Everything (Very) Old Is New Again: Introducing Two New Digital Collections

Our busy summer continues apace here in the Digital Projects Group, and our update today gives you two examples of what we’ve been up to. We’re excited to announce the addition of a pair of new digital collections to our stable of digital assets: The Baylor Libraries Digital Rare Books Collection and the Portraits Collection. Each is comprised of absolutely unique materials drawn from our Central Libraries, Poage Legislative Library and The Texas Collection.

William R. White – President of Baylor University (1948-1968) by Victor Lallier

Unveiling the Portraits Collection

Our first new collection presents 38 portraits of a range of figures, including United States Presidents, friends of Baylor University and other Texas luminaries. The centerpiece of the collection is a series of portraits of the thirteen previous presidents of Baylor University (prior to the presidency of current officeholder Judge Ken Starr). Also prominent is the name Victor Lallier, a Texan whose included works featuring U.S. Presidents, Baylor presidents and Congressman W.R. “Bob” Poage.

It is our hope that the portraits collection will be expanded in stages to include additional works from the libraries’ collections, as well as other works displayed across campus.

Opening page – with illuminated capital – of Summa De Casibus Conscientiae (A Summary of Cases of Conscience) – 1481

Treasures from the Vault: The Digital Rare Books Collection

Imagine a room filled with some of the earliest manuscripts ever created, each sitting side by side in a consistently secured, atmospherically-controlled atmosphere where only scholars of the highest caliber are allowed access. Sounds pretty cool, right? Well, it is – but it’s also available to a fairly limited number of people every year, so we decided to throw open the door of our rare book room and provide digital access to some of the Central Libraries’ oldest, rarest and most interesting treasures via the Digital Collections!

This 28-piece (and growing) collection features manuscripts and books dating as far back as the 15th century – 1481, to be precise. This work, “Summa De Casibus Conscientiae” or “A Summary of the Causes of Conscience,” features “illuminated initials, double columns [and] gothic type.” The “newest” piece dates to 1860: a translated New Testament written in Sequoyah, the language of the Cherokee people.

Itse Kanohedv Tetlohisdv Ugvwiyuhi Igatsetseli Tsisa Galone Utseliga / Cherokee Testament – c. 1860

The collection also includes a number of early works on medicine and health, a first of edition of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, and an “almanack” from 1741 written by Nathanel Ames (no relation – as far as I know).

We’d be remiss in introducing this collection if we didn’t mention our indebtedness to our friends Chelsea Ferwerda and Sarah A.S. Epps. These fine ladies did amazing work in translating the titles of our Latin tomes into English. This essential step makes them more discoverable through search engine optimization and gives scholars – and non-Latin speakers alike – a better grasp of what the collection holds.

***

We hope you’ll take a few moments to peruse these two new collections, and please spread the word to anyone in your particular spheres who might be interested. Both collections are tagged as “active,” so new additions will be made over time!

Access the Portraits Collection and the Digital Rare Books Collection and tell us what you think! Images courtesy the Baylor University Central Libraries and the Poage Legislative Library at Baylor University.

 

What We Did On Our Pre-Summer Vacation: News, Updates and Miscellanea from the DPG

If you follow our Facebook page (and if you don’t, we’d love it if you would!), you saw that the DPG took time the past two weeks to participate in our bi-annual “shutdown” period. We instituted this time a couple of years back to allow for recalibration, updating, new machinery installations and more as a way to ensure we’re running as smoothly as possible the rest of the year. It’s a good time to do it – the end of a semester means no students around and a natural lull in production due to a loss of student labor – and we’ve found it to be a great opportunity to catch a quick breather before we dive headfirst into summer.

We wanted to use this post to update you on some changes that have come or will be coming in the near term, including the announcement of some new equipment for the RDC, updates to collections at http://digitalcollections.baylor.edu and a personnel note related to our staff.

We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Toolbox: New Scanners on the Way

Although they’re currently sitting in a central shipping warehouse somewhere on campus, we will soon be in possession of two new scanners that will update and enhance our ability to get things done.

The Kabis III

The first is a Kabis III, an upgrade for our current Kirtas APT 2400 high-speed book imager. The Kirtas has been a workhorse for us since its acquisition more than four years ago, digitizing hundreds of thousands of pages from documents including oral history transcripts to 19thcentury women poets’ books and binders full of JFK assassination-related documents. The Kabis III will reach speeds up to 2,900 pages per hour!

The CopiBook HD

The second new scanner is a CopiBook HD. This will replace the oldest of our specialized scanners, the Zeutschel Omniscan 10000tt. We anticipate using the CopiBook to digitize the same kinds of materials previously handled by the Zeutschel, including rare and fragile books, photographs, small manuscripts and the like.

Both of these scanners were acquired to replace machines that have been extremely effective and efficient but have been supplanted by improvements in technology over the past few years. We’ll have some videos and photos of the scanners in action in a future blog post.

Changes Major and Minor: Updates to Our Digital Collections Site

I spent a good deal of the shutdown doing some revisions, updates and additions to the metadata for our collections. A couple of collections were rebranded as hybrid collections – meaning their source material is derived from multiple holding institutions – and the order the collections appears in on the homepage was tweaked to reflect those changes.

A major metadata enhancement project was wrapped up when I completed the enhancement to the page structure navigation on the Round Up collection. Our campus yearbooks now feature more helpful page titles for quicker navigation via the right-hand panel (illustrated below). Instead of reading “Page 1, Page 2,” and so on, their headings now reflect the title or page number of the physical item, ensuring that the digital surrogate and the physical original mirror each other exactly.

The newly enhanced navigation for the Round Up. This functionality will be added to other collections.

Next, we added some new navigational functionality to our global headers. Now, you can click “View Previous Collection” or “View Next Collection” to quickly move from collection to collection without returning to the homepage. This will be especially helpful when users want to peruse a set of collections from one institution. For example, if they want to move quickly between all of the collections from Poage Legislative Library, this will speed up that process considerably.

Lastly, we’ve made some follow-up passes through our collections in order to make some corrections, updates and other enhancements to the metadata throughout. These updates should make them more searchable, more accurate and more in line with what people are coming to expect from how metadata is displayed in online digital collections.

“Orienting” New Students To Our Collections

This month, we’re taking part in a rite of passage for all Baylor students: New Student Orientation! For the second year in a row, Moody Memorial Library is hosting Dr Pepper Hour in the afternoons, and we’ve been asked to show off our digital collections to the 300-600 students (and their parents) who come through each day. That’s tons of great exposure for our digital assets, and a chance to expose students to the rich history and traditions of our university.

Our setup for Orientation

A Colleague Departs: Saying Farewell to Austin

On a sad note, we said goodbye to Austin Schneider last week. Our former Digital Collections Consultant for the Texas Collection left to take a new job opportunity off-campus. Austin was with us for just one year, but her contributions to the productivity and workplace atmosphere are much appreciated and she will be missed.

Best of luck in your new position, Austin, and don’t be a stranger!