By Brian Swartz
Weekly Staff Editor
Valuable information previously unavailable on the Web will lie only a key stroke away when Bangor Community Digital Commons goes online on Monday, April 1.
Billed as “a digital showcase of Bangor’s culture and history,” the Bangor Community Digital Commons “will be a digital repository of all kinds of material related to Bangor,” said Bill Cook, special collections librarian. The Commons will display articles, journals, and photographs, and other materials pertaining to the Queen City — and will provide a place for contributors to add their own material.
By clicking on http://digicom.bpl.lib.me.us, viewers can research and download material previously found only in the BPL’s archives. Library staff started working on the Digital Commons last fall, according to Cook. Much time has been spent scanning and uploading material; “I’m taking advantage of it to put our own historical collections out there,” Cook said.
For example, the Bangor library has a Civil War Image Gallery containing some 400 photos taken of Maine soldiers. Access to this gallery was always limited to the public; now, with the Digital Commons, historians can find and download those images.
The Digital Commons will also be available through a link at www.bpl.lib.me.us.
“There will be no charge for browsing or downloading material,” Cook said. Both Mac and PC users can fully access the Digital Commons, which provides the ability to search by author and subjects. Anybody can download material from the Digital Commons.
Head Librarian Barbara McDade has invited local businesses, government agencies, and organizations to “share your valuable collections with the public in their homes, offices, and on their digital devices through the Digital Commons.” Participation is also open churches, clubs, hospitals, museums, and schools.
Materials being sought for Bangor Community Digital Commons include:
• Agendas and minutes of agency and organization meetings;
• Annual reports of churches, social clubs, and other organizations;
• Artwork images;
• Historical images;
• Oral histories;
• Yearbooks (some issues of the Bangor High School yearbook, “The Oracle,” will be available online at the Digital Commons).
Individuals seeking to upload material to the Digital Commons “would have to go through a participating group” to be able to do so, Cook said.
He stressed that “a contributor must own the copyright” to all material uploaded to the Digital Commons. “Much of the material we’re putting up is in the public domain. This is going to be a wonderful resource,” Cook said.
“We will be one of the very first public libraries to go active on the Digital Commons,” which was developed by the University of California at Berkeley, he said. “Portland Public Library is the only other one I am aware of, and it’s behind us.”
McDade invited people who want to learn about contributing material to the Digital Commons to call the library’s Reference Department at 947-8336, ext. 126.
For information about Bangor Community Digital Commons, call 947-8336 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.