HUNTSVILLE, Ala.—April 7, 2005—Sirsi Corporation announced that Rice University's Fondren Library recently launched its online digital archives, Fondren Digital Collections (FDC). The FDC makes uncommon and often fragile materials available to a wide audience via the World Wide Web. "The FDC supports the research needs of the Rice community and beyond by providing high-quality digital content of rare or unique materials held by Fondren Library. It is home to digital files of original photographs, letters, drawings, and other physical formats, presented in various file formats – jpg files, PDF files – all of which can be accessed on the Web," says Amanda Focke, archivist, special collections librarian at Fondren.
With the launch of the FDC, what was once only available in paper form by visiting the library now becomes instantly accessible to many users, in many locations, simultaneously. Material is no longer lost or damaged, and users worldwide may access the material at any time – even when the library is closed. The digitization process has allowed rare, historical, and fragile material to be carefully scanned and cataloged online.
The Fondren Digital Resources Sharing Committee has the ongoing responsibility for the selection of materials for the FDC. The first collections published in the FDC are the William Ward Watkin Architecture Collection, the Illuminated Sacred Music Manuscript Collection, and the Schumann Collection. William Ward Watkin was the first supervising architect of Rice Institute and first chairman, Rice Architecture Department. The Watkin collection includes over 600 architectural drawings, photographs, and more dating from 1903-1956.
The Illuminated Sacred Music Manuscript Collection includes rare 15th and 16th century original Southern European music manuscripts, while the Schumann Collection contains original materials related to 19th century German composer and music critic Robert Schumann. According to Focke, “both are underrepresented ‘gems' that haven't been used much because many people are unaware of their existence.” Both music collections will provide rich research material for Shepherd School students and musicologists worldwide.
The FDC site was designed by Focke, Susan Leister, catalog librarian, and Jiun Kuo, head of cataloging. Rice's Web Services provided the stylized graphics. Focke, Leister, and Kuo oversaw site layout and provided rich contextual helpers to allow easy navigation of the FDC. Karen Oster, senior database programmer was responsible for the final layout and the custom programming required for the interface.
All three collections currently exhibited by the FDC are powered by the Sirsi Hyperion Digital Media Archive. Sirsi Hyperion stores digital images and descriptive information about the image (known as metadata) in much the same way as the library's online catalog stores information about books in the library's collection. Sirsi Hyperion goes beyond the traditional online catalog by offering Full Text Searching of selected digital objects. This searching, also known as Content Searching, provides users with the ability to find documents based on the textual information within digitized documents. Users can submit natural language queries and quickly be shown a list of matching terms and concepts from the text of the document.
About Rice University
Rice University is a selective, private, independent university located on a 300-acre wooded campus in Houston, Texas. The Rice Institute opened for classes in 1912 with 77 students and 12 faculty; in 2005, Rice University hosts 4800 students (two-thirds undergraduate) and 855 faculty and is classified by Carnegie as a Doctoral/Research University — Extensive.
Fondren Library has grown from 200 books, when opened in a single room in 1913, to a collection of over 2.4 million volumes, 2.9 million microform units, and 38 thousand current print and digital subscriptions, occupying five floors of a seven-story building and an off-site, high-density storage facility.
Centrally located on the academic quadrangle, Fondren Library supports the entire spectra of research and teaching for our university (coordinating efforts with the Jones Graduate School of Management's Business Information Center) and provides significant outreach to Houston and the surrounding community.
About Sirsi Corporation
Founded in 1979, Sirsi Corporation develops, sells, and supports a comprehensive integrated suite of software solutions for meeting the information management and sharing needs of libraries and library users around the world. From the open, evolutionary integrated library system technology in the Sirsi Unicorn Library Management System… to leading-edge data analysis and intelligence tools in Sirsi Director's Station… to leading-edge solutions such as Sirsi Rooms 2.0 for library users seeking unparalleled access to the world of knowledge… Sirsi and its partners provide the broadest array of information management products and services for the library community. Sirsi solutions serve more than 10,000 libraries in the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia-Pacific. For more information about Sirsi, please see www.sirsi.com.