May 2017 Archives

Gutter Mind

Hi folks! Still scanning the Jones field notes with little new to report, so I'm going to take a bit of a detour and talk about book gutters.

Because, sure.

Back when Jones was creating these notes, his writing would occasionally drift achingly close to the bound edge of the book page, or its gutter. Which was all well and good for Jones in 1915, back when he could open and close his notes willy-nilly without a care in the world about damaging them. But a hundred-plus years of aging have rendered the paper and binding brittle, and thus difficult to fully open. And so a number or letter carelessly left at the precipice of the gutter can easily be obscured from the otherwise eagle-like gaze of the book scanner.

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Which, fine. Given enough time, effort, and paperclips (don't ask), a book can eventually be propped up and properly scanned.

But what if?

What if Jones became too careless, if he wrote too greedily toward the guttery abyss without moving on to the next line? And what if that particular book became too fragile to fully open and recover the wayward symbol, thwarting even our greatest library and archival technologies of the present (including paperclips)?

 What if that letter or number was really important? Perhaps some researcher of the future will one day write her entire dissertation on Jones and his many field notes, and she will puzzle over this slightly obscured letter. Assuming it is a letter. Maybe it's a number? She can't be sure. She tries to enlarge the image, but to no avail, the screen mocking her with pixelated mystery. Perhaps she will contact Special Collections to see the field notes in person, as any tenacious researcher would, only to learn that the original was lost in the Great Silverfish Infestation of 2095 or whatever. For all perishes eventually, even field notes.

I forgot where I was going with this. Something about gutters? At any rate, that's about all the time I have this week. See you next time, and stay out of the gutter!


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Why

Blog Entry 006; Mega Metadata

Photo May 26, 10 58 03 AM.jpgThis week I spent a lot of time reading about metadata practices and taking notes so that I can prepare myself for creating metadata for the digital surrogates that I have created these past six weeks. Dublin Core and Non-Dublin Core elements as well as a data dictionary created by the digital library staff have been my best friends this week. Before I start reading through my digital surrogates in order to gather keywords and create descriptions, I have been gathering property data such as format and size information and creating Microsoft word documents in order to organize the data. Next week I plan on summarizing the context of the digital surrogates and reviewing Library of Congress Name Authorities. My "biggest" challenge would be converting our tif files into the pdfs that they accompany. Our tif files are of the oversized documents that we could not fit onto a scanner for their digital production (I talk more about them in Blog Entry 003; Photography and Photoshop). One part about metadata that I find interesting is the organized attention to detail; the most vital part about a digital surrogate is its metadata because the metadata is the key to the discovery and utilization of the digital surrogate. Although the process may seem meticulous, I appreciate its purpose.

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.