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Network of Alabama Academic Libraries: Policy Documents


Meeting of the Executive Council

27 October 2010

Revised 2019

Attachment F






1.           AlabamaMosaic

AlabamaMosaic is an online project using digital materials to document Alabama's history, culture, places, and people.  This program is a public service of the Network of Alabama Academic Libraries (NAAL), a self-governed, state-based consortium of Alabama’s academic institutions and the Alabama Commission on Higher Education.  For information about NAAL, see:

The AlabamaMosaic project consists of two parts: (1) the distributed digital collection: an online catalog of cultural materials held by libraries, archives, and museums around the state and (2) the community collection space: digital collection space for smaller institutions provided by the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

Access to the AlabamaMosaic website and the distributed digital collection is available to the public at no cost via the Internet and the Alabama Virtual Library  Digital files in the collections hosted by AlabamaMosaic have been optimized for web presentation to assure timely downloading, even from dial-up connections to the Internet.

2.           Purpose

NAAL created and supports AlabamaMosaic to make unique historical treasures from Alabama's archives, libraries, museums, and other repositories electronically accessible to Alabama residents as well as students, scholars, and the general public throughout the world.

3.           Background

In FY1999, NAAL established a task force to consider an appropriate role for NAAL in making library resources available through digitizing projects.  The task force examined possible digitizing projects, developed priorities for a statewide digital program, and recommended procedures for implementation.  The Advisory Council approved the recommendations and the task force applied for external funding to create a statewide shared digital collection about Alabama history.  In 2000, NAAL received a National Leadership grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for The Cornerstone Project: Building the Foundation for Sharing Unique Treasures.  The IMLS grant review panel lauded the careful planning detailed in the proposal; a tribute to the intensive work of the task force to plan a strong and sustainable statewide digital collections initiative. The institutional partners that implemented The Cornerstone Project with NAAL were the Alabama Department of Archives and History, Auburn University, and The University of Alabama.

An important feature of the proposal was NAAL’s support of the nascent Alabama Virtual Library (AVL) which had been implemented in FY2000.  The proposal asserted that the Cornerstone Project would “expand and enhance” the AVL and stressed that while the AVL “facilitates the delivery of commercial full-text resources to all citizens” these products would not fully serve the needs of citizens and scholars to view primary sources about their own state’s history and culture.  The AVL Council supported NAAL’s proposal for an Alabama history database and agreed to integrate the database with the commercial products licensed for the AVL.  The partnership between the AVL and NAAL continues and nurtures the public use of AlabamaMosaic.

While the Cornerstone Project primarily sought to develop expertise in creating digital collections, an equally important facet was to encourage selection of materials for digitization using topics from the exemplary curriculum enrichment guide maintained by the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH).  This guide, Alabama Moments in History,[1] identifies ways for K-12 teachers to incorporate Alabama history into the Alabama Course of Study for Social StudiesAlabama Moments notebooks and other accompanying materials describe ways to use Alabama history in teaching and studying the American history curriculum, but do not provide online access to its cited primary or secondary resources.  AlabamaMosaic seeks to provide digital copies of resources so teachers and students can easily find and use Alabama history content for their courses.

By the end of the IMLS project, the goals of the Cornerstone Project became part of NAAL’s strategic plan.  The statewide program was renamed AlabamaMosaic to reflect the widely distributed pieces found in myriad sources that are needed to forge a complete history of Alabama.  NAAL coordinates AlabamaMosaic as a statewide program to identify, digitize, and preserve traditional historical scholarly materials held uniquely by NAAL institutions and other repositories and seeks to make these electronically accessible to Alabama residents as well as scholars throughout the world.  To meet this charge, NAAL encourages all Alabama repositories to contribute digital materials to AlabamaMosaic. 

4.           Governance

AlabamaMosaic is a public service program of NAAL and its member institutions.  NAAL members sustain AlabamaMosaic by participating in NAAL, by contributing content to the catalog, and by providing volunteer services to advance its development and growth.


  1. NAAL Advisory Council

The NAAL Advisory Council governs AlabamaMosaic through continual oversight of the program and by adopting policies and practices for its management and operation.  The program is reviewed annually with policies and practices approved by the NAAL Advisory Council in its annual meeting, generally held in the fall of each year.

NAAL involves AlabamaMosaic participants in decisions related to this program.  To prepare recommendations for approval by the Advisory Council, NAAL relies on Auburn University Libraries, the AlabamaMosaic Users Group, and comments sent to the NAAL office by individuals.  From time to time, formal surveys of AlabamaMosaic may be sponsored to solicit additional advice.


4.2a       Auburn University Libraries

Auburn University Libraries hosts and maintains the distributed digital collection portion of the AlabamaMosaic project on behalf of NAAL. Using the VuFind open source catalog software, the Libraries’ Systems department has created an online catalog for AlabamaMosaic digital materials. The Digital Projects Librarian harvests metadata from participating collections via the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) and uses that metadata to create the VuFind catalog records. This online catalog is available to the public via the AlabamaMosaic website which is also hosted and maintained by Auburn University Libraries. 

4.2b       Alabama Department of Archives and History

Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) provides assistance to institutions getting started with digital collections on behalf of NAAL and as part of its mission to serve Alabama.  This assistance includes space for these starter collections via the ADAH CONTENTdm account and technical assistance for new contributors in planning, creating, and maintaining their digital collections.

4.3         AlabamaMosaic Users Group

The AlabamaMosaic Users Group is an informal group for anyone interested in AlabamaMosaic.  Users Group meetings are held once a year so that participants can receive updates about the program, review and suggest revisions for policies and practices, suggest enhancements for the program, and learn about digital collections and digital projects around the state.  These meetings are also an opportunity for participants to meet each other and exchange information and assistance related to their collections. AlabamaMosaic Users Group meetings are open to anyone interested in AlabamaMosaic, including anyone from sites contributing content as well as users.  These meetings are held jointly with the Alabama Digital Preservation Network (ADPNet), another NAAL project.

5a.         Technology for the AlabamaMosaic Catalog

Metadata is “information about data” and a metadata record is similar to a library catalog record. For digital collections, metadata describes digital objects so that search engines can find and retrieve relevant records for those objects in response to users’ search queries.  NAAL has adopted the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set[2] as the standard to describe digital collection items contributed to the AlabamaMosaic catalog. Contributing institutions must use a digital content management software (CMS) system that supports Dublin Core metadata. (Library-oriented CMS systems usually support Dublin Core; archives- and museum-oriented CMS systems may not.)

There is no specific AlabamaMosaic metadata template. However, there are four (4) required metadata fields for participating collections:

  • Title field: This field should provide a descriptive title (i.e., “1864 hand-drawn map of Huntsville, Alabama” vs. “map 1”).
  • Subject field: This field may contain any type of subject terms, including, but not limited to, Library of Congress Subject Headings, Thesaurus of Graphic Materials subject terms, free-text keywords, etc.
  • Identifier field: This may include the digital file name or identifying information about the original (non-digital) material.
  • Rights field: This field should specify users’ right, but it should also identify the contributing repository and provide contact information.


Catalog records for AlabamaMosaic collection items are created from metadata harvested using the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH). Contributing institutions must use a CMS system that supports OAI-PMH and must allow OAI-PMH harvesting in order for their collections to be included in AlabamaMosaic. To date, successful metadata harvests have been made from these CMS systems: CONTENTdm, Dspace, Acumen, Omeka, Bepress, and Islandora. Repositories may apply for participation by completing and submitting the Join Us form available on the AlabamaMosaic website.

The current configuration for the AlabamaMosaic online catalog uses a local instance of the VuFind open source library catalog software, which has been installed on server space maintained by the Auburn University Libraries’ Systems department. Auburn University Libraries’ personnel harvest contributors’ collection metadata to create the catalog records and perform maintenance as necessary on the catalog.

5b.         Technology for the AlabamaMosaic Community Collections

Alabama Department of Archives and History provides assistance to institutions getting started with digital collections. AlabamaMosaic community collection contributors must download client software, called the CONTENTdm Project Client, to their local workstation(s). This software enables the contributors to organize their digital files into collections, create metadata for each file, and then upload the digital files and their associated metadata to the ADAH CONTENTdm account. Repositories may apply to use the AlabamaMosaic hosting service by completing and submitting the Join Us form posted on the AlabamaMosaic website. 

6.           Support

NAAL reimburses Auburn University Libraries for .25 FTE for staff support in its Information Technology department. Auburn University Libraries staff contribute a significant amount of in-kind services to maintain the central site and support AlabamaMosaic as a statewide initiative. 

Other NAAL member institutions, such as ADAH, provide additional services to sustain AlabamaMosaic.  They create their institutions’ digital collections, contribute this content to the AlabamaMosaic catalog, and volunteer to assist other AlabamaMosaic participants.

NAAL cannot financially assist repositories with developing digital collections.  While in-kind assistance from ADAH is available to institutions who are just starting to create digital collections, repositories are responsible for their own digital collections, including funding, staffing, and collection maintenance. 

It is the intention of NAAL to sustain AlabamaMosaic without charge for repositories contributing content.  If NAAL funds are not available, however, NAAL reserves the right to establish fees to cover the costs of server space and maintenance for the AlabamaMosaic catalog and website.  If such an action is determined essential for the continuation of AlabamaMosaic, NAAL will allow sufficient notice for contributors to plan accordingly.

7.           Operating Policies

Any repository with materials related to Alabama may apply to contribute its collection(s) to AlabamaMosaic. This includes museums, archives, libraries, schools, and even individuals. There are no charges to contribute digital materials to the catalog or to use the AlabamaMosaic website.  All digital content contributed to AlabamaMosaic must be publicly available for educational and research use at no charge to the user.

  1. Ownership of Records and Digital Files Hosted by AlabamaMosaic

AlabamaMosaic contributors retain ownership of their digital collections and accompanying records.  Contributors may have records for their digital collections removed from the AlabamaMosaic catalog at any time by notifying the Auburn University Libraries’ Digital Projects Librarian. 

AlabamaMosaic does not review or edit AlabamaMosaic catalog records. Occasionally, the technical support team at Auburn University Libraries may notice and bring to the attention of the collection owner an obvious typographical error in a metadata record, but it cannot change the catalog records as these are derived from the metadata of the original collections, which remains under the management of the collection owner. After the collection owner corrects the original error, the collection will be re-harvested to correct the catalog record.

7.2         Files Accepted by AlabamaMosaic

All repositories developing digital collections and wishing to contribute to AlabamaMosaic are strongly encouraged to optimize their digital files for web presentation to assure access by users throughout Alabama.  Many Alabamians lack high-speed Internet connectivity, so smaller files enable users to view them.  Smaller digital files help assure timely downloading, even from dial-up connections to the Internet.

8.           Contributors

Repositories may contribute content to AlabamaMosaic in two ways:  (1) by allowing AlabamaMosaic to harvest their collection metadata to create catalog records searchable through the AlabamaMosaic website, or (2) by using the ADAH hosting service to create their start-up digital collections (which are also cataloged in AlabamaMosaic).

NAAL strongly encourages potential contributors to complete the Join Us form available on the AlabamaMosaic website if they intend to contribute content to the catalog or if they wish to create a collection using the ADAH CONTENTdm account.

8.1         AlabamaMosaic Collections Hosted by the Alabama Department of Archives and History

ADAH hosts start-up digital collections to assist Alabama repositories new to digital collections.  The AlabamaMosaic hosting service enables repositories to gain the expertise needed to create digital collections before they invest in new equipment or a CMS system.  These repositories may use the ADAH CONTENTdm account to create and manage their digital collection(s). 

Because the hosting service is offered to help repositories start their digital collections, this is not intended to host start-up collections indefinitely.  The continued availability of this service will depend on limiting the size (amount of storage space) and rate of growth for the collection(s). At present, all repositories using this service must limit their collection size to 5 gigabytes.  

To plan for an eventual lack of space to support hosting of new collections, NAAL reserves the right to ask any contributor to move its collection to its own or another site.  If any contributor is asked to move its collection from the ADAH CONTENTdm account, sufficient notice will be given to assure the repository has adequate time to plan a move with the least amount of disruption for public access to the collection.

Repositories may apply to use the AlabamaMosaic hosting service by completing and submitting the Join Us form posted on the AlabamaMosaic website.  ADAH reviews each Join Us application and collection development plan and will respond with information about any limitations related to AlabamaMosaic or any concerns about the collection development plan.

When a repository has been accepted to use the AlabamaMosaic hosting service, ADAH will make every effort to support development of the repository’s digital collections.  The repository’s staff will be given instructions to download and install the AlabamaMosaic Project Client software which is provided at no cost.  Staff may also request advice on planning digital collections, selecting appropriate scanning equipment, training on using CONTENTdm, creating Dublin Core metadata, or other topics. 

8.2         Collections Maintained by Repositories

Many repositories participating in AlabamaMosaic make their own arrangements for hosting their digital collections. Some use locally installed CMS systems, while others purchase hosting from online CMS services. When selecting a CMS system, whether local or hosted, it is important to determine (1) whether the service supports the Dublin Core metadata standard and (2) whether the service supports metadata harvesting via OAI-PMH. If the CMS system meets these criteria, it should be possible to harvest the collection(s) for inclusion in the AlabamaMosaic catalog.

NAAL strongly encourages repositories to complete the Join Us form if they plan to use a local CMS instance or a hosted CMS service and wish to contribute to AlabamaMosaic.  Once the repository is accepted as a contributor, it will be asked for information to enable metadata harvesting to create records for the AlabamaMosaic catalog. 

8.3         Standards for Participation

From time to time, NAAL will adopt and revise technical standards and guidelines for participation in AlabamaMosaic.  These may include standards for scanning materials to create digital files, reformatting digital files for public presentation, creating and maintaining metadata records associated with digital files, and other standards and guidelines needed to assure quality of the digital collections.

All AlabamaMosaic contributors are expected to abide by these standards.  The NAAL Advisory Council reserves the right to ask any repository to remove its digital files from AlabamaMosaic or to remove the link to remote collections if it feels the repository is failing to meet the standards or abide by the policies adopted for AlabamaMosaic.  If a repository is asked to remove its collection(s) from AlabamaMosaic, advance notice will be given.

9.           Copyright

Digital resources in AlabamaMosaic are available to the public for educational and personal research use.  Users may print or download copies of AlabamaMosaic content for educational use and personal research without obtaining prior permission.  Information on the website advises users to request permission from the owner to use AlabamaMosaic content for other purposes.  Compliance with this request is the obligation of the users; and AlabamaMosaic has no means to enforce compliance.

Contributors to AlabamaMosaic must agree to contribute only materials for which they have full rights to copy and distribute online.  Participants assume full responsibility for complying with all applicable copyright and other laws.  The act of contributing an item to AlabamaMosaic is assurance by the repository that it has full rights to legally copy (digitize) the original and distribute that copy online.


10.         Applications to Participate in AlabamaMosaic

NAAL will consider applications for participation in AlabamaMosaic from any repository agreeing to contribute materials related to Alabama history and culture.  This includes museums, archives, libraries, schools, and even individuals.  There are no charges to contribute digital materials to the catalog or to use AlabamaMosaic.  All digital content accessed through AlabamaMosaic must be made available for educational and research use at no charge to users.[3] 

Repositories may apply for participation by completing the Join Us form available on the AlabamaMosaic website.  The Auburn University Libraries’ Digital Projects Librarian and the ADAH Digital Assets department’s AlabamaMosaic coordinator will review applications to assure that the repository will develop its contributed collection(s) consistent with the standards and best practices adopted for AlabamaMosaic and in accordance with the purpose of AlabamaMosaic.  They will also respond with information about any limitations related to AlabamaMosaic or any concerns about the proposed collection and will notify the repository when it has been accepted as a contributor.

Anyone with questions about AlabamaMosaic may also contact the NAAL office:

Network of Alabama Academic Libraries
c/o Alabama Commission on Higher Education
P.O. Box 302000
Montgomery, AL 36130-2000
Telephone: 334-242-2109

NAAL seeks to include as many eligible repositories as possible in AlabamaMosaic and does not anticipate rejecting applications to join.  In the event an application is rejected, the applicant may request reconsideration by the NAAL Advisory Council.  Decisions by the Advisory Council regarding participation in AlabamaMosaic are final.



[1] Alabama Moments in American History

[2] For information about Dublin Core Metadata Element Set, see:

[3] This provision does not prohibit a repository from charging to send high resolution digital copies or high quality print copies to AlabamaMosaic users who request such copies directly from the repository.