Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More Digital Resources Now Accessible through the University Libraries’ Public Catalog

Three recent enhancements to the University Libraries’ public catalog, CardCat, dramatically enhance its power as a discovery tool for digital resources. Two of these involve links to two major, freely available repositories of digitized books. The third makes CardCat a comprehensive source for access to the University Libraries’ electronic journal collections.

Google Book Search Previews. Introduced in August 2009, CardCat now presents both a Google Preview search button and a preview pane on full-item views when an item is available in Google’s massive digital repository. CardCat users can browse the books directly in CardCat or follow the “More about this Book” link to use all the features of Google Book Search, including reviews, user tags, and links to related books. Limited previews are available for most Google Books, with many public domain books (items published prior to about 1924) available free in full text. In many cases, the Libraries’ local holdings of these titles are available in our Archives and Special Collections. The advantage of having digital access is that they are now freely available for access outside of the University Libraries.

Hathi Trust Digital Library. Added to CardCat in early October 2009, this new button leads to the growing Hathi Trust catalog of digitized books. According to its Web site, the Hathi Trust “was conceived as a collaboration of the thirteen universities of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) and the University of California system to establish a repository for these universities to archive and share their digitized collections.” The link button currently appears in over 15,000 CardCat records with matching titles in the Hathi Trust. All the titles we link to are in the public domain and can be freely accessed in full text. For more information about the Hathi Trust, see

Serials Solutions 360 MARC Updates Service. As a follow up to the suite of Serials Solutions products which the University Libraries rolled out during the spring and summer of 2009, including MultiSearch, MultiLink, and the re-launched Electronic Journals portal, the University Libraries have begun to catalog records for the electronic journals in MultiLink and the Electronic Journals portal. The new CardCat records link to the Electronic Journals portal will list one or more online sources for the journal title. With these 35,000-plus records, as well as monthly updates, CardCat now offers an additional, comprehensive access point for electronic journals.

Dr. Arthur W. Hafner, Dean of University Libraries, said that increasing access to informational resources at the desktop for students and faculty is one of the Libraries’ strategic initiatives. He said that these three enhancements to CardCat were achieved through the efforts of many personnel, particularly Kathryn M. Bohnert and James W. Hammons from Library Information Technology Services and Katharine D. James, Scott R. McFadden, and Kelley C. McGrath from Collection Resources Management.

For more information, contact James W. Hammons, Head of Library Technologies,, 765-285-8032.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Charles E. Bracker Collection Acquired: 30,000 Digital Photographs of Orchids at Ball State University Libraries

The Ball State University Libraries are now the proud home of a collection of more than 30,000 digital photographs and nearly 2,000 prints of orchids. These outstandingly beautiful photographs are the work of Charles E. Bracker, retired professor of botany and plant pathology at Purdue University. The collection of digital photographs is being made available to students, researchers, and orchid-enthusiasts around the world through the Ball State Digital Media Repository (DMR),, a project of the University Libraries.

Dr. Bracker’s wife Anri began their personal collection of orchids in the late 1980s after purchasing two plants on a trip to Hawaii. After his wife passed away in 2001, Dr. Bracker wanted to keep her collection alive and thriving. He installed a basement greenhouse in his home and began adding orchids to the collection. He combined his passion for orchids and photography to create more than 30,000 stunning photographs of orchids.

In 2008, Professor Bracker donated 1,000 orchids to Ball State University’s nationally renowned Wheeler Orchid Collection and Species Bank. Recently, he also decided to give his collection of orchid photographs to Ball State University.

According to Cheryl M. LeBlanc, Wheeler Collection curator, “The combination of the plants and the photographs brings Ball State University to the forefront as having the largest university-based orchid collection in the country.”

The collection of prints and digital images are housed in the University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections. More than 300 of the images are now in the Charles E. Bracker Orchid Photographs collection in the DMR,, and the remainder of the 30,000 images are being added to the collection.

The Bracker Orchid Photographs join a collection of rare orchid books held by Archives and Special Collections. One particularly interesting title is the four-volume set, Reichenbachia, a nineteenth century work containing magnificent color prints of orchids. The title comes from orchidologist Heinrich Gustave Reichenbach. Bound in leather with marbled end pages, these large books were published in two series with each volume dedicated to a queen or empress: Queen Victoria, the Empress of Germany and Queen of Persia, the Empress of Russia, and the Queen of Belgium.

Each book includes color lithography, notes on the orchid’s history and cultures, and structural drawings of each flower.

For more information, contact John B. Straw, Assistant Dean for Digital Initiatives and Special Collections,, 765-285-5078.

Orchid Photographs on Exhibit

A selection of 60 Charles E. Bracker Orchid Photographs are on exhibit outside of the Archives and Special Collections, Bracken Library BL-210, and in exhibit cases on first floor east through December 2009.

The exhibit illustrates the diversity of orchids captured in Dr. Bracker’s superb photography. In a 2006 article in Purdue Agriculture Connections Magazine, Bracker was quoted as saying, “When I take pictures, I take a lot of them.” He said he typically took about 20 exposures for each flower.

Viewers of the exhibit will see that, as a rule, the flowers were only photographed when they were in full bloom. Dr. Bracker’s orchid photographs have been on exhibit in Hawaii, Massachusetts, and various other places in the past.

For more information on the exhibit, contact Lajmar D. Anderson, Archives and Special Collections Supervisor,, 765-285-5078.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New Web Applications Improve Finding an Available Computer and Software in the University Libraries

At the beginning of fall semester 2009, the Ball State University Libraries unveiled two new Web applications that allow students and faculty to find resources in Bracken Library and in the two branch libraries that are located in separate buildings, the Architecture Library and the Science-Health Science Library.

The Computer Availability application allows students and faculty to find available computer workstations in the three facilities. The second utility, Software Locator, helps them to find workstations that are equipped with the particular software that they need. These new utilities are found at the bottom right on the Student Virtual Library Web page,

Libraries’ Student Assistant Danielle Stewart describes the Computer Availability Web page as “…something students can really use.” This online interactive map of Bracken Library updates every five seconds, displaying available or open computers on each floor. Robert L. Seaton, Web Development Analyst, offers a more technical overview of the Web page: “An agent runs on every Public Access Computer (PAC) that reports that computer’s status to a server. The Web page simply requests availability information for each computer by its location and displays them on a map.” The result is that students, faculty, and staff coming to Bracken or one of the two branch libraries can find a computer for use quickly and efficiently without having to hunt for an available workstation. To test the Computer Availability utility, view

With Software Locator, users can quickly find workstations in any of the three libraries that have the particular software they require and can see if those computers are available for use. According to Seaton, “A database is kept up-to-date with information about each Public Access Computer, including its software and its physical location. When a search is performed, the Web page checks the database to identify what computers by their location have a particular piece of software installed. This data is then reported for viewing on the Computer Availability Web page for a map.” To test the Software Locator, view

Information Services Librarian Eric B. Fisher says, “That Software Locator is amazing. I had a student in this weekend [at the Reference Desk]. He was looking for Microsoft Project. I used the locator to find what computers have it loaded and was able to send him right to one that he could use.”

When modifications to software on any computer occur, updating of the database immediately reflects the new software availability in the system, eliminating any lag inherent in publishing a new software list.

For more information, contact Sean Walton, Emerging Technologies Librarian,, 765-285-1101.

Labels: , ,