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Digitization services blogs

One of many open reel tapes at Stanford from the John C. Lilly papers

Part of audio preservation work includes working with media that has peculiar characteristics. Sometimes the atypical qualities are a byproduct of how the recording was made by the recordist. An example of this type of problem that we occasionally see at the Stanford Media Preservation Lab is when an open reel tape is recorded over and there is remaining content hidden in certain spots of the tape. This presents specific problems in capture since tape heads are built for use with specific physical configurations of tracks and thus capturing the hidden spots outside of the normal range of track configuration is near impossible. With this in mind SMPL recently worked on obtaining equipment to address this challenging scenario.

Stanford's Smith Map in the Newspaper

In today's mail, the newspaper arrived. It wasn't the San Francisco Chronicle on the San Jose Mercury News though. It was a copy of the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat, published in Turku, Finland. It wasn't until I turned to page 15 that I recognized something - a reproduction of the 1815 William Smith Map that we had scanned. William Smith published a map of Geology of what is now a good part of the UK, and earlier this year, we, along with the British Geological Society, celebrated 200 years since its publication. The map and article, all in Finnish of course, presumeably talks about the story of the man and how William Smith single-handedly authored and published this map. The newspaper used our scan both in the paper version and also in their online version. 

TYPE OF RESOURCE
Cartographic
FORMAT
Map/Globe
unmediated, sheet
1 map : color ; 345 x 504 cm
IMPRINT
Japan, 1837
ISSUANCE
monographic
PUBLISHER
Place of publication not given : : Publisher not given,, 1837
LANGUAGE
Japanese
MAP DATA
Scale 1:21,600.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License

By Deardra Fuzzell and Wayne Vanderkuil
A historic manuscript map and a gem of the Stanford Library Map Collection, the ?mi Kuni-ezu ????? Japanese Tax Map from 1837 is hand drawn and painted in the round. This map is designed to be displayed on the floor with the viewer standing in its center. From this central vantage point, the map may be read with ease from any direction. As this display and viewing method is no longer possible for a map fast approaching its 200th birthday, Stanford has recently digitized this item to enable access for research, teaching and learning as well as preservation of the original object.

This the largest and most difficult oversized map Stanford has digitized thus far.
See how the Map Program went about imaging this unique item.

A close of open reel tape machine heads

There are countless challenges in preserving obsolete media from breadth of formats to lack of documentation at the time of creation.  With the history of recorded sound now spanning over one hundred years wide range of technologies utilized in this span, challenges abound for any individual working to capture the range of media in need of preservation.  To accomplish this feat constant engagement is required to further understand the media, the way media is degrading, and best practices for preserving historic recordings that range from cylinders to digital multi-track recording sessions. 

Ginsberg's handwritten notes for M0733_s11_ssB_b119_07

The Allen Ginsberg papers in the Department of Special Collections is truly the collection that keeps on giving. We here at the media lab have digitized a huge portion of the media (current count: 2000+ items), yet our interest in it remains high because of the sheer amount of gems hidden within. Even if we didn't enjoy Ginsberg, the vast amount of acquaintances he recorded from the 1950s until the 1990s would provide endless entertainment. 

Image of ars0033_7inch_d86

A wide range of sound recordings come to SMPL for digitization. Recently two disc recordings from the Archive of Recorded Sound’s Non-Commercial disc collection (ARS 0033) appeared in our queue: 6” duo disc blanks likely dating from the late 1940’s into the early 1950’s with recordings on one side. The discs appear to be have been recorded by a service called Santa Gram that sold semi-custom recorded greetings from Santa to children. 

Bridget Whearty and Astrid Smith in the digitization lab

As the CLIR postdoctoral fellow in Data Curation for Medieval Studies at Stanford I work primarily with data about large collections of digitized manuscripts and fragments. For example, I have helped to make our teaching collections more easily discoverable in Searchworks. I've also been bringing together partner institutions' descriptive metadata to feed a specialized manuscript search environment. 

In practice, I write code to transform batches of 70, 300, 500, or 1000+ manuscripts at a time: I've gotten very comfortable thinking of medieval manuscripts in the tens, hundreds, and even thousands. But the truth is that these large batches of digital-medieval manuscripts I curate are built of unique, single objects. Single objects that, just like the physical objects they grow from, are made by individual people, in particular environments, under specific institutional, financial, and social pressures. 

In order to better understand the process that leads to the creation of a digital-medieval book, I recently followed the digitization of a fifteenth-century book of hours, Stanford University Libraries, M0379, from the request for digitization, through the slow hard work of taking the images and hours of post-production labor, to its arrival in Stanford Digital Repository (SDR). 

SUL logo

Calling all SUL staff! Have you recently published an article or presented a conference paper or poster that you'd like to archive and share? Perhaps you have some research or a project report relevant to our field that needs a permanent home? Don't forget that as vital members of the Stanford community, the Stanford Digital Repository is available to you, too. In fact, we set up the Stanford University Libraries Staff Publications and Research Collection specifically for this purpose. 

This past August, the journal of the American Institute for Conservation published a paper by Sarah Norris titled "Toward An Ontology Of Audio Preservation" which features the Stanford Media Preservation Lab (SMPL) as a case study. SMPL is presented alongside the Guggenheim Museum and IRENE (Image, Reconstruct, Erase, Noise, Etc.), a non-contact digitization technique developed in 2003 by Dr. Carl Haber at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in Norris' philosophical analysis of audio digitization approaches. 

Volvo CE 310X

For the second year in a row, students from ME310 Project Based Engineering Design submitted their final projects to the SDR for preservation. With the submission of these 19 projects, we also preserved the Winter quarter reports for the students’ design projects.   This year’s projects covered a variety of products from construction equipment to designing a better way to chill a drink to creating a better flying experience for passengers with limited mobility.  These projects help inform future classes about design process as well as create a network of contacts for future work.