American Kennel Club Digital Library | eReviews

The American Kennel Club (AKC) Library and Archives is a unique new resource, sure to delight dog-fanciers and researchers alike.



The American Kennel Club (AKC) Library and Archives


CONTENT The American Kennel Club (AKC) Library and Archives describes itself as “the only national repository dedicated to the sport and enjoyment of the purebred dog,” holding “one of the largest libraries devoted to dogs in the world.” Launched in September 2022, the AKC Digital Library is an open-access repository that shares a large and growing portion of its distinctive collections openly with the world—admirably free from paywalls or advertisements.

The Digital Library hosts a virtually complete run of digitized issues of the AKC Gazette (the American Kennel Club’s official magazine since 1889) and over 100 years of catalogs from dog shows and events hosted by AKC clubs across the U.S. The Gazette is of special interest to dog lovers and scholars, as it is the longest continuously published dog magazine in the United States and one of the oldest sporting publications in the country.The repository also hosts a selection of materials from the AKC archives, including the AKC constitution and its myriad of edits and amendments over time, board meeting minutes, dog show rules, dog registrations, and statistics on dog shows and trials. Completeness of coverage varies—for example, meeting minutes span only 1884 to 1952, and dog show rules span 1884 to 1931. However, the AKC plans to add more content on a regular basis, and very little of this content is otherwise available online.

While none of the content has been republished under open licenses, everything is made freely available without fees or subscriptions. Researchers do not need to create personal accounts to access or download materials.

USABILITY These resources are hosted on a content-management system from Innovation Document Imaging, a company that specializes in the scanning and hosting of historical materials. The mobile-responsive platform is easy to navigate, with a header level navigation bar offering links to access the homepage; browse the AKC Gazette, Show Catalogs, or Archives; register for or login to a user account; or fill out a form to contact the AKC library staff. Documents can be navigated by a range of years, specific year, month, and issue, or searched by date and publication type. Archival materials are still on the AKC’s main website as of this writing, but these files are linked from the Digital Library and easy to find. Document scans are generally high-quality and are fully text-searchable because of optical character recognition (OCR) in the PDF files. Visitors can copy a direct link to each file from their browser’s address bar. The platform has some limitations. Descriptive metadata is minimal, no persistent identifiers are used, and files are available only as PDFs. Given the platform’s straightforward structure and content, these limitations should impact few users. However, while the platform supports phrase and wildcard searching, the lack of a meaningful advanced-search tool, including no ability to filter search results or sort them beyond relevance and date, is a major limitation. It means that researchers must spend more time tracking down the sources they need. In addition to scanning and sharing content, the AKC should prioritize improvements to metadata, searchability, and technical infrastructure.

PRICING The AKC Digital Library is a freely available online resource.

VERDICT The American Kennel Club Digital Library is a unique new resource, sure to delight dog-fanciers and researchers alike. The content is freely available, and the platform, while rudimentary, is easy to navigate. Recommended. 

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