Tag Archive for Housekeeping

(Digital Collections) Imitating Janus: A Look Back, A Look Ahead for the DPG

A Sign of Things Bygone, To Come

Janus, of course, was the Roman god of beginnings and endings, usually represented as having two faces – one looking forward, the other back. His was the realm of doorways, transitions, gates and time itself. We derived the name of the present month from his name, so every time you curse your luck for living somewhere that January is one of the grayest, coldest, slushiest months of the year, you can grumble a little oath for him, too.

But January brings its share of pleasures, and one of them has become the idea of looking back at the year just past as we set goals for the year to come. It’s a month when, like December, people start posting random lists of Top Thing of 2012 and Top Thing To Expect In 2013. And so, in keeping with established tradition in the world of blogging, we’d like to take a moment to look back at The Year That Was by providing you a run-down of our most popular blog posts of 2012. It’s a handy way to catch up on posts you may have missed, relive your favorite DPG moments or just kill a few minutes on a cold, slow early January day at the office. We won’t judge your motivations – but we’ll gratefully accept your pageviews!

January’s top post:
War of the Rebellion Atlas Puts DPG on the Map in Tennessee

February’s top post:
“How do I love thee?” Let Us Digitize the Ways!

March’s top post:
A New Dimension for Our Collections: Introducing the Digital Collections Podcast

April’s top post:
Scott Joplin’s “Great Crush Collision” and the Memorialization of a Marketing Spectacle

May’s top post:
Everyone’s a Curator!

June’s top post:
Getting to Know the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project (BGMRP)

July’s  top post:
“A Long Time Minister of the Gospel and a Great Leader in Our Southern Baptist Convention” – The Selsus E. Tull Collection

August’s top post (and 2012’s most popular post):
“So We Can Throw These Out Now, Right?” What We Learned from Microfilming Newspapers and How It Shapes Our Digitization Strategy

September’s top post:
Join the Crowd(sourcing): Turning to Our Readers for Metadata Help

October’s top post:
Bringing Cartography, Digitization and Texana Together for a Limited Time Via Our Digital Collections

November’s top post:
“The Path of Good Intentions is a Steep Learning Curve”  – An Update from Zada Law

December’s top post:
Bonnie and Clyde (and Pat) and the Texas Collection Artifact That Ties Them Together

A Look Back

All in all, it was a banner year for our blog. We went viral in August, featured our first guest columnist and exposed our readers to hidden gems and one-of-a-kind resources available only from the Baylor University libraries. We received a total of  9,791 visits through December 2012, with the majority (4,568) from Texas. The blog was accessed by users in every state in the U.S. as well as by readers in the U.K., Canada, Australia, India and Germany.

When we started this blog a little over a year ago, we had no idea what to expect in terms of impact, site visits, topics or anything else, for that matter. Now we can point back to a very successful year and use it as a benchmark for further growth and utilization of this versatile outreach tool. It has proven to be a remarkable way to engage our users, and we look forward to seeing its usefulness expand in the coming months.

A Look Ahead

We have two pieces of information to pass along to you in this inaugural 2013 post, both of which are exciting and being revealed here for the first time. One is the change of our group’s name from the Digitization Projects Group to the more-appropriate Digital Projects Group. Not only does this shave off two superfluous and tongue-tripping syllables from “Digitization,” it also more accurately encompasses the scope of the work we do.

Yes, the digitization of archival materials will still be a huge part of what we do, but the creation of digital versions of audio-visual materials isn’t precisely digitization – it’s more technically migration. And what about the creation and management of born-digital files, things that were never printed on paper in the first place? They were never digitized, but we are responsible for their preservation and propagation nonetheless. So, “Digital Projects Group” seems to fit the bill a little better than our previous moniker, and in the final analysis, it will at least be easier to say.

Along with the group name change, our esteemed colleague Darryl Stuhr has garnered a well-earned nomenclature upgrade as well. He is now the Assistant Director for the Digital Projects Group, a change from his previous title as Manager of Digitization Projects. I’m sure you’ll all join us in congratulating him on this change and wish him well in the coming months as we figure out all the ways we’ll be doing more with our new name and our expanding role in the Baylor libraries structure.

In closing, we want to thank you for your support over the past year. Writing this blog has been one of the highlights of my career this far, and, on a personal note, I’m looking forward to bringing you even more high-quality content each and every week of 2013 – barring a couple weeks off here and there for things like Spring Break and the occasional week when we’re all so deep into a project the thought of blogging falls after priorities like eating and occasionally seeing our loved ones.

Here’s to an exciting 2013, everyone!

(Digital Collections) Hot and Bot-hered: The Joys of Moderating Spam Comments

The Eternal Struggle for Bloggers

One of the unexpected joys of writing this blog is filtering out the spam comments we receive on almost every post. Many are garden variety garbage gathered by spambots and spit back out as “comments.” These get caught by the spam filters and deleted routinely. Others are from people hoping to use the blog as a launchpad for their own interests: “Play my music on your blog!” or “Check out my book on this subject!” That sort of thing.

But there is a truly special kind of spam comment that I call the “almost reads like it was written by a human being – but not quite” comment. We received four such comments in a row (on four different posts) from an IP address based in Germany whose spambots used commenter names related to payday loans. Let’s read them together and laugh, shall we?

Contact One: Short and Sweet

Excellent article! We are linking to this great post on our website. Keep up the great writing. <URL redacted>

Well, that makes this author feel all warm and fuzzy! Too bad this same comment was probably posted to every possible blog post in the United States.

Contact Two: More Effusive Praise

I was extremely pleased to discover this web site. I need to to thank you
for ones time due to this wonderful read!! I definitely really liked every
little bit of it and i also have you book marked to check out new things in your web site. <Same URL, redacted>

The ego boost from this “commenter” was marred somewhat by the poor grammar. Then I remembered it was generated by a German spambot, and I cut it some slack.

Contact Three: Attempts at Lingo and Self-Disclosed Amnesia

Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve visited your blog before but after looking at a few of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m definitely happy I found it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back often! <Same URL, redacted again>

Nothing gets a Texan’s attention like the use of a prime piece of regional vernacular, and the lead-off “Howdy!” here sure grabs the eye. But the admission that the writing on this site wasn’t interesting enough for the spambot to remember it fully takes some of the bloom off the rose, so to speak.

Contact Four: The Honeymoon is Definitely Over

Next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesn’t disappoint me just as much as this one. After all, I know it was my choice to read through, nonetheless I genuinely thought you would probably have something helpful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something that you could possibly fix if you weren’t too busy searching for attention. <Same URL, redacted – probably for the last time>

Oh. Oh, my. It seems we’ve done something to upset our semi-sentient German friend. This comment was submitted for the post related to the Browning Letters Project, a post which I thought was uniformly happy and positive, given its focus on love poems. I guess the hive mind behind the commenting spambot has little care for the creative works of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning!

Of Robots and Social Media

Sure, these comments are funny, but what’s the harm? So what if some chunk of code from a Germanic website is blasting our inbox with semi-coherent “responses” to our blog’s output? For the end user, it’s probably not a big deal; if we don’t approve the comment, you’ll never see it. And the Word Press platform (administered by Edublogs) catches all of them, so there’s no real possibility that one will slip out into the general populace to wreak havoc.

The problem is this: these unending automated attacks will only get more sophisticated, and they are not going away. There are plenty of people who would use tactics like this to entice the unwary to click on a link that looks legitimate, enter in their personal information, and find themselves swindled out of the contents of their bank accounts. And while an academic blog related to digital collections may seem like a strange choice for such an attack, it is indicative of the no-holds-barred approach taken by unscrupulous people in their quest for ill-gotten gains.

The unfortunate side effect for archives, libraries and museums (especially small ones) is that these hassles can have a chilling effect on their efforts to use social media to promote their collections to the world. If an institution with little to no Web presence believes these kinds of spam attacks can do real harm to their institution’s computers (to say nothing of its reputation), how many will choose to forgo blogging, Facebook, Twitter and the rest simply out of fear? And ultimately, how many amazing pieces of our cultural heritage will remain unseen online as a result? While we may chuckle about these blatant forgeries, can the time be far off when they become so sophisticated that even major institutions fall prey to their wiles?

A Plea for Human Contact

While these robotic missives may be entertaining (and/or potentially destructive), they are no substitute from well-formed, enlightening, written-by-humans comments. So if you find a post on our blog interesting, informative, enlightening, even enraging, please don’t hesitate to comment. Your voice helps us make this blog – and by extension our digital collections – better every day.



(Digital Collections) Want An Easier Way to Get Updates?

Just a quick note to tip you off to a feature we’ve enabled here at the Digital Collections blog: subscribe via email! Look over in the right-hand sidebar and find the “subscribe by email” box. Just enter your email address and hit submit, and you’ll be on your way to emailed updates every time we post a new entry! Think of it as a hassle-free way to make sure you don’t miss a single character of context, insight, and announcements from our increasingly popular blog.

h/t to Alice Campbell for the idea to add this widget. Check out her work on the Texas Collection’s “Believe Me Your Own” blog at http://blogs.baylor.edu/believemeyourown/.

(Digital Collections) Checking In

We wanted to post a brief note to let you know the good folks at the Digitization Projects Group are alive and well, despite our noticeable lack of blog posting of late. Spring Break hit the campus of Baylor University two weeks ago, and this past week, we’ve been very busy getting things spiffed up for one of our oldest collections in preparation for a new focus on its unique assets. (More on that to come very soon!)

Also in the works is our announcement of a new channel for connecting with our collections, an introduction to the team behind our Digital Collections, and another installment of Hidden in Plain Sight, our regular series of closer looks at panoramic photos from the Texas Collection.

So don’t be dismayed that your RSS feed has been a little lighter this past week. We promise it’ll be worth the wait!

(Digital Collections) Get On Board with the DPG!

Waco-Young Men’s Business League: 1912, from the Texas Collection’s Photos (1)

As we kick off a new year of digitization excellence here at the DPG, we wanted to take a moment to answer a question we’re getting with increasing frequency: “How can I help?” We’ve got three simple answers!

Tell your friends
The more people know about our collections, the better it is for a number of reasons. Of course, we like seeing our materials show up at the top of Google results, and it’s always fun to see us getting mentioned in the news, but it’s also the best way for people to get involved through …

Contributing materials
When people hear about the work we’re doing, many start telling us stories about their own treasured collections. Whether it’s a packet of letters from World War I, a program from a Baylor football game, or a stack of gospel LPs, we’re always looking to enhance our collections through the addition of new materials. Whether you’d like to make an outright donation to the University or if you’d like to loan materials just for scanning and adding to the collections, we’re happy to talk to you about how you can help.

Make a gift
Thanks to generous gifts from supportive donors, we’ve been able to secure some of the most advanced digitizing technology available. From fragile books to large format maps and audio/visual materials, our center can digitize an increasing number of materials. But we’re always looking to augment our technology, hire more graduate students, and purchase other tools that help us in our work. For more information on how your gift can support the work of the DPG, contact Trey_Hagins@Baylor.edu.

If you’d like more information on how to add your materials to the growing digital collections of the Baylor University Libraries, contact Curator of Digital Collections Eric Ames at Eric_Ames@Baylor.edu.

(1) See the full-size panoramic photo at