The College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Kentucky (UK) has created the Passport to the World Program (PWP) to celebrate campus-wide the cultural heritage of a country or region every academic year. The UK Libraries International Programs has been an active contributor to PWP by collaborating with faculty and different library departments to develop unique digital collections that serve to connect viewers with the featured country or region.

To begin with, the Director of the International Programs (DIP) consults faculty and librarians at the UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center to select relevant materials for digitization. She also sources interesting artifacts from the larger community to create compilations of digital photos. Afterward, DIP invites faculty to annotate the images in order to highlight the cultural and historical significance of the materials and artifacts. The images, their annotations, and the accompanying metadata are ingested into UK’s institutional repository to create a virtual exhibit that is freely accessible online. At the same time, a corresponding physical exhibit is set up in the library to showcase the images. People interested in learning more about the images can scan QR codes to view the virtual exhibit, read the annotations, and download the images. Since the institutional repository tracks download rates of available items, faculty who have contributed to the virtual exhibit receive periodical notifications of the download counts of the images. The repository platform also offers an online dashboard for DIP and the faculty to assess the page hits of the virtual exhibit and to analyze the geographical and institutional distributions of the downloads. As part of the repository holdings, the virtual exhibit is preserved through the library’s participation in the Digital Preservation Network.

This presentation demonstrates that the library can play a significant role in supporting a campus-wide initiative by leveraging its resources and services to build, assess, and preserve culturally themed digital collections. The outcome not only helps promote the awareness of a foreign culture but also increases the visibility of some little-known artifacts and rare library materials.

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An online presentation at the ALCTS Exchange on May 16, 2017.

Click here to access a companion guide for this presentation.