CONTENTdm Responsive Site Goes Live

Screen shot of new siteTemple University Libraries’ Digital Collections site has a new look! We are excited to roll out a responsive version of our existing Digital Collections website. The new software has better mobile and tablet compatibility, an improved image viewer, and is compliant with WCAG 2.0 accessibility guidelines.

You’ll find all of our collections on the website homepage, along with an easily navigable single search bar and advanced search option. You’ll also see a link to “Explore Our Collections,” where you’ll find several options for browsing our collections by repository, by subject, by format, or through our digital exhibitions.

Paley Library, 1966

Paley Library, 1966

Users can access our Digital Collections through the Temple University Libraries homepage, through the Special Collections Research Center homepage, or by visiting

There will be continuous upgrades and improvements to the software over time, so be sure to look out for new features in the site. If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to suggest new digitization projects, please contact us at

–Stephanie Ramsay
Digital Projects LIbrarian

Future Proofing Civic Data

Exploring the challenges of preserving open civic data for the long term

This past year, Temple University Libraries received a Knight Foundation Grant, “Knight News Challenge on Libraries,” to lead an exploratory research project, Future Proofing Civic Data, investigating the challenges of long-term preservation for open civic datasets.

Open civic data portals, such as OpenDataPhilly in Philadelphia, have been a growing trend in cities, states, and national governments over the last decade. Many governments and other civic partners began developing open civic data initiatives in order to make data originating from governmental agencies and civic organizations easily accessible online for immediate consultation, as well as for data reuse. Datasets can include anything from election results to operating budgets to an inventory of all the trees in a city. The hope is that these portals can help bridge the gap between citizens and government and stimulate civic engagement by making data of relevance to citizens easily accessible online.

However, portals do not always have fully formed or fully implemented plans to ensure the long-term preservation of those datasets, and best practices are yet to emerge in that domain.

The Temple Library project team interviewed over a dozen stakeholders about their use cases and needs and looked at several open civic data initiatives in Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh, to compare practices and examine real-life examples. We wrote up our findings in a white paper where we explore ten important factors that need to be taken into consideration, if we are to tackle long-term preservation of civic data successfully. We also look at how libraries could take the lead, or at least participate in the process.

Please see the full white paper for more details.

The project team was comprised of Joe Lucia (PI), Rachel Appel, Delphine Khanna, Chad Nelson, Margery Sly, and Gretchen Sneff.

Notes from the Littell Project: Sci Fi Writings

Franklin Littell grew up to be a prolific writer of religious history, but he may have gotten his start writing science fiction.  When he was just 11 years old (circa 1928), he wrote “A Trip to Mars.”  In this story, a young student of astronomy named Jim journeys to Mars with his professor.  They travel in a ship invented and built by the professor that went “one hundred thousand miles an hour, forward, and one hundred thousand five hundred miles an hour, perpendicularly…” In the story, Littell describes a ship that was “run by five engines, of eight thousand horsepower each….  It had one pair of wings…,” was equipped with “fifty large oxygen tanks…,” and ran on “a new kind of gasoline that will make the plane go one thousand miles per gallon.”

Littell describes their arrival on Mars as experienced by his character Jim: “…under the plane some of the boldest men of mars, were preparing to fight…”.  Jim and the professor landed the ship and disembarked when “suddenly the chief [Martian] yelled and started for the man [the professor].  They [Jim and the professor] put up a desperate fight, but were outnumbered.  It was their [the Martians’] custom to poke their spears into their victims before they burned them…” .  Page 6 of the manuscript tells us what happens next.

Typed page on yellowed paper, from a Littell manuscript, (linked to larger version).

Littell’s short story is creative and fun and a definite foreshadow to his future life as a writer, but it also unexpectedly links the Littell papers to another collection acquired by the Special Collections Research Center in 2010, the manuscript and illustrations for Peter Caledon Cameron’s Nodnol (circa 1900).  Part of Temple’s Science Fiction and Fantasy collection, this manuscript takes the reader on an expedition to the Antarctic, where among other things, a new race of people are discovered.  The people found inhabiting the South Pole prove to be far less aggressive than those encountered on Mars by Littell’s Jim and the professor, but both stories speak to the early 20th century’s fascination with discovery and encountering new worlds.  By the time Littell wrote, the race to the South Pole was over and space was beginning to take shape as the newest, unexplored frontier.

“Nodnol. The narrative of a Voyage for scientific investigation into the Antarctic Regions, the discovery of Astrogee, a Second Satellite or New World, resting on the South Pole of Our Earth, its exploration, its strange fauna and flora, its marvellous [sic] natural phenomena, its wonderful nations of civilized Quadrumana and its glorious population of perfect Humanity.” 279 pages, annotated and edited by the author, with a separate portfolio of seventeen signed illustrations in pen and ink.

Purchased in May 2010 for the  SCRC’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Collection, the Nodnol manuscript was written and illustrated by the English-American water-colorist Peter Caledon Cameron (active in the U.S., coming from England, 1880s-1930s?; Philadelphia/New Jersey area) and is typical of 19th and early 20th century fantasy and science fiction writing and illustrating.

Black and white print of a futuristic city scene, (linked to larger version).





Notes from the Franklin Littell Project: Childhood


This gallery contains 2 photos.

  Work on organizing the papers of former Temple professor and father of American Holocaust Studies, Franklin H. Littell, is underway.  Littell was a scholar of religious history, whose focus lay in the history of sects and of Christian/Jewish relations.  He also brought … Continue reading

Civil Rights in a Northern City: Philadelphia

Thanks to a state Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant, a Libraries project team has digitized more than 1,500 historical photographs, films, news clippings, manuscripts, oral histories, and pamphlets, documenting two events in civil rights history in Philadelphia: Girard College Desegregation (1954–1968) and the Columbia Avenue Riots (1964).

It’s all available at

The content, from the Libraries’ special collections, encourages students to use unique primary sources to study these significant events. Highlights include newly-created oral histories; several hours of local news footage not seen in over 40 years featuring Martin Luther King, Jr., Cecil B. Moore, and other movement leaders; and questionnaires that address Black-Jewish community relations in the 1960s.

Emphasizing that there were major events in the North that propelled the Civil Rights movement forward, the project’s consulting historian Matthew Countryman, associate professor of history at the University of Michigan and author of Up South: Civil Rights and Black Power in Philadelphia, believes that this project exposes students and scholars to new insights on the issues.

Stay tuned for new content—including sample lesson plans for middle and high school teachers and new modules on other milestones in the history of Philadelphia’s Civil Rights movement

In Memoriam: William McLean

One of the richest resources in Temple Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center for the study of the history of Philadelphia and the region is the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin photographs and clippings. And one of the best friends and supporters of the archives and the Bulletin’s history was William McLean III, the last of his family to run the Bulletin. Starting in 1950, he worked in almost every department, serving as editor and publisher from 1975 to 1980. William McLean died on August 27, 2011, at age 83. Mr. McLean’s family took over ownership of the paper in 1895, and he ensured that its history and the history of Philadelphia it reported were preserved by beginning the donation of the photographs to Temple in February 1979. Most recently, Mr. McLean participated in an oral history interview Margaret Jerrido conducted with him on August 4. The recording and transcription of that interview will soon be available for research use. We are grateful for Mr. McLean’s lifelong commitment to documenting, studying, and learning from history.

CBS 3 Donates Video Archives to Libraries


Philadelphia, September 26, 2007 – CBS 3 (KYW-TV) will donate its vast Video archives, a virtual diary of the history of the region during the last thirty years, to Temple University’s Paley Library, CBS 3 President and General Manager Michael Colleran and Temple University President Dr. Ann Weaver Hart announced today.

The station’s collection of more than 20,000 videotapes, which includes daily local newscasts and video clips from the last thirty years of Eyewitness News as well as 15 years of the local lifestyle show, Evening Magazine, will be housed in Temple University Libraries Urban Archives and, once catalogued, will be available to students and local residents alike.

Colleran officially presented the videotapes to Dr. Hart in a ceremony held today at Paley Library.

The station’s archival tape contain many of the most memorable moments in Philadelphia history – from the Pope John Paul II’s visit to Philadelphia in 1979 and the Phillies World Series victory in 1980 to the MOVE bombing in 1985 and the Blizzards of 1983 and 1996. Many national and international stories are also included from the Reagan years in the While House to the fall of Communism in Europe.

“The University is honored to be chosen as guardian of what amounts to a historical record of the last three decades of the 20th century in Philadelphia,” Hart says. “We hope that this collection will encourage others to preserve this type of material, so that future generations will have a first-hand account of the times in which we lived.”

“Anyone interested in the history and culture of 20th century Philadelphia must use the incredible resources held in the Urban Archives,” Dean of University Libraries Larry Alford adds. “Those resources are deepest for the first 80 years of the 20th century because of the archives of The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, which ceased publication in 1982. The KYW footage will fill in the gap of that last 20 years.”

Colleran says that, in addition to chronicling local history, the tapes are also a dynamic example of the evolution of local television since the 1970s. “Not only do we see the evolution of news coverage from the anchor desk to live coverage in the field, but we can witness the birth of a whole new genre in television through Evening Magazine, a program that was imitated across the country and became a precursor to such shows as Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood and the celebrity journalism of today.”

The station’s contribution of the tapes to Temple University Libraries corresponds with its relocation earlier this year from its 35 year-home on Independence Mall to its new state-of-the-art High Definition studios in the Spring Garden section of Philadelphia. Coincidentally, this is not the first time astation relocation has benefited the University. When KYW moved from its Walnut Street studios to Independence Mall in 1972, the company donated its building there to the University which used it as a Center City campus for many years.

CBS 3 is part of CBS Television Stations, a division of CBS Corporation.

Watch the CBS 3 (KYW-TV) coverage of this momentous event in Philadelphia history online.

Curious Looks at Artists’ Books

What would a book designed and made by an artist look like? Can glass, soap, plexiglass and other non-paper materials form a book? Why would one need a can-opener when opening a book? These and other questions may be answered by Paley Library’s exhibition of artists’ books from its Special Collections Department and the Tyler School of Art Library: “Curious Looks at Artists’ Books.”

Exhibition location: Main Lobby, Paley Library

Exhibition dates:  November 11-December 31, 2005

2006 Philadelphia Neighborhoods Calendar

A view looking down the Ben Franklin parkway. The Urban Archives of Temple University Libraries has released a 2006 Calendar titled “Philadelphia Neighborhoods,” featuring photographs from the George D. McDowell Philadelphia Evening Bulletin Collection. The Evening Bulletin was a long running newspaper in Philadelphia which closed its doors in 1982. The Urban Archives holds a large collection of clippings and photographs from the newspaper. The calendar features thirteen large and several small black and white photographs of Philadelphia along with text discussing the history of twelve neighborhoods. You can purchase a calendar for $7.00 in the Urban Archives (on the ground floor of Paley Library) or for $7.00 + $2.00 shipping and handling via mail order (PA residents add sales tax). Send checks made out to “Temple University Libraries, Urban Archives” along with your name and address to: Urban Archives Temple University Libraries 1210 West Berks Street Philadelphia, PA 19122