The UFDC Programmer, Mark Sullivan, put a browse by thumbnail cover in place not too recently, but so many other wonderful items have been loading and so many other improvements have been made that I’m just now catching up to mention the cover browse.
The cover browse allows anyone to see the thumbnail images for the covers or first pages of all issues/volumes in an item. This means users can browse all of the first pages of a newspaper or all of the covers of a journal.
The cover browse is an excellent example of elegant simplicity. It uses existing information and functionality–the thumbnails for all pages and the browse by thumbnail for an individual item like a single newspaper issue–and then it adds functionality that’s incredibly helpful for users. For instance, if a researcher wanted to quickly get a sense of a newspaper and it’s evolution over time, what better way than to flip through all of the first pages? If a researcher had been reading wanted a journal article and then couldn’t remember the volume or issue number and could only remember the cover, the researcher could choose to use the full text search to find the exact article wanted or the researcher could choose to browse through the issues, creating an opportunity for serendipity.
We’d planning to add the browse by cover as a part of a larger move to browse by shelf (a visual display to show the spines of books, or the typical arrangement of books by call number or size), but then we saw that Chronicling America had already added the browse by cover images. It was better than we’d imagined, and we bumped up the timeline and added it immediately. Thanks to Mark’s savvy programming and the elegant simplicity of this addition, he was able to add the browse by cover images in under a single workday. We also owe thanks to Chronicling America for showing us how useful the cover images browse is, and giving us the nudge we needed to get it added.
I encourage everyone to browse the local Florida newspapers in the Florida Digital Newspaper Library by cover image to see how useful it really is!