Before & After Treatment: Keith’s New Theatre clipping book

Before treatment: Crumbling edges, misshapen spine, detached pages, overfilled pages, board detachment front and back.

After treatment: Foldered and housed detached pages in a 4-flap wrapper, sewed new endsheets front and back, lined spine and created new flange with extended liner and new endsheet, reattached text-block to case using new flange, mended edges and substrate tears with Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste, humidified and flattened creased clippings.

At a future date, this clipping book will be photographed and uploaded to the Keith/Albee Digital Collection. This project has been funded in major part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Visiting NYC – Digital Transitions Cultural Heritage Round Table

A plate from Francisco de Goya's Los Desastres de la Guerra (1863) being photographed by a camera on a copy stand.
Photographing Francisco de Goya’s Los Desastres de la Guerra with a Digital Transitions RCam & Phase One IQ180 Digital Back. Photo credit: Bethany Davis.

Last week, I flew to New York City for the very first time to attend the Digital Transitions Division of Cultural Heritage Round Table, a day-long event which brought together digital imaging professionals from a variety of institutions including the New York Public Library, Smithsonian Institution, and Frick Collection.

The day began at the Morgan Library & Museum with a handful of colleagues sharing their work in brief presentations. Several times, the audience heartily agreed with nods and laughs as the speakers shared their grips, challenges, and exasperations. Digitization of fold-outs, metadata workflows, and software limitations were among the all-too-familiar challenges. Angela Waarala from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign spoke about two projects which involve large and fragile fold-outs housed within bound volumes. As she enumerated the collections’ features and digitization rationale, I thought of our own Engineering Bachelors Theses Collection, which is likely to be both a digitization joy and stressor in 2017. At the conclusion of the presentations, Digital Transition’s Peter Siegel led the group in a round table discussion about our priorities for Phase One’s future development of Capture One CH. Back at the Digital Transitions office, I mingled with colleagues from the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC), Yale University, and Ohio State University while watching live demos of digitization techniques like focus stacking.

UI Libraries has been digitizing special collections and rare materials with a Digital Transitions RG3040 Reprographic System since November 2014. To date, we have photographed items from the Arthur and Miriam Canter Rare Book Room (Clementi’s Various piano works) and John Martin Rare Book Room (Browne’s Religio Medici) as well as more than 70 managers’ reports and clipping books from the Keith/Albee Collection in Special Collections & University Archives.

More about Digital Transitions and the UI Libraries’ work on the Keith/Albee Project:

Sustaining Digital Resources Boot Camp

Bootcamp attendees from Indiana University, Iowa State University, Northwestern University, University of Iowa, Washington University in St. Louis, and Wayne State University.
Attendees from Indiana University, Iowa State University, Northwestern University, University of Iowa, Washington University in St. Louis, and Wayne State University. Photo credit: Nancy Maron.

Daniel Johnson, Digital Preservation Librarian, and I participated in the Sustaining Digital Resources Boot Camp at Northwestern University last week, August 8-10.

The boot camp was billed as “the business model boot camp for digital project leaders” and we were not sure what to expect. In the weeks leading up the trip, we had several conversations about what sustainability means for the Libraries and our projects. We were asked to pick one project to use as an example for the boot camp and we chose the Iowa Digital Library. At first, our thoughts revolved around sustainability in the forms of digital preservation, open source software, and perpetual access to the Libraries digital collections. We reframed our thoughts after talking to Nancy Maron who organizes and leads the boot camp. She encouraged us to think less about the technical aspects of digital preservation and more on overall sustainability of digital projects. What does it take to sustain the Iowa Digital Library? How might the Iowa Digital Library be sustained in the absence of the institutional support that we currently enjoy? How do we get more stakeholders involved with IDL to make its necessity transparent across campus and across the state?

There are no easy answers to those questions. Conducting additional research can answer some of the questions (Who is the Iowa Digital Library’s audience, and what do they find most useful?). Mulling over various conversation topics from the boot camp and discussing them with colleagues in the Libraries will also help.

I suspect that the boot camp takes on varying flavors depending on the backgrounds and projects of the participants. I’m thankful that we attended with this group. Many of our conversations had me nodding along thinking “Yes, we’re doing that too” and “Yes! That’s a struggle for me too.” Project prioritization, in particular, is a topic that I ponder on a regular basis. I learned that others face the same challenges, and many are trying to overcome the challenge with more robust project planning (the same strategy that I’m employing). It might work; it might not. Regardless, I appreciate the camaraderie and catharsis, and I look forward to comparing notes in the future.

You can read more on digital project sustainability from BlueSky to BluePrint and Ithaka S+R.