Nitrate Negatives

We recently digitized some nitrate negatives from the Sylvester Manor collection. In addition to being fragile, this format can also be volatile, and so there’s an urgency to our work.

We’re pleased that these negatives are incredibly sharp (see picture of actual silver grains below):

Our Digital Content Manager, Melitte Buchman, writes: “For me these film negatives are particularly lovely in that they’ve had a hard life, many have abrasion scratches, and chemical stains that although not originally intended are a great reminder of the vagaries of film work. I find the image below particularly lovely. It’s nearly a spirit photograph with a horizontal band of movement (likely abrasions) and stars (chemical involvement?). At any rate it’s something we so rarely see anymore that it seems quite charming.”

Another image has a nearly demonic aspect:

We should be making these images available through the Sylvester Manor finding aid soon.

AUC has left the building

We just completed a successful training session with photographers from the American University in Cairo. They learned the entire process of digitizing books for Arabic Collections Online. This week, we are shipping a camera to them so that they can begin digitizing books and sending them to us for long-term preservation and publication to the ACO Web site.

Here are some images from the camera packing process. It’s quite involved due to the quality, size, and weight of the camera.

Special Collections and Bobcat

Cloth Snake from David Wojnarowicz Collection
Cloth Snake from David Wojnarowicz Collection

We’re pleased to announce that a digital collection from Special Collections is now discoverable in Bobcat. Items from the David Wojnarowicz Papers from Fales Library can now be discovered and accessed right from the Library’s main catalog. The magic behind this feat is Ichabod, a joint project from DLTS and KARMS, which ingests metadata from heterogeneous sources, normalizes it, and sends it to Primo (the software that powers Bobcat). Now that we’ve made one collection available in Bobcat, we can work on others: Camp Kinderland, Gay Cable Network, the Washington Square Photo Collection, photography from the Arab world, and many others.

Making these digital collections available through our main discovery interface is the goal of Strategic Initiative 4.3, and we’re well on the way to fulfilling that promise. Special thanks to the Ichabod team (Carol Kassel, Corey Harper, Daniel Lovins, David Arjanik, Ekaterina Pechekhonova, Esha Datta, Joseph Pawletko, Mike Haag, Reed Shadgett, and Stephen Balogh) as well as ACM and Special Collections for helping us reach this milestone.

Scaling up publication

Arabic Collections Online  Browse

Earlier this year, we completed work on a massive renovation for our book viewer. The new viewer for books and other media uses scalable software and protocols, such as MongoDB and JSON, to deliver book information and book images efficiently. The new infrastructure also allows us to publish books more quickly, with less human intervention. We reduced our time-to-publish for Arabic Collections Online from 2 months for 200 books to about one week. This dramatic improvement has allowed us to scale our publication schedule from 200 books every other month to 400 books every month. As of this writing, ACO has almost 3,000 books, double the amount that we had earlier this year.