NYU Added Value

As the NYU Architecture digitization project has progressed, its mission has developed to include the creation of an online exhibition of the materials within the Roberto Collection and to provide online access to a wider range of digitized materials. The duality that exists within this project means that the website will have to be carefully laid out for users to gain the maximum research potential. The site itself will be divided into two distinct sections, the exhibition space and the online digitized collection, therefore an introduction page will be needed to guide users to these separate sections. In addition the introduction page will house an quick historical introduction (several sentences) contact information, FAQ, project mission statement, information about the physical Roberto Collection, digitization policy, and links to current articles pertaining to recent NYU expansion plans.

While the introduction/main page of the website will contain links to more practical questions about the project, there will also be links to the Online Exhibition and the Digital Online Archive. The Online Exhibition will have its own main page which be comprised of a map of the Washington Square campus as it appeared in the 1960s and instructions to click on various sites and buildings for more information. Once a site has been clicked the user will be brought to pop-up page that consists of a historical narrative of the site. This information will include previous use of the space before NYU, significant architectural features, any controversies involving proposed plans, and other factual information that the project team decides to display. All paragraphs will be properly cited when necessary. While generating the text for individual buildings and sites will be a significant portion of the Online Exhibition, the addition of photographs, maps, blueprints, articles, and correspondence will be available to enhance the text as well as provide links to high resolution digitized materials.

Digitized images in the Online Exhibition will also provide links to the entire Digital Online Archive of materials. In this way the exhibition can serve as an educational and fun way to learn about the history of NYU buildings programs in the 1960s, but also as a link to the greater body of materials that cannot be displayed in the exhibition.

The success of the Digital Online Archive for the Roberto Collection will lie in its ability to provide easy access to images, clear navigation of the collection, and useful search limits and suggested searches. Extensive metadata tagging will make this process easier but a straight-forward search screen will be crucial. Materials will be searchable by building name and address but also by medium and type. Ex. Ink sketch, black and white photograph, typed correspondence, etc. This capability will also allow users to look for specific types of materials such as only photographs or blueprints, but also control the medium. This fact is necessary with a collection that consists of such a wide variety of materials in various formats.

In addition to allowing users to limit their searches by the above criteria and user-generated keyword/subject searches, the site will feature a suggested searches section. These search terms will be generated by the project staff and based on their expectations of use of certain materials. Finally each document that is searched and viewed will provide a brief explanation of the item as well as related searches based off the particular document. For example, a search for a black and white photograph of Bobst Library after construction might suggest links to other photos of Bobst during this time period or newspaper articles announcing the opening of the library.

While the Online Exhibition and the Online Digital Collection are the main features of the site, previously mentioned sections in the website index such as Contribute/Share, Historic Preservation Links, Teacher Resources, and Permissions will be presented on the introductory page with appropriate links to the information. It is expected that these links will be not be the primary attraction of the site and will therefore require less extensive layout planning.

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