We have two new members of the Digital Production Center starting work today. Oscar Arias has been with Duke Libraries for a long time. Lately he has been working for the Center for Instructional Technology as an Instructional Technology Lab Coordinator. In that capacity he helped students and faculty with lab resources, conducted workshops, and provided project assistance to language instructors.
Alex Marsh is new to Duke University Libraries. He brings a lot of experience in high-end digital imaging, photographic archiving, web content production and A/V digitization.
Both Oscar and Alex are Digitization Specialists in the DPC. Their primary responsibility will be producing digital surrogates of books, manuscripts and a/v materials from our collections. With Mike Adamo and Rita Johnston, we now have four staff (and many students assistants) in the DPC working diligently to safely reformat our rare and unique collections.
Often conservators are portrayed as the people who say “no” (not to be confused with the Knights Who Say “Ni”). Those of us in the Roberts Conservation Lab take a different approach. We are here to ensure the collections are in good physical condition so that they can be used by current and future patrons. We work closely with library staff to select damaged materials that need our help, and treat them quickly so they spend as little time as possible away from the stacks.
Some of the more interesting items that have come to us lately have been part of digital imaging projects. The work we are doing in support of these projects helps bring hidden collections into the open, and allows fragile items to be digitized so they can be accessed electronically. This not only saves the originals from additional wear and tear but allows better access to the materials. The Broadsides Project and the Whitman Collection are two such projects. We work with our colleagues in the Digital Production Center to make sure these items can go through the digitization process and return to the shelf in as good or better condition than when the project started.
On the rare occasion we feel an item cannot be safely used, we work closely with collection managers to find an alternative way to get the information to the patron. We want you to be successful in your research and enjoy your experience with our collections. We are here to say “yes.”
Academic research has become more and more interdisciplinary. Whether you are studying the Brain and Society, or you are Engineering World Health, it is not enough to stay in your ‘silo’ for four years and hope for the best. That is true for the Preservation Department as well.
We work across the Duke University Library system to preserve materials from all subject areas so they can be accessed by patrons on campus and around the world. We have worked on model airplanes and pink dragons from the Hartmen Center, football programs from the University Archives, Louisa Whitman letters to her son Walt Whitman from the Rare Book, Manuscript and Special Collection Library, and of course thousands of items from the circulating collections.
The Preservation Department is breaking new ground in the types of services it can provide for the Library. The newly named Verne and Tanya Roberts Conservation Lab has equipment that enables us to do conservation treatments on paper based materials such as books and manuscripts. With the equipment in the Digital Production Center we can now help provide easier access to non-print media such as photographs and moving images.* Our strong tradition of caring for paper-based materials has expanded to include providing access to collections through the digitization process. We take an interdisciplinary approach to our work so that you, our patrons, can do the same.
*See Duke Digital Collections for more online collections.