Illuminating Details: Digitizing Rare Books from the Vault

By Doreen Simonsen, Humanities & Fine Arts Librarian dsimonse@willamette.edu

Last year a collection of rare books from the vault of the Hatfield Library was the subject of a course called Digital Humanities Workshop: Voyages of Discovery in the Vault. These books were first or early editions of 18th and 19th-century books about the discovery and exploration of the Pacific Northwest. The exploits of Vitus Bering, Captain James Cook, George Vancouver, Lewis & Clark, and others were described in these books, often by the explorers themselves. Many of these books have also been digitized in various online collections, such as the Internet Archive, Google Books, HathiTrust Digital Library, the Biodiversity Heritage Library, and more sites.

As the class worked with these digital versions, they soon learned the differing qualities of digitization in the various collections. Students used digital collections, as well as their own photographs of the actual rare books from the vault, to create online exhibits based on these works. Most digitized sources were fine for this purpose, but some of the digitized works were created from poorly photographed microfilm. Here is an example that shows the worst features of digitized microfilm, uneven page layout, etc. This map at the end of the book is unreadable and broken up over several pages.

Fédix, P A.

Fédix, P A. L’orégon, Et Les Côtes De L’océan Pacifique Du Nord: Aperçu Géographique, Statistique Et Politique : Avec Une Carte Du Pays D’après Les Documens Les Plus Récens. Paris: Amyot, 1846. Internet resource.

Luckily the Hatfield Library owned the print copies of these books, and we were able to create superior digital scans of some of them. The maps included in many of these books were central to the focus of the course, so we were able to request that the library’s digital production lab create high-resolution scans of our original print copy of this book from 1846.

L'orégon Et Les Côtes De L'océan Pacifique Du Nord

Fédix, P A. L’orégon Et Les Côtes De L’océan Pacifique Du Nord: Aperçu Géographique, Statistique Et Politique, Avec Une Carte Du Pays D’après Les Documens Les Plus Récens. Paris: Librairie de Amyot, 1846. Print.

L'orégon Et Les Côtes De L'océan Pacifique Du Nord Now the entire map can be viewed at a glance. A wonderful bonus to this new scan is the ability to capture details of each half of the map by right-clicking with your mouse to “View Image”. Doing this will open the high-resolution tiff (Tagged Image File Format) file of that page. Here is a small detail from the left page of the map showing the author’s vision of the Mouth of the Columbia River being a focal point for all international commerce coming to the Oregon Territory in the 1850’s.

 

 

Heures De Simon Vostre a L'usage De Langres

Pigouchet, Philippe. [Heures De Simon Vostre a L’usage De Langres]. Paris: Printed by Philippe Pigouchet for Simon Vostre, 1502.

Book of Hours printed by Philippe Pigouchet for Simon Vostre

Sample page from Heures De Simon Vostre a L’usage De Langres. 1502.

Another treasure from our vault that was recently scanned in high resolution was a printed book of hours from 1502. Only the Bibliothèque national de France (the National Library of France) and Willamette University own copies of this edition of a Book of Hours printed by Philippe Pigouchet for Simon Vostre, a Parisian publisher.
Books of Hours are prayer books developed for the use of the laity in their private devotions.  They were the bestsellers of the Middle Ages, often adorned with hand-painted illustrations, called illuminations, and printed on vellum, like our own manuscript copy entitled Praecis Piae (Pious Prayers).  Printed Books of Hours included numerous woodblock illustrations in order to compete with illuminated manuscript versions.  Our printed book of hours is resplendent with various kinds of images – on each page!  On this page, showing and describing the suffering of St. Sebastian, the text is surrounded by woodcuts of symbolic animals and grotesques.

A recent graduate in Art History, Kendall Matthews, wrote her senior thesis about the woodblock prints of grotesques that she found in our printed book of hours. Entitled “Grotesques Outside the Margins: A Study of the Cultural Influences of Marginalia and Grotesques Through Heures de Simone Vostre a l’usage de Langres,” her thesis explored the deeper symbolic meanings of a selection of grotesque images from this book, as she demonstrated in this image from her thesis presentation video. (Used with permission of the author).

Morality and Violence

Thanks to the work of the Library’s Digital Production Lab, rare books from the vault are getting a new life in digital form, providing students and scholars from around the world with amazing access to the finer details of these works.


What IIIF We Could

By Michael Spalti, Associate University Librarian for Systems mspalti@willamette.edu

The phrase “International Image Interoperability Framework” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. You might also guess that it’s irrelevant to researchers, educators, librarians, museum curators, and students. But there’s more to tell.

IIIF (pronounced triple-eye f) was first conceived in 2011 as a collaboration between The British Library, Stanford University, the Bodleian Libraries (Oxford University), the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Nasjonalbiblioteket (National Library of Norway), Los Alamos National Laboratory Research Library, and Cornell University. It has since grown into broader international collaboration and consortium.

IIIF solves a problem that has accrued over the last two decades. Willamette University’s digital collections offer a small but meaningful example. The digital images created from materials in the University Archives and Hallie Ford Museum include around 15,000 items that are accessible to anyone, anywhere. While this is great, it comes with a caveat. These materials are accessed through the software tools that we provide. In many cases, the software is unique, designed to work well with our collections and not portable into other contexts. It’s similar to the old problem of “you can work on this file using program X but not using program Y.” The opportunities for sharing and creativity are limited by software, protocols, and file formats.

Here’s an example from the world of medieval manuscripts. It’s a sad fact that, in the past, illuminations have been cut from manuscript pages by unscrupulous collectors and sold for profit. In some cases, the stolen illuminations have found their way into other library collections. With digitization and a bit of scholarly sleuthing, it’s possible to discover and view these stolen details from a distance, but how do you reconstruct the manuscript in a virtual setting?

Book of Hours in IIF Viewer

One of the many applications of IIIF is online manuscript reconstruction. Using an IIIF-compliant viewer you can create (and publish) a manuscript page that is virtually intact. This example from the Biblissima project uses the Mirador image viewer. It shows two accurately positioned images: one is the full manuscript page and the other the missing illumination. The images come from two separate repositories that could be located anywhere in the world. The only requirement is that the repositories and the image viewer “speak” IIIF as a common language for sharing, comparing, annotating, and in this case, layering image views. IIIF can also be used to aggregate content for machine learning applications that can transcribe, translate, or look for patterns in images.

Within the IIIF community there is much work to do. In addition to improving and extending the framework, software projects that implement IIIF must be continuously maintained and new features and capabilities added. Still, nine years after the project began, an impressive amount of progress has been made.

Coming to the Library Soon

As part of the Hatfield Library’s transition to a new digital repository we plan to make our image collections IIIF-compliant. The initial IIIF support has been developed in-house using open source software contributed by other organizations (most notably at the MDZ Digital Library team at the Bavarian State Library in Munich, Germany) and capabilities provided by the new DSpace 7.0 repository (which is still under development at the time of writing).

The transition to a new digital repository platform is a practical necessity. The addition of IIIF adds some excitement. While most users will experience IIIF passively as the default image and document viewer for our new repository, there are more interesting possibilities for teaching and research. Here’s another example, continuing in the medieval manuscript theme.

Digital Vatican Library Book

The image above shows the IIIF image viewer provided by the Digital Vatican Library. I initially loaded a full manuscript from the Vatican’s collection. Next, I selected a page from the manuscript and zoomed in to detail. Then I clicked “ADD VIEW” and provided a Web address (URL) for a book of hours manuscript in Willamette’s rare book collection. The local manuscript loaded into the Vatican viewer. I navigated to a page and zoomed in to compare page details. It would be simple to reverse the process, using a local IIIF viewer to capture, save, and publish these comparisons in a class web page or online publication. (Full disclosure: because the book of hours is not in my test repository as of writing, I actually loaded a copy of a Willamette alumni publication into the Vatican viewer to test the functionality, which does indeed work!)

IIIF can be used across all disciplines. For those in the humanities, the IIIF Consortium and the Digital Humanities Summer Institute have partnered to offer a workshop on IIIF for those interested and able to attend.


Capturing WU’s Scholarly Output

Guest post written by Bill Kelm, Hatfield Library Systems Librarian

Everyone knows that the library collects books, journals, and DVDs, but did you know that we also collect some of the scholarly output of Willamette’s students, faculty and staff? The library maintains the Academic Commons, a virtual clearinghouse for student research and digital scholarship at Willamette University. The Commons represents an evolving set of services and digital collections that are a resource for Willamette faculty and students and for members of the extended community. Some of the collections are open to the public but others are limited to current WU students, faculty and staff.

Students can also access past print theses in the Archives as well.

Student research ranges from senior theses, publications, grant projects, performances, films, journals, and online exhibits. Highlights include the Senior Thesis Collections and the Willamette Sports Law Journal.  Some collections like the law journal are open to the public and indexed in the library catalog.  Most of the theses collections are restricted to current Willamette University users; over thirty departments have theses collections in the Commons.  Faculty in some departments require students to submit their senior thesis to the Academic Commons and other departments identify outstanding theses and recommend those student researchers submit their theses to the Commons.

Reviewing some of the theses other students have submitted in the past can be a great way for current students to get a sense of what a senior thesis in their major might look like and what kinds of subjects might make appropriate topics. A number of departments have decided to scan their past theses as well; the Biology Department probably has the largest collection with some theses going to back the 1940’s and 50’s.

Submitting a thesis is not the same as adding a new post to Facebook so when students submit their works, the documents will not automatically appear in the Academic Commons.  All of our librarians monitor the incoming theses in their specific subject areas. They work to ensure the accuracy of the the metadata (subjects, abstracts, etc.) before they officially release the paper into the Academic Commons. The level or quality of the work found in the Commons can vary greatly.  As mentioned previously, some departments add only what they consider honors work and others add all the theses written by their students.

The library is also encouraging Willamette faculty to publish in Open Access journals. When faculty do this, the library can then add their work to the Common’s Faculty Publications section for that department. Open Access Journals LogoRight now four departments have Faculty Publications in the Academic Commons. While many faculty might want to make sure they are getting their papers in ResearchGate or Academia, we want to make sure we can legally capture their research in Willamette’s Academic Commons.  Many of the publisher agreements that faculty sign only allow pre-print copies of their work to be placed in local digital repositories.

Take some time to checkout the Academic Commons.  Students, if you do not see your major or department represented, let us know and we will be happy to check with faculty in that department. Faculty, let us know if you want your department included in the ever expanding and increasingly important Academic Commons.


Zotero – Citation Tool

This past year, the Hatfield Library replaced RefWorks with Zotero. This is the first semester that we have been actively teaching the Willamette community how to install and use Zotero.

Zotero is a free citation tool that helps you cite, manage, and share your literature research. You can install a browser extension (available for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Explorer–it sometimes has problems with Safari) and work entirely with the online version of Zotero.  You can also download the desktop version which embeds itself within MS Word and works with the browser extension (we suggest downloading both desktop and browser extension).   You can also drag and drop citations into Google Docs from the desktop Zotero.

It work with both Macs, PCs, and Linux. While there is a little learning curve, it is fairly easy to catch on. Zotero is a powerful and handy tool for any academic researcher, and will serve you well in you academic and professional career.

For additional information, such as installation instructions and a video tutorial, visit http://libguides.willamette.edu/zotero.

For questions about Zotero or to setup an appointment to learn more, contact Bill Kelm (bkelm@willamette.edu) or John Repplinger (jrepplin@willamette.edu)

 


New Interface Now Live

We have transitioned to a new user interface for the library catalog. Designed with the user experience in mind, the interface from ExLibris should be more intuitive and make finding resources easier.

As we make this transition, let us know if you have any comments or questions about the new catalog. Feel free to send your questions or comments to bkelm@willamette.edu.