Florida State University’s international programs celebrate 60+ years of connecting students interested in new cultural experiences and a brand new learning environment. Within the program today, students can choose from more than 20 locations, ranging from Panama to China and everywhere in between. Those who are interested in studying abroad, are offered a flexible schedule, allowing them to choose any semester that best suits them so they do not have miss out on the opportunity due to timing. Within Heritage & University Archives, we house the original documents creating the organization, includes the creation and original operation of the international programs.
On August 1, 1966, a group of 120 students from Florida State University traveled to Florence to embark on their cultural adventure for a total of eight months. On November 4, 1966, the Arno River, located in Florence, reached a frightening elevation and eventually surpassed the embankment. This flooded the city, causing damages and causalities and causing the journey for the Florida State students to take a turn for the worst. Florence was covered in mud. Relief efforts by volunteers, known as “mud angels,” were underway to help the residents of Florence. Among these mud angels were the Florida State students, helping preserve invaluable artifacts and manuscripts. Despite relief efforts, Florida State students and faculty were eventually relocated to Rome for the health risks became overwhelming.
Their efforts to aid the city of Florence were recognized by both the cities of Rome and Florence and were even thanked by Pope Paul VI. Currently, Heritage & University Archives is hosting an exhibit about the students who went to Florence in 1966 and became part of the relief effort. The exhibit is located in the Mary Lou Norwood Reading Room, open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m and available to the general public.
For more information on the Arno River Flood of 1966 and the students who participated in the relief efforts of Florence, please click here.
There’s nothing like getting up-close and hands-on with some of the rare books in FSU’s Special Collections department, but sometimes it’s not possible for visitors to visit our Reading Room in Tallahassee to see them. Digitization allows us to make our materials available to a global audience who would otherwise never be able to interact with or use our collections.
To help alleviate this problem, the Digital Library Center (DLC) has been hard to expand access to some of our most important collections. We have digitized thousands of pages of our rare books and uploaded them for the public to access at their convenience. Digital reproductions of these books can be viewed in FSU’s Digital Libraryas individual pages or with the animated book viewer.
Ever wonder how these collections end up in the Digital Library? Turning books into ebooks is a complicated, but exciting process. So, the burning question is:
How do we get from this…
Typically our Digital Archivist has a queue of projects lined up for us which range from quick scans of reference material to digitizing vast collections of rare books and manuscripts. Once a project is decided upon, the material makes its way up the production studio where the imaging work is done.
Creating these images using a conventional flatbed scanner is not ideal due to the fragile condition of many of our rare books. Also, many books we digitize in the DLC have tight binding that would be nearly impossible to accurately scan without compromising the integrity of the books themselves. Improper scanning practices can lead to poor image quality and potential damage to the books.
In this case, as it is with most rare books, we’ll head over to our ATIZ BookDrive Pro station to start our work.
As you can see, this setup is specifically designed for book digitization. The V-shaped, adjustable book cradle and platen gently hold the book in place while dual Canon 5D Mark ii DSLR cameras photograph the left and right pages. Freedom to vertically and horizontally adjust the cradle and platen allows us to get the pages nice and flat before shooting, all without putting too much pressure on the book.
Each camera is tethered to the computer via USB and, as they fire, the digital images are automatically loaded into our processing software, Capture One 8 Pro. This powerful piece of software handles the file-management, editing, and exporting of the final image files. Within Capture One we can make any necessary color/exposure corrections, cropping adjustments, sharpening and QC work.
Once all the images are edited and double-checked for errors, they are exported as high-resolution TIF files and are ready for the next step: metadata!
Here in the studio we primarily focus on image production, however we do create basic metadata for certain items. In order for these images to recreate a traditional book-reading, page-turning experience within the Digital Library, we need to provide some basic information about this book’s contents. Some of the metadata we create for digitized books includes the front cover, page numbers, title page, table of contents, back cover, etc… Essentially, we are connecting each image file to its corresponding location in the actual book. This information, along with the more complex metadata entered later by our Metadata Librarian allows the book to be virtually perused and navigated with ease.
By using the Internet Archive’sbook viewer within our Digital Library, the individual pages we scanned and edited earlier can be turned back and forth, from cover to cover. This animated display of the full book is designed to give users the next-best experience to actually thumbing through our rare books in the Research Center Reading Room.
So there you have it! That’s our basic workflow from book to ebook. We’ll continue adding more interesting content to the Digital Library, so keep checking back to see what we have to offer. At the moment we’re deep in the middle of scanning a large collection of cookbooks and herbals dating all the way back to the 1400s. There are some fascinating recipes in these books and we can’t wait to share them with you!
Want to get a head start on your upcoming research papers? Looking to learn more about the history of the university and life on campus? Maybe you just want to view some of Special Collections and Archives‘ notable rare books and historical collections from the comfort of your own room. Check out FSU’s Digital Library (FSUDL) to view digital reproductions of the fascinating items held right here on campus. Visitors to the site can access primary and secondary source material or just go to see some really cool images without having to pay a visit to Strozier Library.
The Digital Library Center (DLC) staff is diligently working behind the scenes to digitize and share their fascinating collections with the FSU community and the rest of the world. Their expert staff consists of the Production Studio team, Metadata Librarian and Digital Archivist. Together they work closely with library staff as well as with faculty to create high quality digital collections. By regularly uploading quality content to the FSUDL, the DLC is helping connect users to material needed for their research.
While the DLC mainly focuses on uploading content to the FSUDL, their work serves several purposes, including preservation. By digitizing rare, fragile collections and uploading the images, they are safeguarding items from over-handling while making them accessible to more users. The DLC also provides community members with expertise in the digitization of materials, digital project management and metadata creation.
Our Metadata Librarian, Matthew Miguez provides expertise on the description of materials for long-term access and preservation. Without his meticulous organization of information backstage, finding content in the Digital Library would be frustrating and nearly impossible.
Krystal Thomas, our Digital Archivist provides essential project management expertise to the DLC and ultimately decides which materials are chosen to be digitized and uploaded to the FSUDL. From each project’s initiation to completion, her comprehensive work helps ensure that relevant, quality content is consistently being added to our growing digital collection.
Stuart Rochford, Giesele Towels, and Willa Patterson make up the DLC’s production studio team. They are tasked with photographing and scanning Special Collections material for their images to be uploaded to the Digital Library. Their extensive knowledge of state-of-the-art photographic equipment and imaging standards allows for high quality, high resolution images to be shared.
This week the DLC is starting production on its next exciting project: Cookbooks and Herbals dating all the way back to the 1400s. New collections are always being added to the FSUDL and are often promoted right here on our blog, so check back for more updates on our digital collections!
The Special Collections & Archives Division is excited to welcome Rory Grennan, our new Manuscript & Instruction Archivist. Rory will manage the manuscript collections and faculty paper holdings of the FSU Libraries Special Collections Research Center and provide archival instruction to University students, scholars, and the general public. He comes to FSU from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where his duties at the University Archives included reference, instruction, appraisal, arrangement, description, digitization, and donor relations. Rory earned an MLIS from San Jose State University in 2013, and certification from the Academy of Certified Archivists in 2014. He is active professionally and has presented at meetings of the Society of American Archivists, Midwest Archives Conference, and American Library Association. In his spare time, Rory enjoys playing bass guitar, performing and listening to a wide variety of music, and managing large personal collections of sound recordings and graphic novels. Please drop by the Special Collections Research Center and say hello!
Today in Special Collections, we are exploring a new addition to the Napoleon Collection which led catalogers on an interesting research journey. Recently, a book titled The Historical and Unrevealed Memoirs of the Political and Private Life of Napoleon Buonaparte, printed in 1821, found its way into Special Collections’ Napoleon Collection. While the text itself contained riddles about the author’s identity and the source’s authenticity, it also contained a letter addressed to the book’s previous owner, Proctor P. Jones, who donated the book to FSU. The text and letter led Cataloger Elizabeth Richey to consider the possibility of fabricated memoirs and how to catalog such things.
At a quick look, The Historical and Unrevealed Memoirs of the Political and Private Life of Napoleon Buonaparte looks like a normal memoir. However, a closer look at the memoir from a cataloger’s perspective raises questions about its accuracy, which leads to the question of how do we catalog a possibly fabricated book?
Elizabeth recognized some possible hints that made her question the memoir’s authority and accuracy. For example, the book’s publisher is listed as “Is only to be had of the author, No. 27, Cirencester Place, Portland, Place, April 1821”, while further research shows that the book was printed by Fargues of Berwick Street, Soho.
Even more interesting is the attributed author of the text: Mademoiselle R. d’Ancemont. After much research and exploration, Elizabeth and other catalogers could not locate any information about this mysterious author; instead, she found evidence that this author may have used a pseudonym. This was supported by a letter found in the book. The writer of the letter argues that due to two references within the text, the memoir was written by “Dangeais”, not R. d’Ancemont. He continues to argue that this name may also have been a pseudonym, and that we may never know who the true author is. Without the author’s real name and background, we are left to wonder if the author is a reliable writer.
As a result of questionable information in the book as well as doubts about the author and publisher, the writer of the letter believes the entire book may be “a fake.” In the letter, the writer states that he thinks the memoir is “completely fabricated”, as was the case for many memoirs written during this period. He and other researchers go as far as to believe that the entire text is not only a fake, but also a fake originally created in English, not a French to English translation as the title page suggests. Other catalogers and researchers seem to share this opinion about this mysterious text. Whether or not the book is a “fake”, it still belongs in Special Collections since it provides insight to this historic era and is a perfect example of a potentially fake memoir.
This interesting find illustrates the amount of time and research a cataloger must devote to cataloging all resources. Without proper information and detailed records, it is difficult for library users to locate sources. Sometimes, the item itself does not present enough information for a proper record. In some cases, particularly with older and donated books, catalogers are lucky enough to find outside sources of information within a book, such as the letter found within this book. In either case, Special Collections catalogers strive to make accurate records so that the collections rare and interesting items can be found and explored by FSU students and faculty.