Today a new digital map of Seton Hall was launched by Walsh Library. This site allows users to create rich tours of sites at Seton Hall – or anywhere around the world – contextualizing the places with photographs, text, and even audio and video recordings. The introductory tour builds on an existing set of digitized historic postcards of South Orange and Seton Hall that resided in the Library’s e-Repository. “The postcards were well digitized, and had very detailed, searchable data in the e-Repository. But this format allows for a more interactive way for the community to explore the collection,” according to Sarah Ponichtera, Assistant Dean for Special Collections and the Gallery.
The project took shape when archives staff, along with the rest of the university, suddenly shifted to remote work in the spring and sought ways to connect the campus community with archival collections during this difficult period. Technical Services Archivist Sheridan Sayles researched digital mapping products that might suit Seton Hall, and settled on Curatescape, an open-source product. “Curatescape allows users to connect historic images of sites and objects with their location, essentially weaving in historical stories to the every day places we pass by.” according to Sayles. Over the spring and summer, Sayles and Library Collection Developer Zachary Pelli worked to get the site installed and import the images and data from the e-Repository. With the help of a remote intern from Southern Connecticut State University, Amanda Damon, they populated the site with 53 locations (called stories) that can be connected in tours, found using subject tags, and enriched over time as more content is integrated into the site. Constructing the locations as stories allows for more flexibility – a particularly rich object, such as the stained glass windows in the Chapel, could be its own story even though it is still part of the Chapel location. A story could even be built around a person with a long history on campus.
The Library welcomes suggestions from the community for ways to develop and expand the site. It may be suited for tours developed in courses, adapted to create a virtual tour of campus for those unable to visit in person, or become a center for alumni to contribute their memories of campus. Due to its home in the Monsignor William Noe Field Archives, content contributed to the digital map will be preserved in the University Archives as part of the history of Seton Hall. According to University Archivist Alan Delozier, “within this time of quarantine, the value of this initiative is all the more important for those who cannot visit the school grounds at present, but the long term value of this project will continue to attract attention from students, faculty, and other individual across campus along with external users alike.”