Kevin Comerford
Kevin Comerford,director of Digital Initiatives and Scholarly Communication for the College of University Libraries and Learning Sciences with a photo from the eHillerman archive.
Credit: Patricia Campbell

Digital Initiative and Scholarly Communication (DISC) employees and graduate fellows at the College of University Libraries and Learning Sciences host an open house in the recently opened office suite B25 in Zimmerman Library on Oct. 22. Current and future projects will be showcased from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The UNM community and public are invited.

DISC and the Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections are working in partnership to provide online access for UNM’s special collections and archives, as well as a wide variety of digital resources from institutions throughout the state. DISC faculty and staff manage image and multimedia digitization projects, develop special project websites, and produce electronic educational resources. DISC also supports cooperative local, state, and national initiatives dedicated to access and preservation of digital content, and promotes open access to scholarly resources at the university. Some of the major projects that DISC currently manages are:

Online Collection Resources
New Mexico’s Digital Collections
New Mexico Digital Collections (NMDC) is a ContentDM-based digital media repository that is over ten years old. The site contains more than 100,000 objects and features collections from UNM and 21 other institutions.

Rocky Mountain Online Archive
The Rocky Mountain Online Archive is a repository archive inventories for collections in New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming. RMOA currently hosts more than 10,000 individual inventories from 30 participating institutions

Current Digital Initiatives
In addition to supporting the major collection database for the state, the DISC Unit and the CSWR have also collaborated on a number of exciting historical research projects that provide educational resources and showcase important collections. These are:

Tony Hillerman Portal
The Tony Hillerman Portal is a comprehensive online resource for researchers and students who wish to learn more about the author, his life, and work. The site hosts high-resolution digital reproductions of Hillerman manuscripts, screenplays, and papers, as well as a complete bibliographic catalog of his published works. A major focus of the project has been on the development interactive features for the manuscripts that help students navigate the southwestern cultural, historical, and geographical references that are core to understanding Hillerman’s works.

Celebrating New Mexico Statehood
This website was developed for the New Mexico statehood centennial celebration in 2012, but continues to be a popular resource for teachers and students across the state. The site provides access to educational materials about New Mexico’s history and culture, including a historical timeline, lesson plans, and an integrated search engine that can retrieve collection resources from 12 area cultural heritage institutions.

Future Plans
The application of new and emerging technologies will be vital to the future success of digital libraries. To this end, the UNM Libraries DISC unit is developing a variety of initiatives that bring novel search and navigation technologies to traditional historic subjects. One important initiative will offer a new way to experience one of America’s foremost historic landmarks:

Route 66 Comes to Life: Past and Present
The Center for Southwest Research recently completed a project to photograph the entire path of historic Route 66 through the city of Albuquerque, documenting the current state of many famous landmarks and historic buildings. This project will develop a “mixed reality” interface that allows contemporary location photographs of “the mother road” to be compared with historic images and 3-D models of original Route 66 landmarks. The resulting resource will be valuable for education and historical research in a variety of disciplines.

As university special collections grow, so does the desire to digitize these resources for archival, preservation, and access purposes. However basic access to images and multimedia through online databases alone is no longer sufficient for today’s students and digital humanities researchers. Thus the challenge for digital scholarship centers like DISC is to design innovative and useful interfaces that provide new access methods, intelligent search engines, and enhanced contextual metadata for digital library collections.