Friday, July 24, 2009 adds collections

I don't blog much about new digital collections, but thought I would about this one. Why? I think this is a great example of how long it can take to go from an idea to a fully formed program.

In 1998, at least two of the multi-type library consortia in New York State began planning for digitization programs. Since then, each of the nine multi-type library consortia in the State have created digitization plans and embarked on a program. But most took a while to get started. Some even started, then stopped when member libraries realized that to capitalize on the promise of digitization took a lot of work. (I refer to this as "hitting the wall". They went from "wow" to "oh no" and came to a complete stop.)

From that slow beginning, and starts-n-stops, have emerged nine well-thought out programs. In 2007, they began to think about the next step -- could the develop a statewide digital repository? When a collaborative grant proposal didn't receive funding, the nine consortia looked to see if they could do something on their own. Their resolve launches New York Heritage is a research portal that provide entree into the digital collections of the nine library consortia (or New York 3R Councils). As the site says:
When doing a search from the search box, this website will locate items that match your search criteria in all collections in all NY 3Rs CONTENTdm sites. Your search results may retrieve items from only one collection or multiple collections depending on the topic. When you click on a particular item in the search results a new window will open directly into the regional 3Rs CONTENTdm site and specifically into the collection in which the item is housed.
The site launched in 2008 and has continued to grow since then (as you can see below).

10 years is a long time, but sometimes it takes a long time to go from baby steps to running a marathon. Yes...digitization programs are like marathons. Much has to happen before any work is done. Most of all, the people need to be committed to the effort. Resources need to allocated and always available. And everyone needs to keep their eye on the goal. adds collections

The New York 3Rs Association has added sixteen more online collections to its collective digital heritage web site, The site now connects more than 200 digital collections from around the state, contributed by libraries, archives, museums and other cultural institutions, and builds on existing digital repository services administered by each of the nine reference and research library resources councils.

New materials include the Historical Portraits Collection from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Elmira College's Mark Twain Archive, the New York Historical Association's Murder Pamphlet Collection Exhibit , early Robert Montgomery materials housed at the Trinity-Pawling School Collection, Alfred University's Image Archives, Rochester Medical Museum and Archives, NYU's Abraham Lincoln Brigade Collection, images from the Onondaga Nation at the Liverpool Public Library, folk art collections at the Crandall Public Library Folklife Center, the Steinmetz Collection of Schenectady, the Almquist Green Lakes Collection housed at the Fayetteville Public Library, and many others from around the state. For an up-to-date list of collections and contributors, please go to

Additionally, The Tools of History regional digitization site, created by the South Central Regional Library Council, has been added, as have been the Rochester Regional Library Council's Finger Lakes-Genesee Valley Heritage and the Capital District Library Council Digital Collections regional sites.

A variety of materials can be found among the New York Heritage Digital Collections, including photographs, postcards, correspondence, manuscripts, oral histories, yearbooks and newspapers. Many kinds of institutions from New York State have partnered to make this project possible, including public, academic and school libraries, museums, archives and historical societies. The power of collaboration is what makes this new service possible.

Participants to New York Heritage Digital Collections are committed to enhancing the site by adding both content and contributing institutions on a regular basis. The goal of the project is to eventually connect one thousand collections and one million items from throughout New York State. All institutions interested in participating in the project are encouraged to contact the 3Rs organization that serves their region.

The New York 3Rs Association is a partnership among New York’s nine reference and research resource systems. The New York 3Rs was incorporated in 2003 to further the ability of those systems to provide statewide services. The members of the New York 3Rs Association are: the Capital District Library Council, Central New York Library Resources Council, Long Island Library Resources Council, Metropolitan New York Library Council, Northern New York Library Network, Rochester Regional Library Council, Southeastern New York Library Resources Council, South Central Regional Library Council, and Western New York Library Resources Council.

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