Libraries, archives, and other cultural heritage organizations in need of a platform to publish their digital collections—one that doesn’t require an IT staff to run—can look no further: Adam Matthew’s new solution, Quartex, is out now. Users can upload their digital assets and metadata from existing platforms and repositories and follow a step-by-step process to create their own branded site to display their collections, allowing them to be viewed by people around the world.
Customized Searching and Styling
The types of content Adam Matthew designed the platform to host includes correspondence, printed books and newspapers, oral histories, and videos (all major formats for images and audiovisual materials are supported). Quartex not only displays the content, it also makes it easily searchable. It is the only platform that offers Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR), which uses AI to detect words and phrases in handwritten texts—in all Western European languages, with more to come—so that users can find all of the instances of a term they search for with a high degree of accuracy. Full-text searching of printed materials is available with the in-platform optical character recognition (OCR).
Organizations pay a subscription fee based on their digital footprint—total size of their collection(s)—which includes all hosting costs, software upgrades, and new releases. OCR, HTR, and the preservation of master files are all available at an additional cost. Martin Drewe, head of platform services, says Quartex uses Amazon Web Services (AWS) for its cloud-based hosting, and it replicates “all digital assets and data on multiple servers across multiple regions. Our preservation solution adds another layer of security and offers checksums and file integrity checks.”
Quartex’s collection builder offers various options for styling and navigation, down to the font, colors, and whether the site’s buttons should have rounded corners. If the existing metadata needs some enhancement, users can work on it directly within the platform. It takes about 30–40 minutes to produce a sample site, and the site’s attributes can be edited and the changes published very quickly. (Adam Matthew’s sample site made with Quartex is available here. There are also sections showing how each of its beta partners—the University of Toronto, the Newberry Library, and the American Philosophical Society—is using Quartex.)
“Some of the best feedback we’ve had to date is about how simple it is to create and style exhibitions; it’s very easy to generate, edit and publish professional looking pages within minutes,” says Drewe. “We’ve also had good feedback about the display options—the image viewer and video players themselves, the ability to show and search transcriptions, and the flexibility over front-end branding and styling.”
Developing the Platform
Adam Matthew has worked with organizations across the world to license their material for in its own digital collections. “We thought we could use our publishing experience, and the skill and passion of the Adam Matthew team, to benefit these libraries, by helping them publish their own open access content—so we began to invest in the development of Quartex,” says Drewe.
Work on the platform began in January 2017, and it quickly became apparent that libraries use a variety of workflows and have differing needs, says Drewe. Quartex is designed to be flexible and aims to meet as many requirements as it can. For example, “Quartex supports IIIF, which will allow presentation of images hosted in different repositories, by different institutions. We also plan to build a user community around the Quartex platform and will enable federated search across all open access Quartex-published content,” he says.
Many organizations don’t have the resources to publish their own online collections. It’s a considerable investment of time and money, says Drewe, and may require an IT staff. Quartex’s process for creating collections is intuitive, and the environment is of high quality, he says. Specialists or consultants are not necessary. If organizations have materials that need to be digitized before being uploaded to Quartex, Adam Matthew can recommend companies to help with that.
Uses for Quartex
Adam Matthew built Quartex from the ground up, and it is using the platform for its own collections going forward. (Its core business remains publishing collections of archival material.) “It’s likely that libraries will use Quartex in different ways,” says Drewe. “Some may be looking for a comprehensive management solution for all their digital assets; others will focus on creating and publishing online exhibitions or resources for teaching, or on applying HTR to certain manuscript collections to aid research.”
Quartex facilitates the creation of “sites that are easy to navigate and search, functional and stylish, with great display options and features,” says Drewe. With Quartex, a site “looks as though it’s been bespoke developed and is discoverable and searchable at any time, on any device.”