n.a digital library and discovery service for resources documenting African American historyMarcus and Carlson 2018, 7–8Working against centuries of loss and erasure, Umbra Search is an effort from the University of Minnesota Libraries’ Archie Givens, Sr. Collection of African American Literature to provide access to African American history through multiple means: via a free embeddable widget and online search engine (umbrasearch.org) of African American primary source materials from American archives and libraries; by digitizing nearly half a million African American history materials from across University of Minnesota collections; and by supporting students, scholars, artists, and the public through residencies, workshops, and events around the country that engage African American history, culture, and scholarship.CLIR 2018When curators assess their collections for possible digitization, one of the great challenges (beyond copyright and overall appropriateness for open access online) is that with the advent of backlog-busting protocols like “More Product, Less Process,” many of our collections are organized and described at a gross level—collection, box, etc. Even with folder-level inventories, we still digitize individual items and, as a result, the tens or hundreds of pages that might be in a single folder all share the same description once they are digitized. This is not a great set-up for systematic or mass digitization, and even worse for large-scale aggregations like Umbra Search, where individual items may become unmoored from their folder-mates and overarching collections. They become “lost in aggregation”!Umbra Search 2021Umbra Search African American History makes African American history more broadly accessible through a freely available widget and search tool, umbrasearch.org; digitization of African American materials across University of Minnesota collections; and support of students, educators, artists, and the public through residencies, workshops, and events locally and around the country.
Umbra Search was developed in 2015 by the Givens Collection of African American Literature at the University of Minnesota Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections with Penumbra Theatre Company.