Wednesday, March 18, 2009

University Libraries Partner with Yorktown-Mount Pleasant Historical Alliance to Generate New Digital Resources

Partnerships with local and regional cultural, historical, and educational organizations create the opportunity to develop new and stronger digital collections.

The University Libraries have a history of collaborations with area historical societies, public libraries, and other higher education institutions.

The University Libraries have partnered with the Yorktown-Mount Pleasant Historical Alliance to provide access to its historical materials through the Digital Media Repository (DMR). Students, faculty, scholars, researchers, and others can view 194 photographs and newspaper clippings from the organization’s collections in the DMR.

The materials document the history of Yorktown and Mount Pleasant Township, Indiana, from 1888 to 2007. For more information, contact John B. Straw, Assistant Dean for Digital Initiatives and Special Collections,, 765-285-5078.

Digital Initiatives and Special Collections News

Students, faculty, and other researchers comprise the Cantigny First Division Oral Histories Collection in the Ball State University Digital Media Repository,, a project of the University Libraries.

The interviews were conducted by Ball State history students Chris Reidy, Steven Brown, and Rachel (Fulton) Coleman under the supervision of history professors Dr. Michael W. Doyle and Dr. David Ulbrich (now at Ohio University) as part of a project funded by the Chicago-based McCormick Foundation with administrative support from the staff of the First Division Museum.

The goal of the project was to preserve the memories of First Division soldiers who have served around the globe since World War II. The interviews focus on veterans currently residing in Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky.

The University Teleplex Services videotaped the interviews and digitized them. Ball State University Libraries’ personnel transcribed the interviews so that they can be read and viewed simultaneously.

According to Professor Doyle in a press release about the project, “Even the youngest veterans who saw action in Operation Desert Storm are now approaching their 40s. We do not want to let these soldiers’ stories go unrecorded.”He said that the Cantigny First Division Oral History Project was intended to do for newer generations what Ken Burns did for the World War II veterans.

You can learn more about the grant project by viewing the Conversations across Generations: the Cantigny First Division Oral History Project video by Chris Reidy available on the collection splash page in the Digital Media Repository.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

New DMR Collection

We are pleased to announce that the Yorktown-Mt. Pleasant (IN) Historical Alliance Collection is now available in the Digital Media Repository at

This collection is a result of our partnership with the Historical Alliance to make their historical materials available in the DMR.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

From Chained Books to Global Access through Digitization

Imagine yourself as a student or scholar visiting a monastic library in the 16th century. The book you want to study is Nicolaus Perottus’ Cornucopiae ad Lectorum, a Latin Lexicon printed in 1506. Not only do you have to examine the book in an area lit only by candles or sunlight coming through small slits in the walls, the book is chained to a reading table. This catenati, an archaic Italian word for chained book, is an example of the value placed on books from the 15ththrough the 18th centuries, especially in the early days of printing when books were still uncommon. Ball State students and others can see this particular book, along with other examples of early and rare books, in the Archives and Special Collections unit at Bracken Library.

When I use these rare books in instructional sessions for a variety of classes, the students see how books, libraries, and knowledge have been transformed from limited access for only a privileged few to a world where information is available instantly and globally to everyone. From Johann Gutenberg’s invention of the movable type printing press in the 1450s, to the iPod, or the next great digital device, libraries have played a crucial role in making educational, informational, and even recreational content accessible to everyone. Access to a 16th century chained book alongside diverse digital resources ranging from video to photographs to scholarly publications illustrate the broad and transformative educational experience available for students through the University Libraries’ rich and diverse resources and services.

For example, a student coming to the Archives and Special Collections unit has the opportunity to examine actual illuminated manuscripts from the 14th century. The student can view a video and an online exhibit on his or her laptop from the Archive’s Web pages about the history of illuminated manuscripts and printing. The student can compare 14thcentury illumination with examples of recent digital art available in the Libraries’ Digital Media Repository,

The University Libraries are in the business of “unchaining” knowledge by expanding accessibility to resources. This is the place where the past, present, and future meet. Students can hold a 200-year old book in their hands and then access new digital materials instantly on a portable hand-held wireless device. The educational possibilities are unlimited.

For more information on the University Libraries’collection of rare books and manuscripts, view In the Archives: Rare Books and Manuscripts online video, featuring a discussion about rare books by Dr. Frank A. Felsenstein, the Reed D. Voran Distinguished Professor in the Humanities, and an online exhibit about rare books

For more information, contact John B. Straw, Assistant Dean for Digital Initiatives and Special Collections,, 765-285-5078.

Renovation Begins to Create Schwartz Special Collections and Global Digital Complex

On Monday, February 16, 2009, renovation began in Bracken Library to construct The Helen B. and Martin D. Schwartz Special Collections and Global Digital Complex. The newly designed space will be located in Bracken’s southwest corner on the first floor, a space of about 2,450 square feet.

“The Schwartz Digital Complex is envisioned as a high technology collaboratorium for students and faculty. There is currently no other learning space like this on the Ball State campus,” said Dr. Arthur W. Hafner, Dean of University Libraries. “Its completion will bring tremendous new capabilities to the University Libraries for offering new and exciting services in support of teaching, learning, and research using emerging and mature media.”

The facility will connect students and faculty to the diverse special collections and digital resources of the University Libraries and will provide access to signature digital collections globally. This digital complex will serve Ball State University as an innovative, collaborative, flexible, and interactive learning and teaching environment, utilizing the latest technology for fostering an undergraduate research culture.

For the next 10 weeks, we will be saying, “Pardon our dust” as contractor Fredericks, Inc. of Pendleton, Indiana, transforms the space, formerly a computer lab, into a digital learning complex. The work includes demolition of existing walls, new flooring, wall assemblies, framing, glass/solid polymer fabrications, carpentry, painting, mechanical, and electrical work.

Funds to renovate the space were made possible through a significant gift to the University Libraries from retired Muncie businessman and philanthropist Mr. Martin D. Schwartz in memory of his late wife, Helen B. Schwartz.

Mr. Schwartz also donated his extensive personal and business papers to the Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections. These documents are a rich resource for students and faculty conducting research in the areas of business, local history, and philanthropic studies.

Ball State Monographs Series Collection

The Ball State Monographs Series Collection is now available in the Digital Media Repository. They can be found at The 34 scholarly monographs were published by Ball State between 1963 and 1990.