A Historical Cat Twitter Bot and More from The Digital Library of America

Free and Open Source – The Digital Library of America

Those of you who know me know I am totally into podcasts and open source software.  One of my favorite podcasts is FLOSS Weekly.  The podcast is NOT about dental care, FLOSS is short for Free Libre Open Source Software.  The episode currently in my earbuds is all about The Digital Library of America.

Library Nature
Library Nature (Photo credit: Thomas Hawk)

The show is worth the listen, especially if you are a geek who loves both The Internet and libraries, like myself.  The Digital Library of America is a project inspired by similar projects elsewhere in the world.  Europeana is the similar project in Europe as are Trove and DigitalNz in Australia and New Zealand.

The American project is intended to not only be a portal to allow users to search for information but offers an application programming interface, or API for short, which means that developers can make programs to use the portal.  One such application mentioned is  the “Historical Cats” app.  The home page boast that they currently have over 7 million items in the database.  And don’t get your claws out over the cat app, there are more apps on the app page.

The site is pleasing on the eyes, searchable by term, area and date.  Personally, I feel it is a good one to bookmark because Google is not always enough.  Furthermore, the holdings in the data base are not your typical Google results.  If you are looking form more “scholarly” results while researching a topic, this site is a good place to start.

I did a few test searches on the site and found that the results included media of all types including pamphlets, books, audio and video.  A pleasing aspects of the search is that you can further refine your results by format, contributing institution, partner, date, language, location and subject.  This seems like a good project to keep your eyes on as more apps are developed for it.  Currently, it is only one year old so there are not a lot of apps written for it but, as you can explore in the related links below, they have picked up some partners and are expanding their staff hoping to hit a staff of 10 or 11 by the end of the year.