograph Collection, the collection of family Bible records, and the Electronic Card Indexes Project (indexes to 36 separate archival and library collections). The Library used existing and emerging technologies in imaging and document preservation, as well as current MARC standards, throughout the project.
The Library consulted with VTLS, Inc. regarding collection identification, appropriate storage media, preservation methods, and scanning techniques. Library staff also worked with VTLS to develop and implement all imaging, quality control and cataloging processes for the project. The VTLS Virtua-Web Gateway provides the HTML interface for The Library's bibliographic databases, digital images, and Electronic Card Catalogs.
The Electronic Card Index Project digitized and preserved more than 850,000 deteriorating catalog cards, comprising 36 unique finding aids to archival and library collections. These images are indexed via a VTLS, Inc. search engine originally developed for the Princeton University card catalog. High-resolution scanning processes preserved these rare finding aids which were previously available only to on-site library patrons. More than 500,000 microfilm images of the Library's Land Office Patent and Grants collection were scanned and will be linked to the corresponding electronic card index.
The Virginia Colonial Records Project was established in the 1950s to survey and reconstitute Virginia's colonial documentary history located in more than 100 British and European repositories. The Library's bibliographic index contains references to more than 500,000 personal names and ship names found in 28,000 pages of Survey Reports which describe the archival holdings located in the various repositories. Links from the index to the digitized images of the Survey Reports are via an HTML Gateway utilizing the MARC 856 field.
The Library's extensive family Bible Records collection is often the only source of Virginia vital statistics prior to 1853 and from 1896 through 1912. A bibliographic index to this collection already exists. All of the Library's 100,000 Bible records have been scanned, and the images will be linked to the index via the MARC 856 field.
The U.S. Army Signal Corps Photograph Collection consists of 3,500 black and white photographs taken during World War II at the Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation. Signal Corps photographers and port historians documented the enormous amount of activity which took place at this major military center. MARC records were created from the extensive captions that accompanied each photograph. The scanned images of the photographs are linked to these records, and the database is keyword searchable by personal name, ship name, place name, and other terms.
Phase II of the Project has already begun and is scheduled for completion by September, 1996. This phase will provide an additional one million digital images of historic archival and library documents, as well as new electronic finding aids.
The Library of Virginia also sponsors the Virginia Library and Information Network (VLIN), providing Internet access and services for more than 3,000 Virginia librarians located in more than 550 libraries.