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The Collation

Our new digital collections site is here!

We’re announcing the launch of our new digital collections site today! If you’d like to dig right in, you can get started in a number of ways: browse our offerings by collection, name, genre, form, subject, or place of creation; enter keywords, call numbers, or recipe ingredients in the simple search bar and easily refine your results through facets; or visit the advanced search page to access even more ways to hone your query. You can even start with a blank search to see everything! Soon you will also be able to view curated sets of objects in our media groups. 

After over fifteen years of service, Luna will be retiring at the end of March. We’ll get into some of the details of the new site in a bit, but first I’d like to briefly reflect on Luna. The Folger launched Luna back in 2008, at the time only intending it to be an image delivery system for our Imaging department. Within a few years, though, we’d introduced our second collection, with former conservator Frank Mowery’s images and descriptions of bindings. Later came our British Book Illustrations collection, where we shared images and descriptions of the illustrations within early English printed materials; the First Folio collection, where we shared images of the twenty First Folios that had been fully photographed as a security measure before our 2016 Folio tour; and the transcriptions collection, where we were able to more immediately and systematically share transcriptions of our manuscript collection—close to 15000 transcribed images. After closing for building renovations in 2020, as an additional means of access, we added our reference image collection with cell-phone photos taken by our reference team, and our microfilm collection with digitized microfilm of Folger items. Today, we have just under 180,000 unique images in Luna and close to 1000 media groups—and those are just the public groups! We rely on it for research, for teaching, and for presentations. It’s become so much more than I ever imagined it would be when I came to work on Luna at the Folger back in 2012, and I’m very grateful for all it has done for us and for our readers! We’re keeping Luna up through the end of March, so you still have some time to enjoy it—and to migrate your links and media groups. (More on that later!) 

Our new digital collections site runs on a framework called Islandora 2, which is open-source and was originally launched by the University of Prince Edward Island in 2010. Our instance of Islandora is being managed by Born-Digital, who has also worked with the TriColleges, Franklin & Marshall University, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and others. 

What’s new? 

The collections structure! Because Luna wasn’t originally expected to be a platform where users actually browsed around, everything got dumped in one big collection for a long time. Totally fine if you’re only ever clicking on a link and going straight to the images you need, but it doesn’t create a very browsable platform. There are many times over the years when I wished I could just delete everything we’d done in Luna and start over—so when it came time to migrate, that’s exactly what I did!  

Our first three collections—Books, Manuscripts, and Art and objects—mirror the collections in the catalog (even using the same queries to sort items into their collections), so they should be very familiar for our catalog users. The next one—Shakespeare—was created as a result of frequent researcher requests: we have subcollections for our Shakespeare quartos as well as our First, Second, Third, and Fourth folios. (These items will also appear in the Book collection.) Next up we have bindings, our original specialty collection. After that is another frequent researcher request: Folger archives. This collection has material that is actually in our institutional archive, as well as material that speaks to the Folger as an institution—like theater, event, and building photos. Finally, we have our reference and microfilm collections, just like in Luna. Visit the digital collections documentation on Folgerpedia to get an overview of all of the collections and subcollections we have available. 

A screenshot of a article in a wiki titled Navigating the collections.

Records on our new site are going to look a little different, too. You may have noticed that when we link to sets of images on Luna, we’re actually just linking to a page of search results. That’s because each individual image record in Luna lives on its own and doesn’t know how it’s related to any of the other records. On the new site, we’re able to build objects instead—so we can bundle all of the images for a book together, for instance. Just under the search bar, you’ll notice a drop-down that says “any object type”—if you don’t adjust that, you’ll be searching for both object and image records. That works if you want to see everything, but will create a lot of extra noise in your search results if you don’t. Instead, I like to choose either “search for pages” if I’m interested in image records—maybe I want to find an individual recipe (rather than the recipe book it’s in), or see a bunch of page images to select options for a presentation. If I’m looking for an entire object—a book or manuscript, rather than individual images of that book or manuscript—I’ll select “exclude pages”. Either way, it’s easy to go back and forth: once you’re in an object record, just click onto the pages tab (above the viewer) to access the image records, and once you’re in an image record, use the breadcrumbs above the title or the “member of” link at the bottom of the record to get back to the object record. 

A screenshot of images in our digital collection where each images is an opening in a book

Another exciting new way to explore the collection is using our taxonomy browses. From the browse dropdown above the search bar, you can browse by: 

Name: These are the names that appear in the creator and associated names fields in the records. These are people who are in some way responsible for this item: authors, illustrators, printers, former owners, etc. Browse for works from John Ward, Esther Inglis, or Henry Fuseli. 

Genre or form: Exactly what it sounds like! Browse for costume design drawings, blank forms, or almanacs. 

Subject: What an item is about. Browse for items about Ira Aldridge, Ireland, or cats. 

Place of creation: where a book was printed, or a photograph was taken, or a letter was sent from. We’ve included multiple levels of specificitybrowse for items from Baltimore, or from Maryland, or from the United States. 

You don’t have to get through these browses from the dropdown—once you’re in a record, you’ll notice that the content of all of these fields is clickable. Clicking on one of these links will open a browse for you 

A screenshot of a webpage with the heading Genre. Beneath the heading is the letter D with various words starting with D beneath it.

What’s the same?

Media groups have been one of our most-loved features in Luna, and we’ve built them into our new site! Unfortunately, they cannot be migrated over. If you have any you’d like to keep, we’ve written some documentation on Folgerpedia on how to migrate these. More information will be coming, but the most important piece will be getting a list of the filenames of the images in your media group. That has to be done before the end of March, or that information will be lost. I do want to note that media groups are still in the final stages of development. It’s safe to create them, but we recommend that you set them to be private for now.  

We’ve put up all of our completed and vetted transcriptions! These are on image records, so you’ll want to use the “search for pages” option when searching for transcriptions. Once you’re in an image record, you’ll see a transcription tab under the viewer that you can toggle over to from the record. 

A screenshot showing two tabs, Item description and Transcription. Transcription is selected and beneath the tabs is a transcribed recipe labeled To Make Plomb Cake.

Where to start?

The documentation on Folgerpedia is a good place to start, and we’ll continue to write more over the coming days and weeks. 

Create an account on the digital collections site so you can start working on media groups. If you have a request account, please use the same email address to sign up.

Migrate your media groups and switch over your Luna links before the end of March. We are redirecting the URLs that we can, but it’s not always possible and we don’t want to risk you losing anything. There’s a cheat sheet on our new URLs on Folgerpedia, and you’re always welcome to contact us if you’re struggling to find anything. 

Most importantly: explore, enjoy, and please reach out to us if you have any questions! 

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