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Making of America: Frequently Asked Questions


General Questions

What is MOA?

The Making of America (MOA) Project is a multi-institutional initiative to create and make accessible over the Internet a distributed digital library of important materials that document 19th century America. The Cornell University and the University of Michigan libraries are cooperating in the initial phase of MOA (1994-1996), which is being funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Charles E. Culpeper Foundation. Other libraries will participate in subsequent phases of the project.

What's in the MOA collection?

In the initial phase, MOA will consist of books and journals published, in most cases, between 1850 and 1900. Approximately 900,000 pages of materials were selected from the Cornell University Library, and 600,000 pages from the University of Michigan. Collectively, these materials represent over 750 bound volumes of journals and over 2,000 books. These 1.5 million pages are all black and white, and they represent a wide range of illustration processes used during the 19th century. All volumes are being scanned as 600 dpi digital images, which are then processed and made available via the World Wide Web. See Technical Questions for more information.

Who is involved at Cornell?

MOA represents a collaborative effort among the Cornell University Library, Cornell Information Technologies, the Interactive Multimedia Group, and faculty and students using the collections for research and teaching. For more information, see the background page for the Making of America Project, as well as the "MOA at Cornell" course listings accessible from the MOA main page.

Usage Questions

Who is allowed to use this site?

The MOA digital collections are available to everyone at Cornell and beyond. There are several courses at Cornell that are using MOA, but its use open to anyone interested in using primary source materials documenting 19th-century America. The MOA collections are accessible on-line 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Members of the Cornell community benefit from the availability of low-cost, high-resolution network printing services in the CIT Public Computing Labs.

What about copyright?

All materials selected during the pilot phase of MOA are no longer covered by copyright.

I am a faculty member interested in using MOA in my courses or for my research. How can I become involved? Where can I get information/help?

Contact the Cornell MOA Evaluation Coordinator, Julian Kilker, via e-mail: jak8@cornell.edu or phone: 255-5530. You may also want to look at the Cornell Classes Using MOA page to see examples of the courses that have used the MOA collections to date. Click on the individual course listings to see examples of assignments and course descriptions.

Search Questions

What is searchable in the MOA collections?

A search function in MOA will be enabled during the fall 1996 semester. Author, title, and subject searching will be permitted at the "volume level" for both books and journals, as is the case in the on-line library catalogs at both Cornell and Michigan. In addition, it will be possible to search for the names of authors, titles of articles, and subjects of articles in the MOA Journals collection when that information was included in the volume index.

With some journals, there is an advanced browse feature that enables the user to sort the contents of a volume, or multiple volumes, by author, title, or page number; from the display screen of the sort results, one may then jump directly to an article or page of the selected journal. The first two journals to include this feature are Harper's New Monthly Magazine and Scribner's Magazine. Data are being keyed from the volume indexes to other journals; eventually, this feature can be used with all MOA Journals.

The text of the books and journals is not searchable. A search in the MOA Journals collection on "Ezra Cornell", for example, will bring up a list of journals or articles with the name "Ezra Cornell" as an author, title, or, possibly, a subject, but the list will not include a link to every page that contains the words "Ezra Cornell."

Technical Questions

Is MOA only available on with Netscape on the Web?

Yes. No promises are made with respect to the accuracy or appearance of these web pages when viewed with other web browsers. The current MOA interface requires Netscape Navigator version 1.1N or later. The prototype frames-based interface, available to Cornell students during the fall 1996 semester, requires Netscape Navigator version 2.0 or later.

What other software and hardware do I need to use MOA?

MOA is accessible via Macintosh, Windows, and Unix platforms. User's Guides will be made available soon for Macintosh and Windows. In addition to system software, the minimum hardware requirements to use MOA are 4MB of RAM (8MB+ recommended), a monitor/video card that can support at least 256 colors at 800 x 600 resolution, and an Internet connection. Modem access at speeds below 28.8K is not recommended, and 14.4K modems should be considered as the bare minimum. There are several printing options, but the highest quality prints require a networked laser printer with PostScript capabilities.

What software and hardware is used at the CU-MOA site?

All scanning for this project is being conducted in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, by Northern Micrographics Incorporated (NMI). This vendor delivers 600 dpi bitonal TIFF images to Cornell on CD-ROMs. Data from the CDs are then verified and copied onto the MOA server for incorporation into the MOA collection and delivery to the user. For more information about the conversion process, contact Anne R. Kenney in the Department of Preservation and Conservation, Cornell University Library. Questions about the CU-MOA site architecture, data management issues, and printing options should be directed to Steve Worona, Assistant to the Vice President of Cornell Information Technologies.

What is new at this site?

We have recently added the listing of Cornell classes that will be using MOA during the fall 1996 semester. Throughout this semester we will be expanding the collections. The next journals to be made available will be Scribner's Magazine (1887-1896), the Atlantic Monthly (1857-1900), and the North American Review (1816-1900). In early October, an advanced browse feature is being released that will enable the user to sort the contents of a volume, or multiple volumes, by author, title, or page number; from the display screen of the sort results, one may jump directly to an article or page of the selected journal.


Why do the pages take so long to download?

Each page in the MOA collection is delivered to the screen as either a 10 dpi (thumbnail), 75 dpi, or 100 dpi (default) GIF image. Depending upon the dimensions of the original pages, the 100 dpi GIF images range in size from approximately 60KB to 275KB. The MOA server and Netscape also cache the following page for quicker browsing, so in some cases over 500KB of data are being sent over the network. To optimize speed, follow the instructions in the User's Guide regarding Netscape's cache settings. For Windows 3.1 users, it is important to empty the cache periodically, particularly when the pages are being "painted" slowly on the screen. If you are accessing MOA via a modem connection, we recommend using only the "1 page at 100%" or "1 page at 75%" views.

Why don't my prints look as good as the images on screen?

MOA offers several print options. Depending upon the size and nature of the details in the image (text versus illustration), prints generated by clicking on the Netscape "Print" button will generally be inferior to the image on screen. This is because Netscape is printing, at best, a 100 dpi image, which is half the resolution of standard fax quality. For higher quality printing, use the "MOA Print Options" feature.