More Field Notes Than You Require

Salutations! I'm still scanning Willis S. Jones's field notes, and have started working on one from 1916 about San Bernardino and Riverside. The notes in this book seem a bit more elaborate than his previous journals, with written notation:

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Blog Entry 005; My biggest report yet

Never judge a book by its cover or the amount of pages that you think it has. Last week and this week I finished scanning a report that seemed endless! I spent hours scanning typed pages, maps and photographs. Despite the meticulous hours, I am pleased that the end product is an informative and intensive digital report that would be a valuable resources for any potential researcher. Below are images and a gif of it's physical form:
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Whole Lotta Field Notes

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Howdy, folks! Last week Raemi mentioned our use of the book scanner in the Special Collections Reading Room, so I figured I'd talk a little about what I was scanning in that photo.

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This is a box of field notes from the Willis S. Jones Papers, written between 1905 and 1915. According to Russell Michalak's finding aid of the collection, "Jones was a consulting engineer for the Consolidated Water Company of Pomona in 1907; superintendent of Claremont Domestic Water Co.; and consulting engineer for [the] Vail Co. in Riverside Co. He built dams along the Santa Margarita and Temecula River on the Pauba Ranch near Temecula, California."

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In addition to notes, the field books also contain the occasional supplemental item, such as this 1920 letter from the LA County District Attorney's office:

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Part of the fun of archives is finding weird stuff in unexpected places.

Camera Room

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Hi, folks! This week I worked in the library's "camera room" (I have been told this room doesn't actually have a name. But it does contain a camera, and is a room, so here we are). Raemi described the particulars of the nameless room in a previous entry and walked me through the process, with the aid of our supervisor Tanya Kato. Thanks, Raemi and Tanya!

We used the digital camera to photograph maps and blueprints from Finkle's "Report on Victor Valley Irrigation District, San Bernardino County, California" (previously mentioned). Of visual interest are these plans for a multiple arch dam at the West Forks Reservoir, from 1922:

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That's all for now. Next week... Book scanners!

Blog Entry 004; Book Scanner

This week my co-worker and I used the book scanner in the Special Collections Reading Room. We came across some delicate pieces in the Water Resources Collection and the book scanner helped us preserve the document. From my point of view, the book scanner looks like the overhead projectors that my middle school teachers loved to use. The amount of detail that the book scanner picks up is quite amazing though. I used the book scanner for two resources that had glue binding and would tear if they were folded or flattened out by the top of a regular scanner. Below is a picture of my co-worker scanning a small book filled with handwritten field notes. It is awesome that this book scanner is available for any patron to use in the Special Collections Reading Room.Photo May 09, 10 12 23 AM.jpg

Blog Entry 003; Photography and Photoshop

Photo May 03, 1 43 37 PM.jpgFor the past few weeks I have scanned a few reports that included oversized documents. These oversized documents require us to go downstairs and utilize the camera room. Our camera room is equipped with a professional grade Hasselblad camera, two oversized lights, an oversized projector that you can mount the camera on as well as a tripod, a stepping stool, a white board with multiple magnets and a value swatch sheet to help with the white balance of the photo, a few tables and cords and a macintosh laptop to help process and save the photos. We use Capture One to process and adjust the white balance of the photo. After we adjust the white balance and make sure the item in the photo is properly aligned with the vertical and horizontal grid lines, we process the photo for the output folder and from there we open up the image in photoshop and crop it accordingly. I like to name the tif file after the document processing number (according to its original report and pdf) and the Aeon transaction number that correlates with the online request for the primary source.
The hardest part about processing oversized items is making sure that the item in the photograph properly aligns with the grid lines in Capture One. So many factors can affect the alignment of the item prior to it showing up on Capture One. Such as, the camera could be tilted or crooked on the oversized projector or the tripod, the item could look completely straight and aligned to you but show up at a 57 degree angle once the image is processed, and a plethora of other random things. When you take your first shot, you want to cross Photo May 03, 1 43 47 PM.jpgyour fingers and hope that it comes out properly aligned on Capture One. However, if your hopes were not acknowledged and it came out crooked on Capture One, you have to do a bit of mental geometry in order to find the right angle that would match up the item with the grid lines. For example, the photograph on the right is of a blueprint that we were in the process of photographing. Does it look properly aligned to you? Well according to Capture One, we were off by 20 degrees. Doesn't really sound like a lot but it looks like a huge difference. Aside from how close you have to pay attention to details, the camera room is really interesting to work in.

Titular Index

Greetings, California water resources enthusiasts! This week I scanned Bernard A. Etcheverry and H. L. Haehl's "Report on Conservation of Controlled Flood Water of San Gabriel River (With Index to Spreading Studies)" (1936). That the index was noteworthy enough to include in the title intrigued me (I am easily intrigued). It lists related documents from the Los Angeles County Flood Control District, with a "distinguishing letter, a Roman file number and an Arabic exhibit number" for each entry.

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Whether a titular index was standard procedure or rarity in the pre-Internet days of government reports, I know not. The thoroughness of the authors' index-craft is, to be sure, impressive. As I digitize subsequent documents I will be sure to keep an eye out for more occurrences of this mysterious phenomenon.

See you next week.

Blog Entry 002; Blueprints and Tracking Down Sources

One of the cool things about digitizing the Water Resources Collection is reviewing the blueprints. Although we are not in the metadata stage right now, scanning the smaller blueprints is really interesting. There is not as much time spent on the larger blueprints because we have to put them on hold for photography or the overhead scanner in the Special Collections Reading Room. However, these blueprints highlight irrigation systems and other notable rivers such as the Colorado River and the San Luis Rey River.

The reports and correspondence letters to different organizations and professors can range from 13 pages to 75 pages. The more bulky reports typically have 3-5 blueprints inside. And the blueprints are either cutouts of larger blueprints or the whole entire sheet folded strategically so that it can fit into the portfolio. Varying between an all-blue or an all-white background, the blueprints either have white or blue ink (respectively).

Although I love my work station, I have a favorite scanner that I like to use for my portfolio covers and blueprints. It is a flat bed scanner that is connected to the desktop work station opposite me and its resolution wins my heart. Cropping and adjusting the histogram scale of the blueprints is much more easier with a flatbed scanner.

Another interesting thing about working with these resources is properly tracking them down to submit requests for them. For example, when most of my materials are digitized from my prior shift, I notify my supervisor and she gives me a list of items to submit Aeon requests for. I like to do this part at the beginning of my shift because it could be tricky sometimes: Most of the time you can type in the full title of the item and find it in the library catalog, but 2 times out of 5 you are going to have to pick out keywords from the title in order to find them in the online catalog. For example, it took me 8 different search forms to find a correspondence letter. I searched by the title, call number, the person the letter was addressed to, the name of the river it mentioned, the date of the letter, partial call number and given person, and partial call number and name of the river. Finally I just searched the river and restricted the search to only special collections and sorted the results alphabetically. The search process can be tricky because the titles of the documents are long. With primary resources, it is common to have resources with long titles because there has to be attention to detail and a lot of keywords are vital and cannot be leftout.

Therefore, whenever I tell someone that I am digitizing the California water documents and they reply back "Isn't that boring?", I have no choice but to tell them that it is much more complicated than it sounds.

Much Abutment About Nothing

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The scanning of Frederick Cecil Finkle's "Report on Victor Valley Irrigation District, San Bernardino County, California" (1923) mentioned at the end of last week's post continues on, ever on, like riparian lands extending to the wash of the Mojave River. The report includes maps and blueprints that are too large for the CCEPS scanners to accommodate, necessitating a visit to the library's digital photography room in the near future.

In the meantime, here are some photographs from Finkle's report depicting Mojave River dam sites. Enjoy!

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Dam site for West Fork Reservoir, Mojave River, looking down stream, November 9, 1920.

 

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Shaft at dam site, West Fork of Mojave River, November 9, 1920.

 

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Bed rock in shaft at dam site, West Fork of Mojave River, November 10, 1920.

 

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South abutment, West Fork dam site, November 9, 1920.

 

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North abutment, West Fork dam site, Mojave River.

Blog Entry 001; Transparent Paper

Although one of the vital first steps of digital archiving is tedious it also builds up the excitement for the metadata stage. For the past week, I have been scanning reports and correspondence letters of California water systems and planning resources. Along with carefully unbinding reports and time tracking the scanning process, the biggest challenge that I have encountered is the complexity of scanning typed transparent paper.
Each scan has an adjusted histogram light contrast scale and helps create the sharpness of the digital document. Since the transparent paper is so sensitive to the scanner's screen and light, any slight adjustment on the histogram scale will make the digital version of the document look too washed out or too blurry. Playing around with the histogram scale, I had to find the best way to create a clear digital copy that stayed true to the document's original form and also proved to have the sharpest contrast. Below are images of the different adjustments of the histogram scale.
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