Timeline Illustrates Sonoma County History in a New Way

map_region.pngSonoma State's Web Services Librarian Joe Marquez has created the Sonoma County History Timeline for the University Library website. The Timeline is both a visual and interactive historical web source available to both students and the general public to use.

Marquez himself had always been interested in history, and being a resident of Sonoma, wanted to create a project that put past events of the county in both geographical and historical context.

He also wanted to experiment with displaying library-held content on the web for a new 'mashup' project, or a project that combines two or more disparate bits of information and makes them into a new one. In Marquez's case he used geo-location with the help of Google Maps with content from the library's Regional and Special Collections.

"The Timeline combines images with text and maps to show where exactly in the county something happened or where someone lived," said Marquez.

He worked closely with Dayle Reilly and Lynn Prime, of the Regional and Special Collections department to create a list of major points in Sonoma County's history. After being bestowed with a RSCAP mini-grant, he was able to hire two graduate history students - Karl Byrn and Garrett Morrow - to do background research, find resources and write an abstract about each historical event, person or thing.

The Timeline itself was created using free open source software from Massachusetts Institute of Technology called Simile Exhibit. The software runs using an application programming interface (API) provided by MIT and a Google spreadsheet that holds all the metadata.

"The main reason to do this was to have fun with a web project...what a great way to learn about local history and to create a project that might have use beyond the walls of the University. The project is potentially beneficial for students in a K-12 history class setting," said Marquez.

Marquez received his Master's of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from University of Washington in 2005 and is currently getting his MBA from Portland State.

To view the Timeline visit http://library.sonoma.edu/regional/timeline.php

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