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Updating our images: page insertion and correction

A new workflow has made it possible for us to attend to quality issues within our Google-digitized books.  As reported a few years ago, Cornell digitizes books by the thousands with our partners at Google, and the resulting digital books are deposited into the HathiTrust Digital Library.  Google has many methods to maintain and even improve the quality of individual page scans it makes, but occasionally something goes awry.    The vast majority of the time the errors are detected and corrected before the book shows up in Google Books and before it is released for the ingest into HathiTrust, but occasionally errors are missed.  (The article by Kenneth Goldsmith “The Art of Google Books Scans” might serve as sampler of various types of things that can go amiss with scanned images:  everything from images taken while pages are still moving, to the capture of the hands that are, quite literally, in the process of making our Google-digitized books.)  Processes to correct our Google-digitized pages have long been cumbersome, requiring extensive decoding and analysis on the part of staff at Cornell, and so were considered not worth the disproportionate resources they required.  The effective result has been that over the past three years I have been collecting reports of images in need of correction from HathiTrust that I could do little more for than apologetically acknowledge.

However, recent changes at Google have tipped the balance of resources required to engage the image correction process.  Google has provided a web form for library partners to create an easier way to engage corrections.  More importantly, Google now has staff resources that perform much of the interpretation required to appropriately name the pages for insertion, appreciably lowering the barrier for our participation in the process.  There were still some workings on our end to figure out how to engage local staff expertise at the Digital Management Group (DMG) for scanning, while keeping our internal process as simple and easy as possible.  There is also still plenty for me to manage – coordinating across three systems (Voyager, Google and HathiTrust) to make sure we all correct the right pages from the right book.  But as we practice in our initial tentative experiments (we have had five to date, and all of them have been successful) we are learning how to cross reference our communications with each other to make this easier.  It is important to note that the successful process is due to this large cooperative effort that includes staff at Google, HathiTrust, and Cornell.  (Here I note a special thanks to Danielle Mericle, who is contributing DMG resources to this effort, and Bronwyn Mohlke who is contributing her scanning expertise.)  Together, we have all begun to chip away at the backlog of HathiTrust tickets reporting images for correction, improving those pages and closing those tickets, one by one.

If you notice pages in HathiTrust that need improvement, please use the feedback link in the footer of the page in the HathiTrust interface.  This automatically opens a form that will ask for information helpful to resolving the problem.  Submission of the form opens a tracking ticket, and often HathiTrust can resolve these issues with Google directly.  When necessary, HathiTrust staff will escalate to the appropriate library partner for the correction process.

Project Euclid Launches New Website

Project Euclid launched a new website in early January. Planning, design, and development of the site took place over 18 months, and included discussions with numerous researchers, publishers, and librarians. The new site maintains what people liked about the previous site, its performance and clean appearance, while incorporating many new tools and features.

Project Euclid is a not-for-profit, academically owned and operated initiative that provides electronic hosting, marketing, and sales services to publishers of mathematics and statistics literature. CUL conceived of and began developing Project Euclid in 1999-2000, and the Library ran the system for eight years on its own. Since 2008, Project Euclid has been jointly operated by Cornell University Library and Duke University Press. CUL maintains the technical infrastructure, and DUP handles customer-facing services like marketing and sales. Project Euclid currently hosts some 80 international publications, most of which are journals but with a growing book and conference series component. The initiative is completely self-supporting.

Project Euclid benefits greatly from other CUL activities, and this was especially true of the site redesign. Melissa Wallace, a DSPS web designer, designed the new site and brought to it many of the design considerations learned from CUL’s Discovery and Access efforts over the last several years. Shinwoo Kim and Martin Lessmeister, CUL-IT developers, helped implement new technologies in Euclid that are also being incorporated into the new Library discovery environment, as well as lessons learned from running Both Martin and Shinwoo also bring along years of experience with the system behind Euclid.

What are some of the new features of the redesigned Project Euclid website?

A new search and discovery tool. With this version of the website, Project Euclid introduced faceted searching. While research libraries are increasingly implementing this technology, it is still relatively new to academic content sites. Its use in Project Euclid represents a powerful new tool for navigating over 1.7 million pages of scholarship.

Table of contents (TOC) alerts. Project Euclid has offered RSS alerting services for several years, but users can now register to receive an email with the table of contents of a journal issue when that issue appears on the website. Users manage their TOC alerts through personal MyEuclid accounts, easily created by anyone.

Citation export. On TOC and search results pages, users may select one or more articles and export citation information in BibTeX, RIS, or a printer-ready format. RIS is a bibliographic format that many citation management tools are capable of importing (e.g., EndNote, RefWorks, Zotero, and others).euclid-phone

Mobile interface. The new website implements responsive design, which automatically optimizes the site appropriately for a variety of mobile devices. This allows users to read and work on Project Euclid more comfortably and effectively as they access content from multiple devices.

Top downloads. We now display a list of top downloaded documents on a number of Project Euclid pages. The lists are calculated in the same manner throughout the site: the top five downloaded articles or chapters over the previous seven days. These lists attempt to give some sense of user download trends and are recalculated every day. Any particular list displayed is appropriate for the viewer’s context within the website. On a journal home page, the top downloads are all from that journal. On a publisher’s page, they could be from any publication of that publisher. On the Project Euclid home page, the top downloads are measured across all content in the system.

“More like this.” When a user views an article or chapter page, Project Euclid presents a list of similar documents, using the viewed item as the basis for evaluating similarity.

Other changes and added features to the new Project Euclid website include: wider implementation of MathJax (a display technology for mathematical expressions); branded publisher landing pages; links to social media; access indicators for all content; extended print-on-demand offerings; and remote login (via Shibboleth), for off-campus access.

Project Euclid welcomes your feedback on the new site and suggestions for further improvement. All pages have a “site feedback” link in the lower right.

–David Ruddy

Reception for the Grants Program for Digital Collections

Faculty from across the College of Arts and Sciences braved frigid temperatures on Feb. 27 to attend the first reception in support of the Grants Program for Digital Collections.

The program — now in its fifth year —has funded more than 20 incredible projects  Funded by the College of Arts of Sciences and coordinated by Cornell University Library, the Grants Program for Digital Collections in Arts and Sciences aims to support collaborative and creative use of resources through the creation of digital content of enduring value to the Cornell community and scholarship.

Here in the Library, we know that digital collections are powerful. They remove barriers of access to unique, previously unavailable material to aid scholars and students alike in research exploration and the joy of unearthing interdisciplinary connections.

Gretchen Ritter, the Harold Tanner Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, warmly opened the reception at the History of Art Gallery, describing the strong interdisciplinary collaborations that the grants program fosters. And Anne Kenney, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian, noted the importance that access to curated digital collections offers to students, researchers and faculty worldwide.

Annetta Alexandridis and Cheryl Finley — both previous grant awardees and History of Art faculty members — presented as well. Dr. Alexandridis, who was awarded a 2010 grant to photograph deconstructed plaster casts from the Cornell Plaster casts collection, noted that access to those digital images has provided her students with investigative research possibilities that have spurred hands-on opportunities to reconstruct plaster casts. Although technically “copies,” many of the casts represent the most authoritative version now available, the original having been destroyed by war or poor environmental conditions.  These materials are frequently on display in the History of Art gallery.

Dr. Finley, whose 2012 grant provided support to digitize images from the Lowentheil Collection of African-American Photographs, described the importance this rare collection has for scholars and students of visual arts everywhere, but particularly students and scholars of African American and American studies.  The kinds of images represented in this collection – including portraits of known and unknown sitters, landscapes of the antebellum and postbellum south, brutal images of racial torture and domination, documents of civil rights protest, portraits of black leaders, writers and intellectuals, and images of everyday African American life – reveal volumes about black life and struggle in uncommonly rare photographs. Having these available in digital form will impact learning and teaching worldwide and across a wide range of disciplines.

Grant applications for this year are due on March 15. For more information, including the grant application proposal, please visit







Invitation to Apply for DSPS Fellowship

We are getting ready to invite applications for the Digital Scholarship Fellowship position. Hosted by the DSPS unit the fellowship program aims to provide opportunities for CUL staff to expand their skills and experiences in developing, delivering, and assessing digital scholarship services. It supports the CUL objectives of “empowering staff to explore gaps in their areas of expertise” and “promoting flexible staffing among the units.”  This will be the third year of the program.

DSPS Fellowship Ideas

Here are some examples of fellowship projects to consider:

  • Work with a campus-wide group to survey AV preservation needs across the University system.  Conduct stakeholder interviews and gather critical data with regard to number of items, condition, value.  Contribute to pilot project to digitize/preserve small number of AV items at high risk. Contribute to report/recommendations to Executive team.
  • Sharpen your user experience (UX) assessment skills by contributing to the evaluation of CUL’s digital collection and repositories (e.g., eCommons, visual resources, etc.) to review their practical aspects such as utility, ease of use, and efficiency.  How are such services and systems meeting the actual needs of our faculty and students? How do they fit in their daily work flows to support their research and studies
  • arXiv’s operation depends upon intensive, daily interaction with over 130 subject experts around the world. We would like to begin re-thinking this interaction and design new and/or improved tools for our subject experts to use and need a coordinator to manage the requirements gathering phase of this effort (analyze current processes and test ideas with subject experts and local arXiv administrators).
  • There are many CU publications that have been scanned by HathiTrust, but they cannot be made open access until the departments that created and published them agree to a release and specify what CC license should be used. We need someone to shepherd through the process of talking to departments about opening their publications.
  • Collaborating with the Graduate School, help us address issues and policies related to the collection, management and dissemination of Cornell graduate student theses and dissertations (including increasing the awareness of graduate students and faculty on open access issues).
  • Design and conduct a comprehensive survey of CUL digital assets – characterizing them in terms of aggregate size, content type, basic preservation need, and stakeholder requirements (access, discovery, rights, etc.)  The intent would be to triage these towards various preservation solutions as needed based on the needs of the materials involved.
  • Join the DSPS staff in a NEH-funded project to create a preservation and access framework for the complex born-digital media art objects in the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art. Assist in creating informed use-case scenarios for interactive media artworks, based in a broad investigation media art archives’ current users and their research needs.

These are just some examples to illustrate the nature of fellowship projects. Other ideas related to the DSPS programs and goals are welcome. Information about the DSPS program is available at

DSPS Fellows

During the last two years, DSPS has been very fortunate to host four excellent fellows, all very motivated, creative, and resourceful.  We are grateful for their contributions and hope that they found the experience useful and gratifying. They are available to talk with interested parties about their fellowship experiences.

Here is a brief description of their fellowship projects:

Jim DelRosso, Hospitality, Labor, and Management Library

JimDelRosso_headJim’s fellowship  focuses on digital repositories. His primary goal is to work with DSPS and stakeholders around CUL to craft a digital repository policy that addresses questions of software, workflow, collection development, and sustainability, while fulfilling the need for both straightforward access to and robust preservation of the items stored in CUL’s digital repositories.  As a component of his fellowship, he is leading the efforts in creating an agenda for the newly established Repository Executive Group.Jim’s DSPS fellowship is for one year at 0.25 FTE.

Dianne Dietrich, Physical Sciences Library, EMPSL

DianneDianne has joined the team of our NEH-funded project on Preservation and Access for Digital Art Objects as the lead Digital Forensic Analyst. This project represents a collection-wide investigation of preservation and emulation strategies for complex born-digital media. Dianne leads the project’s technical team and helps develop preservation workflows that will be a baseline for CUL digital forensics services in the years to come.  As a part of her fellowship, she has been representing the project at national forums and conferences. Dianne’s fellowship is for two years at 0.5 FTE.

Erin Eldermire, Assessment and Communication Unit

ErinEldermireheadErin’s goals for the DSPS fellowship are to contribute to the development of the library website; to explore assessment-related issues for CUL’s digital collections; and to learn from the members of the DSPS Unit towards her future career as a librarian.  In her recent DSPS Press   blog, she shares her thoughts on how the Library can enable users to employ a simple search box such as Google, while still allowing them to dive into our vast collection. Erin’s fellowship is for six months at 10 hours/week.

Gail Steinhart, Mann Library

GailAs the first DSPS fellow,  over the course of her one year fellowship with DSPS (2012-2013), she chaired a newly formed group to address issues related to the management of Cornell’s electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs), including facilitating discussions with the Graduate School, which led to a revised set of embargo options that will be implemented when upgrades are made to the online submission tool used by graduate students to submit their theses ETDs. She reviewed and reported on the results of a pilot project examining the use of Johns Hopkins’ Data Conservancy to host data sets associated with papers uploaded to arXiv, led the production of a white paper examining current approaches to digital repositories within CUL, and contributed to other DSPS efforts such as educating librarians on current issues in scholarly communication (with particular emphasis on research data management and sharing). Finally, she led the development of a collaborative grant proposal to the Institute for Museum and Library Services with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Columbia University and CalPoly, to develop and share a set of best practices for collecting, documenting and disseminating the research data of faculty nearing retirement.

For More Information About the Program:

  • Interested CUL staff members are encouraged to discuss the fellowship position with their supervisors first.
  • Our current and past interns will be offering a round table discussion during the  upcoming Professional Development week (March 31-April 4) to share their experiences.  We encourage everyone interested in the fellowship program to attend the session and talk with the fellows.
  • If you have questions regarding the HR arrangements and funding please contact Lyndsi Prignon at <>.
  • Issues related to the program areas, potential projects, and the scope of the fellowship should be addressed to Oya Rieger <>.
  • Oya Rieger and Lyndsi Prignon will be glad to talk with interested staff and their supervisors about  logistical details such as making back-up arrangements and ways to accommodate the candidates’ existing responsibilities and goals.

Application Information:

  • We will have 1-2 positions open to CUL staff with a term of 1-2 years at a part-time capacity (0.25 FTE).
  • The successful candidate’s department will be compensated with funds for backfill.
  • Although there are no prerequisite skills required, the candidates need to be familiar with the recent trends and practices in one of the digital scholarship program areas (e.g., repositories, publishing, research data, digital collections, digital preservation, preservation policies, etc.).
  • To apply, send a copy of your CV to with a cover letter describing the program areas of interest and expectations from the fellowship.
  • The applications will be reviewed by a small committee with input from the candidate’s supervisor.
  • The application deadline is April 30, 2014 for fellowship terms starting during August-October 2014 time-frame.

Oya Y. Rieger, February 2014

Strategies for Expanding E-Journal Preservation

Academic libraries are increasingly dependent on commercially-produced, born-digital content that is purchased or licensed. For instance, CUL’s e-journal title count increased by 100% between FY07 and FY13.  As libraries consolidate their print collections in order to open up space for new programs or to downsize physical footprints, users increasingly rely on the digitized versions of historical e-journals.

During the last decade, several e-journal preservation initiatives have been launched to secure the future of this important genre of scholarly and cultural record. For instance, The Keepers Registry is a service to provide information about inclusion of journals in preservation services and highlight those e-journals that have no preservation arrangements in place. It incorporated data from several preservation organizations, the key ones being Portico, CLOCKSS Archive, and the Global LOCKSS Network.

chartEvidence indicates that the extent of e-journal preservation has not kept pace with the growth of electronic publication. Studies comparing the e-journal holdings of major research libraries with the titles currently preserved by the key preservation agencies have consistently found that only 20-25%, at most, of the titles with ISSN’s currently collected have been preserved. In early 2011, the libraries of Cornell and Columbia conducted a study as part of the 2CUL collaboration, and found, for example, that LOCKSS and Portico combine to preserve only a relatively small percentage of these libraries’ e-journal holdings, less than 15% of Cornell’s e-journal titles as a whole.[1] In the fall of 2012, a study using The Keepers Registry comparing the e-journal holdings of Columbia, Cornell, and Duke with the e-journals preserved by seven different agencies, yielded similar results, showing that only 22-27% of the subset of titles with an assigned ISSN had any volumes archived. Furthermore, the extent of volumes archived for any given title varied greatly and was often sparse.[2|

With a recent grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Cornell and Columbia University Libraries are involved in an 18-month project to increase the number and range of e-journals that will be preserved. The key project goals include:

  • Identify important and vulnerable e-journal content from the perspective of the research library through a quantitative and qualitative methodology;
  • Select a set of representative titles from high-priority categories to develop, test, and promote appropriate archival strategies based on content type and origin;
  • Document and share findings to facilitate the continued expansion of e-journal preservation through ongoing assessment of priorities and documented practices;
  • Engage libraries, publishers, societies, and other key stakeholders in analyzing current impediments to securing preservation agreements and test methods of working with appropriate parties (publishers, professional societies, e-journal aggregators, and preservation agencies) to overcome these obstacles;
  • Create forums for exchanging information about relevant preservation strategies and their implications and the roles of libraries in advancing the e-journal preservation front in order to encourage streamlined processes for attending to the archival status of e-journals.

Individual libraries, despite their concern for preservation, often lack effective means for taking action. One of the revealing findings of the initial 2CUL e-journal preservation study was that many staff at Cornell and Columbia only had a superficial understanding of the relevant preservation strategies and their implications – and of the roles of libraries in advancing the e-journal preservation front. Selection and acquisition processes may not involve any direct interaction with the publisher; many titles are acquired as parts of large packages, with no comprehensive provision for preservation. One of the proactive strategies proposed in the current project is developing language for a model license addressing preservation and sharing it with the publishing and library communities to set a timeline for implementation (e.g., in five years, all ARL libraries will aim to use the same licensing language).

As we work to address the archival challenges of traditional e-journals, publishing continues to change rapidly and it includes enriched content that is layered, interactive, and dynamic. We risk falling behind. As our dependency on e-publications increase, it is critical that we conduct in-depth studies to understand and assess the evolving preservation strategies, services, and policies.

More information about the new 2CUL e-journal preservation is available at:

Oya Y. Rieger, February 2014


The Library Search Experience: Embracing Simplicity

How do you find information?

Chances are, you probably start with a Google search. Google’s single search box is so easy to use, the results come up in a snap, and the results that it displays are often satisfying, especially for everyday searching. It is no wonder, then, that college students often turn to Google to conduct research for their assignments. Besides, Google is so good at uncovering information about everyday things, why wouldn’t it be good at finding resources for college-level research?

It turns out, though, that even though Google works well for everyday information, its virtues quickly dissipate when you try to find the sort of detailed information that students need for their research.

In part, that’s because Google doesn’t allow access to most newspaper articles or scholarly journals (and for you Cornell students who have accessed articles through Google or Google Scholar, you were probably using the Library’s subscription to get access without realizing it).

Furthermore, Google’s simplicity doesn’t allow for targeted information searching — the type of searching library junkies know well. Librarians love the and, not, or, and near functions that databases allow, because they enable specific searching, like a hot knife through butter. But librarians also have so much practice in finding information that they have developed a deep understanding of how to successfully find what they want. Most college students, on the other hand, don’t typically have the luxury of such practice and understanding, which is one reason why the research process can be daunting for college students at any level.

How, then, can a library such as Cornell University Library — brimming with articles, encyclopedias, books, theses, music, equipment and the like —provide a tool for finding the information it houses without asking people to learn and use a complex search process that library catalogs have historically required?  In other words, how can the Library enable users to employ a simple search, much like they use in Google, while still allowing them to dive into our vast collection and come out with useful information?

Our solution is to flip the research process on its head – that is, to allow a simple search that yields rich results, rather than requiring the use of a complex search to find specific things. Developers at Cornell University Library have been hard at work designing a new library search tool that enables users to powerfully search with a simple, Google-like search box. This new method of searching will eliminate the need to understand conventions and search techniques that library catalogs and databases traditionally require. Once a user enters a search, results will show up in a compartmentalized way. We call the results display a “bento box,” where results are neatly categorized by format type (e.g. article, book, website) so that the results resemble… well, a bento box.

Bento Box, courtesy of Melissa of and shared via Creative Commons

Bento Box, courtesy of Melissa of and shared via Creative Commons license

But this isn’t just an idea that has come from left field. It’s been a long time coming. Besides the need for a better way to search our collections, the reasons for developing this new library website have to do with changing metadata standards and an aging infrastructure of the catalog that we have been using. Other academic libraries have been blazing a path in simplifying the library search experience, and for them it seems to be paying off; North Carolina State University, Stanford, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Columbia, and others have already implemented a single-search interface with success.

Cornell is following in their footsteps, but by using open-source solutions, we are building a nimble and comprehensive searching tool that we can customize to work best for our vast collections. The end result is that we are undertaking the effort that will help you, the user, discover what we have in an intuitive and user-friendly way.

To develop this search tool, we’ve taken advantage of our collective expertise by bringing together library staff, IT staff, catalogers, and many others. The forthcoming tool is the result of continuous research, user testing, and feedback. But we need more. Do you want to be a part of the search experience at Cornell University Library?  Take a look at our beta site here:  Send any feedback to

Epigraphic Squeezes: Part I

by J.M. Iacchei







In a library’s conservation lab, tightly rolled photographs, brittle newspapers, weathered maps, and heavily soiled and torn architectural drawings are fairly common items to come across a conservator’s workbench. Every so often though, an item arrives for treatment that is not so typical. The collection of epigraphic squeezes (paper cast impressions from inscribed surfaces) recently brought to Cornell Library’s conservation lab falls into this category.



“Squeezing” is a method used in the field by archeologists to collect inscriptions from ancient monuments. The “squeeze” is made by laying dampened paper over an incised surface which is then beat with a flat brush and let to dry. Care to remove air bubbles and to capture each area of incision results in a highly accurate reverse relief of the inscription and a negative right-reading impression of the inscription.

1907 Cornell expedition team taking a squeeze at Quru Bel, Arslan Tash

Brush used to beat the dampened paper into the incised surface

Cornell expedition: Paper squeeze drying on stone monument













Squeezes are an incredibly valuable resource to scholars of epigraphy for a number of reasons:

1) Many monuments reside in distant locations; access often requires expensive and timely travel. Squeezes are lightweight and portable.

2) The squeeze allows for comparison to and revision of existing interpretations, as well as potential for fragmentary inscriptions to be pieced together. This is especially useful in reconstructing the topography of antiquity. The congruity of a text was often disrupted in times of conquest or political changes as it was common for monuments to be moved from their original locations and re-purposed for building materials.

3) Many monuments have become the casualties of time, man, and natural disasters. It is likely that they are in poorer condition today than they were at the time the squeeze was collected. Photographs are of value, yes, but, their accuracy depends heavily upon the light in which they were captured. A squeeze often provides the most complete, accurate and accessible copy of the text available to date.









These particular squeezes were collected as part of an archeological expedition to the Assyro-Babylonian orient organized by Cornell professor J.R.S. Sterrett in 1907. Following their use by Professor Sterrett in the early 20th century, these 200 or so items have been stored in an attic of the Goldwin Smith building in cardboard boxes. The roughly 90 that have been selected for treatment at this time were collected from the Res Gestae in Ankara of the Roman Emperor Augustus. Inscribed in both Latin and Greek, they contain a text central to the study of Roman history.



The squeezes arrived to the lab heavily coated with surface soil – dust, and dirt; maybe even a little inactive mold. Due to the topographic nature of the squeezes the surface soil is heavily ingrained, especially in the curves and angles of the raised impressions. The squeezes are composed of multiple layers of paper which have begun to delaminate and have become creased with folds from previous storage and handling.

The objective of conservation treatment is to: 1) clean and stabilize the squeezes prior to scanning and digitization and 2) provide a permanent storage solution taking into consideration size, quantity, topographic nature, and spatial limitations.

During Treatment, cleaning: The right half of this image has been vacuumed, the left has been both vacuumed sponge cleaned










Cleaning: The squeezes were vacuumed with a NILFISK Hepa vacuum, and cleaned once with absorene sponge erasers and again with latex free cosmetic sponges. Each cleaning method contributed to reducing the buildup of dirt and dust on the surface.

Stabilization: Local humidification was used to reduce folds and creases that were not part of the inherent nature of the items topography. Areas that had begun to delaminate were generally left alone unless they were at risk of becoming torn or presented potential for loss. In these instances, Japanese tissue and/or wheat starch paste was used to stabilize the area.

The study of epigraphy takes into account not only the incised impressions, but also the surface of the monument on which it is inscribed. The squeezes capture these characteristics showing cracks and dents, as well as areas where the stone was not carved or perhaps smoothed over for correction or reuse. They lend a great deal of information to the epigraphist looking to piece together the story of earlier times.

A puncture made during the beating stage, we believe.










This project is part of a larger initiative funded by the Grants Program for Digital Collection in Arts and Sciences to preserve and promote accessibility for research, study, and dissemination. The scope extends beyond the lab and has called upon the collaboration of conservators, curators, faculty, and imaging specialists. Once cleaned and stabilized, the squeezes will be digitally imaged using different lighting at different angles. These images will then be given to a group at Florida State University where algorithms will be applied to render 3-D reconstructions that will in turn be studied by graduate students of the Cornell University’s Classics department.


Many thanks to Professors Eric Rebillard and Ben Anderson for their insights into the significance of these items, and to Rhea Garen who will be capturing the images. It is the collaborative efforts that make projects such as this one possible.

More to come. Epigraphic Squeezes: Part II and III. Fiber Analysis and Exploration in Squeeze Making is in progress.



McLean, B. H. An introduction to Greek Epigraphy of the Hellenistic and Roman Periods from Alexander the Great down to the Reign if Constantine (323 B.C.-A.D. 337). Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2002.

Olmstead, A.T., B.B. Charter, and J.E. Wrench. The Cornell Expedition to Asia Minor and the Assyro-Babylonian Orient, Travels and Studies in the Nearer East, Volume 1 Part II: Hittite Inscriptions. Ithaca, NY, 1911.


Cornell AV in Bloom(ington)

In late October, we had the opportunity to visit members of Indiana University’s Media Preservation Task Force with two colleagues from Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology,  Karl Fitzke (Audio Engineer at Macaulay Library), and Bill McQuay, (Supervising Audio Engineer, Macaulay Library).  Our goal was to learn more about IU’s ambitious preservation plan to digitize its AV holdings comprehensively.  Also in attendance was Adam Tovell, Preservation Officer for Sound and Moving Image Collections at the British Library, who is on the brink of developing a similar initiative for the BL.  As it happens, our visit was very well-timed, as just a week prior the President of IU had announced a $15 million/5-year initiative to fund digital preservation for the entirety of the IU AV collections, campus-wide:

Over the course of two jam-packed days, we met with an impressive range of staff and departments collaborating closely to move the AV initiative forward.  It was inspiring to get a first-hand look into their almost-decade-long effort to bring Indiana University into the forefront of AV preservation. Everything was carefully considered, thoroughly researched, and brilliantly executed. They have paved the way in setting international audio preservation standards ( – with Harvard University); developed tools to assess risk, uniqueness, and digitization workflows; and created a major new access platform with Northwestern University and Audio Visual Preservation Solutions called Avalon – .

Our visit included an overview of the history of the AV initiative, including administrative strategies, technical challenges, and approaches to data gathering.  One of IU’s first steps in the process was to conduct what they called a “census” of all key stake-holders on campus, to determine the scope of the problem (number of items/formats; condition of materials; available metadata, etc). This was an effort conducted in person without the use of web surveys, and resulted in excellent data with which to plan the larger effort (some of the spreadsheets are dizzying).  It was also a key part of relation-building to garner support for the initiative.

An early advocate of the effort included the Vice Provost for Research, who was the former Director of the Archive of Traditional Music (ATM), an incredibly rich repository of audiovisual material that documents music and culture from around the world.   Not surprisingly, Indiana’s initiative originated from the ATM due to the large, rare, and unique collections of legacy media it contains. When faced with the possibility of losing holdings over time due to degradation and signal carrier (ie. playback equipment) obsolescence, they realized that something needed to happen sooner rather than later. Our discussions again confirmed the necessity of institutions to have a plan for this material in place or risk losing access to it forever. Mike Casey, head of the IU initiative, explained that most legacy AV material will not be accessible in 10-15 years, and tackling migration to digital formats gets more expensive by the day.

Another very impressive part of their effort was their institutional IT support. Working server space to support the digitization of the material is estimated to be roughly 200 terabytes. The estimated final total needed to archive the digitized material is around 13 petabytes, not including film. When they do include film content, the estimated total will be 49 petabytes. Film is widely considered to be more stable than magnetic media, so they’re approaching that issue separately, due to their vast, unique holdings and ideal storage conditions (which includes almost 3,000 titles in frozen storage). Astonishingly, the IT group appears unfazed by these numbers, with petabytes of storage already available for use.

Indiana University’s Film Holdings (off-site storage facility)

In short, it was an inspiring visit, and we are ever-grateful for our generous hosts.  It was also well-timed from Cornell’s perspective, as the campus-wide CU AV Preservation Group just got the green light from Anne Kenney, Ted Dodds, and Mike Webster to begin an exploratory pilot to determine the scope of the challenges here at Cornell.  We will be unveiling a project plan in January, and are hoping for campus-wide engagement on this very challenging task. Find more information here:

Stay tuned…

Danielle  & Tre

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: Arts and Sciences Visual Resources Program

Visual resources are critical in enabling and enhancing learning and teaching in the humanities and arts. During the last two decades, we have witnessed the digital shift in several ways, including the replacement of slide collections with personal digital image collections and an increased reliance on shared online visual resources such as ARTstor.

And although online collections such as ARTstor make a broad range of digital images accessible, no comprehensive collections currently exist in any subject area. Digital visual resources are weak especially in non-Western and non-traditional cultures such as Native American Indian, Islamic, or African American studies. Creating visual resources to support a rich and diverse domain of scholarly explorations continues to be the joint responsibility of cultural institutions and research libraries.

So, how can the Library help?

Since 2010, we’ve collaborated with the College of Arts and Sciences in a digitization program to respond to the challenges inherent in the move from analog to digital delivery of image resources. Our digitization program also helps foster the integration of new media into teaching to enhance learning and creative expression and supports the creation, management, sharing, and archiving of high-quality images, bearing in mind the importance of both pedagogical and sustainability issues.

The most recent round of grants includes several fascinating projects, including:

  • photographing and digitizing a slide collection of Indian Raga Mala paintings;
  • digitizing and archiving a collection of fragile videotapes that are essential for teaching the history and theory of digital art;
  • creating a digital repository of the A.D. White Collection of over 2,000 plaster casts and impressions of engraved gems and amulets from Classical antiquity; and
  • collection of important and fragile squeezes (paper impressions) that were created in Ankara (Turkey) during the Cornell Expedition to the Assyro-Babylonian Orient in 1907.

A key component of the collaboration is the Grants Program for Digital Collections in Arts and Sciences, which aims to support collaborative and creative use of resources through the creation of digital content of enduring value to the Cornell community and scholarship at large.

The Arts and Sciences Visual Resources Advisory Group, which is composed of faculty members and representatives from the Library, oversees and continues to refine the service model, including the coordination of the grants program. In addition to the grants program, the initiative also supports the digitization of visual content used in courses to develop a sharable and sustainable curriculum library to support the College’s teaching mission.

And a few of our most successful grants from the past:

Hip Hop Collection/Conzo Archive
Steve Pond, Music and Travis Gosa, Africana
Collaborator: Katherine Reagan, Cornell University Library

Cold Crush Brothers at Club Negril (1981) by Joe Conzo (American hip hop photographer)

Founded in 2007, Cornell’s hip hop collection is now the largest archive on early hip hop culture in the United States. A key foundational element of the collection is an assemblage of photographic prints by Bronx photographer Joe Conzo, Jr., taken between 1977 and 1984. Conzo is one of the few photographers known to have captured the early years of hip hop on film. Online access to the collection is of interest to multiple disciplines, including art, art history, dance, music, American Studies, Africana and offers a rich array of learning and teaching materials for a new Cornell course on hip hop.

Warburg’s “Atlas” Panels
Peter Uwe Hohendahl, German Studies, Comparative Literature
Collaborators: Kizer Walker, Cornell University Library; Peter J. Potter, Cornell University Press; Christopher D. Johnson, Comparative Literature, Harvard University

The goal of the project is to build an interactive resource for the exploration of the fragmentary “atlas of images” left by German Jewish art historian Aby M. Warburg (1866-1929). The Atlas involves the assemblage of hundreds of images juxtaposed on wood panels. An interactive, web-based treatment of the Atlas will realize Warburg’s ideal, namely, that each viewer makes his or her own connections between the myriad images presented in the Atlas. This website serves as a multimedia companion to “Signale: Modern German Letters, Cultures, and Thought” and will support exploration of new technologies and new partnerships in creating economically viable channels for disseminating scholarship.

Japanese Woodblocks from the William Elliot Griffis Collection
Katsuya Hirano, History/Asian Studies
Collaborator: Daniel McKee, Cornell University Library

繪本朝鮮征伐記 / Ehon Chōsen seibatsu ki / Picture Book: A Record of the Subjection of Korea

These 17th century Japanese woodblock printed books represent Japan’s initial attempts to understand the west and modernize itself. They are therefore of great importance in understanding the formation of modern Japan. These books, many of which are rare or even unique in US collections, have great appeal to historians, art historians, and scholars of cultural politics.

Kluge Online
David Bathrick, German Studies/Theater
Collaborators: Dr. Rainer Stollmann, University of Bremen (Germany); University of Bremen Library; Dr. Michael Jennings, Princeton University

We significantly expanded the existing Muller-Kluge online collection, which is one of the most visited collections hosted by the Library. The website consists of interviews between West German filmmaker Alexander Kluge and the East German playwright Heiner Muller. The new site will will incorporate Kluge interviews with Hans Magnus Enzenberger and Oskar Negt. This initiative also involves a partnership and will enable Cornell to have access to Princeton’s Kluge Research Collection.

Cornell Gem and Amulet Collection
Caitlín Barrett and Verity Platt, Classics/Art History

The project involves the creation of a digital repository of the A.D. White Collection of over 2000 plaster casts and impressions of engraved gems and amulets from Classical antiquity. These casts have been used for teaching more than a dozen lecture courses and seminars. Digitization of Cornell’s gem collection is a natural continuation of projects spearheaded by Professor Alexandridis and Danielle Mericle, who have been digitizing and cataloging the university’s casts of ancient sculptures and its collection of Greco- Roman coins (funded by Arts & Sciences Grants). Digitization of the collection will make it much easier to assign research projects on the material to students, creating a fantastic classroom resource to use alongside the objects themselves.For more information about the grant program, please visit the DCAPS website.

Responsive Design at CUL

Responsive design is a web design approach that aims to create an optimal viewing experience across a range of devices — from large desktop screens and smaller laptops, to tablets and smartphones. Responsive design uses CSS media queries to craft web pages that will respond to a browser’s size, or viewport. Whereas previous web development strategies focused on creating separate desktop and mobile sites — often with redundant content and separate sets of code — in responsive design, the end product is one website that is device-independent, ensuring the best user experience for all users.

Here at CUL, all new websites are being developed responsively, typically using the Bootstrap framework. Most of our recent redesigns have been responsive as well. Responsive sites that are currently in production at CUL include:

The Library’s new beta catalog

Comstock Entomology Collection

Fine Arts Library

Mnemosyne: Meanderings through Aby Warburg’s Atlas

DCAPS / Digital Consulting and Production Services

Trial Pamphlets Collection

IAALD 2013 World Congress

In addition, responsive redesigns of the main Library web siteProject EuclidTEEAL and a number of other Arts & Sciences grants are in progress.

Using a framework like Bootstrap has allowed us to speed up the process for developing responsive sites, although it is worth mentioning that the time it takes to design and develop even a small web site has markedly increased now that we are designing for different devices. Gone are the days where you created one design at a standard screen resolution of 800x600px, tested it in IE and Firefox, and called it a day.

Check out the following websites for more information about responsive design, and to see many examples of responsive websites:

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