As 2017 draws to a close, it is a good time to evaluate our digitization projects for the year, taking a look at our successes, challenges, and opportunities. It is also a time when I get to remember the particularly fun and creative scanning set-ups, as well as still shake my head in amazement that I got to work with a book from the 17th century (even after years in this profession, that feeling never wears off!). Furthermore, I have the chance to consider adding a few more items to my “favorites” list that Special Collections and University Archives staff are often asked to discuss!
So, how do I determine my favorite items? Well, I love unique items and digitization challenges! I’ve particularly enjoyed scanning or photographing materials that require a little extra creativity in setting up the camera studio, or some extra processes in the software to emphasize certain aspects of an image.
Here are some of my favorite items that passed through the Digital Archiving Lab this year:
Clothing – Typically, we think of papers and books when the word “archives” is mentioned, but here at UMW, we have many different types of artifacts, in addition to the documents. At the History Harvest this year, we were able to photograph MWC clothing from the 1970s and add those images to our collection. We also photographed an Equestrian Team t-shirt from 2003 that is a part of our physical archive. Aside from creating unique photography studio conditions for each clothing project, it is also interesting to see all of the different designs that have appeared on UMW merchandise!
Scrapbooks – We have a wonderful collection of over 50 scrapbooks in our archive, and I’ve had the opportunity to scan entire books or certain pages throughout the year. I love scrapbooks because the photographs and notes give the reader an individualized look into what campus was like in decades past that you can’t always interpret from official documents or histories. Scrapbooks often require very careful handling for digitization, but being able to provide digital copies of these special pages means that many, many more people will get to see them while the original remains safe and secure in the archive.
Very, very large books – A normal workflow for scanning items from Special Collections and University Archives involves a staff member carefully carrying materials to the Digital Archiving Lab. However, a couple of times this year, we had to use a library cart to transport one book! My favorite aspect of digitizing these large, heavy tomes is photographing the spine; it is always exciting to give patrons a better visualization of how their individually scanned pages fit into the whole book.