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October 24, 2014

Pilot: Embedding Research Guides into Classes v2

Library IT has just assumed support for an application developed by Yale's central ITS that allows librarian-curated research help and resources to be embedded directly into Yale's course management system, Classes v2. A pilot program begins this fall, with volunteering faculty. Seven course sites are now equipped with embedded Library Class Guides, allowing students to easily access library-curated resources to help them with their research.

Emulation as a Service at Yale Library featured in Library of Congress blog

The Library's Digital Preservation Manager, Euan Cochrane, recently contributed a post to The Signal, the Library of Congress' blog on digital preservation and stewardship. Euan writes about Yale's forays into emulation as a service with three case studies from his work at the Library. Software emulation, a stand-in for having and running actual copies of old hardware and software, is a way to maintain access to older digital content (like the first version of Windows, a PC game that runs off of a CD-ROM, and so on). In using bwFLA's software framework Emulation as a Service, the Library uncovered several more challenges involved in running software emulation, most important of which is the need for comprehensive and non-restrictive licensing agreements to be in place for emulation to successfully work across a multitude of content. The full text of Euan's article can be found here.

Yale Findit collections redesigned and expanded

The Library now has a new look and feel for its digitized collections' online presence, which can be accessed here. The new design features a search of Findit.library.yale.edu, listing all the Findit collections. Each collection has a digital collection highlight page which will include some description, as well as an acknowledgement to any donors who helped to support its creation. On each page the user is also given the option to share a link to the collection via social media. Because the library has so many collections, they are listed on separate pages, viewable here.

Collections in Findit also grew considerably over the summer. For example the Day Missions collection now has over 5000 items and over 400 Sanborn Fire Insurance maps are now freely available to the world. Compared to the library's regular web site, the audience for Findit has a more global constitution. Slightly more than half of the visitors are from the United States, but Vietnam (22%) and China (7%) also contribute a significant amount of the traffic to the site. Others nations include the United Kingdom, India, Germany, Canada, Brazil, France and Japan. In all, people from 100 countries have used the site at least once during the last year. In the coming year, with more digitized material in the collection, the library staff expects the worldwide use of Findit to not just continue but to increase as the collection becomes a richer source of unique material.

October 21, 2014

Yale Library Technology Roadmap: Where are We, and Where are We Going?

Thursday, November 6, 2:00pm
SML International Room

Michael Dula, the Yale Library's Chief Technology Officer, will summarize major Library IT activities from the past year, talk about projects being launched in the current fiscal year, and provide a roadmap of anticipated and potential technology projects for the next two to three years. There will be time for questions about past and current projects, but this should also be an opportunity for an interesting dialogue about future paths for library technology.

This event is sponsored by SCOPA and is free and open to all.

Participatory Projects in French Libraries: A New Challenge for Public Services

SCOPA Forum presented by Raphaëlle Bats
Tuesday, November 18, 2:00pm
SML International Room

In recent years, library research in France has focused increasingly on participation and, in particular, what institutions can do to generate higher levels of participation in the programs and services they offer to patrons. This talk will be about how participatory projects conducted in French libraries are changing our relation to the public and the services that we are proposing, our definition of the skills of librarians, and perhaps even our role in the development of new forms of democracy.

Raphaëlle Bats is "conservateur de bibliothèques" (head librarian) and has worked at Enssib, the French National School for Library and Information Science, since 2011. She is in charge of Enssib’s International Relations Office and also teaches on such topics as communication in libraries, signage and wayfinding, comparative international librarianship, and participation and new relations to the public. At the Université Paris 7 (philosophy - sociology), she is preparing a PhD, "From Participation to Collective Mobilization: Libraries in Search of Their Democratic Vocation." Raphaëlle Bats is also involved in many international associations, including IFLA, EUCLID, CFIBD, AIFBD, and CIFNAL.

Special Collections Forum: 2014 Conference Presentations by Yale University Librarians

Wednesday, November 12, 2:00pm
SML International Room
Sponsored by SCOPA

Yale University librarians Molly Dotson and Tim Young will reprise their talks from a session at the 55th annual preconference of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) of ACRL/ALA. The 2014 preconference theme was “Retrofit: Exploring Space, Place, and the Artifact in Special Collections.”

“Retrofitting Underused Special Collections: Visual Literacy and the Yale Bookplate Collection”, Molly E. Dotson, Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library, Yale University
Developments over the past three-plus years with the Yale Bookplate Collection make for a useful case study of “retrofitting” a historical archive to a modern-day instruction program in special collections. This paper describes how a visual literacy exercise designed for bookplate materials has become an indispensable tool for orientation and instruction sessions in the Special Collections department of the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library.

“Playing the Hand You’re Dealt: What can we learn from Historic Playing Cards?”, Timothy Young, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University
Playing cards are ubiquitous in the broad history of book arts and printing, but they are rarely covered in discussions of book history and bibliography. This may be because there are very few guidelines for cataloging playing cards. The Cary Collection at the Beinecke Library is one of the richest resources for playing card history. It was one of the first significant collections that came to Beinecke in the 1960s – over 2600 packs of cards, 460 sheets and 150 wood printing blocks – and a custom cataloging scheme was created to describe the collection – focusing on a number of aspects unique to playing cards. I propose to discuss this cataloging process and to show examples of the roles that playing cards play in illuminating social, political, bibliographic, and ludic history.

The SCOPA forum is free and open to the public.

October 10, 2014

Happy Anniversary, Yale! First volume of the Minutes of The Corporation conserved for Posterity

“Three hundred and thirteen years ago, on October 9, 1701, the General Court of the Connecticut Colony, meeting in New Haven, adopted an “Act for Liberty to Erect A Collegiate School,” laying the foundation for what has become the Yale we know today.” President Peter Salovey, Yale University.

Just as President Peter Salovey was sending out his anniversary message to the Yale community yesterday (October 9), Conservation & Exhibition Services was delivering the conserved first volume of the Minutes of the Corporation, Yale College Register vol.1 1701-1704 & 1717-1800 back to archivist Nancy Lyon of the Library’s Manuscript & Archives Department. The Library’s conservation lab oversaw treatment of this important artifact of Yale’s early history. The work took 6 months to complete and purely by happenstance, the volume was ready to return to its place in Yale’s Library on the same day as Yale’s founding and 313th anniversary!

Typical of books bound in reverse calf, the surface of the binding was powdery and difficult to handle. The outer and inner hinges had failed and the boards were detached. The spine leather was cracked resulting in some small areas of loss. A handmade box helped to protect the volume from further damage. The condition of this bound manuscript was exactly what a conservator might expect of a binding of this style and age, but this is no ordinary volume.

The treatment work was carried out by the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC). Yale Library staff worked closely with them to develop the treatment plan that would ensure the best care for the object. The pages of the volume were surface cleaned, previous damaging mends were removed and tears were repaired using reversible methods and Japanese tissue. The binding was treated to consolidate the powdery leather. The spine and boards were reattached with materials toned to match the color of the leather. Click here to learn more about the details and view images of the project.

October 5, 2014

Annual Preservation Lecture – Involuntary Secondary Permanence: Do many copies replace the one original?

Tuesday, November 4 at 3:30 p.m. Sterling Memorial Lecture Hall
Sponsored by Jack ’47 and Betsy O’Neill

Dr. Luciana Duranti, Chair and Professor, Archival Studies School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies, The University of British Columbia, The Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.

It is generally assumed that an original document is more trustworthy than a draft or a copy, simply because it presents all the possible features that allow for an assessment of its reliability, accuracy and authenticity. However, originality has no relationship with trustworthiness. Rather, it is one of three possible statuses of transmission of a document, that is, it relates to its degree of perfection. An original is the first document generated in a complete form that is capable of achieving the purposes wanted by its author; thus, it presents the qualities of primitiveness, completeness, and effectiveness. The other two possible statuses of transmission are draft and copy. A draft is a document prepared for purposes of correction and is meant to be provisional, temporary; it may have various levels of completion, but it is never an effective or a legal document. A copy is a reproduction of another document, which may be an original, a draft or another copy. Diplomatics studies the sequence of copies over time to assess the probability of trustworthiness of a text that has been transmitted through the centuries by copying it, as well as the type of copy and its authority (e.g. authentic copy, facsimile, imitative copy, inspeximus).

The study of copies, the reliability of their process of creation, and their accuracy, not simply with respect to the native object but also to each other, is becoming increasingly relevant in the digital environment, as we will no longer have originals on which to assess the trustworthiness and authority of written sources of evidence, memory or information. Vast amounts of copies are produced for back-up or redundancy in order to fight technological obsolescence, but the majority of them are never used. Smaller amounts are produced for continuing preservation purposes and dispersed in various locations, but their hierarchy in terms of authority as sources is not established, on the assumption that the last generated will be the only used, even if it is the least accurate, being the one farther away from the native document. An unknown quantity of documents is reproduced countless times in the cloud environment by social media providers and service providers: whether these copies are ever destroyed is not known, but the implications for e-discovery and privacy rights are clear.

This lecture will present the concept of copy, the purposes of copies, and their use, and will identify the issues presented by the proliferation of copies in the digital environment, starting a discussion and providing suggestions on how to address them or avoid them altogether. All are welcome!

Conservation of Ancient Papyri from the Yale Papyri Collection

Numbering almost 7000 items, the Yale Papyrus Collection has a dazzling array of documentary and literary texts that span over a thousand years of history. The diverse papyri collection attracts scholars from all over the world, who not only make the journey to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library but also access the papyri images on-line through the on-going digitization project. In addition to digitizing the ancient papyri, Paula Zyats (Assistant Chief Conservator) and Tasha Dobbin-Bennett (Papyrologist) are also conserving and housing the papyri for long-term research and storage. Research conducted with the papyri not only directs scholarship in fields such as Classics, Middle and Near Eastern Studies, Papyrology, Egyptology, and Religious Studies, but also aids the library in prioritizing papyri for conservation. For example, Professor Nikolaos Gonis (University College London), during a recent visit, identified two unpublished pieces (P.CtYBR inv.’s 1500 & 1505) that were of particular interest to his research. However, in the past the papyri had been housed without conservation treatment. In order to facilitate a transcription of the texts, which were written in Greek, the library staff began conservation treatment.

After transferring the papyri over to the library’s Conservation and Exhibit Services’ Laboratory in Sterling Memorial Library, it was removed from the housing and assessed. Both papyri underwent treatment, allowing the use of controlled humidity to carefully smooth out any creases, folds, and unaligned fibers. The old glassine strips – a type of thin, acidic paper generally coated with adhesive that becomes discolored and brittle over time – that held the fragments together were also removed. Left untreated, the glassine strips can distort and damage the papyri.

Once the papyrus was straightened, the (rather) extensive drying period began under blotters and weights. Once completely dry, the fragments received a careful secondary cleaning to ensure that the text was as readable as possible, then very carefully, the fragments were realigned and affixed together with toned Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste. At an earlier stage, the papyri fragments were placed together in such a way that the edges were overlapped, obscuring some of the text.

Once there was a complete papyrus, the fragments were rehoused and transferred back to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The next stage was to take new images of the papyri, and then send those images out to the scholar working on the texts.

As a result, Professor Gonis was able to offer new and important insights into the contents of the papyri, showing that P.CtYBR inv. 1500, dated to the 690’s C.E. It will be published in the near future and attests to the reconstruction of the city of Ḥelwān (Egypt) by ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn Marwān, who is perhaps most famous for completing the Muslim Conquest of North Africa. As the governor of Egypt, at that time, he chose Ḥelwān as a settlement when the floods of 690 C.E. forced him to evacuate Al-Fusṭāṭ (Old Cairo). ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn Marwān, was a member of the Umayyad dynasty, the son of one Caliph, the brother of the next, and the father of the following!

October 1, 2014

Omeka: Piloting a Web Platform for Digital Exhibitions at Yale

October 15th, 2:00 pm
Sterling Memorial Library

Over the course of the last academic year a working group made up by Francesca Livermore, Melissa Grafe, Peter Leonard, Kerri Sancomb, Robin Dougherty, and Andy Hickner, has been tasked by the Web Group with investigating a platform for digital exhibitions at the library. After developing a set of system requirements and exploring several options, the working group suggested a six-month pilot of Omeka. Omeka is an open-source web platform created by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University with support from the Mellon Foundation. As the pilot draws to its end, Francesca and Melissa will discuss the work of the group so far, including our experience working with Omeka, and next steps beyond the pilot period.

Offensive Vulgarity in an Age of Enlightenment

Thursday, October 23rd, 5:30 pm
Yale Center for British Art Lecture Hall

All are welcome to join us for the twenty-first Lewis Walpole Library Lecture, presented by Steve Bell, professional cartoonist, who will discuss Hogarth's continuing legacy for contemporary graphic satire, while also addressing the question of just how necessary it still is to offend.

Steve Bell has been drawing political comic strips for a living since 1977. He is a proponent of the short form, typically four frames. Since 1981 he has written and drawn the If… strip in the Guardian, which has run to several thousand pages, with no end in sight. Since 1990, he has been drawing four larger format political cartoons a week for the same paper. His work is unashamedly comic, but many of his cartoons are quite deliberately not funny at all. The Steve Bell cartoon website can be found online here.

In recent years the Lewis Walpole Library Lecture has brought noted scholars in the field of eighteenth-century studies to New Haven to speak on a topic usually related to the collection. It is now an established feature of Yale's intellectual calendar. More details about Steve's talk can be found on the Walpole Library's website.

September 30, 2014

Music Library Tour/Workshop

All are welcome to join us for tours of the Music Library on Oct 1, 2, 8 & 9 at 4pm (same tour, different dates). Each session will include a tour of the Music Library with an overview of the collections and services; the other half will be a workshop for locating scores, recordings, and videos in the library and available online 24/7. The tour will begin at the Music Library's Circulation Desk, first floor of Sterling Memorial Library. Check the Library Calendar for more details.

Preservation and Sustainability: a case study in HVAC management for library collections

Wednesday, October 8, 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Sterling Memorial Library, International Room
Tara Kennedy, Preservation Services Librarian

It’s well documented in preservation literature that high temperatures and overly moist (or overly dry) conditions can cause damage to our cultural heritage. But how do you balance keeping conditions safe for collections with being mindful of energy savings and carbon consumption?

In partnership with the Image Permanence Institute (IPI) at the Rochester Institute of Technology, the Yale University Library’s Preservation Department and Yale Facilities conducted an experiment in the Sterling Memorial Library book stacks in order to answer this very question. Come and hear about how this experiment was implemented and conducted, and the interesting results (hint: no books were harmed during this experiment). Refreshments will be served; bring your own coffee/tea mug.

Borrow Direct expands services to include on-site borrowing

The Yale University Library is delighted to announce its participation in the launch of Borrow Direct Plus – an expansion of the current Borrow Direct service. This will include on-site borrowing privileges starting October 1, 2014 for all students, faculty and staff from Borrow Direct institutions, plus Duke University (currently not a member of Borrow Direct). The new service will allow the Yale community to register for borrowing privileges at no cost from the following participating institutions: Brown University, University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton University.

Yale users who have been verified with Yale library accounts in good standing will have access to circulating materials at any of the participating libraries. When visiting one of these libraries, members of the Yale community will need to show their Yale ID and log in to their Borrow Direct account; upon verification, users will be issued a library card.
The available collections will vary from one institution to another and their respective lending policies and loan periods will apply to guest borrowers. These can be viewed ahead of time at http://www.borrowdirect.org/on-site-borrowing. Borrowed items may be returned to either the lending library or the user’s home library.

Borrow Direct is a rapid book request and delivery system used by the participating institutions, to ensure the loan of materials within a four-day turnaround.
For more information or questions about the service, please contact Brad.Warren@yale.edu, Director of Access Services.

September 26, 2014

Beyond the Codex: Sculptural Book Objects in the Arts of the Book Collection

September 29, 2014 – February 20, 2015
Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library

The Arts of the Book Collection, part of the Special Collections of the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library, strives to document the many trends in the wide-ranging field of book arts. One such trend comprises artists who challenge the traditional codex format with unexpected sculptural renderings. Yet, these works often preserve other conventions of the book, such as narrative and reader interaction. Sculptural book objects allow readers to appreciate the book for its physical format as well as its content. Such an experience informs future interactions with codex and non-codex formats alike.

This exhibition is a companion to the student-curated exhibition at the Yale University Art Gallery: Odd Volumes: Book Art from the Allan Chasanoff Collection, on view from November 7, 2014–February 1, 2015. Additionally, Beyond the Codex is a companion to exhibit Connecticut (un) Bound at the local non-profit gallery Artspace, also on view starting November 7, 2014 and running through January 2015. The Haas Family Arts Library actively supports the research of the Yale University Art Gallery (YUAG) in addition to arts-area research by members of the Yale, national, and international communities. Beyond the Codex features works in the Arts Library’s collection by artists selected for inclusion in Odd Volumes and Connecticut (un) Bound as well as artists not represented at YUAG, thus highlighting the complementary nature of the Arts of the Book Collection and the Art Gallery’s Allan Chasanoff Collection.

This exhibition is free and open to the public in the William H. Wright Exhibit Area of the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library. Enter through the Loria Center at 190 York Street. Public hours are 8:30am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. The Yale community can access the exhibition anytime the Haas Family Arts Library is open. Contact Jae Rossman, Assistant Director for Special Collections at the Arts Library, for more information: jae.rossman@yale.edu or 203-432-4439

Digitization and the Nineteenth-Century Book: Traces in the Stacks

Tuesday, October 7, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Sterling Memorial Library Lecture Hall

How are academic research libraries changing in the wake of widespread digitization, and where does this leave nineteenth-century books? Out of copyright, non-rare, and often fragile due to poor paper quality, these books are both richly served and particularly imperiled in the new media ecosystem; as scenes of evidence, they are at once exposed and occluded by the digitization of our library collections. In this talk, Andrew Stauffer, associate professor of English at the University of Virginia, focuses primarily on personal marginalia in copies of books in the circulating collections, demonstrating the importance of individual copies to our understanding of nineteenth-century books and their readers. A massive horizon of opportunity is now opening for humanists to trace the history of language, of ideas, of books, and of reading via automated searches and visualizations of the global digital library. Yet individual copies are under a general downward pressure in this new dispensation. Digitized archives will reveal wonders. Now, in concert with the digital transformation of the archive, we must also give sustained attention to the material record of nineteenth century reading before it disappears from our academic research libraries for good.

All are welcome to this SCOPA Forum.