“Snow Fall”-ing Special Collections & Archives
“Snow Fall” is a Pulitzer Prize winning, digital storytelling project produced by the New York Times. It represents the next step in long-form digital journalism. The web application tells a compelling story about the fate of sixteen skiers and snowboarders during an avalanche. The textual element of the story is wrapped in a slick interface with gently appearing and disappearing images, strategically positioned HTML5 video and image slideshows, maps, and 3-D visualizations. Its title, “Snow Fall,” has become a verb in the digital journalism world. Upon seeing “Snow Fall” and other similar projects, the authors started to make the connection between this form of storytelling and Special Collections. Special Collections are full of interesting, rich, and unique stories. Their digital representation, however, while widespread in systems such as ContentDM, can be lacking in sensory appeal. Because of this, the authors developed a “Snow Fall”-like application for a Special Collections’ exhibit, “Cradle of Coaches,” in the fall of 2013. In addition to this exhibit, they have developed two more using the same template. They feel that this is a new and exciting medium to tell the stories within special collections and archives, as well as general stories about libraries themselves.
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