Given the popularity of 71 Digital Portals to State History from last month–we got many comments with great additions to that list–I thought it would be useful to extend the conversation to the local level. Unlike for the earlier post, we did not have the services of an intern to do the research, so the starting list is shorter. But we were able to quickly pull together the list below of 39 county, municipal and other local institutions that provide online access to unique digital resources useful for studying the history and culture of their communities.
The starter list was assembled with some basic parameters. State-wide and regional portals are left out, although it would make sense to include them in a master list. The previous blog post, along with the details provided by the Library of Congress web page State Digital Resources: Memory Projects, Online Encyclopedias, Historical & Cultural Materials Collections, do a good job covering state-level portals. The list also aims to exclude local collections that are bundled within a state-wide portal. A number of states have a done fine work coordinating with local institutions to put collections online, including Ohio Memory, Washington Rural Heritage and The State of Wisconsin Collection from the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center (just to name some). Scores of local institutions are represented through such portals. A more comprehensive list could, perhaps, specifically mention each of those entities.
The list is heavy with public libraries. Certainly other kinds of institutions are providing this kind of service as well and ultimately should be included in a more comprehensive accounting. On the other hand, the list does attempts to be broad in terms of collection size and coverage, as well as the level of technological sophistication used to to present content. The list emphasizes access, although it is to be hoped that all the institutions named are relying on current best practices for digital preservation.
I know there are many more worthy sites out there. Please let us know what is missing from this starter list. We will compile suggestions into a more complete list and make it available. Think of it as a crowdsourcing project!