Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Next Level of Understanding CONTENTdm

Hello everyone and Happy Wednesday once again! As promised from my last blog entry, I come to you with new knowledge about CONTENTdm! If you remember from my previous post, I had learned how to input the metadata in the correct fields and organize the folders to be harvested by CONTENTdm. I could upload these digitized Tipton photos and their accompanying metadata for approval (this is the "digitized pergatory" I mentioned last time). But one final step that I did not know how to do was "take down" or delete the old digitized Tipton photos and "put up" the new digitized Tipton photos with the fronts and backs. This changed this past week when Catherine took the time to demonstrate for me how to complete this process.

Catherine began by showing me where the newly digitized photos and their metadata appeared on the CONTENTdm administration website. During the uploading process CONTENTdm checks for any new important changes that deviate from the other digitized photos already in the GettDigital college photograph collection. One deviation my modified metadata files had concerned the name I placed in the Creator field. This means that in the column where I am supposed to put the photographer's name as printed on the photo, I put a new name that no other photos in the GettDigital college photograph collection had. This was a great sign because my primary responsibility in this project is to go through these photographs taken by William Tipton and modify the creator name according to the way it appears on the photograph itself.

As you can see in the photos above, over the years William Tipton modified the way in which he marked his photos. From the mid 1870s to 1880, Tipton stamped his photos with "W. H. Tipton & Co." During the early 1880s, Tipton began stamping his photographs with simply "Tipton." From the mid-1880s on, Tipton adjusted his stamp once more to read "W. H. Tipton."

But back to CONTENTdm. After I informed CONTENTdm that these new creator names were acceptable, I could then select all of the uploaded Tipton photos I had modified and approve them. At this point, Catherine informed me that I needed to delete the old object files of the digitized photos I wanted to replace. After individually deleting each of these, I indexed the collection in order to add my new object files and delete the old ones. All in all, thanks to Catherine's great help, things went smoothly and I was able to complete the process from start to finish twice today without a problem!

As I learn more and more about digital collections, I am becoming all the more excited about starting graduate school in the fall. I will be attending the University of Pittsburgh in order to receive my Master's in Library and Information Science, with a specialization in Archives, Preservation, and records Management. I know that my experiences here in Special Collections will greatly aid me in understanding the concepts I will learn beginning in the fall. It is so awesome that, even as a novice without a master's degree, I have this opportunity to learn about the behind-the-scenes archival work that makes digital collections possible. I really can't wait to build upon this knowledge in the fall and to enrich my passion for archival studies! :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Known and the Unknown

Hello everyone and happy Wednesday! I've just emerged from another week in the world of CONTENTdm and I feel like I'm understanding more and more what it likes and what it doesn't like. Thus far, I've added a digitized image of the reverse side of close to 30 Tipton photographs!

During the process of adding metadata and digitized images to extant Tipton photographs in the GettDigital Collection, I have become more familiar with the steps needed to create folders that are compatible with the CONTENTdm system. In fact, I hardly cringe anymore when CONTENTdm is extracting the information I have placed within various file folders in order to create a cohesive entry for each photograph. :) For me, the most helpful step in the learning process was understanding more fully how CONTENTdm took the disparate metadata in excel spreadsheets and jpeg images and transformed it into a keyword searchable digitized photograph entry. Although I will not claim to know the tecnical intricacies of how CONTENTdm operates, I can see how the information I put in the different rows and columns (aka fields) of an excel spreadsheet are transferred into the metadata that appears under a digitized photograph in the GettDigital Collection.

Now that I have demonstrated how I am "in the know" about certain facets of CONTENTdm, I feel the need to also share one the aspects of the system that I'm not familiar with yet. After I have gone through the process of modifying and adding metadata and photographs, I upload the information in CONTENTdm and prepare it for publishing on the GettDigital Collection. My adjusted Tipton photo entries are in a certain digitzed pergatory of sorts until Catherine Perry, Special Collections' Archival Assistant, publishes them in the GettDigital Collection. In addition to adding the new entries, Catherine also has to take down the old, unmodified entries. Although I have yet to understand this process, Catherine has promised to show me how to do this next week! In this way, the unknown will be known before too long!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Musselman Library Reference Desk, this is Audrey, how may I help you?

I never thought I would feel this comfortable at the desk. At the end of last week a lot of librarians weren't in the building so I picked up one of their shifts. In January I never would have thought I could just volunteer for that. The idea of being at the desk alone was pretty scary, so the thought of being at the desk when there were very few librarians even in the building would have been flat out terrifying. But it was fine! There weren't too many questions because it was the lunch shift on Friday so for the most part students were either having lunch or had already checked out for the weekend, but I was still kept moderately busy answering people's questions.

I don't even get that nervous when the phone rings anymore! About half an hour ago someone doing genealogical research called the Reference Desk with questions about which library services are open to the public, and also asking about The Journals of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg. I told the man on the phone that our library is open for public use and that I would look into his questions and send him an e-mail. Several minutes ago I sent what I think was a very helpful e-mail about how to set up a library account for Adams County residents and about our two copies of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg's journals (one is in Special Collections).

I really enjoy being helpful and I like that my Internship allows me to do that. The flip side of that is that I feel bad when I am unhelpful, but at this point I think those moments are becoming few and far between. On that note, I think it's about time for me to help some students by refilling the printer paper.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Beginnings and Endings

Before I dedicate the rest of my blog entries to my work with CONTENTdm, I have one more exciting piece of news regarding the manuscript collection I processed... the finding aid for MS-118 Wikoff has been digitized and is now available on the Special Collections website! Here's the link! The photo to the right serves as the cover page to my completed finding aid. The three images in the center of my finding aid are photocopies of the three articles Mr. Wikoff published in the Gettysburg magazine based on the alumni letters that comprise the manuscript collection.

Now back to my current work at Special Collections! As I mentioned in my last post, I am in the midst of working with a collection of William H. Tipton's photographs that appear in the GettDigital collections. In addition to modifying the creator name and date of each photo, I am also adding a digitized image of the backs of many photos. As it stands now, only the fronts of the photos taken by Tipton are viewable online via the GettDigital Collection. Although I only want to add another view to a photograph already a part of the GettDigital collection, I cannot simply upload an image of the reverse side of the photo and be done. Rather, I have to copy already-existing information that describes the photograph (aka metadata) from an old excel spreadsheet into a new one. I then have to make other changes to the new spreadsheet, photocopy the reverse side of the photo, and save a copy of this image and the image of the front of the photo in a special folder.

The most fascinating facet of this project thus far has been to learn more about the work that goes into digitizing a photograph. All too often we take for granted the ability to keyword search a digitized collection without reflecting on the preparations that make the search possible. It's been really awesome to learn more about CONTENTdm and how it transforms excel spreadsheets and jpeg images into a digitized collection. As I hope can be seen in this entry, I have learned so much about the digitization process over this past week! However, as I am also sure is evident in this entry, I still have so much more to learn about the digitization process! In light of this, I am so thankful for the knowledgeable people that surround me and their kind willingness to answer all of my questions! :)