The University Library’s digital collections – digitized physical items from the Library’s archival & special collections and items owned by campus partners, including the Bentley Historical Library, William L. Clements Library, and the University of Michigan LSA Museums – encompass slightly more than one million items. The U-M Library has more than 300 separate digital collections that contain those items, and a significant portion are available without restriction to anyone to discover and engage with. While there has long been a way that users can search across these text and image collections, or within a particular collection, until recently this was not available through our main U-M Library discovery platform.
Now, the large majority of these items are findable through U-M Library Search. Items are indexed by item titles, descriptions, and keywords, meaning that our digital collections are much more readily findable and accessible by users around the world. Any institutional subscriber can add this product to their collection by activating “University of Michigan Library Digital Collections” through the Summon or Central Discovery Index administrative panel. For institutions that have not activated this, the items can still be found by expanding the search scope beyond their library’s holdings.
Digital collection items can specifically be found in the Articles section of U-M Library Search (as well as in other libraries’ discovery interfaces), appearing with other results that match a user’s query. Some examples:
- A search in U-M Library’s Articles Search for “Tongque Dance” will retrieve a number of digitized images from the U-M Library’s Pioneers of Chinese Dance collection.
- A search for “John Hale witchcraft” retrieves books from the Evans Early American Imprint Collection
- A search for “Ypsilanti Ford building” retrieves images from the Ypsilanti Historical Society Photo Archives
- A search for “clay lamp carthage” returns artifacts from the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology digital collection
- A search for “lord byron mary cockle” returns poems within the British Women Romantic Poets digital collection
How It Works
The U-M Library has an OAI-PMH feed of all digital collection items that are available without restriction. This feed provides, for each individual record, the title, description, keywords, and URL of digital collection items but not the actual item itself. This U-M Library feed is available to anyone and could be added to any other search index.
When items are added to or removed from a digital collection, or a new digital collection is added and is able to be included, the OAI-PMH feed will include the new material. How quickly it appears in an external index depends on the frequency of updates for that product.