Digital Toolbox: Omeka

You know that go-to tool in your toolbox that you just can’t go without? The one you always seem to use no matter what job you start? The one you preach to your friends about? The one you seem to use in unorthodox ways? The tool which, if absent, dooms a project to failure? (That’s a stretch – there’s always a way!)

In the digital collections/humanities/content world at Boatwright, Omeka has become that tool. It’s an open source web publishing platform that is to creating content-rich cultural heritage online experiences as WordPress is to building blogs. Built using open and widely-adopted frameworks, Omeka’s flexibility, large user and developer communities, and host of add-ons make it a low-barrier joy to work with. We in the library have used it for student- and faculty-driven projects, external partnerships, and for building our own thematic sites.

Our work with Omeka started some years ago with a small exhibit focused on the history of football at the University of Richmond. The launch of UR Football Comes Home was synced with the opening of the new Robins Stadium on campus.

UR Football Comes Home

UR Football Comes Home

BML’s For the Centuries site, released as a celebration of UR’s first century at its suburban campus, is one of our larger projects and made use of several plugins for the first time (for us at least), namely Neatline and Exhibit Builder.

For the Centuries

For the Centuries

The Fight for Knowledge captures content produced through an ongoing series of undergraduate courses taught by Dr. Laura Browder and Dr. Patricia Herrera. The site incorporates student multimedia projects alongside archival content.

The Fight For Knowledge

The Fight For Knowledge

The Historian’s Workshop, another ongoing project, is a collaborative faculty/student/staff project which focuses on the Congressional Papers of Watkins Moorman Abbitt, which is housed in Boatwright Library’s Special Collections. Read more about our work with Dr. Nicole Sackley and the course which launched the site on our blog here.

The Historian's Workshop

The Historian’s Workshop

Discovery, Technology and Publishing supports several Omeka sites while not maintaining responsibility for the content. Dr. Jeannine Keefer’s Urban Campus site, which features Neatline exhibits, is among these.

Urban Campus

Urban Campus

Draw Back the Curtain, a collaborative project with Richmond’s Jewish Family Services, features images digitized by Discovery, Technology and Publishing.

Draw Back the Curtain

Draw Back the Curtain

A Pilgrims Progress is the first complete catalog of Windsor McCay’s early 20th century comic of the same name. It’s content is maintained by Kirsten McKinney (GC ’15) while DTP maintains the site. Read more about McKinney and her work on our blog here.

A Pilgrim's Progress

A Pilgrim’s Progress

We’re building some skills and experience in working under Omeka’s hood, too. Focusing primarily on making theme-based customizations, we’ve identified new areas to build skills (primarily PHP coding, but also revision control – a most useful way to keep track of code changes – and to recover from the inevitable failures). Our team has also streamlined the process of launching a new site on Amazon Web Services, and is investigating the ability to bring up a site in a fully-automated fashion.

In the end, though, Omeka is just a tool, even if it is extremely flexible and easy to use. You need to have the skills, vision and resilience – not to mention the content – to make it suit your needs. Our team here has those traits, and we’ll be releasing more Omeka-based projects in the near future – keep watch on the library’s website and this blog for announcements!

Note: several staff members from Boatwright will be presenting on their Omeka projects at this week’s Virginia Chapter of the Association of College & Research Libraries (VLACRL) spring meeting. Titled Omeka and More: Web Publishing, Digital Collections, and Online Exhibits, Jeannine Keefer will present on her Urban Campus site, and Crista LaPrade and Angie White will discuss our recent For the Centuries project. Many thanks to all three for representing UR and BML at the meeting!

DTP’s Amy Shick Wins First Place at Computer Science Conference

Just like the majority of today’s workers, those of us in Discovery, Technology, & Publishing (DTP) work with technology every single day. We frequently find ourselves implementing newly released applications, troubleshooting those that we already have, and excitedly hypothesizing about those to come. Because of these daily occurrences, we know just how important it is to encourage our students, and students of all of ages, to take an active interest in technology since it has become such a pillar of today’s world. So, when we found out DTP student employee Amy Shick (WC ’16) won a scholarship to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, we couldn’t help but want to tell the whole world!

Amy presenting her poster.

Amy presenting her poster at the Capital Region Celebration of Women in Computing Conference.

Amy, a double major in Computer Science and Accounting with a Mathematics minor, started working with DTP at the beginning of her sophomore year. Shortly after her first few days, she began working with another highly skilled student employee, Michael (RC ’13), on a hometown map for our digital exhibit celebrating the anniversary of the Westhampton Campus. Amy didn’t stop there – she continued to join the team in all of the implementing, troubleshooting, and hypothesizing previously mentioned, helping us accomplish a remarkable amount with our digital projects. She customized code and edited images for the interactive Westhampton Scrapbook and established a workflow for mass image-to-PDF conversion, saving her fellow student employees a lot of time!

Amy’s enthusiasm and passion for the computer science field has shown in every project that she has worked on for DTP, so it came as no surprise to us when she received first place for undergraduate poster presentations at the recent Capital Region Celebration of Women in Computing conference, thereby earning her scholarship to attend the Grace Hopper Conference. Her poster presentation detailed an educational computer science game that she created as part of the National Science Foundation grant aimed at increasing female involvement and achievement in STEM. The goal of the game is to help teach introductory computer science concepts and increase interest in the field. Entitled “Ice Maze”, the game is played by the user swimming around as a penguin in an ice maze searching for buckets of fish. Each bucket of fish corresponds to a different “game station” that offers a mini game or quiz with a specific introductory computer science topic. The topics tested include searching, sorting, the binary number system, working with arrays, evaluating loop conditions, and identifying variable and expression types. The game was actually part of a study conducted across seven universities to examine the efficacy of an intervention designed to encourage a growth mindset (the belief that computer science ability can be developed) and it has been released to over 400 students.

Here are several screenshots of the game:

 

Of course, in addition to game development and interactive flipbooks, Amy also takes a full load of coursework and is a member of a variety of organizations and societies, such as Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity (of which she was recently elected President!!), Mortar Board National College Senior Honor Society, and Beta Gamma Sigma International Business Honor Society, just to name a few!

Despite all of these engagements, Amy still finds time to happily join us every week in DTP to work diligently on new challenges. We are so glad that she is a part of our team and are very proud that she is representing UR at the Grace Hopper Conference, encouraging women everywhere to jump into the study of computer science!

DTP in Classroom Collaborations

We (Leigh McDonald and Chris Kemp) were given the opportunity to be involved in an undergraduate class last semester: The Historian’s Workshop, taught by Dr. Nicole Sackley. The course immersed students in the worlds of archives, digital libraries, museums and public history. The students were each placed in the roles of researcher and expert while working with one of Boatwright’s largely unprocessed archival collections, the Congressional Papers of Watkins Moorman Abbitt. Each of the eleven students was assigned a box of archival materials from the collection to work with, and Lynda Kachurek (Head of Rare Books and Special Collections) instructed them on archival processing methods. The students read and examined all of the documents in “their box,” and selected representative materials to describe and display in an online exhibit.

That’s where Discovery, Technology and Publishing came in. We digitized materials and launched an Omeka site to present them. We also presented three metadata workshops to the students, which focused on how to examine a document’s contents, effectively describe it, and upload it into Omeka. Since the students were the experts on their particular materials, there would be no one better equipped to provide in-depth descriptions of each item. Leigh and Chris randomly selected a document already digitized from those chosen by the students, worked through the Dublin Core metadata fields as examples, prepped our materials and headed into the workshops feeling prepared for anything. That randomly selected document turned out to be a much better lesson for the students and for us than we had imagined.

rats

Letter from W. E. Skelton to W. M. Abbitt

The document above is the one we chose. It seems pretty simple on the surface – a piece of correspondence between a constituent and his congressman regarding the work of the Agricultural Extension Service agents in his district – and we suggested describing it accordingly. An attached report described a rat control campaign in the Hampton Roads area and included statistics on the rat population in the U.S. Therefore, the first Library of Congress Subject Heading we suggested was, of course, “Rats”.

During the workshop, however, Professor Sackley asked the student why he chose this particular document and his response was enlightening. Because he had gained some perspective on Congressman Abbitt and his tenure from studying the documents in his box, he read the documents as a rather elegant but subtle plea for the need for African-American workers in his division, not just an informational letter about pest control. The line, “We are extremely limited in staff and cannot be ‘all things to all people,’” was the hint. Based on this, it was then possible to complete the metadata description more accurately by adding terms such as: African American agricultural extension workers and Virginia Polytechnic Institute’s Agricultural Extension Service. We would not necessarily have picked up on the full significance of the document without the student’s input, which illustrates the analytical skills the students brought to the table when selecting documents from the collection. We are sure that similar conversations could have occurred regarding many other documents in the collection.

Given the subject matter of this archival collection and the course readings, the students expected to find much on the topic of massive resistance to school integration in Virginia, but they discovered so much more. Students uncovered numerous interesting documents, including an exchange between Abbitt and then-Texas senator Lyndon Johnston, a letter from a high school senior regarding the statehood of Hawaii, and a pamphlet listing the names of supposed communists in Hollywood, California. All of these findings brought to life the people and the historical period, and gave the students a perspective on the times that would have been absent without access to the primary sources.

The work the students did last fall was impressive on many levels, but it only scratched the surface of what the Abbitt Papers contain. Abbitt was a congressman from 1948-1973, and his archival collection is made up of 285 boxes of material. Fortunately, Professor Sackley is going to teach the course once more in the fall of 2015. We in DTP are looking forward to getting back into the classroom with students once again, and learning right along with them.

See the fruits of the students’ labor at the course’s dedicated Omeka site, which is publicly available but still “in the workshop”: http://historiansworkshop.richmond.edu

Hear directly from the students at the Historian’s Workshop blog: http://blog.richmond.edu/historiansworkshop/

And read a feature news story about the course on the UR Website: http://news.richmond.edu/features/kp4/article/-/12356/the-historians-workshop-students-learn-about-archiving-and-digital-collections-in-hands-on-history-course.html

Written by Chris Kemp and Leigh McDonald

Numbers!

numbers
The library world is full of information, books, electronic and physical, images, study spaces, but also plenty of numbers.

There are ISBN numbers, ISSN numbers, bib id numbers, oclc numbers, DOIs, PO numbers, item id numbers, holding id numbers, patron numbers, copy numbers, call numbers, and plenty of statistics. We count volumes, people, usage, the ins and outs, the uses and the non-uses.

Check out the staff view of a library record and you will see sizes and some of these numbers. And of course don’t forget bar codes as well as budget numbers.

There are always plenty of numbers…

Image from The Statistical Abstract Of The United States, 1934.

A Step Back in Time with an Eye to the Future

Posted by Dywana Saunders, Angie White and Crista LaPrade

In December, we had the opportunity to travel to Colonial Williamsburg for a rare behind-the-scenes tour of the Department of Collections. We were honored to have Ron Hurst, Chief Curator and Vice President for Collections, Conservation and Museums, as our guide through the impressive facility.

Dywana and Ron

The Wallace Collections and Conservation building is 70,000 sq ft of storage, curatorial offices, and conservation labs for Archaeological Materials, Wooden Artifacts (including furniture), Instruments and Mechanical Arts, Objects, Paintings, Paper, Textiles, and Upholstery. We had the opportunity to meet some of the curators and conservators and see the pieces they were currently working on in the labs. Each lab is specially equipped with the state of the art equipment to clean, preserve, and stabilize museum pieces. We were very impressed to see an actual eighteenth century red coat:

Redcoat

 

And watch as an exhibition building needlework rug was mended and blocked:

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The photography studio was huge. We were impressed to see a cat walk around the studio where particularly large pieces can be photographed. We also saw the special photo set ups for furniture and silver:

Photo Studio

We were also guided through the amazing storage areas located in this building. It was interesting to see rows upon rows of compact shelving. Delicate items were held steady on shelves with special weighted pads and shelves were covered with Plexiglas or fabric dust covers. Paintings, silver, and textiles could all be rolled out for curatorial examination and study. You can find out more about CW Collections and Museums online, as well as look through some of the collections.

In the afternoon, we met with the staff of the Digital History Center located in the John D. Rockefeller Library.

Lisa Fischer, Director, Peter Inker, Manager of 3-D Visualization, and Ted Maris-Wolf, Manager of Research and Content Development, graciously spent time sharing some of their current projects with us. They are working on some amazing projects that extend their reach far beyond the summer tourist visiting DOG Street. We were amazed by Virtual Williamsburg, 1776 which required collaboration among many people from many departments within Colonial Williamsburg to ensure accuracy of the 3-d modeling and to incorporate representative primary sources to depict a pivotal moment in time in our nation’s history. Virtual Williamsburg is a collaborative project with the Institute for Advanced Technologies in the Humanities that began in 2006. Work on this project is ongoing and truly impressive.

They also showed us Revquest, an interactive onsite game that allows visitors to Colonial Williamsburg to use their cell phone to find clues to solve a Colonial Era mystery. A new version, Revquest: Save the Revolution! is due out this spring.

And finally, they shared with us the recently unveiled site, Slavery and Remembrance. It is a truly unique and internationally collaborative endeavor being “a collaboration of UNESCO’s Slave Route Project, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and dozens of sites and museums across the globe.”

To see the innovative work being done by our colleagues just 45 minutes or so down I64 was truly inspiring. We hope you all have the opportunity to visit Colonial Williamsburg in person sometime soon, however if you can’t make it there, you simply have to get online and experience it virtually!

Crista Angie and Dywana

 

Angie White, Librarian!

Angie White, who is the current Digital Production Coordinator in the Discovery, Technology, and Publishing Department (DTP) at Boatwright Memorial Library, received her Masters of Library & Information Studies from the School of Library & Information Studies at the University of Alabama just this December. Angie has been a full time staff member at Boatwright since May of 2013.

Angie is a 4th generation graduate from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA, where she earned her undergraduate degree in history.

After graduating UMW and taking a year off for an amazing bus ride across the country in a converted school bus (you’ll have to ask Angie to tell you this story), she applied to library school.

Her interest in history and working with historical documents from her time at UMW led Angie to the library program at the University of Alabama. She was also inspired by her mom, who worked at Swem Library during her own undergraduate days and loved it very much. Newly enrolled in the online library school in May of 2012, Angie also emailed Chris Kemp, Head of DTP, and asked if there were any internships in his department. She had heard about the Tokyo War Crimes project and thought it would dovetail nicely with her library school work. So, at the same time Angie was starting library school, she also started as an unpaid intern at Boatwright. As an intern, she worked on the Post-Soviet Resettlement project and the Centennial project.

When I asked Angie what she liked about library school (and remember this was all online except for a three-day campus visit the first semester), she said she liked the small class sizes, all of the stimulating discussion, and the group work. Since this was all online, I was surprised, and I asked her for more information. She said all of the classes were live, with students and teachers using Blackboard Collaborate. Her favorite collaboration tool was, and continues to be, Google Docs. Other platforms they used for their collaborations were Google Hangouts, Facebook, and Skype.

Angie also said she really enjoyed her last library class, which was on cataloging, as a great practical class. She also finds the philosophy of library systems, the fact that a library is made up of many moving parts that make it come together as a whole and how hard it can be to keep it all moving in one direction, very interesting. She is also a great proponent of the library’s missions of sharing and open access.

Angie’s work with the digital camera for digital projects has led to a love of photography, which has become a passion. Here is a post Angie wrote this past August on the DTP blog. My final question to Angie was… “and are you watching the new TV show, The Librarians?” and she answered with a resounding, “Yes!”

Angie White on the left and Tom Campagnoli on the right.

Angie White on the left and Tom Campagnoli on the right.


Finally, we all want to congratulate Angie White on her great accomplishment and appreciate her enthusiasm and all of her skills she brings to our department and to the library.

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.

1919-5th-Marine-regiment

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.

Screen shot 2014-09-29 at 3.01.45 PM

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.