New to the Library: New York Amsterdam News

I’m delighted to let you know that following a successful trial in 2017/18 the Library has now purchased access to the New York Amsterdam News (1922-1993) from ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Founded in 1909 this is one of the leading Black newspapers of the 20th century and the oldest and largest Black newspaper in New York City.

You can access New York Amsterdam News (1922-1993) via the Databases A-Z list and Newspapers & Magazines database list. You can also access the title through DiscoverEd*

The Amsterdam News was founded over 100 years ago by James H. Anderson and was named after the street where he lived and where the first issues were produced and sold. It was one of only 50 Black newspapers in the United States at that time. Read More

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New! News, Policy & Politics Magazine Archive

I’m happy to let you know that following some successful trials in the last couple of years the Library has purchased the News, Policy & Politics Magazine Archive from ProQuest. This resource offers digital access to the archival runs of 15 major 20th and 21st century consumer magazines covering such fields as the history of politics, current events, public policy and international relations. Central to this collection is the archive of Newsweek, one of the 20th century’s most prominent and highest circulating general interest magazine.

You can access News, Policy & Politics Magazine Archive from the Databases A-Z list and appropriate databases by subject listsYou’ll soon be able to access it from DiscoverEd as well. Read More

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New to the Library: Daily Mail Historical Archive

I’m really pleased to let you know that the Library has purchased access to the Daily Mail Historical Archive (1896-2004) from Gale Cengage. Regardless of your personal feelings about the Daily Mail this is a fascinating archive that provides access to over 100 years of the newspaper, while also providing an important alternative perspective to newspapers such at The Times, The Guardian, etc.

You can access Daily Mail Historical Archive (1896-2004) via the Databases A-Z list, Newspapers & Magazines database list and relevant subject guides. Access via DiscoverEd will also become available soon.

The Daily Mail Historical Archive includes nearly 1.2 million pages of content from the paper, including all of the major news stories, features, advertisements and images. And as well as the regular edition of the newspaper, uniquely the archive also includes the Daily Mail Atlantic Edition, which was published on board the transatlantic liners that sailed between New York and Southampton between 1923 and 1931. Issues of the Daily Mail Atlantic Edition are very rare and not available digitally from any other source. Read More

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Channel Islands occupation: through the Library’s online primary sources

On this day, 30 June, in 1940 the Germans invaded the Channel Islands which was the beginning of nearly 5 years occupation. In this week’s blog I’m using some of the Library’s online resources to find primary source material to discover more about this facet of the Second World War.

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Jersey War Tunnels, one of Jersey’s many tunnel complexes built by mostly forced and slave labour under German command during the occupation.I have to admit that before that visit I really knew very little about this period in the Channel Islands history but I was inspired by the incredibly moving and fascinating exhibition to try and find out what primary source material was available to us through the University Library’s fantastic online primary source collections about the occupation.

© Mark Cairney

There are many stories that could be told about the Channel Islands occupation and I encourage you to seek them out but due to the nature of our online primary source collections and time limits I’m focusing on what the outside world, mainly Britain, knew (or didn’t) about what was happening on the Channel Islands during the occupation.

The blitzkrieg nears Britain

The first half of 1940 was a dark time for the Allies in the Second World War. In fairly quick succession Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands and France were invaded by Germany. With the evacuation at Dunkirk (Operation Dynamo) and France, faced with no real other choice, signing an armistice with Germany in June of that year, Britain was now on its own and under threat.

The Daily Mirror, Tuesday, 18 June 1940, p. 7. UK Press Online. Accessed 25th May 2018.

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Marking up collections sites with Schema.org

This blog was written by Holly Coulson, who is working with Nandini Tyagi  on this project.

For the last three months, I have been undergoing a Library Metadata internship with the Digital Development team over in Argyle House. Having the opportunity to see behind the scenes into the more technical side of the library, I gained far more programming experience I ever imagined I would, and worked hands on with the collections websites themselves.

Most people’s access to University of Edinburgh’s holdings is primarily through DiscoverEd. But the Collections websites exist as a complete archive of all of the materials that Edinburgh University have, from historical alumni to part of the St Cecilia’s Hall musical instrument collection. These sites are currently going through an upgrade, with new interfaces and front pages.

My role in all of this, along with my fellow intern Nandini, was to analyse and improve how the behind-the-scenes metadata works in the grander scheme of things. As the technological world continually moves towards linked data and the interconnectivity of the Internet, developers are consciously having to update their websites to include more structured data and mark-up. That was our job.

Our primary aim was to implement Schema.org into the collections.ed.ac.uk spaces. Schema, an open access structured data vocabulary, allows for major search engines, such as Google and Yahoo to pull data and understand what it represents. For collections, you can label the title as a ‘schema:name’ and even individual ID numbers as ‘schema:Identifier’. This allows for far more reliable searching, and allows websites to work in conjunction with a standardised system that can be parsed by search engines. This is ultimately with the aim to optimise searches, both in the ed.ac.uk domain, and the larger search engines.

Our first major task was the research. As two interns, both doing our Masters, we had never heard of Schema.org, let alone seen it implemented. We analysed various collections sites around the world, and saw their use of Schema was minimal. Even large sites, such as the Louvre, or the National Gallery, didn’t include any schema within their record pages.

With minimal examples to go off, we decided to just start mapping our metadata inputs to the schema vocabulary, to get a handle on how Schema.org worked in relation to collections. There were some ideas that were very basic, such as title, author, and date. The basics of meta-data was relatively easy to map, and this allowed us to quickly work through the 11 sites that we were focusing on. There were, however, more challenging aspects to the mapping process, which took far longer to figure out. Schema is rather limited for its specific collection framework. While bib.schema exists, an extension that specifically exists for bibliographic information, there is little scope for more specific collection parameters.  There were many debates on whether ‘bib.Collection’ or ‘isPartOf’ worked better for describing a collection, and if it was viable to have 4 separate ‘description’ fields, for different variations of abstracts, item descriptions, and other general information.

The initial mappings for /art, showing relatively logical and simple fields

More complicated mappings in /stcecilias, with a lot of repetition and similar fields, and ones that were simply not possible, or weren’t required.

There were other, more specific, fields we had to deal with, that threw up particular problems. The ‘dimensions’ field is always a combined height and width. Schema.org, with regards to specific dimensions, only deals with individual values: a separate height and a separate width value. It wasn’t until we’d mapped everything that we realised this, and had to rethink our mapping. There was also many considerations for if Schema.org was actually required for every piece of metadata. Would linking specific cataloguing and preservation descriptions actually be useful? How often would users actually search for these items? Would using schema.org actually help these fields? We continually had to consider how users actually searched and explored the websites, and whether adding the schema would aid search results. By using a sample of Google Analytics data, we were able to narrow down what should actually be included in the mapping. We ended up with 11 tables, for 11 websites (see above), offering a precise mapping that we could implement straight away.

The next stage was figuring out how to build the schema into the record pages themselves. Much of the Collections website is run on PHP, which takes the information directly from the metadata files and places them in a table when you click on an individual item. Schema.org, in its simplest form, is in HTML, but it would be impossible to go through every single record manually and mark it up. Instead, we had to work with the record configuration files to allow for variables to be tested for schema. If they were a field with a schema definition, the schema.org tag is printed around it, as an automated process. This was further complicated by filters that are used, meaning several sets of code were often required to formulate all the information on the page. As someone who had never worked with PHP before, it was definitely a learning curve. Aided by various courses on search engine optimisation and Google Analytics, we were becoming increasingly confident in our work.

Our first successes were uploading both the /art and /mimed collections schema onto the test servers, only receiving two minimal errors. This proved that our code worked, and that we were returning positive results. By using a handy plugin in Chrome, we were able to see if the code was actually offering readable Schema.org that linked all of our data together.

The plugin, OpenLink Structured Data Sniffer, showing the schema and details attributed to the individual record. In this case, Sir Henry Raeburn’s painting of John Robison.

As we come to the final few weeks of our internship, we’ve learnt far more about linked data and search engine optimisation than we imagined. Being able to directly work with the collections websites gave us a greater understanding of how the library works overall. I am personally in the MSc Book History and Material Culture programme, a very hands-on, physical programme, and exploring the technical and digital side of collections has been an amazingly rewarding experience that has aided my studies. Some of our schema.org coding will be rolled out to go live before we finish, and we have realised the possibilities that structured data can bring to library services. We hope we have allowed one more person to find the artwork or musical instrument they were looking for. While time will tell how effective schema.org is in the search results pages, we are confident that we have helped the collections become even more accessible and searchable.

Holly Coulson (Library Digital Development)

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Database trials – China Core Newspapers & The Eastern Miscellany

China Core Newspapers provides the full-text articles from 633 current newspapers in China from 2000 onwards. The database is updated daily. The trial can be accessed by going to the China Core Newspapers entry in the Library’s Databases A-Z list, or simply click here. The trial will end on 31 July 2018.

The Eastern Miscellany (《東方雜誌》) was an iconic periodical of the Commercial Press from 1904 to 1948. It is highly regarded as a very important resource for the study of the modern history of China. The database includes the full 44 volumes (819 issues), with over 30,000 articles, 12,000 pictures, and over 14,000 advertisements. Articles cannot be downloaded directly, but the full texts of the articles can be copied and pasted. To access the trial, please click here on the University network. The trial will also be advertised on the Library’s E-resources Trials website. The trial will end on 21 July 2018.

Feedback would be appreciated.

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Session Paper Project Internship

My name is Claire and I am the first intern to work with Nicole on the Session Papers Project.  I am due to graduate with a master’s degree in paper conservation this year, but I am starting this internship to broaden my knowledge of book conservation. Methods and skills within conservation tend to overlap, and this is especially true with books and paper. My role within this pilot project is to assist in the conservation of 300 books. Conservation treatments include structural repairs, consolidation, and board reattachment. The volumes need to be in a good enough condition to withstand digitisation and further handling following the project.

Claire working in the conservation studio

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A Stitch in Time: Mahābhārata Delivered Online

I don’t know if I have ever been more excited about a digitisation project going live:  the Edinburgh University’s 1795 copy of the Mahābhārata is now available online.  This beautiful scroll is one of the longest poems ever written, containing a staggering 200,000 verses spread along 72 meters of richly decorated silk backed paper. As one of the Iconic items in our Collection it was marked as a digitisation priority, so when a customer requested the 78 miniatures back in April 2017 it seemed like a good opportunity to digitise it in its entirety. There was just one problem: it was set to go on display in the ‘Highlands to Hindustan’ exhibition, which opened at the Library in July. This left us with only a narrow window of opportunity for the first stages of the project: conservation and photography. Read More

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Fitba’ crazy, fitba’ mad? A football inspired reading list (yet again!)

The 2018 World Cup kicks off today in Russia and to mark this occasion we decided to resurrect and update our football inspired reading list that we originally published just over 2 years ago when Euro 2016 began (and 2 years before that when the 2014 World Cup started – don’t say we don’t have any new ideas!) These are just a small number of the e-books currently available to staff and students of the University in the Library’s collections that look at different aspects of the beautiful (or not so beautiful) game from a social sciences perspective.

Football and supporter activism in Europe: whose game is it? edited by Borja García and Jinming Zheng explores and compares football governance, fandom culture and supporter engagement in Europe. With a specific focus on supporter activism and campaigning, the collection provides a comparative study of several European countries. The authors argue that supporters, despite being the pillar or the ‘lifeblood’ of their club, see their role in football governance marginalised. The volume is unique in that it challenges the widely accepted assumption that membership football clubs encourage the democratic participation of supporters.

Marketing and football: an international perspective edited by Michel Desbordes and Simon Chadwick examines in two parts the study of football marketing in Europe and the development of a marketing dedicated to football, with the question of the European example being used worldwide.

Football hooliganism, fan behaviour and crime: contemporary issues edited by Matthew Hopkins and James Treadwell focuses on a number of contemporary research themes placing them within the context of palpable changes that have occurred within football in recent years. The collection brings together essays about football, crime and fan behaviour from leading experts in the fields of criminology, law, sociology, psychology and cultural studies. Read More

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Correcting Shakespeare

Since November last year, I have been volunteering on the Luna Project in the Digital Imaging Unit. Throughout the project I have been working with the University of Edinburgh’s Shakespeare Collection. As a fan of Shakespeare’s work, I was delighted to have the opportunity to work closely with this collection which contains a variety of different classic Shakespeare plays such as; Romeo and Juliet, Henry VI, Midsommer Night’s Dreame and my personal favourite, the Taming of The Shrew. Read More

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A Stitch in Time: Mahābhārata Delivered Online I don’t know if I have ever been more excited about a digitisation project going...
Correcting Shakespeare Since November last year, I have been volunteering on the Luna Project in the Digital...

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Default utility Image My Royal Mile This week, we have our final blog from Project Conservator, Helen Baguley, who has been...
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