This paper will describe Central Florida Memory, a successful model of a collaborative
digitization partnership of libraries, museums, historical societies and archives
which has a positive impact on the learning communities of the region.
Best known for its theme parks and other international tourist attractions,
the Central Florida area has experienced rapid growth, turnover, and immigration,
leaving the population without a sense of community identity. This phenomenon
is not unique to the area, but makes developing a sense of shared history integral
to building community. Because no single institution took the lead in the collection
of historic materials in the region, collections are scattered, and public access
to materials is fragmented.
Central Florida Memory helps create a sense of identity for the Central Florida
region and its inhabitants by providing digital access to historic images and
documents of the area. Travel diaries, photographs, maps, and other resources
can be viewed at home or in schools, bringing history alive for students, families,
researchers, and visitors, changing the way many citizens view the history of
Central Florida. Site visitors are introduced to the rich, varied history proceeding
the era of theme parks, booming population, and the industrial space complex.
By providing ease of access to local primary source material, Central Florida
Memory creates a bridge between learning communities and historical primary
source materials, helping instill a strong connection to the past in current
and future citizens. It draws on the strengths of museums and libraries –
authenticity and authority. What makes Central Florida Memory unique is its
role as a community-building tool, its potential for leadership, and its strong
educational component. Through its “Florida Stories” it provides
interpretation and context for digitized materials. Central Florida Memory makes
available resources for online digitization of collections to the smaller cultural
heritage institutions and organizations of the region.
Central Florida Memory began in the spring of 2002 with an idea that developed
during discussions between the Directors of the Orange County Library System
and the University of Central Florida Libraries. In May of that year, the first
of a series of meetings was held which led to the establishment of Central Florida
Memory. At that initial meeting representatives from the UCF Libraries, the
Orange County Library System and the Orange County Regional History Center discussed
the possibility of a project to digitize local history materials held by their
institutions. There was a lot of excitement about the possibilities and challenges
of this cooperative effort among a public library, a history museum and an academic
library. The focus was on improving access to collections and making materials
available in a way they never had been before.
During these early formative meetings, the group discussed their collections
and the items that were thought to be potential candidates for digitization
as well as questions each organization had about the process; such as how to
work with fragile materials and how large documents would be handled. Expertise
and experience with digitization among the institutions was identified and it
was decided to implement a pilot project to demonstrate to potential grant agencies
that this was a successful project and that grant proposals should be funded.
A time period was established for the pilot project and the group organized
into task forces charged with selection of materials, the development of storylines
to bring the history of Central Florida to life in a unique way, the selection
of software and hardware for storage and access to the image database, and the
development of a website. Procedures were worked out for digitization and Contentdm
was selected as the collection management software to be used. It was also agreed
that an educational component was important for the use of K-12 teachers.
This was a tremendous volunteer effort. The persons involved contributed their
time in serving on committees charged with investigating various aspects of
the project and reporting back to the whole group. Without this significant
effort and enthusiasm, Central Florida Memory would not exist.
Central Florida Memory began as a partnership of three institutions. Central
Florida’s foremost virtual collection of culture and history was established
with a mission to create a comprehensive and accessible digital collection for
scholars, students, teachers, and residents of Central Florida as well as visitors
to the region. Staff time and expertise, equipment and software were contributed
by the partner institutions to create and develop Central Florida Memory. During
the pilot phase, the three original partners selected and digitized over 2,000
images covering the period 1880-1930 without outside funding. The storylines,
which bring the images to life, were also written and integrated into the website.
A visually exciting website was designed that provides stories to engage learners,
sample lesson plans and metadata descriptions for researcher accessibility.
About a year later, in May 2003, the pilot project for Central Florida Memory
was launched online. During the next year, the site continued to be developed
as funding was sought not only to continue Central Florida Memory, but expand
the number of partner institutions. The partner institutions collaborated on
a successful grant proposal to the Institute for Museum and Library Services
which was funded in the fall of 2004 adding the Olin Library of Rollins College
and the Museum of Seminole County History as partners. This new funding enabled
the collaborative model to be expanded and enhanced, as well as to facilitate
the further development of the digital collection and to include additional
educational components. Approximately 60,000 images were added to the collection
from the fall of 2004 to the spring of 2006 representing the most important
materials held by the five institutions.
MISSION AND GOALS
“The mission of Central Florida Memory is to create, through collaboration
among museums, libraries, historical societies, and archives in Central Florida,
a comprehensive digital collection, serving the needs of scholars, students,
teachers, and residents. Here they will access textual and graphical images
and objects that document the region’s historical and cultural heritage.
In order to fulfill its mission, Central Florida Memory established the following
- Provide access to the rich and varied content of libraries, museums, historical
societies, and archives throughout Central Florida.
- Create an extensive digital resource for scholars, students, teachers, genealogists,
Central Florida residents, visitors, and the general public, promoting life
- Assist museums, historical societies, and libraries in digitizing their
collections and become a forum for sharing expertise and technical knowledge.
- Offer a digital archive to those museums, historical societies, and archives
unable to establish their own digital infrastructure.
- Provide an innovative digital resource for K-12 teachers and parents to
bring alive the region’s history into existing and new lesson plans.
- Expand, enhance, and disseminate the collaborative structure model developed
during the Central Florida Memory pilot phase.
- Contribute to the larger body of knowledge of Florida history via access
to the Central Florida Memory website through other statewide project sites.”
From the Central Florida Memory Abstract which can be viewed at www.cfmemory.org/content/aboutdocs/abstract.pdf
Drawing on the collections of its participating institutions, Central Florida
Memory provides a comprehensive collection of manuscripts, public records, ephemera,
books, photographs, and maps documenting social, business, and political, educational,
cultural, and civic life. Materials from all partners are digitized centrally
and initial descriptions gathered from each partner for the images from its
collection are used in the creation of metadata entries.
The Central Florida Memory partnership offers small repositories, both museums
and libraries, a chance to collaborate in the development of a digital repository
for the region. And it provides the opportunity to use an open, publicly accessible
resource on the diverse history of Central Florida.
Central Florida Memory is an important model of successful regional inter-institutional
cooperation. It provides a common set of tools to describe, use, and make available
historical documentation that adds importance and value to the region’s
history while maintaining a community digital repository. The project audience
is multiple local learning communities such as current and future residents,
K-12 students, college students, historians, genealogists, and many others who
desire access to historic materials to enhance their contributions as citizens
and to understand their local history. Regional repositories, their librarians,
archivists, and board members are both audience and contributors, as they teach
their patrons to use the digital repository. Central Florida Memory provides
resources for the sustainable online digitization of collections for a large
regional group of cultural heritage institutions and organizations.
The majority of institutions, especially smaller cultural heritage institutions
and organizations, do not have the tools, resources or expertise to implement
a digital repository system. Because the Central Florida Memory project group
is led by a state-funded public institution, the University of Central Florida
Libraries, it provides the critical digital management infrastructure capable
of storing, migrating, and providing access to the digitized collections. The
institution’s resources are augmented by the statewide resources and consortia
to which the University serves as a portal, such as the Florida Center for Library
Automation’s Florida Heritage Project and the Florida Electronic Library.
The UCF Libraries contributes to the Florida Heritage Project, a digital collection
on Florida history, environment, and culture. Each of the participating State
University Libraries--especially their special collections and archives departments--is
contributing materials from their collections to the Florida Heritage Project.
Some of these are local history books and booklets, advertising materials from
the Florida Boom, Civil War letters, photographs, maps and other materials that
each add to an understanding of Florida's history. Many of these materials are
regional or local in scope. The Florida Electronic Library provides statewide
access and resource sharing of electronic resources and services to all residents
of the state. By meeting state and national standards for the creation of digitized
images and metadata, Central Florida Memory insures its integration into these
One of the greatest benefits of institutional interoperability is the increased
understanding and insight between the library and museum communities. Although
museum and libraries have similar constituencies and missions, they have differing
business models and incentives for collaboration. Inherent in a library’s
mission is providing resources to patrons in as many easily accessible forms
as possible, so the Internet is a natural outlet. Museums also look to the Internet
as a way to share collections and build constituency; however, they tend to
have very divergent views on digitization. Where libraries tend to think more
in terms of fair use, for a museum, image-based collections (such as photographs
and artwork) can provide a significant revenue stream through reproductions
and merchandising. Through cooperation and negotiation between the museums and
libraries involved, the Central Florida Memory website balances the needs of
access and security.
Libraries and museums play a vital role in engaging learners. With its “Florida
Stories” and educational curricula components, Central Florida Memory
not only models inter-institutional cooperation, but partnerships between cultural
heritage and educational institutions. Central Florida Memory has been designed
to meet the needs of a wide variety of learners – from K-12 to life-long
learners and genealogists; from homeschoolers to undergraduate and graduate
students and scholars. The project provides educational resources and tools
to enhance the delivery of instruction of history at all levels, especially
fourth grade teachers and students learning Florida history.
During the development of the project, it was decided that, in addition to the
ability to search by metadata, storylines should be created to provide context
for site visitors, satisfying a spectrum of needs from the casual browser to
the historical researcher. The storyline is a unique feature of the project,
allowing the user to follow a historical story with unique primary source images
from the collection. Narrative and stories in education have been the focus
of increasing attention in recent years. The idea of narrative is fertile ground
for adult educators who know intuitively the value of stories in teaching and
learning. Narrative is deeply appealing and richly satisfying to the human soul,
with an allure that transcends cultures, centuries, ideologies, and academic
disciplines (Rossiter, n. d.)
Initial storylines were developed to document life in the Central Florida region
during the 1880s to 1930s. Broad storyline categories reflect collecting areas
and cultural concerns in the region’s history, including agriculture,
tourism, the environment, and education. The storylines considered the following
questions: “Why did people come to Central Florida?” (Dreams and
Schemes);”How did people get here?” (Rivers, Rails and Trails);
and “What was life like here?” (Critters, Crackers and Cottages).
Due to the rare nature and scarce availability of materials from the nineteenth
century, the decision was made that Central Florida Memory should focus initially
on the period encompassing the 1880s through 1930. Images and quotations were
then chosen to illustrate the storylines, which were further subcategorized
as needed. The storyline on education provides images that link today’s
students with the pupils of the past.
Using storylines, the project's educational consultants developed lesson plans
and activities to support the interpretation and use of the digitized materials
in K-12 classrooms. Lesson plans such as the one based on Newberry Award winning
book, Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski and plans on life as an early
orange grower focus on what life was like in Central Florida in the late nineteenth
and early twentieth century. Additional lesson plans and activities are planned.
The Vital Records section, part of the Critters, Crackers and Cottages storyline,
adds depth by supporting research, contributing to family and community histories,
and building Central Florida Memory’s constituencies. Important primary
resources such as voter registration record ledgers, funeral records and city
directories are included.
Digitization is performed by the Digital Services unit of the UCF Libraries.
CONTENTdm was selected as the digital collection management software because
it can handle the variety of materials found in the collection, including newspapers,
maps, photographs, yearbooks, diaries, and rare books. CONTENTdm supports the
Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH). CONTENTdm
servers function as OAI repositories so project metadata is available for harvesting.
Items are scanned or photographed according to guidelines established by the
State University Libraries of Florida for the Publication of Archival Library
& Museum Materials (PALMM). The PALMM guidelines can be found at http://palmm.fcla.edu/strucmeta/tiff.html.
The master TIFF images created for the project will be burned to DVD for archival
purposes. Derivatives (JPEG) created from these masters will remain on the server
and will be backed up on tape. Metadata complies with Dublin Core standards
and supports OAI-PMH. Using this standard insures that the metadata can be harvested
for the Florida Electronic Library project. Copies of each partner institution’s
image files are provided to them.
Central Florida Memory demonstrates how cooperative ventures involving museums
and libraries combine resources and expertise by pooling diverse institutional
strengths in the creation of a virtual collection. It offers a model of what
a university library, a metropolitan library system, a college library and two
county historical museums can accomplish in the absence of a primary repository.
One of the strengths of Central Florida Memory is its organizational structure.
With the Steering Committee, the Operations Committee and various Working Groups
as components, the synergy and commitment of the group is strong. This demonstrates
that when administrators, curators, education specialists, technicians, librarians,
catalogers, museum specialists, and archivists serve together on several committees,
and work together as a “committee of the whole,” this collaborative
service strengthens the project. From the first meetings of the various groups,
a spirit of cooperation and collaboration was very evident. After the initial
discussions as to what would be required to meet the needs of the various partnership
institutions, it became apparent that the group was interested in furthering
the goals of the partnership not that of the individual institutions alone.
That fact has had much to do with the overall success of the Central Florida
What of the future? During the period January 1, 2004 through December 31,
2005, over 44,000 users visited the website with an average of 120 users per
day. The website users found Central Florida Memory to be interesting and informative.
Based on their comments, the users were enthusiastic and interested in the content
and requested more content including more images. Images will continue to be
added to the digital collection and plans are underway to include more direct
activities for students of all ages building on activities such as the scavenger
hunt for the K-12 school community. There will also be more training for teachers
and others who interpret the website for learners. The libraries, museums and
archives in Central Florida plan to continue their efforts to develop the means
necessary to make a digital future a reality and bring access to primary source
materials on a par with access to books. There are several challenges in providing
better access to these materials, including limited archival training, unprocessed
backlogs of materials, little or no cataloging/metadata expertise and limited
New digital images will expand and complement the existing storylines, such
as more biographical information on the diverse residents of Central Florida,
the variety of agriculture and business development at the time, more information
on tourist and recreational locales, and sports activities. New materials and
educational activities will support a more in depth consideration of the concept
of community as it developed and currently exists in Central Florida. An educational
module for the website is planned which will encourage students to see themselves
as collectors and historians and to enable them to discover local history. The
idea is to encourage family and community collecting and to demonstrate how
to “write your own history.” Activities such as collecting artifacts
and documents, preservation of photographs and writing a journal will be featured.
Central Florida Memory’s curators, librarians, and information professionals
seek to insure that the memory of Central Florida continues through the identification,
preservation and use of its primary source materials. In the first grant application
to the Institute for Museum and Library Services, Central Florida Memory (CFM)
was described in this way: “CFM is a magic box, a technological model
for the human memory, and it is filled with things that enliven, entertain,
and inform. This project seeks to enhance the magic, to measure if others have
entered into this shared experience and to share the memory of the model with
others, always inviting the contribution of new memories, always inviting the
past to inform the present and shape the future.” The narrative can be
viewed at www.cfmemory.org/content/aboutdocs/narrative.pdf
, and the Central Florida Memory website can be viewed at www.cfmemory.org
. An example of a page from the website is illustrated on page 6 of this paper.
Rossiter, M. Narrative and Stories in Adult Teaching and Learning (n. d.),
Eric Digest, viewed 11 July, 2006, www.ericdigests.org/2003-4/adult-teaching.html