How does Stanford use Spotlight?


Example: The 1947 Partition Archive

1947 Partition Archive ImageStanford Libraries frequently partners with other academic and cultural heritage institutions to make available important scholarly collections. The 1947 Partition Archive exhibit highlights just such a partnership -- in this case, to gather and preserve the oral histories of individuals who lived through the 1947 Partition of the Indian subcontinent. The collection includes over 9,000 interviews conducted from 12 countries and recorded in 22 languages that document the life stories of witnesses to this event. Efforts like this often require the cooperation of numerous individuals, and this one is no exception. The collaboration is shepherded by a Stanford Libraries curator, who serves to steward both the project and the relationship with The Partition Archive. Interviews were organized by the The Partition Archive and conducted by trained volunteers, Stanford Libraries preserves these materials, and the Spotlight exhibit provides context to those materials and makes them more accessible to a wider audience.

Instructional aid

Example: Ancient, Medieval, and Early Modern Manuscripts at Stanford

Medieval Manuscripts ImageStanford Libraries -- and Special Collections in particular -- own a wide array of rare and fragile materials that provide a unique opportunity for our students to interact with primary sources. By digitizing these materials and making them available through a Spotlight exhibit, instructors are able to improve accessibility to the content for longer periods of time and for more students. No Spotlight site demonstrates this more clearly than the Ancient, Medieval, and Early Modern Manuscripts at Stanford exhibit. This exhibit serves as a companion to other course materials, making the primary sources easy to find and navigate. In addition, the Digital Middle Ages course (DLCL 122) offered by the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages has required students for the past two years to contribute scholarly work regarding Stanford-owned materials as part of this exhibit.  Allowing the students to interact with the content and create new ways of presenting it to general audiences is becoming a key tool for humanities pedagogy.


Example: Mario Paci: An Italian Maestro in China

Mario PaciStanford Libraries collects materials in many languages, as well as content relevant to many different cultures. Providing context around these materials in multiple languages helps to improve access to those diverse audiences for whom these materials may be particularly relevant. Spotlight provides capabilities for creating a single exhibit in multiple different languages. Translations of common user interface elements are provided for a core set of languages and additional translated material can be provided by the curator. Metadata for repository objects is displayed in the language in which it was catalogued. Our first dual-language exhibit is the Mario Paci: An Italian Maestro in China exhibit, which centers on the life and work of the Italian pianist and conductor who had a major impact on the development of Western classical music performance in China in the early 20th century. This exhibit is available in both English and Chinese.

Gathering place

Example: Research from Stanford University

Microscopy image from Research at Stanford exhibitUsing Spotlight is an excellent way to provide access to Stanford Digital Repository (SDR) content that exists across collections or for which a clear path to identifying these materials in the library catalog, SearchWorks, is less obvious. One example of this is the Research from Stanford University exhibit. This exhibit showcases research data from across the university. These data sets encompass topics from a diverse range of scholarly disciplines and have been deposited in over 30 different collections. Finding all of it in the online library catalog can be tricky. This exhibit provides an easy entry point for anyone interested in an overview of the scope of Stanford research data contained in the SDR.


Example: Images of Rome

images of Rome ImageOne of Spotlight’s main features is the ability of exhibit creators to not only gather together digital objects but to provide context around those objects. Spotlight enables exhibit creators to group content in meaningful ways and provide supplementary text that explains their place in a larger scholarly environment. The Images of Rome exhibit includes information about print and digital collections regarding the archaeologist Rodolfo Lanciani, as well as statistics on the artists, media, and age of the collection. Scholarly essays included in the exhibit help patrons better understand the history of archaeology and architecture in Rome. This exhibit includes a geospatial narrative as well, identifying each item’s location on a current-day map of Rome. 

Physical exhibit companion

Example: The Universe of Maps - Opening the David Rumsey Map Center

Universe of Maps ImageNot surprisingly, Spotlight is also the perfect way to create an exhibit that is a companion to an exhibit of physical objects. The Universe of Maps - Opening the David Rumsey Map Center exhibit is an example of this kind of use case. Pages within the digital exhibit reflect the major sections and individual cases of the physical exhibit. Images show the exhibit objects that were on display, while explanatory text reflects descriptions that accompanied those objects while they were on exhibit for people to view. An advantage of creating a digital exhibit companion is that this visual and textual record of the physical exhibit will persist long after the physical items are removed from the exhibit space.


Example: Stanford Stories from the Archives and timeline

Stanford Stories from the Archives logoSome content lends itself well to exploration over time. The materials found in the Stanford Stories from the Archives exhibit are just such a set of materials. This online exhibit and its companion physical exhibit were created to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Stanford and feature stories about student life over the full 125 years of the university’s existence. One of the ways to browse through these materials is via a Decade by Decade timeline that allows users to see materials and read about significant events and themes from student life that marked each of these decades. 

Non-repository content

Example: The Monterey Jazz Festival Collection

Monterey Jazz FestivalSpotlight can also be used to highlight content that is not contained in the Stanford Digital Repository. The Monterey Jazz Festival Collection is an example of this kind of exhibit. It provides significant context around the Festival, its history, and its significance, along with highlights of some of the images, audio, and video in the collection. The About pages describe how interested individuals can access the collection materials and their Terms of Use. When used this way, fewer features are available, including the ability of users to browse and search individual exhibit items.