Institute of Afro-American Affairs Audio Published

Institute of African American Affairs logoThe Institute of African American Affairs (IAAA) at New York University was founded in 1969 to research, document, and celebrate the cultural and intellectual production of Africa and its diaspora. The collection includes recordings dating from 1971 to 1986 of The Soul of Reason, a radio talk show that aired on commercial radio station WNBC and NYU’s station WNYU. This collection was digitized over a period of years and it took a bit of untangling on the part of DLTS, University Archives, and Archival Collections Management to prepare this collection for publication. It is now available online, and the recordings sound great!

Audio collections are coming!

Director Robert Flaherty. Credit: Sense of CinemaDLTS published our first full audio collection, Fales’s Robert Flaherty Film Seminar Archive, earlier this year. We’ve been hard at work on the next several collections, including a re-publication of Voices from the Food Revolution that allows HTML5 streaming (and removes the need for Flash). Each collection has proven to have its challenges, but our workflow is improving, and we should be publishing hundreds of hours of audio very soon.

DLTS goes 3D

Digital Library Technical Services has joined the computational imaging crowd.  We’ve done a short test of Reflectance Transformation Imaging, or RTI.  This technology compiles multiple digital images into a virtual object that can reveal new information about the surface of materials. Different lighting angles during capture reveal fine detail about the surface of an object. The Center for Cultural Heritage (CHI) developed and distributes both the 3D builder and 3D viewer.  Amazingly, these two packages are intuitive, easy to install, and free. 

We did this test, a proof of concept, with an LED flashlight, two marbles and some construction paper.  With some practice and slightly more sophisticated materials, this could be a consistent and repeatable work.

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.