Virtually Missouri

Originally published in MOREnetworking Vol. 2 No. 1, Sept. 2004

“The greatest thing since sliced bread”

“The greatest thing since sliced bread” is a saying we hear often, but did you know that the bread slicer was actually invented in Chillicothe, Mo.? (“Sliced Bread.” Livingston County Library. 1 Sept. 2004.)

Links to this and other fascinating information can be found on the Virtually Missouri website, a product of the Missouri Digitization Planning Project (MDPP), which is funded through the Missouri State Library (MOSL). Everything from images of 1802 St. Louis Probate Court records (Missouri State Archives) to digital images of letters written by civil war soldiers from the front lines (University of Missouri-Columbia) to audio recordings­ of “Warm Beer and a Cold, Cold Woman” from Brush Creek Follies KMBC radio program (UMKC Miller Nichols Library) are available.

The purpose of the MDPP is to coordinate access to digital collections and exhibits created by the cultural and scientific heritage institutions of Missouri. The Virtually­ Missouri project helps libraries provide Internet access to their special collections: photos, manuscripts, correspondence and postcards.

“These collections are often the last to be cataloged and thus may lack a way for the public to know of their exis­tence and locate them,” states Carl Wingo, a consultant at MOSL. “Digitizing historical materials and making them available via a searchable Web-accessible database is an important new way for libraries to extend access to their collections and help the public find the information it needs.”

According to MOSL Director of Library Development Barbara Reading, “Missouri was one of the first three states in the nation to embark on statewide digitization planning. As the concept has grown, other states are looking at Virtually Missouri as a model for statewide cooperative digitization planning.”

The Missouri Library Network Corporation (MLNC), located in St. Louis, hosts the Virtually Missouri website that provides links to the numerous collections located throughout the state. Collections have been made available from a variety of organizations that include small public libraries, county historical societies, museums, the State Archives­, the Missouri Botanical­ Gardens, and large and small educational institutions, to name a few. The most recent phase of the project­ involves­ building a central database with a Web interface allowing users to search in multiple­ digital collections at the same time. According­ to MLNC Executive Director Tracy Byerly, 4,687 records­ have been loaded in the Virtually Missouri database, with more being added daily.

hendersonl | Wednesday, September 1, 2004 | |


Copyright © 2007 The Curators of the University of Missouri. All rights reserved. DMCA and other copyright information.