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Online multimedia museum exhibits: a case study in technology and collaboration
Matthew F Nickerson .

Background
True to our mission, the Sherratt Library at Southern Utah University (SUU) strives to provide our faculty and students with the latest technological tools for finding, accessing and evaluating information resources. The rapid development of computer and telecommunicationtechnologies is changing not only on how we search, retrieve and use the information, but also the formats and media in which information is being packaged and shared. We assist faculty, students and community members in accessing all kinds of information. Resources arrive as text, images, animations, audio, and video, and each of these media can be found stored and shared in a wide variety of formatsreflected by a mesmerizing list of file extensions:.txt, gif. jpg, .png, .pdf, .swf, .ra, .wav, .aif, .mid, mp3, .wma, .avi, .mov, .ram, .wmv. Computer capabilities that were considered “extras” a few short years ago are now becoming essential for our patrons. CD drives, sound cards, browser plug-ins, media players, and access to high capacity storage devices (ZIP, CD burners, etc.) are now basic toolsavailable on all our public access machines. As we work to provide our patrons with the tools they need to access and use the vast amount of information now available we have also studied how we can take advantage of these same tools to provide greater access to our own in-house resources. In particular, during the past five years we have made concerted efforts to use the power of new technologies toimprove access and encourage the use of materials in our Special Collections. Ever since our card catalog gave way to the online public access catalog, we have searched for ways to provide our Special Collections patrons with the same level of computer searching power enjoyed by users of our library’s book and serial collections. In 1998, we joined the b-test for the encoded archival description(EAD) and since that time we have created a large library of finding aids for our manuscript and photograph collections. The online search engine not only provides powerful searching capabilities for the EAD based catalogs but also offers direct access to digital surrogates of rare photos, documents, diaries, and more. Our patrons have responded very positively to the increased access and the useof these important resources continues to rise. As media technologies continued to evolve, we saw an additional opportunity for expanding accessibility to our Special Collections, and we
Received: 21 January 2004 Revised: 8 April 2004 Accepted: 12 June 2004

The author
Matthew F. Nickerson is Professor based at the Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah, USA.

Keywords
Grants, Libraries,Museums, Multimedia, Online operations

Abstract
Eight partners including three university libraries and five regional museums worked together to create the Voices of the Colorado Plateau online exhibit. This site features multimedia exhibits that combine oral history recordings and historic photographs to create a new and engaging online museum experience. Computer and telecommunicationtechnologies were vital in the collaboration, creation and dissemination processes. Collaborative projects among libraries and museums can capitalize on both similarities and differences between these culture heritage institutions. Working in consortia can produce results that cannot be achieved alone. Both number and geographical separation of the partners in this project represent a unique level ofcooperation and integration. The extensive use of oral history in a multimedia museum exhibit is also unique to this project.

Electronic access
The Emerald Research Register for this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/researchregister The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/0737-8831.htm

Library Hi Tech Volume 22 · Number...
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