Exploring the Mountain West Digital Library

We often find the need to locate genealogical records that go beyond Ancestry.com, FamilySearch and many other sites that provide access to databases. That doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with those websites, there is just soooo much information out there that has yet to be found.

Some of these databases could be more local to you than you think, all you have to do is look, ask questions and use web searches wisely to find those hidden database gems.

One of these database gems is the Mountain West Digital Library (MWDL).

For this blog, I interviewed Kinza Masood, Program Director at the MWDL.

What is the Mountain West Digital Library?

MWDL (Mountain West Digital Library) is a central search portal for digital collections about the Mountain West Region of the United States.

Through the online MWDL portal, they provide free access to approximately 800,000 resources from universities, colleges, academic and public libraries, museums, historical societies, and government agencies, from Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, and Hawaii.

As a DPLA (Digital Public Library of America) regional service hub, Mountain West Digital Library harvests metadata from 15 member repositories representing over 70 partners throughout the Western US.

Where is the Mountain West Digital Library located?

The records in the MWDL are hosted on an online portal that can be accessed via www.mwdl.org. The MWDL offices are physically located in the J. Willard Marriott Library, at the University of Utah campus.

The records in the MWDL library has a set of collection partners comprised of universities, colleges, academic and public libraries, museums, historical societies, and government agencies, from Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, and Hawaii that have digitized their primary source materials and made them available on digital library, hosted platforms.

A complete list of MWDL partners can be found at this link: https://www.mwdl.org/collections/pCollections.php

How to Access MDWL

There are no fees or log-in requirements to access the records on their portal: www.mwdl.org. All of their content is freely available for use for research.

To access the portal, a user just needs access to the internet.

What’s next for the MWDL?

MWDL hopes to continue expanding the portal to include even more content from their partners. The MWDL is working on using its hosted resources to create Education Toolkits to integrate into lesson plans as learning tools for K-12 schools, specifically for Utah History and Social Studies classes.

MWDL has been working with other partners and also with DPLA to assess platforms for hosted digital library content, digitization and metadata best practices, and other digital library-related research.

About Kinza Masood

Kinza grew up in the suburb of Kathmandu, Nepal and in a small town known as Kharian, in Pakistan and came to the United States 1998 to attend University. Kinza pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Business with an emphasis in Information Systems as well as a Master’s degree in Information Systems at the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah.

She started her work with the Mountain West Digital Library (MWDL) community in (2008) participating in various projects, serving on committees and task forces involving regional collaborations on digital library workflows and systems. When the position of Directorship for MWDL opened up in 2017, Kinza saw it as an opportunity to engage in work that would not only build upon her experience but also provide her with opportunities to continue to make contributions to the field of digital libraries on a regional and national scale.

She is also a member of the Women Tech Council (WTC). Through the WTC affiliation, Kinza has volunteered as a mentor for young women that are hoping to pursue careers in technology fields.