Preservation + Conservation

Preservation Week, April 29–May 1: Explore the art and science of preserving cultural heritage

Posted March 27th, 2014 by Heather Denny

null

Join us for a variety of events that highlight the importance of preserving cultural heritage materials during National Preservation Week.

Tuesday, April 29th, starting at 12 pm

The Art and Science of Document Security: Past, Present, and Future, 32-144 A series of talks presenting research on historical, contemporary, and novel methods for creating secure documents in all forms. Join us for one session or several. There will be breaks for refreshments and questions throughout.

  • 12:15 pm “Our Marathon”: The Boston Bombing Digital Archive
    Our Marathon is a crowd-sourced digital archive of stories, photos, video, and social media related to the Boston Marathon bombings and aftermath. Join us for a brown bag talk with Jim McGrath and Alicia Peaker from the Our Marathon team for an overview of the project and the archive.
  • 1:00 pm      Opening Remarks
  • 1:15 pm     Our Digital Lives: Protecting Our Data In Use and At Rest, Michael Halsall, Senior Network and Information Security Analyst at MIT

  • 1:45 pm    Benign Neglect No More: How Document Security Affects Access to Memory, Kari R. Smith, Digital Archivist, MIT Libraries Institute Archives and Special Collections
  • 2:45 pm    Historic Letterlocking: The Art and Security of Letterwriting, Jana Dambrogio, Thomas F. Peterson (1957) Conservator, MIT Libraries Curation and Preservation Services
  • 4:00 pm    Thanks for the Memory: 50+ Years of Computing at MIT exhibit, 14N-130 Gallery visit led by Nora Murphy, Archivist for Reference, Outreach, and Instruction, MIT Institute Archives and Special Collections, Maihaugen Gallery  

  • 8:00 pm   The Monuments Men Movie Screening, 26-100 Enjoy a free screening of The Monuments Men. George Clooney portrays a local art conservation hero George Stout who saved cultural heritage from ruin during WWII.

Wednesday, April 30th, 11 am-3 pm

  • Our Marathon “Share Your Story” event, 10-105 Representatives from the Our Marathon online collection of Boston Marathon Bombing experiences will be on campus to document the personal experiences of the MIT community during and after the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing.

May 1st, 2-3 pm

  • Scrapbook Preservation webinar, 14N-132 Interested in preserving your own items? Join us for a free webinar about scrapbook preservation hosted by the American Library Association. Melissa Tedone, Conservator of the Parks Library Preservation Department at Iowa State University, will talk about older scrapbooks as well as how to identify the most stable materials for new scrapbooks.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information contact preservation-team@mit.edu, or see the Preservation Week website.

Discussion: Scientific imaging for artwork & other cultural heritage materials

Posted February 20th, 2014 by Heather Denny

Discussion: Thursday, February 27, 2014, 11:00 am, 14N-132 (DIRC)

CulturalHeritageImage

Detail: Two modes of Reflectance Transformation Imaging. The bottom view shows a Japanese woodcut in “Normal” mode. The top view shows the “Specular Enhancement” mode, which removes color virtually to reveal the subtle surface impressions made in the paper by the artist. © Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Konishi Hirosada, artist, Osaka Actor Mimasu Daigoro IV , color woodcut with embossing and metallic pigment, c. 1851-59.

New scientific imaging tools offer the capability to see distinctive details on a 16th century rare book cover, a manuscript, or a work of art, that can’t be seen with the naked eye. Please join the MIT Libraries’ Curation and Preservation Services Department for a fascinating look at how this technology can help us to learn more about our cultural heritage materials, and how to best preserve them.

Carla Schroer, of the non-profit Cultural Heritage Imaging, will discuss the new empirical capture and analysis tools Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), Algorithmic Rendering (AR), and image-based Structure from Motion (SFM) generation of textured 3D geometry. These techniques will be explored in the context of the emerging science of “Computational Photography.” Computational Photography extracts and synthesizes information from image sequences to create a new type of image containing information not found in any single image in the sequence. This technology is in use in many areas from major art museums to remote archaeological sites to fields in the natural sciences.

The event is free and open to the public, no registration required.

Monuments Man and Art Conservator George Stout

Posted February 7th, 2014 by Jana Dambrogio

George Leslie Stout was one of the United States of America’s first art conservators. Stout worked in Cambridge, Massachusetts as the head of the first Conservation Department in the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University before being called into active military duty in 1943. Soon after, he was recruited to serve on the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section (MFAA) also known as the Monuments Men. Stout later lead the Monuments team of men and women dedicated to safeguarding cultural property in war areas during and after World War II. After the war, he returned to Massachusetts and was the director of the Worcester Art Museum and later the Isabella Stewart Gardner Art Museum. He was a founding member of the International Institute of Conservation.

George Stout was one of the first names I learned when I became interested in the field of art conservation in 1989. Rutherford Gettens and George Stout’s Painting Materials: A Short Encyclopedia and Stout’s The Care of Pictures were the first two books I purchased, read cover to cover, and still reference today. The Foundation for the American Institute of Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works’ (FAIC)  “George Stout Memorial Fund” afforded many students, including me, the opportunity to attend our first annual AIC meetings to become active members of this extraordinary field that George Stout and many other Monuments men and women helped to create.

Today, The Monuments Men movie opens. It is based on this true story about a local hero (played by co-screen-writer and producer, director, and star George Clooney) who worked with several hundred others to save countless works of art we may still have the pleasure of enjoying. Thanks George!

A Visit from the Smithsonian Institution’s Director of Research and Scientific Data Management

Posted February 3rd, 2014 by Helen Bailey

Thorny Staples presents on the Smithsonian's SIdora repository

Last week the Curation and Preservation Services department of MIT Libraries had the pleasure of hosting Thornton “Thorny” Staples from the Smithsonian Institution’s Office of Research Information Services. Although he claims to be a curmudgeon, Thorny is actually a very friendly digital library pioneer with experience creating innovative solutions for a wide variety of digital collections challenges.

On this visit, he gave library staff an overview of the Smithsonian Institution’s SIdora research data management tool. This tool is an interactive system to help the Smithsonian’s many researchers capture and manage their data along with its context. The data is managed in a trusted repository where it can be shared and re-used by other scholars, and ultimately archived by the Smithsonian’s curators. The project is currently in development, but Thorny gave a demonstration of the tool’s pilot instance and it was already easy to see how much great functionality it will have. We look forward to seeing the tool and its output as development progresses.

Many thanks to Thorny for visiting us here in Cambridge and giving us a behind-the-scenes look at the SIdora reposoitory!

Thanks, MIT music, for your dulcet tones.

Posted January 17th, 2014 by Jana Dambrogio

This week was an all-things-MIT-Music for the conservation lab. We de-installed the “Noteworthy Connections” exhibition in the Maihaugen Gallery  featuring the music treasures from the Lewis Music Library and the Institute Archives and Special Collections.

photo copy

MIT’s Chorallaries, an a cappella music group, provides cheerful music to listen to while we make protective enclosures for some of the illuminated music manuscripts folios that will be used for teaching next semester. We are curious to discover more “whistle-while-you-work” music created by MIT faculty, staff, and students.

Bound by Hand–Bookbindings created in the Libraries’ Conservation Lab

Posted January 7th, 2014 by Jana Dambrogio

Today is the first day of two Individual Activity Program (IAP) classes the conservation lab is offering. Participants are learning how to transform paper, cloth, board, thread, and glue into two types of blank books–pamphlet and flat back case bindings. Fabricating these foundational book structures reminds us here in the conservation lab why we love books, why we love to make them, and why we are dedicated to preserve them for access-old and new.

Pamphlet bindings made by hand with thread and paper.

A participant is creating the cover for the flat back case binding. Case bindings are made by creating the text block and cover separately; they are attached to each other to create a book.

Instructors for the class: Conservation Assistant Ayako Letizia and Preservation Associate Kate Beattie from the Wunsch Conservation Laboratory, Curation and Preservation Services.

Exploring tools for digital archives

Posted December 16th, 2013 by Myles Crowley

Curious about how the MIT Libraries are working to archive and preserve the digital record and primary sources for the Institute? Check out Digital Archivist Kari Smith’s recent blog post, which explains the current process and describes some software tools that are being considered. Be sure to stay tuned as the life-cycle experiments hosted by the Libraries’ new Digital Sustainability Lab further assess and test use cases and solutions.

Halloween treat: Monster Book of Monsters’ transformation

Posted October 31st, 2013 by Heather Denny

There have been spooky happenings in the Maihaugen Gallery this Halloween. A medieval chant book, originally from the fifteenth or sixteenth century, has inexplicably transformed into a Harry Potter-inspired Monster Book of Monsters! Come see the enormous leather-and-wood-bound book complete with scary demon face, vicious teeth, and dismembered body parts. Rumor has it that the book will disappear soon after midnight on Halloween, so see it today!

While you’re in the gallery, check out the exhibit Noteworthy ConnectionsMusic in the MIT Libraries on display until December 12, 2013.

MonsterBookofMonsters

Please note: No library users were harmed in the creation of the Monster Book, and all fun was had under the care and supervision of the Libraries’ expert Preservation team.

Save your sound!

Posted October 25th, 2013 by willer

girl-with-headphonesDo you have videos of family events, audio recordings of music recitals, or other personal audiovisual treasures?

Save your recordings and share your audiovisual history with your family and community by transferring recordings from obsolete formats such as cassette tape and VHS onto digital media. You can use equipment in the Lewis Music Library, as described in a recent IS&T News article, or contact vendors such as MIT Audio Visual Services.

“Saving our Heritage for the Next Generation” is the slogan of UNESCO’s 2013 World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, observed on Sunday, October 27.

McGovern wins Society of American Archivists (SAA) award

Posted August 8th, 2013 by Heather Denny
NMcGovernBlog

Dr. Nancy McGovern (photo by L. Barry Hetherington)

Nancy McGovern, MIT Libraries’ Head of Curation and Preservation Services is the recipient of the Preservation Publication Award given by the Society of American Archivists (SAA). The award will be presented at a ceremony during the Council of State Archivists and SAA Joint Annual Meeting in New Orleans, August 11–17, 2013.

The award recognizes her work as volume editor of Aligning National Approaches to Digital Preservation, and the work of Katherine Skinner (the series editor). Published by Educopia Institute in 2012, Aligning National Approaches to Digital Preservation provides a comprehensive synthesis of current thinking in the field of digital preservation and proposed methods of action and cooperation that “support the preservation of our collective cultural memory.” The publication, which is available freely as a PDF, contains a collection of peer-reviewed essays that were developed by conference panels and attendees of the 2011 “Aligning National Approaches to Digital Preservation” (ANADP) conference in Tallinn, Estonia.

Dambrogio named as MIT Libraries’ new conservator

Posted July 31st, 2013 by Heather Denny
Dambrogio

Jana Dambrogio

Jana Dambrogio will join the staff of the MIT Libraries in September as the new Thomas F. Peterson (1957) Conservator. In this role she will manage MIT’s special collections conservation program–planning and executing conservation treatments for the physical maintenance of rare books, archives, and manuscripts. She will also contribute to the Libraries’ overall preservation strategy.

Dambrogio comes from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) where she has been a senior conservator since 2004. In addition to her work at NARA, she brings an impressive array of experience from consultancies, fellowships, and internships at other well-known national and international institutions such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, the Vatican Secret Archives, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and Houghton Library at Harvard University.

“Jana is an experienced and innovative conservator who is prepared to continue the high level of commitment, notable ability, and passion for conservation that we have been fortunate to have in this position,” said Nancy McGovern, MIT Libraries’ Head of Curation and Preservation Services.

The Libraries conservator position is endowed by generous long-time MIT Libraries’ supporter Thomas F. Peterson, Jr. (Class of 1957).

National Digital Stewardship Alliance releases inaugural agenda for digital stewardship

Posted July 23rd, 2013 by Heather Denny

As members of the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA), a consortium of over 145 leading government, academic, and private sector organizations committed to long term preservation of digital information, the MIT Libraries are pleased to announce the NDSA’s release of the inaugural National Agenda NDSAimagefor Digital Stewardship.

MIT Libraries’ Director of Research, Micah Altman, played a key role in the creation of the document, serving on the NDSA Coordinating Committee, contributing as a joint author, and formally introducing the report at the Library of Congress’s annual Digital Preservation conference. Nancy McGovern, MIT Libraries’ Head of Curation and Preservation Services, also contributed to the report, and is leading a related project on digital repository self-assessment.

The National Agenda’s purpose is to highlight emerging technological trends, identify gaps in digital stewardship capacity, and provide insight into the work needed to ensure that today’s valuable digital content remains accessible and comprehensible in the future.

“Digital stewardship is vital for the authenticity of public records, the reliability of scientific evidence, and the enduring accessibility to our cultural heritage. Knowledge of ongoing research, practice, and organizational collaborations has been distributed widely across disciplines, sectors, and communities of practice.The agenda identifies the highest-impact opportunities to advance the state of the art, the state of practice, and the state of collaboration in this rapidly changing field,” said Dr. Altman.

The 2014 Agenda integrates the perspective of dozens of experts and hundreds of institutions, convened through the Library of Congress. It outlines the challenges and opportunities related to digital preservation activities in four broad areas: Organizational Roles, Policies, and Practices; Digital Content Areas; Infrastructure Development; and Research Priorities.

Read the full report.

MIT and Harvard libraries awarded grant to foster careers in digital stewardship

Posted June 26th, 2013 by Heather Denny

MIT and Harvard libraries will play a role in ensuring a new generation of library school graduates will be prepared for jobs in digital stewardship. The universities were jointly awarded a 2013 Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) that will fund a pilot program to help recent graduates gain the skills, experience, and network needed to begin successful careers.

“There’s a real gap between students graduating and the skills they need for available jobs. The program aims to bridge that gap,” said Nancy McGovern, head of curation and preservation services for MIT Libraries, and a co-author of the grant proposal.

IMLS_Logo_2c

The program will mirror a national digital curation residency program developed by the Library of Congress, but it will be the first of its kind in the Boston-area. Over the course of two years a total of ten residents will get hands-on experience in projects that involve digital library collections, long-term preservation, and accessibility of digital assets. Recent library school graduates will have a chance to apply for the program that will give them the opportunity to work with a host institution in the Boston-area, and network with other area institutions, industry leaders, and peers.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for the MIT Libraries to participate in raising awareness, and building community and competencies in this field,” said McGovern.

McGovern will coordinate the development of the program’s curriculum, in collaboration with Andrea Goethals, manager of digital preservation and repository services for Harvard Library, and lead author of the grant proposal. The first year of the grant will cover planning and preparation. The program will welcome the first cohort of residents in fall 2014.

MIT and Harvard will also work closely with a similar grant-funded project in New York led by the Metropolitan New York Library Council and Brooklyn Historical Society. See the full list of 2013 Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program Grant recipients.

New Library Fellow Blog

Posted April 29th, 2013 by ahaggart

You may recall that MIT Libraries launched a new fellows program in October, 2012. The fellows have been involved in a number of library activities since they started and now Helen Bailey, Fellow for Digital Curation and Preservation, wants to share her experience. She has started a blog, Life Cycles of the Bits and Pages, that will chronicle her time as a fellow in the MIT Libraries. Check it out to learn more about her projects.

Celebrate Preservation Week, April 21-27

Posted April 12th, 2013 by ahaggart

Preservation Week is almost here! What’s Preservation Week, you ask? It was created in 2010 by the American Library Association to highlight the importance of preserving library and cultural heritage collections.

Celebrate Preservation Week, April 21st -27th, with a series of events hosted by Curation and Preservation Services of the MIT Libraries. Events are open to all, but some events require registration due to limited seating.

For details about these events and more information on Preservation Week, please visit the MIT Libraries Preservation Week web page.

 

Save the Music! Transforming MIT music collections for future use

Monday, April 22nd, 2013, 2-3pm

MIT Room 14N-132 (160 Memorial Drive)

Please register for this event

 

Webinar: The Preservation of Family Photographs

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013, 2-3pm

MIT Room 14N-132 (160 Memorial Drive)

 

Webinar: Personal Digital Archiving

followed by Q+A with Kari Smith, MIT Digital Archivist

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013, 2-4pm

MIT Room 14N-132 (160 Memorial Drive)

 

Where Science Meets Artifact: An Inside Look at

the Role of Conservation Science in Preserving Cultural Heritage

Thursday, April 25th, 2013, 3-4pm

Presented by Shannon Taylor, MIT ’13 and Dr. Katherine Eremin, Patricia Cornwall Conservation Scientist at the Harvard Art Museums’ Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies

MIT Room 56-114 (21 Ames Street)

Noteworthy Connections opens in the Maihaugen Gallery

Posted February 21st, 2013 by Heather Denny

David M. Epstein conductor of the MIT Symphony Orchestra, 1965-1998, Photo: MIT Museum

A new exhibition exploring the extraordinary connection between the MIT mind and music has opened in the Libraries’ Maihaugen Gallery.

Noteworthy Connections: Music in the MIT Libraries delves into the holdings of the Lewis Music Library and the Institute Archives and Special Collections, to reveal MIT’s diverse musical interests, the accomplishments of its talented students and faculty, and the rich history the Institute’s musical groups and clubs.

The exhibit will be on view in the gallery until December, 2013. Visit the gallery:

Monday-Thursday
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Building 14N-130

“Magnetic Resonance” on display in the Maihaugen Gallery

Posted October 2nd, 2012 by Heather Denny

The fall exhibit in the Maihaugen Gallery showcases a unique collection on view to the public for the very first time. Magnetic Resonance: Four Centuries of Science from the Vail Collection offers a look inside MIT’s Vail Collection—one of the world’s most important collections of books on magnetism, electricity, animal magnetism, and lighter-than-air travel.

The collection includes foundational texts in the history of science and technology, rare titles from the late 15th-19th centuries, works of popular science, and thousands of rare pamphlets and articles. It was given to MIT in 1912, by Theodore N. Vail, president of AT&T and a member of the MIT Corporation. The exhibit marks the 100th anniversary of the Vail Collection’s arrival at the Institute and celebrates the generosity of Thomas F. Peterson, Jr. (MIT 1957), who supported a three-year project to unlock the potential of this stunning collection. Every title has been fully cataloged, essential conservation work has been performed, and the Vail Collection can now be shared with the world. Visit the gallery, attend an event, or explore the collection online.

Vail Exhibit EventsEXHIBIT EVENTS:

Behind the Scenes: Conserving and Exhibiting the Vail Collection

Wednesday, October 17, 1pm–2pm, Maihaugen Gallery (14N-130) MIT’s book conservator, Nancy Schrock, discusses conservation treatment and  display of the Collection. The talk begins in the gallery and proceeds to the Wunsch Conservation Lab.

 

Witches, Magic, and Monsters: The Spooky Side of MIT’s Vail Collection

Friday, October 26, 3pm, Institute Archives (14N-118) A Halloween-inspired look at the creepier side of the Collection. Online registration required.

 

The Scientific Conversation and the Vail Collection: Gallery Talks & Tours

Thursday, November 8, 11am–noon, Maihaugen Gallery (14N-130)

Wednesday, November 28, 3pm–4pm, Maihaugen Gallery (14N-130) Exhibit curator and rare books program manager, Stephen Skuce, leads a tour and talk about the exhibit.

 

MIT’s Vail Collection: From the Lodestone to the X-Ray

Friday, November 16, 10:30am, Institute Archives (14N-118) A presentation by rare books program manager, Stephen Skuce.

Developing future library leaders: The MIT Libraries’ Fellows Program

Posted September 27th, 2012 by Heather Denny

What will the future of academic librarianship look like? The MIT Libraries have a few ideas. With the launch of a new fellows program, the Libraries are taking an active role in shaping the future of the profession. The MIT Libraries’ Fellows Program was created to provide exceptional, early-career library professionals with the opportunity to contribute to program areas of distinction and strategic priority in a dynamic academic research library. Out of a pool of over 175 accomplished applicants, two fellows were chosen for two-year fellowship positions. Helen Bailey was appointed to the position of Library Fellow for Digital Curation and Preservation, and Mark Clemente was appointed to the position of Library Fellow for Scholarly Publishing and Licensing.

“The fellows will work with and learn from their MIT Libraries’ colleagues who are recognized leaders in these fields,” said Ann Wolpert, Director of Libraries. “Developing programs which contribute to the wider academic and research library community, as well as the real-world opportunities here at MIT, will position these highly talented fellows to advance in both the profession and their careers.”

Helen Bailey, the digital curation and preservation fellow, will report to Nancy McGovern, Head of Curation and Preservation Services, a highly respected leader in the field of digital curation and preservation with a well-established national and international reputation. Under McGovern’s direction, Bailey will work on a range of activities related to the long-term management of digital content, including participating in the Libraries digital content management initiative, contributing to an ongoing scan of community standards and practice for digital curation and preservation, the development of outreach materials to raise awareness about good practice, and conducting an experiment to recommend a solution for a specific curation or preservation need.

MIT Libraries' Fellows: Helen Bailey and Mark Clemente

Mark Clemente, the scholarly publishing and licensing fellow, will report to Ellen Duranceau, Program Manager in the Office of Scholarly Publishing and Licensing (OSPL). Duranceau has led the Libraries efforts in support of the MIT Faculty Open Access Policy and provides copyright and scholarly publishing assistance to the MIT community. She also consults broadly with universities on scholarly communication policies and practice. Working with Duranceau, Clemente will contribute to the work of the OSPL in the areas of copyright advocacy, intellectual property, open access, and rights retention. Clemente will participate in enhancing and expanding a repository collection of open access papers under the MIT Faculty Open Access Policy and will develop and carry out projects to advance the implementation of the Policy.

Bailey and Clemente both bring strong skills and backgrounds in library science to their new roles. Bailey has a B.S. from Florida State University, an M.S. in Information Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Library and Archives Conservation. Since 2010 she has been a preservation specialist with the Dartmouth College Library. Clemente has a B.A. from American University and a M.S. in Library Information Science from Simmons College. He most recently served as a digital collections assistant at Boston College’s O’Neill and Burns Libraries.

Both fellows will have the opportunity to expand their skills and experience in ways that position them to excel and lead in the research library profession. The Fellows Program was made possible with support from The Director’s Fund for Library Excellence.

 

 

We’ve got a ticket to ride!

Posted August 30th, 2012 by Remlee Green

Western Electrician volume 21Boston’s MBTA celebrates its 115th birthday this Saturday, September 1. Check out the article from the August 28, 1897 issue of Western Electrician describing the design and construction of the new subway and extolling details such as overhead arc lighting, pine wood ticket booths, and brass handrails on the stairs. “The traveler will find his ‘open sesame’ to be a five-cent piece, which he will hand into the ticket office and will receive in exchange a ticket which will entitle him to a ride…”

All issues of Western Electrician owned by the MIT Libraries have been digitized and are freely available online through the Internet Archive.

International collaborations in digital preservation

Posted August 20th, 2012 by Heather Denny

Image courtesy of Educopia Institute

The MIT Libraries are involved in collaborations that look at the broad range of digital content that universities and other organizations produce, and at ways to make content accessible across generations of technology.

The Libraries’ head of curation and preservation services, Nancy McGovern, was recently involved in an international conference that gathered more than 125 delegates from more than 20 countries at the National Library of Estonia, to explore how to create and sustain collaborations to support the preservation of our collective digital cultural memory.

An outcome of the conference is a guide written for a broad audience that includes librarians, archivists, scholars, curators, technologists, lawyers, researchers, and administrators at many different types of cultural organizations.

Aligning National Approaches to Digital Preservation was edited by Nancy McGovern, and published by the Educopia Institute. It describes successful collaborative strategies and articulates new models that may help organizations work together for their mutual benefit.

Readers can download a free PDF of Aligning National Approaches to Digital Preservation, or purchase the print publication online.