Sarah M. Pritchard
Dean of Libraries
Director, Digital Library Development Center
University of Chicago
Tracy J. Seneca
Digital Services Librarian
University of Illinois at Chicago
In November 2015, Chicago Collections launched its foundational digital project, Explore Chicago Collections, a “one-stop shop” for citizens, students, and scholars with an interest in primary source collections related to the City of Chicago and its people. Explore Chicago Collections provides access to more than 104,000 digital images and more than 4,000 finding aids to archival collections held at Chicago Collections member institutions, including academic libraries, public libraries, museums, historical societies, and other cultural heritage institutions. Explore Chicago Collections was built using the open source eXtensible Text Framework (XTF), with a customized front-end. Additionally, Chicago Collections built and released “Metadata Hopper,” an open-source Django application that provides a multi-institutional administrative and management interface for XTF. The initial release of Explore Chicago Collections is not only “foundational” in the sense that work continues on the development of the portal, but in the sense that shared access to primary source content and expertise provides the foundation for a swiftly-expanding array of service programs, including, to date, a cooperative reference service, public exhibition, and public lecture series. Chicago Collections members will discuss the design of this “full stack” approach to collaboration among cultural heritage institutions across a metropolitan area and describe some of the programs and services currently under consideration for the next phase of its development.