Library Gazette

Author Archive

Society of American Archivists features ZSR Special Collections

Thursday, August 18, 2011 10:43 am

In December 2010, ZSR Library released a new interface for finding aids describing archival collections from Special Collections and Archives. We announced the new interface in a Gazette post, where we listed some of the great features of

  • A look and feel like the ZSR website
  • Fully searchable contents, including container lists
  • Browse by keyword and title
  • Collection summary at the top of each finding aid
  • Linked finding aid sections
  • Linked keyword index
  • Expand/collapse container lists
  • Complete box and folder information

These features were added based on information gathered from a variety of finding aid user studies. Kevin and Audra worked together to demonstrate these features using the XML user interface for DSpace, instead of the default JSP user interface. Kevin created a finding aid site that looks familiar, crafted, and usable.

Kevin and Audra submitted a brief description of the new finding aid site to the Description Section of the Society of American Archivists, where it was chosen as a highlighted collection for the 2011 Description Expo. The Description Expo recognizes archival projects from around the world and we are honored to be part of this year’s group!

ZSR contributes to ASERL Civil War portal

Monday, August 8, 2011 8:25 am

Z. Smith Reynolds Library has contributed its four collections related to the Civil War to the digital collections portal “Civil War in the American South.” The portal includes digital collections from the Civil War Era (1850-1865) held by members of the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL). The collections contributed by ZSR are:

  • Confederate Broadsides CollectionOver 250 examples of poems written by Southerners and Confederate sympathizers during the Civil War, including some pamphlets and clippings, as well as broadsides
  • Lipe Family Civil War Letters CollectionThe Lipe (or Leib) family lived in Deep Well (now Mooresville), Iredell County, North Carolina. The collection consists of letters and poems from different Confederate soldiers
  • George L. Bright Civil War DiaryGeorge L. Bright was a band member of the 46th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, a regiment in the Union Army during the American Civil War
  • Herbert E. Valentine Civil War DiaryValentine’s manuscript memoirs relate various anecdotes about his army experiences, mostly in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina

These collections have been ingested and will be harvested regularly to keep up with any metadata changes. A link to these collections as well as to our page on the Civil War in the American South website have been added to the ZSR Digital Collections page. Thanks to everyone who helped make this project a success!

Reynolda School Hiawatha Photographic Album Now Online

Monday, July 11, 2011 8:08 am

On May 25, 1921, Katharine Smith Reynolds’ school on the grounds of Reynolda House produced a dramatic version of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem The Song of Hiawatha. The passion play was arranged by F. E. Moore of Middletown, Ohio, and was photographed by the Holladay Studio of Durham, North Carolina. Children from the school performed the play, which included elaborate costumes, modern dance, and a musical score. The outdoor play is documented in this unique bound volume, including photographs of costumed children posing for every scene and text from the epic poem. A piece in the Reynolda Gardens’ Gardener’s Journal from Winter 2008 written by curator Camilla Wilcox entitled The Story of Hiawatha at Reynolda details the history of the photographic album and the pageant itself.

The photographic album is now available online. This volume is part of the Rare Book Collection in the Department of Special Collections and Archives at Z. Smith Reynolds Library.

Findable finding aids from Special Collections!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010 3:29 pm

Finding aids for collections from the Department of Special Collections & Archives are now fully search- and browse-able through a new interface!

Check out to see features including:

  • A look and feel like the ZSR website
  • Fully searchable contents, including container lists
  • Browse by keyword and title
  • Collection summary at the top of each finding aid
  • Linked finding aid sections
  • Linked keyword index
  • Expand/collapse container lists
  • Complete box and folder information

Kevin Gilbertson pushed the limits of the traditional finding aid by incorporating his sense of design and prioritizing user needs, creating a new interface for the finding aids on Dspace with XMLUI (the rest of our collections currently use JSPUI). Kevin’s creativity and willingness to understand the priorities of archival description helped him use XML to develop a finding aid interface that is one of a kind.

We invite you to experiment with the search, browse, and container list features. The search box is also featured on the Special Collections & Archives homepage. We are so proud to create greater access to the outstanding archival resources of ZSR!

Theater Actor Prints & Photographs Now Online!

Friday, October 29, 2010 12:59 pm

We are proud to announce the Theater Actor Prints and Photographs Collection, representing early stage and film actors and actresses, performers, directors, and royalty from the 1880s through the 1930s. The collection includes engravings, etchings, prints, cabinet photographs, cartes-de-visite, postcards, and other photographic materials from England and the United States. The collection includes actors such as H.B. Irving, Fanny Davenport, Lillian Russell, and John Drew.

Images are from the Harold Seton Collection (MS578), the Harold Tedford Collection (MS580), the G. Sykes Collection (MS579), the Clarence Herbert New Papers (MS577), and the library’s collection of theater actor prints (MS581).

[Cross-posted to the Special Collections & Archives blog.]

Special Collections visits DataChambers

Friday, October 22, 2010 11:20 am

Last Thursday, Katherine, Vicki, Rebecca, and I visited DataChambers for a tour of special collections materials being stored there. We brought along an inventory of boxes by location and started hunting for treasures. Take a look at the video for a peek at some of the things we found.

As you can see, our sampling helped us discover that most of the unmarked boxes were already in existing collections (mostly Howlers and large collections) and that we have a good number of audiovisual materials (including early football games) in storage. Lots to think about as we work toward the move to the new off-site facility!

The Web Committee checks out Twitter

Monday, August 23, 2010 12:26 pm

Earlier this month, ZSR’s Twitter account was born! Chris Burris has been updating regularly about events, resources, and announcements. We already have fourteen followers after just twelve days of tweeting!

I took a look at a post from 2009 that attempted to list all the libraries on Twitter, and found a few university libraries that were similar to ours with Twitter accounts. I did a mini-study of the accounts from Emory, Duke, Cornell, BYU, and Baylor to find out which features made them more or less “followed” by other Twitter users. Here is what I found:

  • Emory has 80 followers as of its creation in June 2010. Most tweets are replies to other Twitter users and library-related article links.
  • Duke has 486 followers as of its creation in January 2009. Most tweets are links to their Library Hacks blog, links to library-related articles, events and news, and new library resources at Duke.
  • Cornell has 468 followers as of its creation over one year ago. Most tweets are links to library-related articles, re-tweets (RTs), events, and Cornell library-related.
  • BYU has 96 followers as of its creation in February 2009. Most tweets are replies to other Twitter users and events.
  • Baylor has 406 followers as of its creation over one year ago. Most tweets are related to new library resources and events.

There are a number of findings that could be useful to our Twitter account. The libraries with the most followers tend to tweet about library resources, events, news, and library science-related articles. The ones with fewer followers have replies to Twitter users in their feed and appear to tweet less frequently. Based on the tweets ZSR has thus far, we seem to be on par with successful library users of Twitter.

Of course, there are variables that make this mini-study less reliable. Consider how long each of these accounts have been active as well as the many ways (or lack of ways) their Twitter accounts may have been marketed to their users. In addition, library and university size and the demographics of library users would contribute to overall number of followers.

It will be interesting to see how our number of followers might change over time as we promote it as a service of ZSR. It could be used for reference inquiries via direct messaging or even, as they have implemented at Harvard, a way to tweet every book that gets checked out!

The Web Committee brainstormed ideas like a series of tweets following the “life” of a book or movie as it gets circulated, or perhaps tweets on which materials are returned. Chris is looking into use of our account through cell phones, and he plans to feature collections and new resources throughout the semester. There are lots of possibilities!

Community art from the UK to Forsyth County

Saturday, July 31, 2010 9:26 am

On Thursday, July 29, we were lucky to have two special visitors from the University of Portsmouth in the UK: art professors Claire Sambrook and Maureen O’Neill, creators of the Visual Libraries project. Claire and Maureen obtained a grant to visit us here in Winston-Salem to check on the status of the Leave Your Mark project at Forsyth County Public Library that was inspired by Visual Libraries.

I originally read about Visual Libraries in a news email for libraries in 2009 while a librarian at FCPL and gathered a group of librarians to see if we could emulate the project in the US. When our fledgling project started, I contacted Claire, who was an enthusiastic supporter of our efforts. Fast-forward one year — FCPL has 36 Leave Your Mark books, Claire and Maureen are visiting Winston-Salem, and we are investigating the possibility of making Leave Your Mark into a collaborative project between FCPL and WFU!

Candace Brennan, a reference librarian at Central Library downtown, took over the project and has been promoting it widely in the community. She hosted our friends from Portsmouth and invited us at ZSR to host a workshop, which took place in the Rare Book reading room. The visit was featured in the Winston-Salem Journal!

Claire and Maureen demonstrated how their project started as a small idea and expanded into a community asset, incorporating faculty, students, and the community at large. They have over 230 blank art journals circulating in Portsmouth! Our group was then invited to add our own art to the FCPL and Portsmouth art journals in order to get a taste of the Visual Libraries/Leave Your Mark experience.

Many thanks to the library faculty, staff, and students who were able to attend. We are meeting with Candace to discuss expanding Leave Your Mark to include the WFU community!

Technology Services and Special Collections Visit ECU

Tuesday, June 1, 2010 9:28 am

On Friday, May 28, Barry, Craig, Erik, Jean-Paul, Megan, and I visited East Carolina University in Greenville to spend some time with their Digital Collections unit and Special Collections department.

After introductions, Digital Collections unit head Gretchen Gueguen gave us an overview of the origin and initiatives of the unit. Like ZSR, digitization projects at ECU began as digital exhibits, but a standard procedure for metadata and digitization was needed. Some of the policies Gretchen and her team created include a digital collections development policy as well as technical guidelines for digitization.

Gretchen discussing Digital Collections at ECU

Gretchen then described the current architecture of digital collections. Digital collections are stored in a home-grown TeXtML/ repository. ECU uses dSpace for ETDs and other faculty/student research, but not for special collections. Metadata is formatted as XML in a METS wrapper, using MODS for descriptive metadata and Dublin Core for OAI harvesting. Erik and Jean-Paul mentioned that their repository is Windows-based, but we got some great ideas from their user interface.

On the Digital Collections website, Gretchen explained that digital objects were arranged according to collection strengths instead of by collection title or digital exhibit. Users can explore subject-arranged collections. In this way, Gretchen showed how digital collections can be a way to intellectually organize material in a digital interface. The option to search across all collections is featured on their website. The site includes a shuffled tag cloud consisting of shortened LC subject headings, as well as LC, geographic location, and date information as facets for digital object records. Here is an example. Note how each record includes a “Related Resources” box that links the record to subject collections and records with the same LC subject headings. One of the most innovative features of the box is that it links the record back to its source collection’s finding aid – as well as other items in the same box, folder, or collection! This is something we could do at ZSR. User comments are easy to add and are indexed in the object’s MODS record.

Archival finding aids at ECU are encoded by Mark Custer, who created a functional and creative stylesheet that allows users to interact with content and digitized material. Each finding aid has a tab for viewing digital objects, which links back to the digital repository. Here is an example. Finding aids are fully searchable and include a printable version. ECU does not use Archivists’ Toolkit but they are investigating the possibility of incorporating it into their workflow.

Metadata librarian Patricia Dragon demonstrated the web-based form that was created for her and other catalogers to use to catalog digital objects. Once material has been digitized, catalogers are sent a “job” request to catalog the objects. Using pull-down menus, catalogers choose descriptive terms for materials (even previously used LCSH and creator terms are saved). The web forms interact with a SQL database and are re-indexed regularly. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the metadata workflow is that all digital objects are made available online with basic metadata (such as title and source collection) and remain that way until fully cataloged.

Digitization and digital project requests forms are also web-based, making it easier for library staff to submit ideas. Their form is similar to a draft that I am working on, except it is connected to an SQL database that staff can interact with and prioritize. ECU is forming a “selection advisory team” similar to what we are working on, that will score, rank, and give deadlines to digital project submissions. This type of group is also being discussed at ZSR.

Touring the Special Collections Reading Room

We got a tour of Special Collections from Dale Sauter, which included their beautiful reading room and spacious archival stacks. We learned that Special Collections’ role is more focused on selection and project suggestion, less on description or project management. While Digital Collections has existed as a unit within the Special Collections department at ECU, last week the unit was moved to a new department called Library Technology and Digital Initiatives (they are searching for a department head). We also had a tour of the Digital Collections area of the library, where Joe Barricella supervises student employees’ digitization and technical metadata.

Joe Observing Digitization by a Student

The digitization task force at ZSR will be meeting early this month to discuss the ECU visit and potential policies for digitization. Overall, it was an inspiring and informative field trip!

Fun at the 2009 ZSR Staff Holiday Party!

Friday, December 18, 2009 11:58 am

The Von Zac Singers

The Von Zac Family Singers
(Cristina, Craig, Ellen, Heather, Mary Beth, Linda, Prentice (not pictured, sorry!))

Forty five ZSR staffers attended the annual ZSR Holiday Luncheon. It was our third year at Graylyn. The drive into the estate and the walk up to the house are a treat within themselves! The food was simply delicious. The highlight, though, was the revival of our library singing group, renamed The Von Zac Family Singers. The group ( Prentice Armstrong, Linda Early, Craig Fansler, Heather Gillette, Mary Beth Lock, Ellen Makaravage and Cristina Yu) performed three songs. My personal favorite was “So Happy Together.” The lyrics proved beyond a doubt why ZSR has the happiest employees on campus! Following their extraordinary performance, many of us participated in a White Elephant Exchange. A grand time was had by all!

Lyrics to the ZSR Version of “Happy Together”

Imagine Z and you, I do

I think about it day and night

It’s only right to think about the job you love and hold it tight

So happy together

If you should give a call or send email

To say that there’s a need you have, and start to wail

We’re able to respond with flair, and will not fail

So happy together

I can’t see me working for anyone new

For all my life

When I’m working baby the skies will be blue

For all my life

Z and you and you and Z

No matter how they toss the dice, It has to be

The only one for Z is you and you for Z

So Happy Together.

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