Missouri Digital Heritage is the State Of Missouri’s joint effort between the State Archives and the State Library to publish content of historical and genealogical value online. One of their favorite projects is their addition of all death records and death certificate images fifty years or older online. This wonderful collection includes a couple different searchable indexes. They also have a very nice collection of local history book images online, as well as several other collections.
Unfortunately, even with all this great content, the site can be a bear to work with, particularly when trying to read the online local histories.
A couple weeks ago I wrote a letter of concern to the Missouri Digital Heritage support staff about their wonderful project’s nearly unusable online image viewer:
Today I am attempting to use the resources on the Missouri Digital Heritage website. Specifically, I am viewing the History of Lincoln County. The choice of viewer used in presentation of this resource is difficult at best and unusable in many cases. I am using Windows 7 and prefer to useGoogle Chrome web browser, though because of the difficulties in sizing the image window in this browser, I have also attempted to use Firefox and Internet Explorer. In all cases, the images are difficult or impossible to view properly, because the sizes of the window on the web page and the resolution of the image needed to read the words make it impossible to view a column of text on a single page. The column of words cuts off, making actual reading of the text impossible. You really must reconsider your internet presentation technologies, as the inflexibility of sizing and resolution choice in your current offerings make your admirable digitization initiative practically unusable.
Well, today I got a response:
Thank you for expressing your concerns about the viewer used on the MDH site. We are aware of the problem and have been working diligently over the past two years for permission to adapt or upgrade our software. Unfortunately, due to technical issues, we’ve only be able to reach an intermediate version of the software and have not found another viewer that will work for us. A newer version of the software will be available in spring 2011, but it will likely be another year before we are allowed to migrate to that version. In addition, we are not allowed by state guidelines to enlarge the viewer to take up the entire screen width as we must maintain the site’s accessibility to 800 x 600 monitors, as well as considering other ADA-compliance issues.
In working with the site every day, we are well aware of the frustrations with viewing materials. Unfortunately, I can only offer stop-gap assistance at this point. My first recommendation would be to use Ctrl + to zoom your browser in and out. This will allow you to fit a page within the viewer screen, but then fill your monitor screen with the viewer itself. You may also use the clip tool on the far right of the viewer toolbar to bring up a page full screen. For that to work, you must have the entire page showing within the viewer window. You would have to do that for each page you want to view. None of these are particularly efficient, but until we can upgrade to version 6 of the background software, we have no other options.
Again, thank you for expressing your concerns as it helps us build a case for further migrations.
Patricia L. Walker, CA
Digital Collections Coordinator
Missouri Digital Heritage Initiative
Missouri State Library
600 W. Main St., P.O. Box 387
Jefferson City, MO 65102-0387
Phone: 800-325-0131 ext. 10
To me, that’s just an invitation to make sure they get plenty of mail. How about it, folks? Help the Missouri Digital Heritage Initiative know how you feel about their horrible image viewer today by sending your thoughts to: firstname.lastname@example.org . Thanks!