Project Update

D-Lib Magazine
June 2002

Volume 8 Number 6

ISSN 1082-9873

The KYVL Kentuckiana Digital Library Project

Background and Current Status


Eric Weig
Kentuckiana Digital Library
Kentucky Virtual Library

Red Line



The 1997 Kentucky Postsecondary Education Improvement Act, under the leadership of Governor Paul Patton's administration, allowed the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education to provide funding for the Kentucky Virtual Library (KYVL). In 1999, the KYVL implemented its digital library initiative focused on providing enhanced access to archival collections housed in Kentucky repositories by creating a single, integrated source for searching and navigating Web accessible electronic text, archival collection finding aids, digital photographs and digital audio files documenting the history and heritage of Kentucky. This initiative was entitled the Kentuckiana Digital Library Project.

Kentuckiana Digital Library Project participants currently represent 15 Kentucky institutions including colleges, universities, historical societies and museums. During the 1999/2000 planning year, a digital library plan for selecting appropriate resources, creating digital content and providing Web-based access and navigation to the resulting digital collection material was developed. Federal funding through the NHPRC (National Historical Publications and Records Commission) assisted with planning, as project participants worked with digital library consultants to draft and further develop best practice guidelines for producing digital library content.

photograph of tobacco worker

Tobacco Warehouse worker, Louisville, 1911.
Part of the R.C. Ballard Thruston Photograph Collection,
The Filson Historical Society.

Selecting Resources

The Kentuckiana project's selection focus is supported within a broad Library of Congress subject heading hierarchy based on the subject contents of J. Winston Coleman's A Bibliography of Kentucky History, which identifies major works dealing with the history and heritage of Kentucky before 1950 [Coleman, 1949]. Kentuckiana Digital Library content includes published material as well as archival materials, such as manuscripts, photographs, and diaries. The intended audience for these materials includes scholars, researchers, higher education students, and the K-12 community. Copyright, format, physical condition of original material, existing metadata, and significance of archival collection resources are also considered when selecting items for digital conversion.

Digital Lab

The Kentucky Virtual Library and the University of Kentucky have worked together to build a digital lab, which is housed at the University of Kentucky where the Kentuckiana Digital Library Project is managed. Faculty and staff of the digital lab assist in training statewide project participants and draft best practice guidelines, as well as handle systems administration and digital conversion. The lab is equipped with a digital camera, a 35mm microfilm scanner, and four flatbed scanner workstations.


In the production of online holdings, through utilization of respected digital library standards, the Kentuckiana Digital Library Project has adopted strategies centered on providing long-term access to digital content. In a broad sense, these strategies involve using system-independent, non-proprietary data formats such as XML (eXtensible Markup Language) and adopting the practice of "master" and "derivative" file creation to produce high quality digital files for off-line storage and migration. These files are then used to create lower quality derivative files that are offered over the Web. Specific standards utilized in the project include Dublin Core for bibliographic metadata creation, EAD (Encoded Archival Description) for encoding archival finding aids, and TEI-Lite (Text Encoding Initiative) for encoding full-text resources.

photograph of miner

Miner, 1946.
Part of the Russell Lee Photograph Collection,
The University of Kentucky.

Project Highlights

Kentuckiana Archival Finding Aids
A collection of EAD (Encoded Archival Description) Archival Finding Aids represents the core of the Kentuckiana Digital Library Project. Through state funding by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, a retrospective conversion project comprised of over 20,000 pages of paper finding aids resulted in over 3,500 searchable digital finding aids representing 15 Kentucky repositories. These finding aids were made available to the research community in Spring/Summer 2001. Ongoing local efforts continue on the creation of basic EAD collection descriptions as well as full inventory listings. The project expects to have well over 4,000 finding aids online by early 2003.

Kentuckiana Digital Photographs
The Kentuckiana Digital Library currently includes over 15,000 digital photographs with representation for every county in Kentucky.

Kentuckiana Rare Books (planned)
1,500 pre-1925 brittle books on Kentucky history have been selected for digitization. These titles were selected from prior NEH-funded preservation microfilming projects conducted at the University of Kentucky.

Completed Projects:

Vintage Fiddlers Oral History Project
<>. Archival Finding Aid, thirty 60-minute digitized audio recordings and 14 digitized photographs. This oral history project, which was conducted in 1984 and 1985, collected and preserved the record of the fiddling careers of six Appalachian fiddlers. (Morehead State University)

Goodman-Paxton Collection
<>. Archival Finding Aid, 4,954 digitized photographs. This collection consists of loose photographs and nine albums from George Goodman, Director of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in Kentucky, depicting the accomplishments of the WPA within the state from 1934 - 1942. Loose photographs, and those included in albums, are fully identified and arranged by county. (University of Kentucky)

Cooper (John Sherman) Oral History Project
<>. Archival Finding Aid, Annotations for all 83 interviews, 20 digitized full-text transcripts. John Sherman Cooper (1901-1991), born in Somerset, Kentucky, served as United States Senator (1947-1948, 1952-1955, and 1957-1973), ambassador to India and Nepal (1955-1956), and ambassador to East Germany (1974-1976). The interviews in this collection document many aspects of Cooper's political and personal life, including an interview with close family friend Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. (University of Kentucky)

Duff's Funeral Notices Scrap Book
<;hf=0>. A collection of six hundred and seventy-six funeral notices printed in Lexington between 1806 and 1887. Included, are Mary Todd Lincoln's mother, Eliza [Parker] Todd, her father, Robert S. Todd, and her brother, grandmother, and nephew. Also included in the funeral notices are John Boswell and Charles Wickliffe, who were both victims of duels. (Lexington Public Library)

Ford Photo Album Collection
<>. Archival Finding Aid, 306 digitized photographs. The Arthur Y. Ford Albums were assembled in 1904 for display in the Kentucky Building at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. The Ford albums contain photographs of Kentucky scenes from the Appalachian, Bluegrass and western portions of the state as well as photographs of the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition, including views of the Kentucky Building and exhibits. (University of Louisville)

Project Site

The Kentuckiana Digital Libary Project can be accessed via the Kentucky Virtual Library Web site at <>.


Coleman, J. Winston. A Bibliography of Kentucky History, The University of Kentucky Press, Lexington, 1949. Available at <>.

Copyright 2002 Eric Weig

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DOI: 10.1045/june2002-weig