Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dartmouth Library Joins the National Digital Stewardship Alliance

We are very excited to announce that Dartmouth College Library has joined the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA), a consortium of organizations that are committed to the long-term preservation of digital information. The mission of the NDSA is to establish, maintain, and advance the capacity to preserve our nation's digital resources for the benefit of present and future generations. Members include universities, consortia, professional societies, commercial businesses, professional associations, and government agencies at the federal, state, and local level.

The NDSA is organized into 5 working groups: Content, Standards and Practices, Infrastructure, Innovation, and Outreach. Each group develops and executes a series of projects, which have included:

·         Developing the Levels of Preservation, a set of guidelines on tiered levels of digital preservation (Infrastructure WG)

·         Publishing a report on "Issues in the Appraisal and Selection of Geospatial Data"  (Content WG)

·         Creating Digital Preservation in a Box, a toolkit to support outreach activities that introduce the basic concepts of preserving digital information (Outreach WG)

·         Recognizing innovation in the community through the NDSA Innovation Awards (Innovation WG)

I am very excited to join the Standards and Practices Working Group, which works to "facilitate a community-wide understanding of the role and benefit of standards in digital preservation and how to use them effectively to ensure durable and usable collections." Projects undertaken by this group include a report on "The Benefits and Risks of the PDF/A-3 File Format for Archival Institutions" and a recent survey assessing stumbling blocks for video preservation.

Written by Jenny Mullins

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dartmouth at the Digital Directions 2014 Conference

Image from the blog PDXretro.com

This past July I had the great opportunity to attend the Northeast Document Conservation Center’s Digital Directions 2014 conference. In a lucky turn, this year’s conference was held in Portland, Oregon, home of my alma mater, Reed College. In addition to reexperiencing the highlights of one of my favorite American cities, I was able to meet and engage with many people doing amazing work in digital collections across the country and beyond.

The conference covered a fascinating diversity of topics, from high-level project management and planning to specific examples of workflows and equipment setups. One of the first things impressed upon me was the fascinating diversity of digitization efforts occurring across the world. As the demand for digital content continues to expand, many institutions are rushing to fill that need. Because of this, it can often seem that no two institutions’ digital programs are the same, or even particularly similar.

To its credit, the Digital Directions did a phenomenal job accounting for these various setups. The three days were jam-packed with a fascinating variety of discussion topics and presentations. The first day consisted of mostly big-picture type talks. We discussed the interplay between digital preservation (maintenance of access to digital content) and digital curation (adding value to digital content), as well as how to craft each institution’s best practices and standards according to their needs. The day was wrapped up with an impressively no-nonsense discussion about rights and responsibilities from a legal perspective by Peter Hirtle, followed by a lovely meet-and-greet at the Portland Art Museum.

The following days covered a wide variety of topics, including a fascinating section about audio and video digitization (an area unfortunately outside my range of experience). However, it soon became apparent that the challenges faced by those audio and video digitization teams were remarkably similar to my own in the world of object and document reproduction. Many digitization projects face the same fundamental roadblocks: time, equipment, resources, access, and storage.
Image from NEDCC's twitter account

While the specifics varied, these fundamental issues could not help but make themselves apparent. The relative merits of, say, cloud storage (to pick a random example), can be endlessly debated among digital librarians, and indeed I’d doubt there ever will be a definitive final-word on this topic. But the crucial takeaway must be a willingness to engage with these issues, understanding the risks and drawbacks inherent in each option so that they can be minimized, or at the very least understood fully so that we may deal with them more effectively in the future. Among the many useful things I learned at Digital Directions 2014, perhaps the most important one was that my own peers are an incredible resource, both within Dartmouth and world-wide. By learning through their experiences and sharing my own, I hope to do my part to keep the Dartmouth Library’s Digital Collection growing and improving well into the future.

Written by Ryland Ianelli

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

100-ish Days of Digital Preservation

Hello, there. It's been a little over 100 days since I started as Dartmouth College Library's first Digital Preservation Librarian. I've been working closely with staff in many departments to define my role and work out how best to ensure long term access to the Library's digital content. Here are some of the things that I've been up to:

  • Maxed out our master file server space.
  • Learned about awesome projects and connected with colleagues at Digital Preservation 2014.
  • Made some head-way into assessing our e-resource preservation strategies.
  • Used BagIt to package 45,000 files totaling 2413 GB for long-term storage (see above re: maxing out server space).
  • Started digging into PREMIS .
  • Learned to harness the power of Twitter for professional research #digipres .
  • Started brainstorming strategies for preserving analog and born-digital a/v content.
  • Dipped my toes into web and database preservation in response to a faculty inquiry.
  • Got really excited about sustainability and digital humanities projects.
Digital Preservation Brainstorming!

 I’m looking forward to my role in the Library continuing to evolve and grow over time. As these and other projects develop, I will tell you all about them here. Stay tuned for the next 100-ish days of Digital Preservation!

Written by Jennifer Mullins

Monday, September 15, 2014

Kress Conservation Fellow Tessa Gadomski arrives!

In August we announced that we were recipients of a Kress Conservation Fellow grant from the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation, funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. grant.

On September 8th, Tessa Gadomski, started her Fellowship. Tessa, recently graduated with a Master of Science in Art Conservation from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, with a major in Library and Archives Materials. Along with this degree, she has also completed a Certificate of Advanced Study in Preservation from Simmons College, Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Her undergraduate degree is from the University of Delaware receiving Honors with a Bachelor of Arts in Art Conservation, her second major was Art History with a minor in Chemistry.

Tessa has worked are the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution Archives, the Weissman Preservation Center of Harvard and Heugh-Edmondson Conservation Services in Kansas City Missouri which specializes in restoration of works of art on paper and photographs.
One of her intern appointments was at University of Delaware, working on Russian Icons. She created a reproduction of a Russian icon using traditional materials and techniques, and then participated in conserving a Russian icon from the University of Delaware Museum’s Collection.

While here at Dartmouth Tessa’s focus will be to address and perform conservation needs of Rauner’s Iconography collection. This collection within Special Collections has over 1,300 cataloged items that include printed images, glass slides, original art on paper and other media, photographs, albums and digital files. A particularly significant subcategory of the collection is focused on the history of Polar exploration.

Tessa is well prepared for such a project with her broad background and wide experience, not only will we be able to advance the work needed on this collection but we will be able to learn from Tessa and glean new techniques and ideas she can share from her conservation experience.

Tessa is original from Albany, New York, so she is very happy to be back in the northeast closer to her family.  Welcome Tessa!

Written by Deborah Howe

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Top Dog

Dartmouth College is located in rural New Hampshire along the Connecticut River and Appalachian Trail System.  Although the Library and College are a fast paced place to work after 5pm things slow down to the quiet rhythm of small town life.  I moved to West Lebanon, NH from Chicago and the things that have kept me here are the simple pleasures that make this a special place to live and raise a family.

All of this is by way of allowing me to brag that my dog won the Lebanon, NH Top Dog Contest.  I admit it has nothing to do with preservation or the book arts.  File it under Summer's End.

2014 Top Dog
Nancy Drew, age 16

Written by Barb Sagraves

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Attachments: Book Arts Style

My last post discussed attachments with a conservation focus. Sometimes the creative possibilities are more important than the archival ones, or piercing holes in items is part of the artwork itself. In that case, here are some further ideas to attach loose items onto a page or in a book.

Just keep in mind that some of the methods below may create permanent changes in the mounted item and are not recommended for valuable, historic, or borrowed materials. Consider the long-term effects of any of these before using in your own projects.

As we saw in the last post (July 22) these were some options for attaching loose items to pages:

Paper clips:

Historically paper clips were made of metal, but those can be prone to rust over time in certain environmental conditions. Alternative shapes to the classic double loop include this dog and the circle. Those made from plastic or coated wire are also commonly available. The binder’s clip is useful for thicker materials. Both paper and binder’s clips come in a variety of sizes.


This creates a hole in both the page and the item attached. It requires an eyelet setter such as this one often available where craft or sewing notions are sold.


Brads usually come in a brass colored metal, but are also available in mini sizes and in a variety of colors. Some even have a shaped head, such as a star or square, like this one.  Brads, like eyelets
and staples, create holes in both item and page.

Staples: These can be hard to remove without causing damage.

Adhesive: Paste and Glue

Adhesives are generally a permanent method of attachment, whether glues, double-sided tapes, or dry-mount adhesives.  Pastes (as opposed to glue) are generally reversible, however they often leave evidence of their application and use.

Pockets & Envelopes:

Loose pockets or envelopes can be attached by a variety of methods, like any loose item. They can also be incorporated into an album during its creation by sewing them in as part of a section or in binding of single sheets. Extensions (or guards) can be attached to the binding edge to allow for ease of use, like in this example where the purple extension is sewn in on the binding edge of the brown envelope. This album is bound with screw posts.

Slits and slots:

Photo corners:


These plastic snaps are a scrap-booking item, and operate much like a traditional sewn snap, but are attached more like a brad. A tiny hole is made in both item and page. The two parts of the snap are inserted through from front and back and “snap” together holding them in place.

Screw posts:

Screw posts are much like eyelets, as holes must be made in both item and page. They can hold thin to very thick items, and come in a variety of metals. These are usually used for binding, with extensions available to adapt the original to hold a collection of expanding material. But they can be used for putting a single item onto a page. These are often available at hardware and stationary stores.

Adhesive: Tape

All kinds of tape can work: traditional adhesive tapes such as medical paper adhesive tape, electrical, masking, double-sided, or cellophane. Newer products like colorful washi tape can also be used highlighting the attachment or construction while at the same time adding decoration. Just keep in mind that all tapes have adhesive that is extremely difficult if not impossible to remove.

Needle and Thread:

By machine or hand sewing a needle and thread can attach paper together not just cloth. Paper is not as forgiving of mistakes when sewing, but it works well for many things. I’d recommend testing the paper, needle size and type, and thread combination with the intended materials before embarking on a big project.


Attached with thread, buttons can also be used with a paper page to attach items. To help avoid tearing through the paper, sew a small piece of Tyvek behind the button to reinforce the attachment. Old shipping envelopes can be cut up for this purpose. The button can be used to help secure the thread attachment, sewing through the item and page, or it can be used with a buttonhole if the item can be cut into and has enough flexibility and strength to do so. Often flat buttons are most useful, especially if they will go into some kind of book or album. Stores that sell scrapbook supplies often have such flat, decorative buttons, and these are available at sewing stores as well.

Paper Frames:

Like pockets and envelopes, paper frames can be attached to a page as a means to hold a photo or bound in as pages when binding a new album. These frames can be folded to fit a photo and hold it in place without using adhesive.

This photo shows the reverse side of the frame above.

As I mentioned in my last post, with all these attachment methods remember to keep the spine and foredge of your book balanced with regard to the thickness of your added items. Doing so will help you avoid the foredge splaying out and the book not closing. When creating a new binding, stubs can be added at the spine to accommodate the addition of items over time.

I hope these suggestions prove helpful. I often collect small pieces of paper or ephemera, especially as reference for future projects. Sometimes I just toss these into a box, but perhaps I ought to create a “book of inspiration” using some of these attachment methods. Like commonplace books of the past, my book would be both personal and useful. What kinds of uses do you see for these attachments? What other attachment methods do you find helpful?

Written by Stephanie Wolff

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Kress Conservation Fellowship

Dartmouth Iconography Collection:
Portrait of Daniel Webster needing the outside case
repaired and possible stabilization of photo.

I am pleased to announce, on behalf of Preservation Services, that we are a recipient of a Kress Conservation Fellowship.

As quoted from their web site: “The purpose of the Kress Conservation Fellowship program is to provide a wide range of post-graduate fellowship opportunities that will help develop the skills of emerging conservators. At the crossroads of science and art, the fields of conservation and technical art history demand a complex knowledge of chemistry and materials and an extraordinary sensitivity to artistic intent, as well as physical dexterity, patience, and powers of concentration. Initial training, typically at one of a handful of institutions in North America, provides basic qualifications that must be supplemented with an extended period of specialized concentration on paintings, objects, textiles, antiquities, ethnic materials, photographs, prints and drawings, books and manuscripts, furniture, etc. Within a supervised environment, the young conservator develops the specific skills, the hands-on experience, and the confidence on which to base a future career.”

“The Kress Conservation Fellowships provide competitive grants to museums and other conservation facilities which sponsor supervised internships in the conservation of specific objects and onsite training.” This Fellowship has been supported by a grant from the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation, funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.

For more information: http://www.kressfoundation.org/fellowships/conservation/

Our application was submitted with a proposed fellow, Tessa Gadomski, who recently graduated with a Master of Science in Art Conservation from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, University of Delaware with a major in Library and Archives Materials. Along with this degree, she has also completed a Certificate of Advanced Study in Preservation from Simmons College, Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Tessa’s first day will be the 8th of September, 2014.

Dartmouth Iconography Collection:
Acidic mat needing to be removed from water
color painting.

The primary focus for Tessa will be to address conservation needs of Rauner’s Iconography collection. This collection within Special Collections has over 1,300 cataloged items that include printed images, glass slides, original art on paper and other media, photographs, albums and digital files. There are documents that are part of the College Archives but it also includes several of the other collecting areas including the White Mountains, Daniel Webster and Robert Frost. A particularly significant subcategory of the collection is focused on the history of Polar exploration and the majority of its images relate to Dartmouth College and New Hampshire history. 

Dartmouth Iconography Collection:
Negatives of Dartmouth and New Hampshire needing rehousing 
and assessment.
Tessa will be at Dartmouth for a full year, concluding her Fellowship in August of 2015.

Written by Deborah Howe