A New Exhibit: The 1914 Campus in 3D

Taking a look at the items and exhibits included in our centennial project, For the Centuries, visitors will discover that we uncovered and aggregated a wide range of materials for the site. While many of the digital objects on the site tell stories or have special significance all by themselves, other objects and data needed a bit of interpretation. Take graduate hometown data, for example: a spreadsheet of dates and places doesn’t say much, but if the locations are mapped and interactive as they are in our hometowns exhibit, patterns of student geographic distribution can easily be seen over time. This post is about another example of such interpretation – the conversion of a number of physical items into digital files, and the creation of something new.

The good folks at the Virginia Baptist Historical Society pointed us toward an undated topographic survey map of the campus area. Based on the building footprints present on the map, we believe that it dates to 1911, the year following Ralph Cram’s initial General Plan.

A portion of the campus area topographic map at the VBHS.

A portion of the campus area topographic map at the VBHS. While many of the footprints here represent buildings that were not constructed, North Court can be picked out on the left, and Ryland Hall is at the bottom center.

We quickly realized that this single item provided the foundation for something impressive, and that when combined with data from other materials we’d gathered from University Facilities and elsewhere, we’d be able to use it to generate a three-dimensional model of the 1914 campus, complete with the initial buildings. Three departments in Information Services, Discovery, Technology and Publishing (DTP) in Boatwright Memorial Library, the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology (CTLT), and the Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL), had the expertise and ability to work together to pull this off.

Production of the model involved a variety of techniques and technologies. The topographic map, blueprints and photographs were imaged by DTP staff using a Phase One P65+ digital back. Students and staff in DTP and DSL then worked together to digitize the map’s topographic lines and render an elevation map file using ArcGIS. The blueprints and photographs provided the information needed to create three-dimensional models of the campus’ buildings using Sketchup. (Be sure to check out this post, by Justin Madron of the DSL, about the techniques used to accomplish this.) In the CTLT, the elevation map and building models were merged into a single 3D object using Sketchup Pro and printed on a 3D Systems ProJet 460Plus printer.

Several student employees contributed in important ways to this project. Stefan St. John (DSL) georectified the maps used for this project. Jackie Palmer (DTP) digitized the survey map’s topographic lines and campus features. Jackie and Lily Calaycay (DSL) worked together to model the campus buildings from data embedded in source documents. Selmira Avdic, Francisco Cuevas, Lisa Hozey and Umurcan Solak (CTLT) assisted with the 3D printing and tile finishing process.

The completed model, now on display on the second floor of Boatwright Library, depicts the campus as it was on opening day in 1914, and serves to demonstrate the relative scale of the buildings and topography of the grounds. Reproductions of contemporary photographs of each building are distributed around the model. Come by Boatwright to see the results of our collaboration.

The completed model is displayed on the second floor of Boatwright Memorial Library.

The completed model is displayed on the second floor of Boatwright Memorial Library.

Also visit the library’s centennial celebration site, For the Centuries, at http://centuries.richmond.edu.

Photos by Angie White and Nate Ayers.

Guest Post: Reflections on AMIA 2014

Today we are featuring a guest post written by Dywana Saunders from the Media Resource Center at Boatwright Memorial Library:

I had the pleasure of attending the Association of Moving Images Archivists (AMIA) conference held in Savannah Georgia, October 8-11th. Conference presenters ran the gamut, from film archivists, museum professionals, entertainers, students, and film makers; some coming from all over the world. Session topics ranged from snippets on the newest advances with digital asset management systems (DAMs), the Public Broadcasting Metadata Dictionary Project (PBCore), and the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative (FADGI), to dealing with ancient and hard to repair and maintain AV equipment.

Continue reading

How you, dear reader, can help correct bad OCR

We have a problem that only human eyes can solve. Yours can help.

Here’s some background. In Discovery, Technology and Publishing, we use optical character recognition (OCR) software to extract text from document images in order to make them machine-readable and searchable. In simple terms, the OCR process works through a bit of binary “yes/no” logic – either something exists in a given place, or nothing does. No matter what kind of image you put into the software (color, grayscale, whatever), the application creates a temporary black and white version. That is the version to which the “yes/no” operation is applied – the resulting pixel patterns in the image are compared to “known character” patterns. Different software packages use different logic, but in the end all those “known characters” get put together and output to a text file – or something similar.

A black and white rendering of text from a Tokyo War Crimes Trial document. Your eyes can tell what most of these words are, but trust me - a machine is going to have a rough time.

A black and white rendering of text from a Tokyo War Crimes Trial document. Your eyes can tell what most of these words are, but trust me – a machine is going to have a rough time.

In the past we’ve done a variety of things with these files – from loading the pure text content into searchable database fields (as in a previous implementation of our America at War collection), to embedding the text within image files (the Student Research portions of the UR Scholarship Repository), and applying extensive XML markup to historical documents, enabling customized searching and manipulation of information (see our site focused on the published Proceedings of the Virginia Secession Convention). For folks who are dedicated to going paperless, there are plenty of OCR applications available for mobile devices, too.

OCR is a great tool, but the technology has limitations. Depending on the printing process that created an original document, a capital S might look a bit like the numeral 5 as a result of artifacts on the paper, a smudge of ink, or damaged type. The type of original materials we’re working with makes a difference, too: the high-resolution camera we use to digitize rare materials at Boatwright results in fantastic images, but the best camera on the planet can’t change the fact that microfilm is, well, microfilm. It’s a great format for preserving content, but a lousy medium from which to digitize. Occasionally, microfilm is all we have to work from.

Exposure problems during the microfilming process have a lasting impact on the usability of the images. Much of the text, particularly in the underexposed document to the right, is unreadable to an OCR application.

Exposure problems during the microfilming process have a lasting impact on the usability of the images. Much of the text, particularly in the underexposed document to the right, is unreadable to an OCR application.

Take our Collegian collection, for example. As part of UR’s 175th anniversary about 10 years ago, the full-run of the student newspaper, the Collegian, was digitized. Most of these issues existed only on seldom-used reels of microfilm rather than paper, and, as a result of the age of the papers when they were initially microfilmed, many of the resulting images were not ideal for OCR purposes. The software knew that there where characters in the images provided, and oftentimes the resulting text was way off base. If you’ve ever tried to identify long-passed family members in old, faded photographs, you have an understanding of what the OCR software is going through: you know that the person you’re looking for is there – recognizing them among the crowd is the issue. Take that one step further by attempting to identify every individual, and you’ll have an idea of the computational difficulty that the OCR process can sometimes face.

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The 5th Marine Regiment in front of the US Capitol in 1919: Great-great-grandpa – where are you?

Fast-forward to 2014, and our Collegian collection is still online – in fact, among our digital collections, the Collegian regularly receives the highest volume of traffic. The difficulty with OCR remains, though we’ve recently incorporated a mechanism which allows users to correct the text output of the OCR process. The changes made to the underlying text files are reindexed and searchable immediately upon saving – talk about instant gratification.

So if you’re someone who is interested in the history of the University of Richmond from the students’ perspective, I invite you to contribute a little bit of time to enhance this collection. Simply click the image below, then the “Register” link at the top of the collection home page to get started.

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Bookbinding with Brien Beidler at the Charleston Library Society ~ Part II

In August, with Brien’s help, I was able to construct two blank journals using the German four piece case method, in full-cloth, using different headbands (one sewn and one pasted in), and two different end-sheet structures. A thorough explanation of the German Case (or Bradel) Binding can be found here: http://www.philobiblon.com/casebd.shtml

As Brien was instructing me, I tried to take notes, but I also wanted to focus as closely as possible on what he was showing me. So fortunately, James was taking more detailed notes on the same steps and he was kind enough to share them with me. They are charmingly illustrated in his own blank journal that he had made not too long ago. Here is an example:

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What follows below is a series of photos with brief descriptions documenting what I made during my time spent with Brien,  James, and Wren at the Library Society of Charleston.

Bertha the Board Shears

Bertha the Board Shears

This is truly an indispensable tool. It makes both trimming and making sure your work is square a breeze. Some of the most important things I learned during the four days I spent with Brien is how essential it is to make sure everything is square and to be as precise as possible, to not rush, and to take your time to do things carefully the first time. Bookbinding should not be rushed. It is not a sprint and each step should be considered and and enjoyed.

 

Endsheets with airplane linen hinges

Endsheets with airplane linen hinges

Two stacks of signatures ready to be pressed

Two stacks of signatures ready to be pressed

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Pressing the signatures

Pressing the signatures

My signatures under the weight of a book press

Setting up the sewing frame & sewing the signatures

Setting up the sewing frame

Sewing the spine on linen tapes with straight stitches and kettle stitches at the heads and tails

Sewing the signatures on linen tapes with straight stitches, and kettle stitches at the heads and tails

Sewing the spine on linen tapes with straight stitches and kettle stitches at the heads and tails

Sewing two books at a time

Setting up to round the spine in the Job Backer

Setting up to round the spine which was by far the most difficult part of the whole process. Perhaps one day, with lots of opportunity to practice, I will get the hang of it.

A better view of the Job Backer (sorry I forgot to take photos of the French backing hammer and the English backing hammer)

A better view of the Job Backer (sorry I forgot to take photos of the French backing hammer and the English backing hammer)

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Hand sewn two-color end bands

Hand sewn two-color end band

With red & blue silk floss for the Spiders!

Sewing the signatures and the end bands were my favorite parts of the entire bookbinding process. Perhaps it is because I felt the most comfortable with a needle in my hand. Or perhaps it is my sheer love of textiles and needlework. After years of carefully studying and stitching reproduction 17th, 18th, and 19th century needlework samplers, I was happy to translate my skills into book making. It is no surprise to me that traditionally women in a bindery would be found at the sewing frame.

Two different styles of hand made end bands

Two different styles of hand made end bands

Straining the paste -- an example of when the master learns from the apprentice. Thanks, James!

Straining the paste — an example of when the master learns from the apprentice. Thanks, James!

Pasting down the cloth to the boards. You can see the “four pieces” of the German case binding: the boards, the book cloth for the covering, the connecting strip, and the spine stiffener, clearly in this photo.

Pasting down the cloth to the boards. You can see the “four pieces” of the German case binding: the boards, the book cloth for the covering, the connecting strip, and the spine stiffener, clearly in this photo.

Two cases (interior)

Two cases (interior)

Two cases (exterior)

Two cases (exterior)

Here is Brien showing off his experiment using the airplane linen as the exterior book cloth. We both thought it turned out very nice especially once it was dry. You can see a photo of the finished book on Brien’s blog: http://brienbeidler.com/

Here is Brien showing off his “experiment” using the airplane linen as the exterior book cloth. He worked on his own book while I worked on my two. We both thought his book turned out very nice, especially once it was dry. You can see a photo of the finished book on Brien’s blog: http://brienbeidler.com/

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My completed books

I am so grateful to Brien for allowing me into his workspace for several days and for his willingness to share some of his knowledge and experience with me.

 

August 2014

towerBWThe new Academic school year of 2014-2015 has started. There is a hint of cooler weather
and the angle of the sun has changed just a bit. I always think the beginning of the school year is a good time to reflect on what we do here at the Department of Discovery, Technology and Publishing.

Since a lot of what I do is behind the scenes I always try to attend the Colloquy. This year it was at the Alice Jepson Theatre last Wednesday August 20th. The Colloquy is where the provost, the president, and others welcome new faculty members to campus. The Deans of all the schools all speak and the newly endowed chairs are announced. For someone like me who no longer has daily interactions with faculty and mostly only our student assistants, it is a good reminder of the greater university community and some of the reasons why we are here in the first place.

All staff and faculty are invited to attend the Colloquy and it remains one of the few times during the academic year that both staff and faculty can gather, meet and talk to each other. I still remember when I first started working at the university over 20 years ago and I attended my first similar gathering. These formal gatherings always made a huge impression on me, always coaxing reflections for me on my work and time here in the library. This year was no different.

Welcome to the new school year.

Now all of you get to work!

Photo of the Boatwright Tower © 2014 Angie White

Text by Tom Campagnoli

Bookbinding with Brien Beidler at the Charleston Library Society ~ Part I

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The Charleston Library Society

The Charleston Library Society

When I was visiting family in the Charleston, South Carolina area last year, I came upon an article about a young man, Brien Beidler, who was hired in 2012 to be the Bindery Director at the Charleston Library Society at the age of 22! He had previously worked in the Addlestone Library when he was a student at the College of Charleston. Brien’s story stuck with me and several months ago I contacted him about the possibility of visiting with him the next time I was in the area. I had high hopes that I might learn from him in any way that I could. Brien replied almost immediately and was so enthusiastic and encouraging that I quickly realized I had contacted someone who would be a great supporter in my forays into the world of bookbinding and book arts. Brien is eager to share his own passion for books and bookbinding and he is even more enthusiastic when he recognizes someone who has the potential to share his passion for and appreciation of this almost lost art form.

Brien

Brien

Last week I had the good fortune to spend four days with Brien in his bindery at the Charleston Library Society. Brien guided me in completing my first two German 4 piece case-bound books. He was kind, encouraging, supportive, and patient as he enthusiastically shared his knowledge and experience while I tried to absorb everything that he and his doppelgänger assistant, James Davis, were able to demonstrate and teach me.

James and Brien

James and Brien

Before I address the actual book binding process and the true joy I felt in creating something so beautiful and useful from start to finish with my own two hands, I want to tell you a little bit about Brien.  Brien has achieved a level of success that few in their mid-twenties can claim. Part of Brien’s success at such a young age can be attributed to luck – being in the right place at the right time. However, more importantly, his success can be attributed to a combination of his positive attitude, his initiative, his dedication, and his determination to continue learning, along with the support he received along the way. Brien is quick to credit those who have supported, encouraged, and mentored him from the beginning. I was fortunate enough to meet one of the people who helped Brien as he started on his journey to become a bona fide Book Binder, Marie Ferrara. Marie recently retired from her position as the Head of Special Collections in the Addlestone Library at the College of Charleston and moved away from the area, but she was in town for a brief visit and Brien invited me to join them for lunch. Brien’s admiration for Marie was evident during our lunch as he eagerly showed her some of his most recent binding efforts that included two books bound in hand hewn wood with his own handmade elaborate brass clasps. Brien had recently spent time in Idaho at a medieval binding workshop with Jim Croft and was so inspired and proud of his creations and experiences that his enthusiasm was infectious. Marie exhibited an equal admiration for Brien and will clearly continue to be a positive influence in his life and work. Brien has also received tremendous support and encouragment from Anne Cleveland, the Executive Director of the Charleston Library Society, who graciously stopped in to meet me during my time in the bindery. Coincidentally, both Marie and Anne have connections to Virginia, having attended school in the Charlottesville area.

In the end, however, Brien is successful because of the time, effort, and thought that he puts into his work. He lives and breathes books and bookbinding. When he is not physically working, he is reading about books and bookbinding. He continually looks for opportunities to learn new things related to bookbinding. He also enjoys making his own bone folders and other hand tools. His work takes time and that time is often spent alone in the bindery I asked Brien if he gets lonely in his seemingly solitary work (James is a recent addition and is only around for a half day) and he said that he is always surprised by that question but that he gets it often. In fact, he isn’t at all lonely in his work – partly because, as I noticed over the four days, there is no time to be lonely. Time passes very quickly when you are focused and engrossed in the physical work of binding and creating.  Brien also has a constant companion, his two-year old Brittany spaniel, Wren. Wren has perhaps one of the sweetest temperaments of any dog I have ever met. She has clearly been lovingly well-trained and often accompanies Brien to his bindery.

Wren

Wren

Brien is also not lonely in his work because he reaches out and networks with others who are as equally excited, passionate and inspired by bookbinding, and book and paper arts. He is the co-founder, along with artist Kris Westerson, of the recently established Charleston Book Union. Thanks to Brien I was able to meet Kris and another member and artist, Jocelyn Chateauvert during the fast four days I spent in Charleston.

Perhaps one of the most important things I learned during my time with Brien, after learning that it takes a lot of time to properly bind a single book (and we were not even working with leather), is how inclusive and supportive the small but worldwide community of bookbinders and book and paper artists is. I have long lurked on the Book Arts listserv and now feel less intimidated and more inspired than ever to connect with and learn from this creative and inspiring community. I can’t thank Brien enough for being so gracious and supportive and willing to share some of his experience and knowledge with me.

Next time: What I made during my time “Bookbinding with Brien Beidler at the Charleston Library Society ~ Part II”

Workshop: Phase One Certified Professional – Cultural Heritage

As you might have seen from the posts below, we do a large amount of digitization using a couple different types of equipment here in Discovery, Technology & Publishing. My personal favorite, though, is our Phase One P65+ digital back. When the back is mounted on a DSLR-like camera body, it becomes a pretty fantastic photography tool. An argument could possibly be made that I am slightly biased because of my love of photography, but I think that the awesome quality of the images we produce would be more than enough to convince you otherwise. We use our digital camera in a controlled-light environment to photograph special and rare items when we want to provide highly detailed, focused digital representations.

Left: close-up of our medium format digital back and camera system Right: Our photography studio set-up is perfect for the majority of material that we handle, such as manuscripts, maps and rare books.

Left: close-up of our medium format digital back and camera system
Right: Our photography studio set-up is perfect for the majority of material that we handle, such as manuscripts, photographs, maps and rare books.

Despite the similarities in appearance with mainstream DSLRs, a medium format digital back and camera system have significant differences and/or issues that are unique to them. Interestingly, although they definitely qualify as high-tech equipment, medium format digital backs are still relatively new technology that are constantly being improved. That means that sometimes (especially with older versions) there might need to be a little bit more time invested in understanding the equipment in order for it to work at its most efficient level. Even though I’ve taken photography classes and am practically tied to my DSLR, there is still a lot to learn about medium format cameras and our digital back, in particular. Thus, last week, I packed my bags and headed to Dallas for a two-day workshop and certification program through Digital Transitions (the sole Phase One distributor in the US) and taught by a Phase One instructor. The fact that it was hosted by the Dallas Museum of Art only added to the great experience!

Before attending the program, I completed pre-course work and tests that laid a foundation for a general understanding of how Phase One digital backs operate. The workshop itself focused on how the digital backs (in conjunction with Capture One software) could work in a cultural heritage setting. Among the countless subjects we discussed, some of the most relevant for me were appropriate tone curves (tonality of shadows and highlights), color management, and troubleshooting. I actually felt pretty good that we hadn’t experienced a lot of the issues or errors here at DTP that we covered in class, but now I do feel more prepared to solve them if they do occur. We even spent a good deal of time discussing digital backs connected to technical cameras, which was really interesting because I hadn’t had the opportunity to really study them before.

At the end of the class, we had to take an exam in order to complete our certification. After a short (but seemingly endless) couple of days, I received word that I had passed the test and was officially a Phase One Certified Professional! I still have so much more to learn, especially because every photography studio and subject is unique, but it really was an incredibly informative session. Plus, it was great to learn the intricate details behind the equipment I work with on a daily basis.

Open Source, Free Like A Puppy…

Scott McNealy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, is famous for once having said that “Open source is free like a puppy is free” (Donoghue).  He is, of course, talking about the expenses necessary for taking care of the free puppy.Corgi

Open source is kind of like that.  It is free by definition.  Dictionary.com defines open source as “pertaining to, or denoting, software whose source code is available free of charge to the public to use, copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute”.  That said, open source is actually much more than just free.  Open source is, for the large part, community-supported by people who have technology issues a lot like yours.  A person may need an application for something so, in some cases, they create it, maintain it, add functionality, put it out there for you to freely use and answer questions to help you bring the application on line.  Using McNealy’s puppy example, it would be like the puppy buying itself, coming home to your house by itself, house breaking itself and learning to fetch your slippers, again… all by itself.  It’s really hard for me to see the bad thing in this but, believe it or not, there are some valid concerns.

Open source software development is flourishing and very much in use all over the world.  While proprietary software companies complain about open source, Forrester Research reports that 76% of developers have used open source technology at some level (Baldwin).  That means even companies that create or purchase ‘off the shelf’ software use free, open source software tools to build with – companies like Apple, the first major computer company to make open source development a key part of its ongoing software strategy, and Microsoft who initially went to war against open source development.

”Open source is an intellectual-property destroyer,” former Windows chief Jim Allchin famously quipped in 2001. “I can’t imagine something that could be worse than this for the software business and the intellectual-property business” (Cooper).

And who can forget that old timeless classic…

“Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches,” former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told the Chicago Sun Times a few months later. “That’s the way that the license works” (Cooper).

Now, however, in May 2014, Microsoft finally made official its unofficial decision to incorporate some open-source code into its developer and programming languages. More recently, Microsoft put 22-year company veteran Mark Hill in charge of a global group to cultivate open-source developers to write applications that work with Azure, the Microsoft cloud service that competes against the likes of Rackspace, Google, and Amazon (Cooper).

As Microsoft eventually came to understand, there are a lot of benefits to using open source.  To name just a few:

1. Keeps costs down.
2. Improves quality because code problems are resolved quickly.
3. Delivers agility by speeding up the pace of software development and innovation which allows businesses to react quickly and thereby not be dependent on vendors schedules.
4. Mitigates business risk by reducing dependence on a single or multiple vendors.

We use a mix of proprietary and open source software in Discovery, Technology, and Publishing to administer the library servers and applications such as the library catalog, digital collections and various departmental work flows.  There are times when we would like to have functionality that we don’t currently have but that’s been true of the vendor supplied software as well as the open source software.  For that reason, I don’t really distinguish between the two types because I just kind of see them as each being a toolbox that I need to use to get the job done.  Open source plays a huge role in our success as a department.

But let’s not forget that the ‘free puppy’ criticism does also have some merit.  The first thing is training.  People are resistant to change and so they are not likely to explore using an open source alternative application instead of Windows or Apple for things like their desktop or MS Office needs.  Another issue is support.  Proprietary software vendors provide support for their products and, if you use open source, you may have to provide your own developer to get the functionality you desire. Lastly, some great open source software development simply ceases for whatever reason and you may be left with no one to provide patches or software updates, again possibly requiring the hiring of a developer to maintain your software.

While these are valid concerns, open source application usage is growing quickly all over the world, in all industries.  Technology costs a lot of money and the financial advantage to using open source software must outweigh the ‘free puppy’ concerns or companies would not be moving in that direction.

On a personal note, I use open source software daily and I will always look for a free open source application before I buy something because I generally just need something for a single use or for a short time.  I use applications like Notepad++ which is better than the notepad built into Windows, 7-Zip which allows me to zip and unzip files better than the one in Windows, VLC Media Player which is much better than Windows media player for manipulating various video formats and WinSCP for transferring files.  I also use various open source tools like MultiMon Taskbar which allows me to have a task bar on my second monitor.

If you’ve never installed open source software, here’s some sage advice.  Make sure you research what you want to install by looking for reviews of the application before you download and install it.  Read the installation instructions and make sure you understand what they want you to do.  Try to download it from the site that actually produced it and not a third party site.  This just makes certain you are getting a ‘clean’ copy and not a possibly modified copy of the application you want.  Finally, there are probably a lot of applications just like the one you’re looking for so if you install it and you don’t like it, don’t give up.  Just uninstall and go find another one.

So… How ’bout that free puppy now?

corgibottom

 

Donoghue, Andrew “Open Source ‘is free like a puppy is free’ says Sun boss.” ZDNet. CBS Interactive, June 8, 2005. Web July 22, 2014.  http://www.zdnet.com/open-source-is-free-like-a-puppy-is-free-says-sun-boss-3039202713/

Cooper, Charles “Dead and buried: Microsoft’s holy war on open-source software.” C|Net. CBS Interactive, June 1, 2014. Web July 22, 2014.  http://www.cnet.com/news/dead-and-buried-microsofts-holy-war-on-open-source-software/

Baldwin, Howard “4 reasons companies say yes to open source.” Computerworld. Computerworld, Inc., January 6, 2014. Web July 22, 2014 http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9244898/4_reasons_companies_say_yes_to_open_source

Corgi puppy images from:  http://www.pinterest.com/lizzygrace96/oh-my-corgis/

Notepad++ : http://notepad-plus-plus.org/download/v6.6.7.html
7-Zip : http://www.7-zip.org/
VLC Media Player – http://www.videolan.org/vlc/index.html
WinSCP – http://winscp.net/eng/docs/introduction
MultiMon – http://www.mediachance.com/free/multimon.htm

Paper Marbling at the VMFA

As you probably already know, we spend a lot of time working in the digital world here in Discovery, Technology, & Publishing. What might surprise you, though, is that many of our staff members are fantastic material artists and crafters. Our hobbies run the gamut, but include arts such as knitting, painting, bookmaking and papermaking. There are even some who draw a bridge between the material and digital world with interests such as 3-D Printing. One of the best things about being located among so many art and cultural heritage institutions here in Richmond is the availability of craft workshops and classes to help us learn more.

A variety of the painted papers Crista created.

A variety of the painted papers Crista created.

Crista LaPrade, our Digital Projects & Preservation Coordinator, took one such workshop several days ago at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA). This particular class was an Introduction to Paper Marbling, taught by Steve Pittelkow. During the intensive day-long class, Crista learned different techniques to create unique patterns and designs used in “Turkish” paper marbling. The possibilities for using the final product are endless and might include book endpapers, book covers, or even as displayed art in her coworkers’ offices (no pressure…)! Furthermore, the same techniques that were used on the paper can also be used on fabrics and other mediums.

The process begins with spraying the paper on one side with a mixture of alum (aluminium sulfate) and water. Then, acrylic paint mixed with water is added using eyedroppers to shallow trays filled with water and carrageenan. The paint floats on the surface of the water/carrageen mixture and can pool in concentric circles and shapes. A variety of “combs” or “rakes” are used to pull the colors through each other on the surface of the water resulting in a wide array of patterns. The mordanted paper was then carefully laid onto the surface and then quickly removed, capturing the paint. Steve taught the class several different patterns that could be created including fantasy, nonpareil, ripples, gel get, angelfish and Spanish moiré.

Four details of different painting techniques.

Four details of different paper marbling patterns Crista created.

One of the benefits of having staff who are interested in learning these artisan skills is that they can bring them back to the library and share them with the rest of us. If there is ever a time when one of us is making a book or working on another project, there is consistently a wealth of knowledge and experience around us!

William E. Beale Photographs

This past week, through the Virginia Baptist Historical Society, we discovered about 25 photographs of the Westhampton campus that were taken by William Elton Beale, a Richmond College freshman in 1915. More specifically, the discovery was of several negative filmstrips that contained images of Beale’s prints. This was exciting because not only are they some of the only student-taken photographs we have of the campus during its opening years, but it also provided us with a fun opportunity to photograph negatives. After a couple of tries working with our light box and various camera settings, we were off and rolling with the digitization.

Lightbox set-up for photographing negative film.

Lightbox set-up for photographing negative film.

Once we completed the digitization process, we were even more excited to view the new images. Some of the pictures included buildings that we had not yet found photographic evidence of, such as the science building (which burned down in 1925) that was originally beside the steam plant. One of my personal favorites was an image of the trolley that brought students from the city all the way out to the “rural” Westhampton campus. Several more of Beale’s photographs included campus highlights like Ryland Hall, Sarah Brunet Memorial Hall, and of course, landscape shots of the lake.

The Science Hall, which burned down in 1925, was originally next to the Steam Plant.

The Science Hall, which burned down in 1925, was originally next to the Steam Plant.

The trolley brought students from the city to the Westhampton campus.

The trolley brought students from the city to the Westhampton campus.

Sarah Brunet Memorial Hall, also known as the Refectory, was built to be a dining hall.

Sarah Brunet Memorial Hall, also known as the Refectory, was built to be a dining hall.

While the majority of the images were of buildings and landscapes on campus, there was a single photograph of one of Beale’s classmates, who we have identified as “Burt” Robins, based on the 1915 Spider yearbook. In the photograph, Robins is wearing a baseball uniform with the words “Peconut Crisp” on his jersey. The words were a mystery to us at first, but after some searching, we found an advertisement in the Southern Planter that described Peconut Crisp as a candy made by the Westmoreland Candy Company, located in Richmond, during the time Beale and Robins would have been in school. It seems most likely that the candy name found itself on the jersey because the company sponsored a baseball game or team.

Bertram "Burt" L. Robins

Bertram “Burt” L. Robins with a “Peconut Crisp” uniform.

Advertisement for Peconut Crisp in The Southern Planter

Advertisement for Peconut Crisp in The Southern Planter

The images gathered from Beale’s photographs were a really exciting find for us. We were happy to see pictures from campus that we had not previously found and just as glad to practice our negative film photography. While it would have been even more exciting to see the original film, we couldn’t be more pleased with these recent additions to our Centennial collection.