Emory Report

 September 15, 1997

 Volume 50, No. 4

Library joins forces with Georgia Tech for virtual archive project

The Woodruff Library and the Library and Information Center at the Georgia Institute of Technology have received a $1.5 million grant from the Woodruff Foundation to create a multimedia "virtual archive" that breaks new ground in digital libraries.

A three-year collaborative effort, the Selected Archives at Georgia Tech and Emory (SAGE) will be a pilot project for technological innovation, developing new ways to index and display library materials on the computer.

The SAGE content initially will focus on two areas: the personal and professional life of former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn and selections from several human rights collections. More than 100,000 pages of text will be available online in addition to photographs, political cartoons, audio and video. Rather than rummaging through boxes of material, researchers will be able to access and examine information in many differents formats at a single computer workstation.

Pushing the envelope on accessibility from another dimension, the SAGE project will harness new technologies to create an indexing system with keyword search capabilities. This allows the archives to be quickly browsed for relevant material instead of separately reviewing each item of the collection.

Creating a digital multimedia archive is a complicated and expensive process but one with tremendous benefits. "Materials in different formats can be combined and used in exciting new ways," said Miriam Drake, Georgia Tech's director of libraries. "Instead of slow, cautious steps, this grant allows us to take giant leaps toward promoting the capabilities of digital libraries."

"The project is really challenging because there is no established way for doing this. Putting multimedia information resources into computer format, especially archival sources, is an emerging technology. In many cases, equipment and software are at the early stages of development, and standards are lacking," said Joan Gotwals, Emory vice provost and director of libraries. "We hope the approach we're taking in this project will serve as a model for other institutions."

Emory and Georgia Tech libraries will pool their respective materials for the project's multimedia archives. The interdisciplinary SAGE project also will involve two other Georgia Tech departments: the School of Engineering's Digital Signal Processing Laboratory and the Interactive Media Technology Center.

The complete SAGE archives can be accessed from computer workstations in both Emory and Georgia Tech libraries. In addition, selected material will be available on a World Wide Web site. To further expand accessibility to the archives, CD-ROMs will be created and distributed to Georgia high schools, colleges and universities.

The SAGE project will coordinate with other national projects through the National Digital Library Federation and the Council on Library and Information Resources. Projects findings will be shared with other institutions on the SAGE website, through conferences and other forums.

-Jan Gleason

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