The following is a guest post by David Brunton, a Supervisory Information Technology Specialist in the Library of Congress Office of Strategic Initiatives.
The National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress have partnered to enhance access to historic newspapers for many years with the National Digital Newspaper Program. A centerpiece of this partnership is the Chronicling America website. At over six million pages from over thirty states, the program meets this commitment by publishing historic newspapers on the web.
The software that runs this centerpiece is developed in the Library of Congress’s Repository Development Center, and it is called chronam. It is available for anyone to use: http://github.com/LibraryofCongress/chronam/. From the project README:
“The idea of making chronam available here on Github is to provide a technical option to these awardees, or other interested parties who want to make their own websites of NDNP newspaper content available.”
Around this release, we added a large number of features, and fixed some bugs as well:
- look and feel can be easily customized
- database size has been decreased by over 90%
- search URLs are more cache-friendly
- word coordinates are saved to the filesystem and delivered compressed
- much, much more
The customizability is illustrated with the two side-by-side screenshots requiring only a single line change in a configuration file. On the left is our default for the Library of Congress website, and on the right is a generic view without any Library of Congress branding.
We created a public mailing list, for talking about the software, and we began to publicize our work with the NDNP awardees. We are now sharing it more widely, in the hopes of furthering the mission to enhance access to historic newspapers.