BLOG: Unlocking dLOC: A Guide to the Digital Library of the Caribbean: Part Two by Kiran Baldeo

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Hey, you, researchers, busy packing bags, ready to head out on an archival trip! Or those of you about to sit down at your computers and navigate a digital repository. Yes, all of you! I want to hear how your research went and so do our readers.  I’m currently looking for posts that I can edit over the summer and publish in the fall. Please email me at or fill out this Google Form to express your interest in blogging.

I am pleased to continue the “Teaching with H-Latam’s Research Corner Blog” series and this two-part discussion of the Digital Library of the Caribbean. If you missed the first part, please click here. Kiran Baldeo is a History Ph.D. student at Rutgers University. Her research interests center on British Guiana during the era of indentured labor. Baldeo received her MA from the City College of New York. Her thesis titled, “The Dark Underbellies of the Littles: A History of the Indo-Guyanese Diaspora, Race and Identity,” explored transnational migrations, diasporic identity formation, and settlement patterns of the Indo-Guyanese population in New York City. Baldeo’s current work explores the systems of colonial medicine in the post-emancipation British Caribbean. Research for this project has fostered an extensive engagement with the Digital Library of the Caribbean and thus, serves as the basis for this post.

Unlocking dLOC: A Guide to the Digital Library of the Caribbean: Part Two

Part one of the “Unlocking dLOC” series explored the new website interface, the library’s organization, and search options. In part two, using an example from the Caribbean Newspaper Digital Collection, I provide a breakdown on how to navigate digitized images, not only in this collection but across dLOC. Additionally, I review the “Map Search” and “Date Search” options.1

When using an online archive, it is essential that you have a good grasp on how to utilize the features that aid in analysis. In this case, the user is presented with ten options for any image (see Figure 1). The “zoomable” and “search” features are the most useful, especially when you need to read text in an image or look at an image closely. Clicking on “zoomable” re-opens the image with the capability of zooming in and out. Each click zooms into the image more. Because zooming in does not distort the image, this is the best option to read the text in the newspaper. The “search” feature is helpful for locating a specific word or phrase within the body of the text. If your search term is found, a page will generate with the thumbnail images of the pages the word is on, which you can click on to expand. Unfortunately, once you click to open up the full screen image of the page the keyword will not be highlighted within the text.

Figure 1: An example from the Caribbean Newspaper Digital Collection, Port of Spain Gazette, September 8th, 1998. [].

The remaining options are also helpful for navigating images/images of documents. There are multiple options to view and flip through each page of a multi-image document such as the double arrows at the top of the image and the “flipbook” button. The flipbook button has the added feature of being able to zoom in and out but, but unlike using the “zoomable” feature, the clarity of the graphic gets worse as you zoom in. You can also use the “all images” button to view clickable thumbnail images of each page in the issue. The “PDF files” and “downloads” options allow you to save the images for easy storage. “The description” button provides easy access to the citation page. Finally, the “all volumes” button takes you to all the documents within that title set; in this case it would take me to all the Port of Spain Gazette newspapers in the archive. See Figure 2 for a brief summary of all these functions.


The double arrows at the top of the image

Flip through the pages of the issue.

Zoomable (to the left of the double arrows)

Zoom in and out, with ability to read text clearly.

All images (to the right of the double arrows)

Small clickable thumbnail images of each page in the issue.

Description (far left of the top navigation bar)

Return to the citation page.

PDF Files and Downloads

Save the images for easy storage.


Flip through the pages of the issue.


Provides large images of each page but does not allow you to zoom in.


Allows you to search for words/phrases in the body of the text

All volumes (far right of the top navigation bar)

Takes you to all the newspapers within that “title set.”

Figure 2: Table of document analysis features.

Map Search:

On the top of the dLOC homepage, there is a tab labeled “Map Search.” This remarkable feature allows you to search for items based on an address or location. Using the Google Maps feature, you have the option to pinpoint a specific location or create a rectangular box or radius search area (see Figure 3). Once your search location is set, the system will then generate coordinates and identify documents within your marked location or larger area. Conducting a map search when you first start using dLOC for geographically specific research is ideal because it immediately allows you to see if and how much dLOC has to offer for your area of interest. 

Unfortunately, the Map Search feature on the new interface does not consistently work. However, after contacting the Maps Reference team at the University of Florida they recommended that I use the feature on the old website and assured me that the bugs on the new interface were actively being addressed. (You can also access the former dLOC website by clicking on the link labeled “Beta” at the top of the new dLOC homepage). Using the old dLOC website I was able to successfully pinpoint a location (see Figure 3). Once you have pinpointed a location you can hit the “search” button (located next to the address box) to view all the documents associated with that geographic area (see Figure 4).

Figure 3: map search for the pinpoint location “Georgetown, Guyana” on the former dLOC website.

Figure 4: publication search results for pinpoint location search of “Georgetown, Guyana.”

Date Search:

On the top of the dLOC homepage is also a tab labeled “Dates” (see Figure 5). This feature allows you to search for collections based on a date or dates. You have the option to enter a specific month, day, and year, or you can just enter a year. You can enter two dates to generate documents that fall within that range. Or, you can enter a start date to generate documents that fall after that date or an end date to view documents that fall up until that date. It should be noted that the Dates search can be used on its own or in conjunction with the filters to view documents within a specific geographic area, in a particular language, or under a specific genre that fall within a designated period.

Figure 5: “Date Search” page [].

Learning to navigate the features of dLOC has been invaluable to my research. The archive’s collection of newspapers, particularly the Port of Spain Gazette, and the in-body text search options, has allowed me to begin reconstructing the lives of orphans across the British Caribbean. But the archive’s Caribbean nomenclature should not put off any Latin Americanists. The archive’s broad geographical reach and ability to make trans-imperial connections make it an ideal space for Latin Americanists. Some materials of interest may include the extensive collections on Cuba such as Cuba Archives and Manuscripts, Cuba: Thinkers and Intellectual Leaders, and Cuban and Mexican Film Posters from the Efraín Barradas Collection, to name a few. Other collections indicative of the archive’s reach include the Haitian Law Digital Collection, and titles such as the Panama American and Haiti Journal newspapers.

I hope that the “Unlocking dLOC” series has put you on the path to becoming a dLOC pro and has equipped you with the skills to successfully navigate the online archive and get the most out of what it has to offer.


1 This collection is a pure gem. It holds a total of 232,417 items, including Caribbean newspapers, gazettes, and newsprints.



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