Friday, February 12, 2010

New Graduate Assistant

Sara K. George, Archives and Special Collections, completed a B.A. in communication studies and Spanish at Ball State. She is now pursuing a master’s degree in public relations. As the Digital Initiatives graduate assistant, Sara is working on scanning and creating metadata for nearly 40,000 photographs, negatives, and slides of Ball State University events, people, and buildings.

Ball State’s Digital Media Repository Receives New Public Interface

The Ball State Digital Media Repository (, a project of the University Libraries, now has a new look. Students, faculty, and other researchers who use this online repository, which currently consists of 89 collections and almost 200,000 digital assets, will find many improvements, ranging from a new design to enhanced searching capabilities.

Some of the highlights to the new public interface for the DMR include these:
• Faceted and improved collection search options
• Improved navigation and browsing
• Implementation of Web 2.0 social networking tools
• An interactive media viewer on the homepage

One highly visible change is the use of cooliris media viewer to allow researchers new to the DMR to browse selected resources in an interactive environment.

AddThis, a social bookmarking tool, lets users easily share DMR content on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Users will be able to search content by subject, location, format, contributor, and individual collections directly from the browse pages in the new interface.

A DMR Public Interface working group has been evaluating and designing the new look since September 2009. The working group consists of Eric B. Fisher, Information Services Librarian; Amanda A. Hurford (co-chair), Digital Initiatives Multimedia Developer; Carolyn F. Runyon (co-chair), Archivist for Digital Development and University Records; Amy E. Trendler, Architecture Librarian; and Budi Wibowo, Head of Digital Libraries and Web Services.

The working group conducted user surveys, analyzed use statistics, and surveyed other repositories to identify and select effective ways to enhance the usability of the DMR through the public interface. The new interface will provide better ways for students and faculty to select and utilize the rich digital resources available in the DMR for teaching, learning, and research.

Libraries Personnel Remove Book Pocket Cards; Find Archival Treasure

Libraries personnel finished the huge task of removing old circulation cards from books and bound periodicals on January 8, 2010, a project that began in late November 2009. Personnel from every unit of the Libraries participated in this project, which resulted in every volume being taken off the shelf and checked for a circulation card. Cards were removed and shredded if present. This process was repeated for 894 ranges. (A range is one side of connected bookshelves.)

The reason for the project was identity security. One of the Libraries’ paraprofessionals noticed that many circulation cards contained the Social Security numbers of previous borrowers from when those numbers were used at Ball State. Those cards had not been stamped since 1991, when the Libraries began using an automated checkout system. The cards just had never been removed.

While there were no names associated with the numbers on the cards, Dean Arthur W. Hafner believed this was a situation that needed to be corrected. “We knew it would be a huge project,” said Dixie D. DeWitt, Financial and Business Services Manager, “and we knew it was necessary for us to do this, because the University Libraries are committed to student, faculty, and staff privacy.”

Some unexpected benefits came out of the project. For example, several employees noticed the unusual characteristics of certain books. An old edition of Don Quixote caught the eyes of Jim Bradley, Head of Metadata and Digital Initiatives. He brought it to John Straw, Assistant Dean for Digital Initiatives and Special Collections, to inspect, who then transferred the book to the Libraries’ Archives. “The binding and paper caught my attention,” Jim explained, “and when I took a closer look, I realized the book had been individually run through a press.

It turned out to be a rare example of copperplate, and I also found another set of books that the same illustrator had done.” John Straw explained that items that are signed, limited editions, or rare in some other way are housed in the Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections. As to another benefit, while working on the project, Dixie commented, “During my scheduled times there was almost always a student needing assistance finding an item in the stacks. I enjoyed helping them because I don’t get to do that very often.”

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Written Legacy: the Writing and Poetry of African American Women

Celebrate Black History Month and Women’s History Month by exploring the writing and poetry of African American women.

Archives and Special Collections house a variety of literature by well known African American female authors and poets. Included in the exhibit are Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning Song of Solomon; the poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks, who was named Poet Laureate consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress; and the writings of actress, playwright, director, autobiographer, and poet, Maya Angelou. Also featured in this exhibit will be Wanda Coleman, Rita Dove, and many more.

Written Legacy: the writing and poetry of African American Women will be on display in Archives and Special Collections on the second floor of Bracken Library from February to April 2010. For more information, please contact Lajmar Anderson at, (765) 285-5078.