Travelers in the Middle East Archive (TIMEA): Integrating Texts and Images in DSpace with GIS and Teaching Resources

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Lisa Spiro

    Electronic Resources Center - Rice University

  2. 2. Marie Wise

    TIMEA Project - Rice University

Work text
This plain text was ingested for the purpose of full-text search, not to preserve original formatting or readability. For the most complete copy, refer to the original conference program.

Like other digital archives, the Travelers in the Middle
East Archive (TIMEA) acts as a repository for
digital texts and images, in this case works documenting
travel to the Middle East between the 18th and early 20th centuries. In TIMEA (, sponsored by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Rice University’s Computer and Information Technology
Institute, one can find digitized versions of historic
stereocards and postcards depicting such sites as the
pyramids and the sphinx, along with TEI-encoded texts such as travel guides, travel narratives, and scholarly works.
Yet offering access to unique sources is only one of the
project’s goals. TIMEA, which is based at Rice University, also aims to provide valuable resources for teaching;
improve information literacy and research skills; offer a model for building learning communities that use
electronic resources; and develop innovative mechanisms
for using GIS tools in cultural heritage projects. Thus
TIMEA demonstrates the geographical nature of its focus by creating dynamic GIS maps that combine geospatial
data such as elevation and water with layers displaying different historical maps and travel and trade routes. In addition, TIMEA addresses the critical need to cultivate
information fluency and research skills and build
learning communities. As studies have found, students lack essential skills in finding and using information:
“University libraries have outstanding information
resources available to their student populations… and they
have powerful tools for accessing these materials… but many college students are either unaware of these resources or they do not know how to use them” (Quarton 120). By creating research and teaching guides, TIMEA develops fundamental methods among students at the same time that it gives access to a particular body of material. These guides are presented in Connexions (, an open, collaboratively-authored repository of electronic course materials.
To deliver the texts and images, TIMEA uses DSpace, an open-source digital repository system. The choice of DSpace was driven by several factors: it is open-source, supports the Open Archives Initiative (OAI), and provides a long term archiving solution that will ensure access to
the TIMEA digital assets well into the future. Moreover, Rice University’s Digital Library Initiative recently adopted DSpace, making a commitment to support and develop the system. Initially DSpace was designed for research materials and scholarly papers, so it currently has several limitations for digitization projects: support for viewing
XML documents in a user-friendly way is not yet available,
there is limited support for structural metadata, and the interface design cannot easily be customized for each community within an institution’s installation of
DSpace. However, institutions such as Texas A & M and the University of Rochester are beginning to experiment
with using DSpace for archives of digitized materials. TIMEA and Rice are contributing to these efforts by addressing the problems of XML support and interface
design. In collaboration with Texas A & M, Rice is
working on providing a customizable user interface for each DSpace community that is driven by Cocoon and XML, which will allow TIMEA to have its own unique look and feel. Likewise, Rice is developing support for XML publishing in DSpace. We are awaiting METS
support for structural metadata, which is currently being developed and will be included in a future DSpace release.
By bringing together multimedia resources such as XML texts, digital images, and GIS maps with teaching and research modules, TIMEA faces a crucial challenge:
integration, both technical and intellectual. In so doing, TIMEA is building on the work done by complex digital
projects such as the Valley of the Shadow and Perseus. TIMEA content resides in three separate systems: texts and images in DSpace; GIS maps in ESRI’s ArcIMS map server; and research and teaching modules in
Connexions. By using these systems, TIMEA can leverage is an ongoing project, its technical team continues to
explore the best means for integration, such as a web
services solution that leverages the availability of data in each system in XML. In large part, success depends upon active collaboration among the various contributors,
including the GIS team, digital library systems developer,
project managers, Connexions staff, and module authors. To provide interlinking among the texts, images, and
Connexions modules, the project team is taking advantage of the permanent URIs for digital objects generated by DSpace and the rich linking capabilities for research modules in Connexions. In order to connect GIS maps with texts, the GIS support specialist has authored a
program that automatically drops in links to map locations
in the XML files based on place names. So that users can seamlessly navigate TIMEA’s various elements,
the digital library systems developer is working on the aforementioned project to provide a customized web
interface in DSpace.
Even as the TIMEA team works through the technical issues of integrating a complex archive, it also faces questions about how to realize the project’s scholarly and educational goals and serve its user community of
teachers, students, researchers and museum professionals.
How can the research and teaching modules be used to
augment rather than overdetermine students’ understanding
of TIMEA materials? How can TIMEA provide
links among the various components that lead to new
understanding rather than overwhelm the end user? These
questions are being addressed through collaboration among the project team members, active consultation with scholars and teachers, and user testing.
As a whole, we hope that TIMEA’s components will come together to support the project objectives in a way that highlights the scope and depth of available resources.
As a contribution to computing in the humanities,
TIMEA is an example of how diverse resources can be integrated to enable more sophisticated means of
conducting scholarly inquiry.
Henry, Geneva, Baraniuk, Rich, and Christopher Kelty, “The Connexions Project: Promoting Open Sharing of Knowledge for Education,” Syllabus2003 Conference, July 2003.
Perseus Digital Library. Accessed 2005-11-14.
Quarton, Barbara, “Research Skills and the New
Undergraduate.” Journal of Instructional Psychology.
30.2 (June 2003): 120-124.
Smith, MacKenzie, et al. “DSpace: An Open Source
Dynamic Digital Repository.” DLib 9.1 (January 2003).
Texas A & M. TXSpace. Accessed 2005-11-14.
University of Rochester. UR Research. Accessed 2005-11-14.
Valley of the Shadow. Accessed 2005-11-14. http://

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Conference Info



Hosted at Université Paris-Sorbonne, Paris IV (Paris-Sorbonne University)

Paris, France

July 5, 2006 - July 9, 2006

151 works by 245 authors indexed

The effort to establish ADHO began in Tuebingen, at the ALLC/ACH conference in 2002: a Steering Committee was appointed at the ALLC/ACH meeting in 2004, in Gothenburg, Sweden. At the 2005 meeting in Victoria, the executive committees of the ACH and ALLC approved the governance and conference protocols and nominated their first representatives to the ‘official’ ADHO Steering Committee and various ADHO standing committees. The 2006 conference was the first Digital Humanities conference.

Conference website:

Series: ACH/ICCH (26), ACH/ALLC (18), ALLC/EADH (33), ADHO (1)

Organizers: ACH, ADHO, ALLC

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None