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For content that has been digitized, I agree with Bethany that researchers analyzing the corpora of mass digitization projects such as Hathi can begin to look at the "macroscopic sense of bodies of knowledge," as you write.</p> <p>For print collections, this is more difficult. A few things come to mind. The first is Dan Cohen's discussion of the graphs that Hathi Trust released showing the uniqueness of print holdings in comparison with other Hathi Trust members:</p> <p><a href="http://www.dancohen.org/2012/12/13/visualizing-the-uniqueness-and-conformity-of-libraries/">http://www.dancohen.org/2012/12/13/visualizing-the-uniqueness-and-conformity-of-libraries/</a></p> <p>(Read the update and clarification at the bottom of the post for further pointers and more on the limitations of this visualization.) It would be neat to be able to have similar graphs available for more libraries, and for specific ranges of holdings within them, e.g., by a particular subject area.</p> <p>Second, because some of the questions you pose and types of content you list as examples typically relate to archives and special collections, the <a href="http://beta.worldcat.org/archivegrid/">ArchiveGrid site</a> comes to mind. It does aggregate archival collection descriptions from around the world and allows you to navigate search results by geography, topic, name, and so forth. Here's an example search result for the keywords "Cuba elections":</p> <p><a href="http://beta.worldcat.org/archivegrid/?q=Cuba+elections&amp;ft=1">http://beta.worldcat.org/archivegrid/?q=Cuba+elections&amp;ft=1</a></p> <p>Following your example of the New York area collections, you could "Narrow by Archive Location" to "United States - New York - New York" and see a combined search result showing collections from Columbia, NYU, NYPL, and the Center for Jewish History. </p> elotroalex on "Search and discovery tool for library collections?" http://digitalhumanities.org/answers/topic/search-and-discovery-tool-for-library-collections#post-1934 Thu, 14 Mar 2013 19:11:46 +0000 elotroalex 1934@http://digitalhumanities.org/answers/ <p>Good call. I'll get in touch with him. </p> Bethany Nowviskie on "Search and discovery tool for library collections?" http://digitalhumanities.org/answers/topic/search-and-discovery-tool-for-library-collections#post-1931 Wed, 13 Mar 2013 03:32:02 +0000 Bethany Nowviskie 1931@http://digitalhumanities.org/answers/ <p><em>Replying to @<a href='http://digitalhumanities.org/answers/profile/elotroalex'>elotroalex</a>'s <a href="http://digitalhumanities.org/answers/topic/search-and-discovery-tool-for-library-collections#post-1930">post</a>:</em><br /> Hey, Alex. You should talk with Stephen Downie of the HathiTrust Research Center. They're exploring just this issue, prompted by similar questions scholars were asking at their recent unconference (not to say, "uncamp"). </p> elotroalex on "Search and discovery tool for library collections?" http://digitalhumanities.org/answers/topic/search-and-discovery-tool-for-library-collections#post-1930 Tue, 12 Mar 2013 18:43:11 +0000 elotroalex 1930@http://digitalhumanities.org/answers/ <p>Correct me if I'm wrong, but most OPAC's and/or other search and discovery mechanisms land you squarely at the item level, lost in a sea of bibliographic monads, no? Hopefully the results will be arranged according to some kind of relevance criteria. Alas, outside of category-specific search and discovery tools (by item type or location in the library), we have hardly a global way of getting a macroscopic sense of bodies of knowledge. Say for example I was doing research on Marian iconography in 14th century France or Cuban elections at the end of the 19th century, and I wanted to see what relevant collections were available in New York. Now, say that CUNY, NYPL, NYU and Columbia had some microfilm, some digitized images, some books, some CD-Roms, some actual illuminated manuscripts, some journal articles on the subject, etc. Without determining <em>a priori</em> the level of abstraction we are willing to endure, what steps, technical and political, do we need to take to have the tool that will allow me to know who has what at the macroscopic level? I hear rumors of folks trying to solve this problem. Stand up and make yourself known! </p>