Library of Congress: Recollection

I heard about this at OpenRepositories 2011. It looks like it will be useful for people who want to build map-based browsing interfaces for digital collections; the list, chart, and timeline exhibits are updates from the old Simile project (developed at MIT, later maintained at, but it adds some tools for normalizing data.

The following is a guest post by Trevor Owens, Digital Archivist with the Office of Strategic Initiatives.

We are happy to announce the full open source release of the Recollection software platform. Briefly, Recollection is a web application that enables librarians, archivists, curators, and historians to create dynamic interfaces to cultural heritage collections. If you are unfamiliar with the project, I blogged about how you can use the tool to explore cultural heritage collections last month. If you think Recollection might be useful to your organization, we encourage you to take a minute to request an account for the beta instance of the tool.


An example of a Recollection view, in this case of a set of postcards from Fairfax, VA

For most users, the instance of Recollection that the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program maintains will be more than enough for their needs. We will have more information on exciting new features and next steps for our hosted instance in the near future. With that said, this full open source release is an important demonstration of the commitment of this project to openness, transparency and sharing.

With the open source release anyone is now free to download the code and set up their own instance of Recollection. For example, a newspaper or other media outlet might set up their own instance of the Recollection software and create accounts for their staff to let them quickly share interfaces to data with their readers, or a University could set up their own instance of the software to let their faculty, students or staff explore cultural heritage data sets. Anyone is now free to take the code, tweak it, and make it their own.

You can find the source code on the loc-recollect project page on sourceforge. If you are curious about what it would take for you to set up the software you can take a look at the readme file which has some basic documentation for getting started. For those who are interested, the following are some of the most important open source components that the Recollection software depends on. Recollection uses RDF to facilitate the integration of data drawn from diverse sources. Recollection uses Simile Exhibit to create the collection interfaces. Recollection uses Akara for data transformation. All of this is put together using Django, a Python Web framework.


I am an independent digital collections and library technology consultant in Austin, TX.

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