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Bridget Whearty and Astrid Smith in the digitization lab

As the CLIR postdoctoral fellow in Data Curation for Medieval Studies at Stanford I work primarily with data about large collections of digitized manuscripts and fragments. For example, I have helped to make our teaching collections more easily discoverable in Searchworks. I've also been bringing together partner institutions' descriptive metadata to feed a specialized manuscript search environment. 

In practice, I write code to transform batches of 70, 300, 500, or 1000+ manuscripts at a time: I've gotten very comfortable thinking of medieval manuscripts in the tens, hundreds, and even thousands. But the truth is that these large batches of digital-medieval manuscripts I curate are built of unique, single objects. Single objects that, just like the physical objects they grow from, are made by individual people, in particular environments, under specific institutional, financial, and social pressures. 

In order to better understand the process that leads to the creation of a digital-medieval book, I recently followed the digitization of a fifteenth-century book of hours, Stanford University Libraries, M0379, from the request for digitization, through the slow hard work of taking the images and hours of post-production labor, to its arrival in Stanford Digital Repository (SDR). 


Peg box of a baryton, Brussels (undated)Divertimento 24o per il pariton [original manuscript, 1766]

Link to downloadable images of this work

The baryton [pariton] is a bass instrument in the viol family that may be simultaneously bowed and plucked. It features a double set of strings, the upper set gut, for bowing, the lower set metal, for sympathetic vibration and for plucked accompaniment. The metal strings run the length of the neck behind the fingerboard, which is hollowed in the back to allow the left hand to pluck the strings.

Loosely related to the lyra-viol, the baryton likely originated in seventeenth-century England. Its moment in the sun, however, came in ighteenth-century Austria, at the court of the barytonist Prince Nicholas Esterházy, with music supplied in abundance by his ambitious young Kappelmeister, Joseph Haydn.

While reading Sybil Schaefer's interview "We're All Digital Archivists Now," I was happy to see the following comment "we don’t all need to be digital archivists, but we do need to be archivists who work with digital materials. It’s not scalable to have one person, or one team, focus on the 'digital stuff.'"  

I heartily agree with her statement. Since our involvement in the AIMS project, we have required that project archivists process both the analog and digital portions of a collection. And yet, it is apparent that there is a very important role for a digital archivist. Someone who will keep up with new tools and automated processing methods, be on hand to train these project archivists, support acquisition (curators, subject specialists, donors) and explore and assist with our efforts across a wide spectrum of new projects.

If you are interested in some of the details regarding the activities and functions of SUL's digital archivist, please read Peter Chan's recent article - "What Does it Take to Be a Well-rounded Digital Archivist?

 

Army jacket, dog tags and letters from M1240 World War II letters

This summer, Public Services was delighted to have Lucia Ibarra, one of the Library's Eastside High School interns, work with us.  Lucia's project was to rehouse a previously unprocessed collection of World War II letters and note any interesting observations or information along the way.  The incredibly detailed notes she took will be used to create a finding guide (to be completed by December), but we wanted to share her description of her summer experience working with this archival collection:

I am pleased to announce that the Muñoz Family’s Atari Collection (M2010) is processed and open for research. The collection is 11 linear feet and consists of an Atari 800XL home computer, color monitor and complete set of peripherals. The collection also includes 127 consumer software titles published between 1980 and 1987.

The Muñoz Family’s Atari Collection is representative of early home computing in the 1980s when software and hardware manufacturers created products for nontechnical users wishing to use computing for entertainment (i.e. gaming) and practical uses in the home (i.e. personal finances and education). This collection compliments the Stephen M. Cabrinety Collection in the History of Microcomputing, ca. 1975-1995 (M0997) which contains software, computer hardware, peripheral devices, hand-held games, and computer industry literature documenting the microcomputing gaming industry during its formative years.

The Muñoz family generously gave their collection to Stanford University, Special Collections in 2012 and the collection was processed thanks to the efforts and talent of Melissa Pincus who worked for Public Services this summer. Melissa created the collection's finding guide which can be accessed through the collection's catalog record:

http://searchworks.stanford.edu/view/10586501

Ruth Asawa at Tamarind lithography workshop 1965 by an unknown photographer

Walking around campus, one can readily see the impact of Stanford’s Arts Initiative. Joining the existing Cantor Arts Center are several new buildings, including the Bing Concert Hall, which opened in 2013, the Anderson Collection at Stanford University, which opened on September 21st, and the growing structure that will be the McMurtry Building, slated to open in 2015.

In parallel with this new focus on the arts, the MSS division in Special Collections has worked over the last year with Peter Blank and Anna Fishaut at the Art & Architecture Library, in identifying and funding the preservation and processing of four recently acquired art collections. Some of the projects will include selected reformatting of audio-visual elements, processing of digital files, additional digitization efforts, and collaboration with the libraries’ Department of Conservation and the Art Library’s Visual Resources Center.

Portrait of Mandelbrot

 

The Manuscripts Division is thrilled to announce that the Benoit Mandelbrot Papers are now open for research. A finding aid to the collection is available on the Online Archive of California and materials are pageable through the catalog record in Searchworks.

The papers document the life and work of Benoit Mandelbrot, maverick mathematician and pioneer of fractal geometry. The collection contains biographical material, personal and professional correspondence, drafts and typescripts for books and articles, subject files, and reprints. The collection also contains a significant amount of research data, including notes, plots, graphs, and computer-generated visualizations of fractals. Also included are teaching materials, administrative records, awards, and materials related to publicity events, such as posters and flyers announcing conferences and lectures focusing on fractals or related topics. Other formats present in the collection include photographs, audiovisual material, and computer media, as well as an extensive amount of fractal and fractal-related artwork.

Music manuscript facsimiles

On display in the Music Library are a variety of facsimiles of musical manuscripts. Items range from a meticulous reproduction of the 15th-century Chansonnier de Jean de Montchenu, a heart-shaped collection of courtly love songs worked with gilt and fine hand illustrations, to a very convincing replica of the notebook page upon which Kurt Cobain penned lyrics for the iconic song Smells Like Teen Spirit.

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