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Archive for July, 2012

Did You Know…where the Oregon Collection was born?

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

The Oregon Collection is primarily books about the Northwest or by Northwest authors. It’s always been heavily used, in part because much of it has always been findable through the card catalog and now  in our on-line catalog. But where do fundamental collections like this get started?

The Oregon Collection actually debuted in San Francisco! It was assembled as part of the Oregon exhibit for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition by Allen Eaton (1878-1962). Graduating from UO in 1902, Eaton played an important role in the development of the cultural community in Eugene. He opened the first book and art store in the city, organized its first art exhibition, and taught the University’s first art appreciation class. He was the youngest member of the Oregon Legislature, serving five terms as representative for Lane County.

After the Exposition closed, the Oregon books came to the University and formed the nucleus of the Rare Book Collection. We continue to add newly published and vintage materials to the Oregon Collection, to ensure that researchers have access to the full spectrum of books by and about Oregonians, now and in the years to come.

User-friendly archives searching: NW Digital Archives a source for cool projects

Monday, July 16th, 2012

The Social Networks and Archival Context Project (SNAC) is a cool tool developed to help people search across archival collections and reliably find what they need. It’s a collaboration between researchers and developers at Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, at the University of Virginia, the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Information, and the California Digital Library, funded by NEH and then Mellon. The records in the databases were drawn, in part from Northwest Digital Archives.

Check out their prototype! If you search “Wayne L. Morse” you’ll see a list of records that include references to Morse, plus a list of relevant subjects you can use to narrow your search. It really helps put your results into a useful context.

The SNAC database may also be the foundation for the National Archival Authorities Cooperative. “Authorities” are one of those invaluable behind-the-scenes tools that help you find stuff. It’s basically a database of officially agreed-upon names in a standardized format, which have long been in use for library materials. For example, the pen name “Mark Twain”  is used instead of the birth name of Samuel Clemens.

Archivists are now moving towards standardized authority control for archival holdings,  which have complexities not commonly found in published materials.It’s a great step forward towards simplifying  research in archives, and we are proud that our records were included in this foundation project.


Why we make a big deal out of security

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

From CNN: ‘Con artist’ who pilfered scores of historical documents gets seven years

“A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced a self-proclaimed presidential historian who once claimed to have moved among White House circles to seven years in prison for conspiracy and theft of historical documents worth more than a million dollars.”

UO was among the hundreds of libraries targeted by a very successful thief, Stephen Blumberg, but we detected and reported the theft. SCUA head Fraser Cocks assisted the FBI and was able to recover the stolen items. This quote from the Wikipedia article on Blumberg sums up our daily terrible conflict between helping researchers and protecting our collections:

“Upon meeting Blumberg in the FBI’s stacks after his arrest, John L. Sharpe III from Duke University’s library commented about his brief conversation with Blumberg that, ‘What I felt…was that we in libraries have to operate on a trust system every time we bring a book to someone’s table. This is what I think is so sinister about the whole thing. This man chose to debase that, to debase that commodity that is so essential in gathering information in an open institution. And I think he betrayed everything that we try to represent in making information available as freely and as uninhibitedly as possible. And I think that’s what really just enraged me, to think that this man took advantage of that kind of access.’”