Tag Archives: Carnegie Library

What, it’s not on the Internet?

demographicsGenerally when we talk about the Digital Divide, we’re talking about the disparities in use and access to the Internet and other digital resources – primarily due to income, education, and/or geography. In April last year the Pew Research Center / Pew Internet Project released a comprehensive report on the Digital Divide – Digital differences – a survey based analysis of who’s using the Internet and how/where they’re accessing it.  While absolute trends have changed as the technologies have changed, The US is still faced with 20% of its adult population not using the Internet – though half of that is a choice, not a circumstance.

As librarians, we at the Carnegie and libraries around the country help overcome the digital divide on regular basis; running the spectrum of users from those who become self-sufficient to varying degrees, and those for whom the mouse and PC are the tools of the devil, wholly unclean and not to be touched.  I also regularly work with others for whom there is another variety of the digital divide; one that determines their future course of work and changes their otherwise comfortable relationship with the library, its librarians, and greatly challenges their 21st Century assumptions.  This divide occupies a narrow spectrum of information – that which isn’t available online – no way, no how.

telegraphIsn’t everything available online? No, it isn’t.  Generally speaking, most of what the average library user asks for is available online; maybe in a full-text database, perhaps in a published government document, possibly in a curated digitized collection, and of course in e-books.  There are also some standard tools like the USPTO’s patent search engine with accompanying displays, and one of my favorites – Google Earth. Of course we’re also positioned, and more importantly trained, to help our users with the non-digital resources they need.  Sometimes we need to do things as if it’s 1970, and that’s not necessarily a given for many students and other library users. We’ve all become comfortable with both the actual access and the assumption of access that “our” information is a click away.

The danger with that assumption is two-fold. The first will be the conclusion after an unsuccessful search that the information you’re seeking doesn’t exist – if it’s not digital, ipso-facto, it hasn’t been created.  The second concern, and maybe the more prevalent one, is that knowing it doesn’t exist electronically simply drives the user to an electronic source that they make meet their need, even if it’s a tertiary (or worse) source.  Just because most of what you might seek is available online, that doesn’t mean it all is, or that the best of it is, and that is why you can always Ask a Librarianask_a_librarian150

– Richard


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Iron & Steel – Part I

– THERE is a glamor about the making of steel.  (Fitch, The Steelworkers. 1910.)

It’s an inevitable word association.  It doesn’t matter that 30 – 40 years have passed since the collapse of the monolithic steel industry here; mention Pittsburgh and the reflexive response is going to be either “steel mills” or “Steelers.” Industrial production leaves the kind of physical, emotional and intellectual legacy that medical research just won’t capture.

In 2008, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh received an IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services) National Leadership Demonstration Grant. In this grant Carnegie Library undertook to scan, digitize and make available 500,000 pages of historic materials related to the iron and steel industry here.  Our goal was to bring together the varied materials in our collection, books, periodicals, photographs, catalogs and maps that both directly and indirectly touched the iron and steel industries in Pittsburgh and around the region.  The link is inescapable for us; no steel rails – no Carnegie Steel Corp. – No Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

In finding materials to scan we uncovered a treasure trove of distinct pieces of information, shelved in their respective parts of the library collection, that are now brought together digitally to tell a greater story; something harder to do when working with the physical shelving arrangements we use.  All told, we’ve prepared, arranged, recorded, boxed, tracked, cataloged, and determined metadata for 1280 items totaling 522,895 pages. Finding this material is pretty easy.  

Go to http://www.carnegielibrary.org/eCLP/ironsteel/ to read about it, or http://www.clpdigital.org/jspui/ to throw yourself into searching by keyword.  The other way to access these materials is to use the library catalog and conduct an Author Search for Pittsburgh Iron & Steel Heritage Collection, or to do a Keyword Search for IMLS.  Try Keyword searching some obvious names or phrases like IMLS and Carnegie Steel or IMLS and Mesta.  Mesta Machinery Co. was a Pittsburgh based manufacturer of the equipment and machinery that made steel.  Their products are what made all the noise and belched all the smoke.   The reason to include IMLS as part of the search is that there are still many materials we didn’t include in the project, because of condition, content or because they’re still under copyright and can’t be reproduced without permission.  

Not everything scanned has made it into the digital collection yet; the new “product,” usually a PDF, still needs to be cataloged and have its metadata completed, but it’s about 2/3rds finished.  Carnegie Library’s Catalog Librarians may have had the hardest jobs in this project.  

Keep in mind that Saturday, April 14th from 11 – 3 is an open Community Day at Main Library to officially launch the Iron & Steel Heritage Collection.  The library will feature book talks, story sharing, photographic displays, and at 11:30 and 1:30 a presentation with questions and answers by Mr. Tom Barnes, a librarian in Reference Services and a former steel worker.

To be continued…

– Richard

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