Preservation & Conservation Welcomes New Equipment!

 

Earlier this month, Preservation & Conservation welcomed a new addition to our family: this lovely new digital image capture system from Digital Transitions!  This equipment will be essential in undertaking one of our most ambitious projects yet, the digitization of the 150 scrapbooks in the Keith/Albee Collection.

While our previous overhead scanner, the Zeutschel, has been in use and doing a wonderful job for several years, there has been a need for some time to update this equipment.  Additionally, guidelines for the Keith/Albee NEH grant require that the scrapbooks be digitized at a higher resolution than the Zeutschel is capable of.  For more information on this project, check out our previous blog posts here and here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The setup for this new equipment is unprecedented for this department.  The main scanning room had to be cleared out entirely in order to make room for it, and it more closely resembles a portrait studio currently than a typical scanning room.  This new digital reprographic system uses a Phase One digital camera back, taking high quality images of each item.  At 80 megapixels, it uses one of the highest-quality cameras currently available.  The camera itself is attached to an electronically movable column.

Visit the growing Keith/Albee digital archive here.

Preservation & Conservation Welcomes New Hires

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Beth Stone and Justin Baumgarten in front of Keith/Albee scrapbooksThe UI Libraries Preservation & Conservation department would like to welcome two new(ish) staff members, Justin Baumgartner and Elizabeth Stone. They join us as members of the Keith/Albee project team. They will be working together, along with other UI Libraries staff, to stabilize and digitize the Keith/Albee collection. Both Justin and Elizabeth are University of Iowa graduates who are no strangers to employment at the UI Libraries.

Elizabeth Stone started on July 21, 2014 as the Keith/Albee Project Conservator. She is a recent graduate of the University of Iowa Center for the Book where she studied bookbinding, letterpress printing, and book history. As a student, she worked in Preservation & Conservation salvaging flood-damaged items from the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library and the African American Museum of Iowa.

Justin Baumgartner started on July 22, 2014 as the Keith/Albee Digital Project Librarian. He is a recent graduate of the University of Iowa School of Library & Information Science. As a student, he worked in the UI Libraries Special Collections & University Archives and interned for the Digital History Project at the Iowa City Public Library.

The duo will shepherd 125-150 oversize scrapbooks through conservation and digitization workflows during the next three years. Visit the growing digital collection at digital.lib.uiowa.edu/keithalbee .

The Keith/Albee project is a three-year project to stabilize, digitize, and provide online access to the Keith/Albee collection which documents the activity of a prominent vaudeville theater company through more than 40 years of business. The records chronicle the expansion of the Keith/Albee circuit, changes in its leadership, and the eventual decline of vaudeville.ka_blog_q1bBlog

The Keith/Albee Project has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

UI Libraries receives NEH $300,000 three-year grant

We are pleased to announce that the UI Libraries has received a National Endowment of Humanities (NEH) $300,000 grant award for a three-year preservation and access project to provide conservation treatment and to digitize 150 oversize scrapbooks in the Keith/Albee Vaudeville Theater Collection.

A page spread from a scrapbook in the Keith/Albee Vaudeville Theater Collection
A page spread from a scrapbook in the Keith/Albee Vaudeville Theater Collection

Since its acquisition in 1976, the Keith/Albee Vaudeville Theater Collection has remained the leading vaudeville archive in the country. Documenting the activity of a prominent vaudeville theater company through more than 40 years of business, the collection is rich not only in newspaper clippings and other publicity, but in managers’ reports and financial records as well. As such, the Keith/Albee collection is more than scattered playbills and more than the personal archives of individual performers. This collection is context. The collection’s focus on the business of vaudeville provides an understanding of the industrial evolution of a major form of popular entertainment. In the end, the collection allows researchers to track the conditions that contributed to the decline of live entertainment and the rise of film—currently a field of intense scholarly interest. As a result of its strong research value, the Keith/Albee collection has been source material for a number of books and dozens of articles, reaching scholarly and popular audiences alike, throughout the past thirty years. As the study of the history and evolution of early, popular American entertainment grows, interest in the Keith/Albee Vaudeville Theater Collection is expected to grow likewise.

A look at the type of damage to some of the scrapbooks in the Keith/Albee Vaudeville Theater Collection.
A look at the type of damage to some of the scrapbooks in the Keith/Albee Vaudeville Theater Collection.

In its current condition, the collection cannot sustain increased handling—let alone the handling it receives now. All of the scrapbooks’ substrate pages are brittle; only the amount of brittleness varies as does the amount of resulting loss and damage. A recent collection survey indicated that 56 percent of the scrapbooks have incurred some degree of loss or damage as a result of brittle paper and normal handling. More than 60 percent of the scrapbooks that have incurred enough damage to have their use limited or restricted entirely. Doing so would make approximately one-third of the collection off-limits to researchers. With this grant the Preservation and Conservation Department will be able to preserve this collection while increasing its access to researchers.

A special congratulations to co-authors Bethany Davis, Digital Processing Coordinator, and Patrick Olson, Special Collections Librarian for their excellent work and dedication to crafting a successful application to one of the most competitive grant programs.

Brittle fragments of paper collect in the spine area of a scrapbook from the Keith/Albee Vaudeville Theater Collection.
Brittle fragments of paper collect in the spine area of a scrapbook from the Keith/Albee Vaudeville Theater Collection.