UNLV Libraries Introduces a New Way to Browse Southern Nevada’s Jewish Heritage
Update: the Navigator browsing tool has been replaced with the Special Collections and Archives Portal
Have you ever been disappointed by a long list of search results? Us, too.
Sometimes, when researching people, organizations, and communities there is more to the story than what can easily be retrieved from a traditional database. Librarians at UNLV have been looking at ways to highlight not just one piece of the puzzle, but how the pieces are related.
The Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project preserves the history of Jews in Southern Nevada through collection and digitization of oral histories, family and organization records, and photographic documentation. The Jewish Heritage Project Navigator is a browser tool to explore data generated from the Jewish Heritage Project.
This development is part of an the UNLV Linked Data Project, which explores the use of linked open data to reveal hidden relationships across datasets. It also aims to integrate and link together data from our collections with data sets produced by other organizations.
In order to work in this web of data, existing metadata from our digital collections is being transformed into data statements that are presented in code that machines can read automatically, instantly connecting related data and revealing why the connection was made.
Linked data is expressed in triples that have the following structure:
subject – predicate – object
In a traditional search: “Lloyd Katz” brings up 146 results in the database listing audio clips, awards and meeting minutes: https://special.library.unlv.edu/search?keys=%22lloyd%20katz%22&f%5B0%5D=digital_project%3ASouthern%20Nevada%20Jewish%20Heritage%20Project
Alternatively, browsing the new Navigator application, you can select the name, ‘Lloyd Katz”, and learn quickly via his biography on the left that he was the president of the Nevada Theater Corporation. He and his wife Edythe supported a wide range of social and community causes, including Civil Rights and the Fair Housing Act of Nevada. You can also see by reading the Navigator results that he was employed by four theaters in Southern Nevada. From there, you can choose to explore those theaters, learn more about his spouse, or see many items that are digitized in the collection.
Via Navigator browsing, you can read full, meaningful “sentences” that connect people with the items in Special Collections via a type of relationship. This context can be invaluable to researchers, saving time and revealing information that is known to curators but cannot be represented in our existing repositories.
Henry Schuster was a child Holocaust survivor and founded the Holocaust Survivors Group of Southern Nevada.
The proclamation for the Molasky Family Park references the Clark County Commission and can be requested from UNLV Special Collections by asking for the Irwin and Susan Molasky Papers.
Charles Salton is a sibling of Adele Baratz.
By connecting people, organizations, archival collections, and formats of digitized material via the relationships exposed in Navigator, this important history can be viewed in a whole new way.
Navigator is currently in an experimental pilot phase and is acting on the Southern Nevada Jewish Heritage Project data. Can you imagine the possibilities as we extend this interface to connect the current data set to our other digital collections such as Documenting the African American Experience in Las Vegas, our over 20,000 digital photograph records or the Dreaming the Skyline architecture collection?
Even more exciting is the work happening regionally, nationally and internationally to extend linked open data across repositories worldwide. UNLV is excited to be a part of this new way of connecting users and information as we build a home for our digital collections in the linked data cloud.