Histories of the National Mall

Histories of the National Mall is a must have for a trip to D.C. As the site explains, ” Histories of the National Mall takes you on a tour of the National Mall’s rich past by offering historical maps, a chronology of past events, short bios of significant individuals, and episodes in the Mall’s history.” Designed in part to be a travel resource, the site is perfectly compatible for mobile devices and on-the-go use.

Based around its interactive map, the site allows one to take a walking tour of the area around the National Mall. The site has pinned all of the monuments and points of interest around the mall and provides a quick historical synopsis of the monument. But what makes the site so interesting and immersive is its treatment of the mall’s History in general. To go along with the monuments, the site has pinned locations around the mall where significant historical events have happened. And by clicking on the pin, a brief historical summation of the event appears.

The site even provides a set of general questions and answers for the user. This feature effectively designates the site as a stand in tour guide. To make the site even more interactive, it also provides the user with a scavenger hunts, encouraging users to find specific, lesser known locations.

Though not suitable for scholarly use, the site is the perfect companion for any trip to the national mall and highlights the ways the digital media can be used in the realm of public history.

To access the site, follow the link below: http://mallhistory.org/

Digital Public Library of America

The great thing about digital technology is that it is encyclopedic. What I mean is that, under the right format, computers have the ability to archive digitized versions of documents and records otherwise forgotten about.  To some, this capability may go unrecognized and unappreciated. But to the researcher, whose career is predicated upon sifting through these documents, being able to access them at the touch of a button has made his or her life so much easier and, without a doubt, so much more productive. If they were not digitized and stored on the web, the researcher would first have to find away to visit the library in person. Then, he or she would have to manually sift through records until the right file or set of files was found. This way, the manual way, wastes tons of valuable time that could be better spent on the next step of a project or on the next project entirely. With the documents on the web, however, a researcher needs not to leave his or her personal desk to find what he or she is looking for. All that is needed is a computer. So, to put it simply, digitized records and digital libraries save time and, as a result, facilitate the otherwise lengthy and sometimes frustrating research process.

The Digital Public Library of America is the mecca of digital archives–or, at least, it aims to be. It collects books, documents, and images found in public libraries all across the country and compiles them in their digital format. And, unlike the manual archival process, searching for these items is facilitated in a number of ways. A user can get to a specific item by searching  via a keyword search, location, date, or exhibit. The site even allows one to explore using metadata. To facilitate the research process even further, the site also provides associated maps and timelines that help the researcher determine what is pertinent and what is not.

So, in sum, the site is just as the name implies. It is America’s Public Library. Only instead of bookshelves and the Dewey Decimal System, it relies on PDF files and search bars. To access the site follow the link: http://dp.la/


Image Comes from DPLA Tumblr: http://digitalpubliclibraryofamerica.tumblr.com/