Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Presidential Libraries Pool Their Digital Archives

From the American Libraries Association website 16 Feb 2007: Twelve presidential libraries spanning the Herbert Hoover to Bill Clinton administrations have teamed up to create the Presidential Timeline of the 20th Century, a multimedia online archive launched February 15. Spearheaded by the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum in Austin, Texas, the collaborative effort presents interactive timelines of each president’s life that include documents, diaries, maps, photo galleries, audio recordings, video clips, and classroom projects for teachers. The project currently contains 700 primary and secondary documents, some of which were previously available only to scholars. Contributing archivists estimate that continual updates will eventually bring the website’s total number of records into the millions. The archive allows users to scroll the length of a president’s timeline, click on buttons indicating points of interest, and then opt to view related documents. Users can also choose to overlay the timelines to compare the accomplishments of all presidents during a given time. The website also offers a basic text version of each timeline. Until now, presidential materials “hadn’t ever been put together and conceptualized in a way that was user-friendly,” LBJ Library Director Betty Sue Flowers told the February 15 Associated Press. Flowers hopes to one day include earlier presidents by incorporating documents from the Library of Congress.

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