Digital 1828 Catalogue Collection

Digital 1828 Catalogue Collection

Jun 16, 2017. | By: Dean Irvine

With thanks to Loren Moulds and Jim Ambuske at the UVA Law Library for the project backstory

In 1820, Thomas Jefferson believed the new University of Virginia (UVA) would empower the “illimitable freedom of the human mind, to explore and to expose every subject susceptible of its contemplation.” Jefferson envisioned the library as the centerpiece of university life and the foundation of his grand vision for American education. In 1824, he selected 7,000 volumes, including over 700 law books, to fill the library’s shelves. Jefferson believed that enabling access to these texts at UVA would overcome economic disparities and create educational opportunities for a broad audience. “Great standard works of established reputation, too voluminous and too expensive for private libraries,” he wrote to the university’s purchasing agent, “should have a place in every public library, for the free resort of individuals.” In Jefferson’s mind, an easily accessible library should be one of the cornerstones of a democratic society by allowing citizens and scholars convenient access to knowledge and the tools to create new knowledge.

1828 CatalogueBill Ferster, Visualizing the 1828 University of Virginia Library

The Digital 1828 Catalogue Collection Project reconstructs the original corpus of 721 legal texts purchased for the first UVA library and listed in UVA’s 1828 Catalogue. The UVA Law Library has been working for forty years to collect these rare legal titles, most of which were originally selected by Thomas Jefferson. The Jefferson Trust has underwritten a student-centered project to build a digital version of this collection using a new tool called the Virtual Bookshelf.

Agile has been invited to assess the prototype of the Virtual Bookshelf and its current features:

  • Display the volumes relative to each other’s height and thickness
  • Permit a user to conduct custom searches based on a number of criteria. Search results are presented to the user by ghosting out non-applicable items while retaining search hits in full color.
  • Upon selecting a text off the shelf, present the viewer with a book’s short title, images of the front cover, title page, spine, and a series of metadata categories.

During the summer and fall of 2017, Agile will be working with Loren Moulds, Jim Ambuske, and Melissa Gismondi at the UVA Law Library on the redesign of the 1828 Catalogue Collection site and its visualization tool.

Our timeline to launch the new site and data viz is October 2017.

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