Puerto Rican Civil Court Documents Collection

Documented dated 1868. End of case deposition, with signatures of judge, attorney, witnesses. Michael J. Bennett/UConn Photo

Since returning from SALALM LVI in Philadelphia I have been busy with my colleagues working on the digitization of the Puerto Rican Civil Court Documents Collection. Thanks to the CRL’s LAMP award we were able to retain our digital photographer and start digitizing the collection right away. Because of the excellent workflow at the digital lab, we are able to digitize and, after post-production, upload the files into the Internet Archives, which allows users to start reading and downloading the records as they are made available online. You can see what we have done already here (http://tinyurl.com/3lfhnl9).
In addition, the library submitted an article about the digitization of the collection to the university magazine, UConn Today, titled Shedding Light on Life in 19th Century Puerto Rico, http://today.uconn.edu/blog/2011/07/shedding-light-on-life-in-19th-century-puerto-rico/. The story was picked up by the Associated Press (AP) the same day (July 26, 2011) as well as by at least 5 online newspapers online and the story was featured briefly on TV at Univision New England—Hartford & Springfield Edition. Later that week, Univision came to UConn to interview my colleague Michael Bennett, our digital librarian, and myself for a longish feature (1:30 minutes) discussing the project. You can see the video at http://www.wuvntv.com/noticia/2011/07/29/274681-documentos-puertorriquenos-uconn.html
So far, we have received good feedback and some genealogical inquires but we hope as more people learn about this project that more users will take advantage of this amazing collection. We are in the process of creating a press release in Spanish to distribute in Puerto Rico to continue to spread the word about the project. Again, we thank CRL’s LAMP support in funding this project, which we feel is already bearing fruit.

Marisol Ramos
Curator of the Latin American and Caribbean Collections
Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, UConn Libraries

Mobile App-titude

If you’ve been following mobile web developments, you’re probably sick of hearing all the statistics about smartphone adoption rates: 49% of small businesses, 27% of cellphone users, blah, blah, blah. Overall, the number of U.S. smartphone subscribers is pretty small; according to Mashable, it’s only about 17%. However, beyond the hype, it’s important to realize that between phones and tablets such as the iPad, mobile adoption is growing.

Database vendors and popular web page developers have jumped on board, and there are currently two major ways to access the mobile web: basic mobile webpages and “apps.” Mobile webpages are smaller or redesigned versions of full webpages; you access them through a browser on your phone and they can be bookmarked. An app is a small, specific program or application that you download onto your phone. It’s normally prepackaged to do a specific task; for example, to provide weather information or to store e-books. There are advantages to using both. Because apps are downloaded to a phone, they are always available and provide instant access to content. A mobile webpage has to be searched for through a browser, so it doesn’t have the same one-click access. However, developers are starting to enable their full websites to be automatically recognized by mobile devices, which often works well for libraries because users don’t need to remember a new web address.
For the remainder of this column, guest authors Marisol Ramos (University of Connecticut) and Daisy V. Domínguez (The City College of New York) will provide quick reviews of a few apps and mobile sites that you or your patrons may find useful. Try them out!
Alison Hicks
University of Colorado at Boulder
Dropbox (http://www.dropbox.com/) is a free service that allows you to store (“drop”) files from your desktop or laptop onto a cloud environment. You can retrieve your files for later viewing using any smartphone or device connected to the Web. Create an account on the Dropbox website and download the application onto your desktop/laptop. A folder will appear where you can move PDF, Word, photos and movie files. If using an iPad or iPhone, add the app and voila! You can start reading or watching whatever files you have added to the Dropbox folder. This is an easy to use and very versatile app perfect for the green-conscious librarian on the go.
iBooks (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ibooks/id364709193?mt=8) is a free app from iTunes and probably one of the nicest e-readers out there. It is an Apple product so it only works on Apple products (iPhone, iPad, iTouch). When I tested it on our library’s iPad, I really enjoyed using it because of the flexibility it provides. I was able to change fonts, color, and light settings to get the best reading experience. The new update allows you to create notes (annotate) on books and PDF files that you can add to your “library” using the bookmark feature. The only downside about using iBooks and many free e-readers is that the selection of books may not be as current as some would prefer. But, I think this is something that will improve with time.
Marisol Ramos
University of Connecticut

JSTOR Mobile Beta is a mobile webpage (http://mobile.jstor.org/) that has been tested and works on iOS, Android, and Blackberry devices. Its simple main screen offers the capability to browse by discipline and journal title or to conduct an advanced search. Once your search is conducted, you will get a clean listing of the results whereupon you can click on an article and see a miniature illegible version of it. If you try to access the entire article, you will get a notice about full-text access being limited to participating libraries and you will be led to a listing of institutions whereupon you will be led to your library database page for logging on. Needless to say, reading full text JSTOR articles on this mobile site is cumbersome. I found the JSTOR mobile webpage’s most useful features to be the ones that JSTOR focused on: the possibility to do preliminary searching on-the-go and the option to e-mail and save citations. So, give it a try and let them know what you think (there is a survey)!
To log onto RefMobile (http://www.refworks.com/mobile/), the RefWorks mobile site, you will need your school’s group code and your username and password. The main screen allows you to conduct a basic search for your citations and includes links to your folders, your entire RefWorks database, and a “Smart Add” feature which allows you to search the Web for new references (although it is not clear to me how you scroll to the second and subsequent pages of the results list). You can add comments to the “Notes” field of individual records and move references to different existing or new folders without having to sync your phone or PDA to your computer or laptop. You can also e-mail RefWorks support from the main screen. RefMobile is not as sleek as JSTOR (and there’s no survey), but it gets the basics done when you’re on the move.
Daisy V. Domínguez
The City College of New York