Digital


In 2016 the Iowa State University Library completed a six-year project to digitize an entire run of the campus yearbook, The Bomb. Comprised of nearly 45,000 pages, the digital versions are not easily searchable due to the wide variety of fonts and graphic elements used throughout the decades. Just look at the text from one page of the 1911 Bomb. The font and layout are unique, making the automated transcription process nearly impossible.

LD2548-Io9b-1911-012

(“Bomb 1911”, page 9)

With that in mind, in its inaugural “Unsolved Histories” Project the Iowa State Digital Initiatives Unit has launched a crowd sourcing transcription project entitled, “Transcribed the Bomb.” It is our hope that by transcribing these yearbooks a wider audience can explore and find memories of themselves, their families and friends, favorite campus moments, and world events through the Iowa State University lens. Here is how YOU can get started:

  1. Navigate to the following website: (http://yearbook.lib.iastate.edu/) You will arrive to a page that looks like this:bomb1
  2. There are two ways to start contributing. You can either click “Sign-in” to create a profile or you contribute anonymous by just clicking “start.”
  3. If you chose to make a profile you will need to navigate back to this page and click “start.”
  4. A year of the “Bomb” will appear, after clicking “contribute now” and you will be able to begin the transcription process!!!

bomb2

5. Once you start contributing you will be asked two questions before you are able to transcribe a page. The questions include: a) Is the page black? (If the page is blank, it will be skipped and you will be taken to the next page.) b) Does this page have text? (This meaning text, images with text, tables, page numbers, etc.)

6. Then you can begin transcribing!! Here are a few tips for transcribing:

  • Transcribe exactly what you see
  • Use [Image(s)] to indicate if there is image or images
  • Hand-drawn or illustrations should be treated as text rather than images
  • Transcribe captions or image titles
  • Do not transcribe text found on clothing, pennants, sings, or other sources within the image.

bomb(5)

(Here is a view of the transcription Page)

7.Once completed you can review the text and then submit the page

8.Repeat the steps to transcribe more ISU moments!

If you need more help you can find an interactive tutorial, examples and printable instructions on the ISU Library Guide Page: http://instr.iastate.libguides.com/transcribe or feel free to contact us at any time at: digital@iastate.edu.

Good luck and happy transcribing!!

Sitting down in front of a computer and scanning pages one by one for hours at a time might not sound appealing, but I find it so interesting to be able to work on a project that allows these special materials to be viewed safely by many people. Recently, I have been working on a scanning project of materials from Hortense Butler Heywood. Heywood was an Iowa native who studied entomology and supported the women’s suffrage movement. A lot of the items I have seen from Heywood’s collection are personal letters, and quite a few of these letters that have small sketches on them. It’s a pretty cool aspect, because even though I will never meet Heywood, I can still see her personality come to life on paper.

It’s also fascinating to make connections with the authors of these historical items. Earlier this semester, I worked on a Pammel Court project, which happened to be where my grandparents lived while my grandpa was going to school at Iowa State. With this project, I found out that Heywood was a teacher for a couple years in Peterson, Iowa, which is where my dad grew up. Finding these little connections makes my work feel so much more personal and makes what can be mind-numbing work more enjoyable.

jake-at-work

Hi, I’m Jake Thompson and I have been working as a student assistant in the Scholarly Publishing Services unit since earlier this summer. My work mostly consists of uploading historic or back issues of student publications into the Iowa State University Digital Repository. Currently, we are working in collaboration with Special Collections to upload some of the earlier volumes of the historic student publication, The Iowa Homemaker.  Once completed, The Iowa Homemaker will be accessible to anyone around the world  on the Digital Repository’s website.

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Digitized page from the magazine

The Iowa Homemaker was founded by the Home Economics Club in 1921.  It was the first magazine on Iowa State campus written by women for women.  The Iowa Homemaker covers a wide range of issues from “Canning Early Fruits and Vegetables” to “Can a Homemaker be a Citizen?”  It contains the excited energy of women trying to find their place in early twentieth century Iowa, and it offers a unique perspective on the history of Iowa State.  Familiar names like Beyer, Buchanan, and Cessna author article after article.  In 1926 the publication celebrated the grand opening of Mackay Hall, the new home of the College of Home Economics.  In 1943, nationwide tension is captured in the magazine’s numerous calls to aid in the war effort.  While this was a publication for homemakers in name, over time it began outgrowing that title and instead reflected women’s increasing interests outside of the home.

Ethel Cessna Morgan, Iowa State College Class of 1904

Ethel Cessna Morgan, Iowa State College Class of 1904

Ethyl Cessna Morgan was one of many women authors who wrote for the Iowa Homemaker magazine. One of her articles was about modernization of marriage. Ethyl taught at the Department of Economics. Among her achievements was being elected the President of the Ames League of Women Voters.

Pushing the small letters on noisy plastic keys for hours upon hours is without a doubt mind-numbing work. However, transcription is much more than that! It is the process of transferring the content of a document into a more-accessible format for readers. Whether it’s text, images, illustrations, or even bold or italicized lettering, transcription captures as much detail from original documents as possible with careful observation and focused attention to produce a wholly text-based rendition of the document. You might be wondering what the point of re-typing an 1884 Iowa State University Bomb yearbook is. After all, the book has already been digitized for online access. The difference between digitizing documents and transcribing them is that certain impaired readers, such as those with eyesight difficulties, have the option to hear the transcribed content through audio applications and text recognition. Documents that are difficult to read because the ink has faded, a page has torn, or handwriting is impossible to decipher are transcribed so that their content will not be lost.

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Work in progress

 

When I was asked to be a part of transcribing the second ever Iowa State Bomb yearbook, I didn’t expect to appreciate the process so much. My eyes did get sore day after day from peering at thousands of words on a bright computer screen, but my attentiveness was sharp. The language was hard to transfer at times because writing in the late 19th century is far different from how we write today. I did get a good chuckle in every couple of pages from the illustrations included in the Bomb. I felt good about working so hard to preserve a collection of fundamental Iowa State history so that others could enjoy it too.

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Making a custom archival box for an edition of the Bomb.

 

 

I’ve reached a point where I realize I need some (technology) help.

An image showing a routing form versus project management software charts

Choices….

Balancing the needs of at least eight people, 5 units, and three divisions is hard! We all need to share a workflow for building digital projects from primarily paper-based archival materials. New projects entail, at a minimum, the digital collections team: the entire Digital Initiatives staff, and at least one person from Special Collections and University Archives, Preservation, Metadata and Cataloging, and the Research and Instruction Division, currently represented on the team by the Science & Technology department. Library IT and Central IT may also play a role, depending on the project.

In order to work efficiently and at capacity, we run more than one project at a time. Additionally, I manage the queue – there are always requests for new projects waiting in the wings or projects we’ve thought of that would provide new kinds of access to some of the Library’s collections. It’s my job to assess priorities and fit these into the existing work when I can.

Everyone has their own way of working that makes the most sense for them. My flavor of managing my work is very analytical and visual heavy. I love diagrams and charts, spreadsheets, and estimations. I am soothed by massive spreadsheets and complicated business process modeling!

Our needs are varied, as are our schedules. We’ve been managing the work through team communication and a routing sheet, but we need more. Our project scopes have expanded, we’ve added new people to the digital collections team, and the various units have new procedures that need to be incorporated into our shared work. So, I am on the hunt for a comfortable project management solution. If it’s not comfortable for all of us, it won’t get used and it won’t work. I want it to be something that eases my hunger for charts and analysis, while also being streamlined enough that someone could else just see the tasks they need to get done that week. We’re testing some options and will hopefully come up with something that eases burden rather than adding to it.

Do you also have project management challenges? If so, please share!

 

 

I spend a lot of my time on the internet. It’s a part of my job; usually I’m creating pages, updating, or creating new collections. But lately, I’ve been spending even more time on the web doing research. Our department, Digital Initiatives, has gone through some transitional changes since the first of the year. The biggest one being that we have a new (or, rather: permanent), director: Kim Anderson. She has some cool ideas of how she wants our webpages set up. One idea, that she would like to see incorporated ASAP, is that she wants to have a layer over the top of our current page (http://digitalcollections.lib.iastate.edu/), that directs researchers to either our CONTENTdm boutiques/pages, or to other new pages/collections yet to be implemented. In addition, this main page will have, perhaps, the department’s pertinent information, (or links), as well: staff, tools used, mission statement. That sort of thing.

So, here I have been: looking through and finding similar pages that we may find inspiring for the eventual page layout that we create. I broke it down into two sections, both real-life examples: a “tools” page (which we’d like to create that shows our researchers what we used, both applications wise and equipment wise): and a new “Digital Initiatives” page. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, you know nothing is easy in Lori’s world. Nut .’N. Honey. No, it’s not. I can now understand why Kim wanted to sicced this little gem of a project on me. Not only isn’t there much out there, but as I have been doing this, I have found that, by and large, there really isn’t a “standard” when it comes to describing what we do, and how it’s managed.

It is hard to find separate pages within other academic libraries that demonstrate the importance of this distinction. Since our school is in the Big 12, I’ve looked at all those library sites in search of other Digital Initiatives departments. (Sadly, only schools that made my list where two schools no longer in our league.) I’ve looked at hundreds of “Digital Initiatives” links. In addition, I’ve looked at hundreds of additional general academic library sites. There are only about a good two handful of links that I care to share with our director. Fifteen to be exact. The rest either consolidate it in with another departments, (Digital Repositories; Special Collections; IT;) or don’t even get mentioned at all. And of the ones I have listed, even some of those are a part of these other departments. One university listed their digital collections as a part of their “slides” collections. Sometimes, they have a link to Digital Initiatives and that link sends the researcher to a CONTENTdm collections page. It was just like they were setting these pages up to be a regular library web page. Digital Collections are like exhibit pages. (We call our main collection pages, like: http://digitalcollections.lib.iastate.edu/charles-christopher-parry, boutiques.) I honestly believe that the most innovative digital exhibits are the ones that are easy to navigate; merge well with the items they are showcasing; and make learning fun and informative.

This reminds me of a true work event that I was involved in back in my Tribune days. The paper there had the foresight to see “digital” papers were the coming thing. However, they didn’t have the foresight to involve enough knowledgable persons about the layout of such a site. They didn’t go to one of the composition designers to ask advice. Goodness knows, a designer would have a better understanding of layout. But no…they went to one of their coders who had a general idea of what webpages should look like, and had happened to take one class on web coding at college several years previous. In hindsight, if they noticed this at all, they would have been wiser to have had a collaboration between the coder and a designer. The web pages turned out to look very basic and were very un-intuitive about navigation. Long story short: yeah, email could take you to the webpage for the Tribune, but navigating to pages off the “cover” was a nightmare. The sections navigation made no sense and sometimes one had to jump through several pages to get to the article. I felt sorry for the coder. Person was doing the best they could. But that’s what I thought about when I was researching other library’s Digital Collection pages. I’m starting to see a pattern in my research. It boils down to this: academic libraries seem unsure, themselves, of exactly what Digital Initiatives entail. I’m not talking about the “in the trenches workers” (though there might be some of that too). I’m talking about Administration.

Mostly, this pattern shows a lacking in understanding, and also how poorly forward thinking libraries have become in watching and implementing trends. Our department has been in place for well over eight years. We are modest in development, but the future looks bright for more robust collection developments. I believe we have a very passionate staff that understands digital collections, (although there is always room for growth and enlightenment)!

I know that Digital Initiatives is a merging department. I’m lucky we have a Dean that understand this, and have a passionate director who has cool ideas for not only collections, but our department’s future. I am hopeful that with this new direction that we will not only exhibit digital collections, but that we will innovate and lead the way for Digital Collections departments in other libraries in the future.

Working in the Parks Library Preservation Lab

Student employee Drew Ryan working in the Parks Library Preservation Lab

One large purpose of a library is to provide access to information to people. To be able to keep providing this access to information the digital initiatives department takes hard copies and makes digital copies that can be saved and distributed online or archived. While working for this department I have scanned masters theses, Iowa State Bombs, Iowa State Board of Trustees minutes, and Iowa State Facility slides. It’s very satisfying to go onto the library website and be able to see what I scanned available to the public.

ISU's "The Bomb" from 1894

Digital copy of the cover of Iowa State University’s Yearbook from 1894

In the conservation department I have done some preventative work as well as repairs. I have done shield bindings and pamphlets which give each book some protection so that they last longer. The most satisfying work however has been doing the repairs. It’s a cool experience to take a book or part of a book apart and then put it back together and see how it’s good as new.

Cleaned spines of general collection books

Cleaned spines of general collection books

Original covers that will be reattached to the textblocks

Original covers that will be reattached to the textblocks

It’s a good feeling working in both of these departments and helping to preserve the access to information, whether it is creating digital copies or repairing a damaged book so that people can continue to use it.

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