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October 10, 2014

Happy Anniversary, Yale! First volume of the Minutes of The Corporation conserved for Posterity

“Three hundred and thirteen years ago, on October 9, 1701, the General Court of the Connecticut Colony, meeting in New Haven, adopted an “Act for Liberty to Erect A Collegiate School,” laying the foundation for what has become the Yale we know today.” President Peter Salovey, Yale University.

Just as President Peter Salovey was sending out his anniversary message to the Yale community yesterday (October 9), Conservation & Exhibition Services was delivering the conserved first volume of the Minutes of the Corporation, Yale College Register vol.1 1701-1704 & 1717-1800 back to archivist Nancy Lyon of the Library’s Manuscript & Archives Department. The Library’s conservation lab oversaw treatment of this important artifact of Yale’s early history. The work took 6 months to complete and purely by happenstance, the volume was ready to return to its place in Yale’s Library on the same day as Yale’s founding and 313th anniversary!

Typical of books bound in reverse calf, the surface of the binding was powdery and difficult to handle. The outer and inner hinges had failed and the boards were detached. The spine leather was cracked resulting in some small areas of loss. A handmade box helped to protect the volume from further damage. The condition of this bound manuscript was exactly what a conservator might expect of a binding of this style and age, but this is no ordinary volume.

The treatment work was carried out by the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC). Yale Library staff worked closely with them to develop the treatment plan that would ensure the best care for the object. The pages of the volume were surface cleaned, previous damaging mends were removed and tears were repaired using reversible methods and Japanese tissue. The binding was treated to consolidate the powdery leather. The spine and boards were reattached with materials toned to match the color of the leather. Click here to learn more about the details and view images of the project.

October 5, 2014

Yale University Library Preservation Lecture sponsored by Jack ’47 and Betsy O’Neill – Involuntary Secondary Permanence: Do many copies replace the one original?

Tuesday, November 4 at 3:30 p.m. Sterling Memorial Lecture Hall

Dr. Luciana Duranti, Chair and Professor, Archival Studies School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies, The University of British Columbia, The Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.

It is generally assumed that an original document is more trustworthy than a draft or a copy, simply because it presents all the possible features that allow for an assessment of its reliability, accuracy and authenticity. However, originality has no relationship with trustworthiness. Rather, it is one of three possible statuses of transmission of a document, that is, it relates to its degree of perfection. An original is the first document generated in a complete form that is capable of achieving the purposes wanted by its author; thus, it presents the qualities of primitiveness, completeness, and effectiveness. The other two possible statuses of transmission are draft and copy. A draft is a document prepared for purposes of correction and is meant to be provisional, temporary; it may have various levels of completion, but it is never an effective or a legal document. A copy is a reproduction of another document, which may be an original, a draft or another copy. Diplomatics studies the sequence of copies over time to assess the probability of trustworthiness of a text that has been transmitted through the centuries by copying it, as well as the type of copy and its authority (e.g. authentic copy, facsimile, imitative copy, inspeximus).

The study of copies, the reliability of their process of creation, and their accuracy, not simply with respect to the native object but also to each other, is becoming increasingly relevant in the digital environment, as we will no longer have originals on which to assess the trustworthiness and authority of written sources of evidence, memory or information. Vast amounts of copies are produced for back-up or redundancy in order to fight technological obsolescence, but the majority of them are never used. Smaller amounts are produced for continuing preservation purposes and dispersed in various locations, but their hierarchy in terms of authority as sources is not established, on the assumption that the last generated will be the only used, even if it is the least accurate, being the one farther away from the native document. An unknown quantity of documents is reproduced countless times in the cloud environment by social media providers and service providers: whether these copies are ever destroyed is not known, but the implications for e-discovery and privacy rights are clear.

This lecture will present the concept of copy, the purposes of copies, and their use, and will identify the issues presented by the proliferation of copies in the digital environment, starting a discussion and providing suggestions on how to address them or avoid them altogether.

Conservation of Ancient Papyri from the Yale Papyri Collection

Numbering almost 7000 items, the Yale Papyrus Collection has a dazzling array of documentary and literary texts that span over a thousand years of history. The diverse papyri collection attracts scholars from all over the world, who not only make the journey to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library but also access the papyri images on-line through the on-going digitization project. In addition to digitizing the ancient papyri, Paula Zyats (Assistant Chief Conservator) and Tasha Dobbin-Bennett (Papyrologist) are also conserving and housing the papyri for long-term research and storage. Research conducted with the papyri not only directs scholarship in fields such as Classics, Middle and Near Eastern Studies, Papyrology, Egyptology, and Religious Studies, but also aids the library in prioritizing papyri for conservation. For example, Professor Nikolaos Gonis (University College London), during a recent visit, identified two unpublished pieces (P.CtYBR inv.’s 1500 & 1505) that were of particular interest to his research. However, in the past the papyri had been housed without conservation treatment. In order to facilitate a transcription of the texts, which were written in Greek, the library staff began conservation treatment.

After transferring the papyri over to the library’s Conservation and Exhibit Services’ Laboratory in Sterling Memorial Library, it was removed from the housing and assessed. Both papyri underwent treatment, allowing the use of controlled humidity to carefully smooth out any creases, folds, and unaligned fibers. The old glassine strips – a type of thin, acidic paper generally coated with adhesive that becomes discolored and brittle over time – that held the fragments together were also removed. Left untreated, the glassine strips can distort and damage the papyri.

Once the papyrus was straightened, the (rather) extensive drying period began under blotters and weights. Once completely dry, the fragments received a careful secondary cleaning to ensure that the text was as readable as possible, then very carefully, the fragments were realigned and affixed together with toned Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste. At an earlier stage, the papyri fragments were placed together in such a way that the edges were overlapped, obscuring some of the text.

Once there was a complete papyrus, the fragments were rehoused and transferred back to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The next stage was to take new images of the papyri, and then send those images out to the scholar working on the texts.

As a result, Professor Gonis was able to offer new and important insights into the contents of the papyri, showing that P.CtYBR inv. 1500, dated to the 690’s C.E. It will be published in the near future and attests to the reconstruction of the city of Ḥelwān (Egypt) by ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn Marwān, who is perhaps most famous for completing the Muslim Conquest of North Africa. As the governor of Egypt, at that time, he chose Ḥelwān as a settlement when the floods of 690 C.E. forced him to evacuate Al-Fusṭāṭ (Old Cairo). ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn Marwān, was a member of the Umayyad dynasty, the son of one Caliph, the brother of the next, and the father of the following!

October 1, 2014

Omeka: Piloting a Web Platform for Digital Exhibitions at Yale

October 15th, 2:00 pm
Sterling Memorial Library

Over the course of the last academic year a working group made up by Francesca Livermore, Melissa Grafe, Peter Leonard, Kerri Sancomb, Robin Dougherty, and Andy Hickner, has been tasked by the Web Group with investigating a platform for digital exhibitions at the library. After developing a set of system requirements and exploring several options, the working group suggested a six-month pilot of Omeka. Omeka is an open-source web platform created by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University with support from the Mellon Foundation. As the pilot draws to its end, Francesca and Melissa will discuss the work of the group so far, including our experience working with Omeka, and next steps beyond the pilot period.

Offensive Vulgarity in an Age of Enlightenment

Thursday, October 23rd, 5:30 pm
Yale Center for British Art Lecture Hall

All are welcome to join us for the twenty-first Lewis Walpole Library Lecture, presented by Steve Bell, professional cartoonist, who will discuss Hogarth's continuing legacy for contemporary graphic satire, while also addressing the question of just how necessary it still is to offend.

Steve Bell has been drawing political comic strips for a living since 1977. He is a proponent of the short form, typically four frames. Since 1981 he has written and drawn the If… strip in the Guardian, which has run to several thousand pages, with no end in sight. Since 1990, he has been drawing four larger format political cartoons a week for the same paper. His work is unashamedly comic, but many of his cartoons are quite deliberately not funny at all. The Steve Bell cartoon website can be found online here.

In recent years the Lewis Walpole Library Lecture has brought noted scholars in the field of eighteenth-century studies to New Haven to speak on a topic usually related to the collection. It is now an established feature of Yale's intellectual calendar. More details about Steve's talk can be found on the Walpole Library's website.

September 30, 2014

Music Library Tour/Workshop

All are welcome to join us for tours of the Music Library on Oct 1, 2, 8 & 9 at 4pm (same tour, different dates). Each session will include a tour of the Music Library with an overview of the collections and services; the other half will be a workshop for locating scores, recordings, and videos in the library and available online 24/7. The tour will begin at the Music Library's Circulation Desk, first floor of Sterling Memorial Library. Check the Library Calendar for more details.

Preservation and Sustainability: a case study in HVAC management for library collections

Wednesday, October 8, 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Sterling Memorial Library, International Room
Tara Kennedy, Preservation Services Librarian

It’s well documented in preservation literature that high temperatures and overly moist (or overly dry) conditions can cause damage to our cultural heritage. But how do you balance keeping conditions safe for collections with being mindful of energy savings and carbon consumption?

In partnership with the Image Permanence Institute (IPI) at the Rochester Institute of Technology, the Yale University Library’s Preservation Department and Yale Facilities conducted an experiment in the Sterling Memorial Library book stacks in order to answer this very question. Come and hear about how this experiment was implemented and conducted, and the interesting results (hint: no books were harmed during this experiment). Refreshments will be served; bring your own coffee/tea mug.

Borrow Direct expands services to include on-site borrowing

The Yale University Library is delighted to announce its participation in the launch of Borrow Direct Plus – an expansion of the current Borrow Direct service. This will include on-site borrowing privileges starting October 1, 2014 for all students, faculty and staff from Borrow Direct institutions, plus Duke University (currently not a member of Borrow Direct). The new service will allow the Yale community to register for borrowing privileges at no cost from the following participating institutions: Brown University, University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton University.

Yale users who have been verified with Yale library accounts in good standing will have access to circulating materials at any of the participating libraries. When visiting one of these libraries, members of the Yale community will need to show their Yale ID and log in to their Borrow Direct account; upon verification, users will be issued a library card.
The available collections will vary from one institution to another and their respective lending policies and loan periods will apply to guest borrowers. These can be viewed ahead of time at http://www.borrowdirect.org/on-site-borrowing. Borrowed items may be returned to either the lending library or the user’s home library.

Borrow Direct is a rapid book request and delivery system used by the participating institutions, to ensure the loan of materials within a four-day turnaround.
For more information or questions about the service, please contact Brad.Warren@yale.edu, Director of Access Services.

September 26, 2014

Beyond the Codex: Sculptural Book Objects in the Arts of the Book Collection

September 29, 2014 – February 20, 2015
Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library

The Arts of the Book Collection, part of the Special Collections of the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library, strives to document the many trends in the wide-ranging field of book arts. One such trend comprises artists who challenge the traditional codex format with unexpected sculptural renderings. Yet, these works often preserve other conventions of the book, such as narrative and reader interaction. Sculptural book objects allow readers to appreciate the book for its physical format as well as its content. Such an experience informs future interactions with codex and non-codex formats alike.

This exhibition is a companion to the student-curated exhibition at the Yale University Art Gallery: Odd Volumes: Book Art from the Allan Chasanoff Collection, on view from November 7, 2014–February 1, 2015. Additionally, Beyond the Codex is a companion to exhibit Connecticut (un) Bound at the local non-profit gallery Artspace, also on view starting November 7, 2014 and running through January 2015. The Haas Family Arts Library actively supports the research of the Yale University Art Gallery (YUAG) in addition to arts-area research by members of the Yale, national, and international communities. Beyond the Codex features works in the Arts Library’s collection by artists selected for inclusion in Odd Volumes and Connecticut (un) Bound as well as artists not represented at YUAG, thus highlighting the complementary nature of the Arts of the Book Collection and the Art Gallery’s Allan Chasanoff Collection.

This exhibition is free and open to the public in the William H. Wright Exhibit Area of the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library. Enter through the Loria Center at 190 York Street. Public hours are 8:30am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. The Yale community can access the exhibition anytime the Haas Family Arts Library is open. Contact Jae Rossman, Assistant Director for Special Collections at the Arts Library, for more information: jae.rossman@yale.edu or 203-432-4439

Digitization and the Nineteenth-Century Book: Traces in the Stacks

Tuesday, October 7, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Sterling Memorial Library Lecture Hall

How are academic research libraries changing in the wake of widespread digitization, and where does this leave nineteenth-century books? Out of copyright, non-rare, and often fragile due to poor paper quality, these books are both richly served and particularly imperiled in the new media ecosystem; as scenes of evidence, they are at once exposed and occluded by the digitization of our library collections. In this talk, Andrew Stauffer, associate professor of English at the University of Virginia, focuses primarily on personal marginalia in copies of books in the circulating collections, demonstrating the importance of individual copies to our understanding of nineteenth-century books and their readers. A massive horizon of opportunity is now opening for humanists to trace the history of language, of ideas, of books, and of reading via automated searches and visualizations of the global digital library. Yet individual copies are under a general downward pressure in this new dispensation. Digitized archives will reveal wonders. Now, in concert with the digital transformation of the archive, we must also give sustained attention to the material record of nineteenth century reading before it disappears from our academic research libraries for good.

All are welcome to this SCOPA Forum.

September 22, 2014

Curatorial tour of three new Medical Library exhibits

Wednesday, September 24, 12:00 pm
Cushing/Whitney Medical Library, 333 Cedar Street, New Haven, CT

Join us for a tour of 3 fascinating and diverse Medical Library exhibits – "The Body as a Machine", "Vesalius at 500", and "Dangers of Underage Drinking and other Historical Posters." The tour will be led by Melissa Grafe, Librarian for Medical History, and Susan Wheeler, Curator at the Medical Library. As part of the tour, the cases will be opened to view the objects. Please meet at the circulation desk. You may RSVP to historical.library@yale.edu or at 203 785-4354.

Revising Encoded Archival Description: Bringing EAD from 2002 to EAD3

Thursday, September 25, 2:00 pm
Sterling Memorial Library Lecture Hall

Since 2010, as co-chair of the Society of American Archivists’ Technical Subcommittee for Encoded Archival Description, Mike Rush has been leading the effort to revise Encoded Archival Description. Last revised in 2002, EAD was overdue for an update. Due to be released this winter, EAD3 is an attempt to balance respect for existing practice with changes intended to achieve greater conceptual and semantic consistency, to support better multilingual description, and to facilitate easier interaction with other metadata standards, especially Encoded Archival Context – Corporate bodies, Persons, and Families (EAC-CPF). Mike will briefly review the history of EAD and discuss the most significant changes in EAD3 and the justifications thereof.

This talk is sponsored by SCOPA and is free and open to the public.

Seeing Voices: Imaging Applied to Early Recorded Sound Preservation

Tuesday, October 7th, 4:00 pm
Sterling Memorial Library Lecture Hall

The Yale Library is delighted to offer a lecture and reception featuring Professor Carl Haber, Senior Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a 2013 MacArthur Fellow. The event is sponsored by the Richard Warren Jr. (B.A. 1959) Fund for the Preservation and Promotion of Music.

Sound was first recorded and reproduced by Thomas Edison in 1877. Until about 1950, when magnetic tape use became common, most recordings were made on mechanical media such as wax, foil, shellac, lacquer, and plastic. Some of these older recordings contain material of great historical interest, sometimes in obsolete formats, and are damaged, decaying, or are now considered too delicate to play.

Unlike print and latent imagescanning, the playback of mechanical sound carriers has been an inherently invasive process. Recently, a series of techniques, based upon non-contact optical metrology and image processing, have been applied to create and analyze high resolution digital surface profiles of these materials. Numerical methods may be used to emulate the stylus motion through such a profile in order to reconstruct the recorded sound. This approach, and current results, including studies of some of the earliest known sound recordings, are the focus of this talk and will be illustrated with sounds and images.

Carl Haber is an experimental physicist who received his Ph.D. in Physics from Columbia University and is a Senior Scientist in the Physics Division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. His career has focused on the development of instrumentation and methods for detecting and measuring particles created at high energy colliders, including Fermilab in the United States and at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland. Since 2002 he, and his colleagues, have also been involved in aspects of preservation science, applying methods of precision optical metrology and data analysis to early recorded sound restoration. He is a 2013 MacArthur Fellow and a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

All are welcome to the lecture.

September 12, 2014

Sterling Memorial Library holds an open house in the restored nave

The Yale community is invited to join us for a special open house on Thursday September 18th, 3-5pm, to celebrate the reopening of the restored nave of Sterling Memorial Library. This marks the completion of a major, yearlong restoration project that has returned the nave to its original splendor and brought about improvements that will better serve the needs of library users in the twenty-first century. Staff will be on hand to give informal tours and refreshments will be served. All are welcome!

Beinecke acquires the papers of Mo Willems, renowned children’s author and illustrator

The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library is acquiring the papers of author and illustrator Mo Willems, the award-winning creator of some of the most beloved characters in contemporary children’s literature, including Elephant and Piggie, Knuffle Bunny, and the irascible Pigeon.

Willems’ original sketches, notebooks, and book drafts will join a growing archive at Yale University documenting the reading and imaginative lives of American children.

“Finding a home for my drawings within a collection that is as deep, diverse, and inspiring as the Beinecke’s is equal parts flattering and daunting,” Willems said. “It is my hope that my work, both preliminary and final, can be of some small use in answering questions about the process of creating children’s books and how it has changed, and not changed, over centuries of publishing.”

Willems, 46, began writing for children as a staff writer for “Sesame Street,” where he spent nine years and earned six Emmy Awards. His first publication for children — “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” — was named a Caldecott Honor Book in 2004. Since then, he has created a cast of memorable characters that have made him one of the most recognized talents in the world of children’s literature. “Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale,” another Caldecott Honor Book, has been made into a successful stage musical, and the “Elephant and Piggie” series has been praised by Kirkus Reviews for its “snappy pacing and wry humor.” The New York Times Book Review has placed the Pigeon in “the pantheon of great picture book characters.”

“Mo Willems’ characters and stories will teach children and charm parents for generations to come. His papers provide remarkable insight into his creative process and singular imagination,” says Timothy Young, the library’s curator of modern books and manuscripts. “We are extremely excited to welcome this archive to the Beinecke Library’s collection of children’s literature — but we won’t let the Pigeon touch the Gutenberg Bible!”

The archive thus far consists of a selection of notebooks in which Willems works through book ideas, manuscript “dummy” books for several Elephant and Piggie titles (including the original artwork for “I am Invited to a Party!”), notes, drafts and production material for the premiere production of “Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical”; storyboards for animated series; early notebooks (published as “You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When it Monsoons”); and copies of all his published books up to 2012. Future additions will add archival material related to other well-loved books and papers documenting his career at “Sesame Street.”

The Mo Willems papers join a rapidly growing collection of archives, books, and original art related to children’s literature at Beinecke Library. While Yale University has long held an extensive group of primers and educational books for children, the addition of the Betsy Beinecke Shirley Collection of American Children’s Literature (a gift of more than 15,000 books and hundreds of original documents and artworks over the past 25 years) has given the Beinecke Library a new stature among research institutions that gather and catalogue children’s literature. In the past decade alone, the library has acquired the papers of renowned children’s book authors Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire, Lillian Hoban, Karla Kuskin, Miriam Schlein, and Harvey Weiss.

The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library is one of the world’s largest libraries devoted entirely to rare books and manuscripts, and is Yale's principal repository for literary archives, early manuscripts, and rare books. Researchers from around the world use the Beinecke’s collections to create new scholarship.