Author Archives: Joseph Watson

Preserving Your Family Treasures

Preservation WeekMiddlebury College Library and Information Services does many things to preserve our collections.  For instance, we regularly backup up computer file servers, bind heavily used paperback books in the circulating collections, perform conservation treatments on rare books in Special Collections, and digitize photos and films in the College Archives.  Plus we spend a lot of time doing one of the most important things–  getting and keeping things organized!

To mark Preservation Week, we’re reminding you that it’s easy to take some basic steps to preserve your own important family collections.   Here’s a great web page that will tell you pretty much all you need to know!  http://atyourlibrary.org/passiton/preserving-your-treasures

And we love this short video, Why do Old Books Smell?  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUaInTfrDnA   It reminds us that one of the most important things we can do is provide a good climate for our collections to slow the rate of organic decay.

100th Flanders Collection Cylinder Milestone!

The Northeast Document Conservation Center reports  that they’ve recorded one hundred of the two hundred and fifty cylinders in the Flanders Ballad Collection.  Quite a milestone!  See the recording system at work and listen to the hundredth cylinder in the NEDCC blog post here!  Take a look at some of the previous posts to learn more about this new sound scanning technology.

Irene Blog

“We Have Sound!”

“We Have Sound!” is the title of the IRENE/3D Seeing Sound Blog post from the Northeast Document Conservation Center when they announce that the new recording system is up and running. Middlebury College is fortunate to be part of a grant to reformat the wax cylinder recordings in the Flanders Ballad Collection. See the announcement here, along with more blog posts that follow.  You can even listen to some of the recordings!
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Photos from the Archives showing the area around Twilight Hall

President Harry Truman once said “The only thing new in the world is the history you do not know.”  Because the site around Twilight Hall and the Middlebury Municipal Building has recently been a topic of community conversation, we thought people might be interested in these photos from the Middlebury College Archives.   For more information on the history of the site and adjacent buildings, see pages 11 and 12 of A Walking History of Middlebury.

Click on the photos to enlarge them and see more detail.

View of Academy Park from Old Chapel.  Notice the building site of the Academy (now Twilight Hall) that replaced the previous wooden structure.

View of Middlebury from Old Chapel in 1867. Notice the building site of the Academy (now Twilight Hall) that replaced the previous wooden structure.

Academy Building in 1893, seen from the east end of the park between College and South Main St.

Academy Building in 1893, seen from the east end of the park between College St. and Main St.

Graded School in 1900 seen from College St. just west of Weybridge St.

Graded School in 1900 seen from College St. just east of Weybridge St.

The Academy Building in 1900 seen from the corner of South Main St. and Cross St.

The Graded School in 1900 seen from the corner of Main St. and Cross St.

Exhibit– A People’s History of Middlebury College: Student Resistance and Social Change

People's History of Middlebury Exhibit

In conjunction with an ongoing student project and J-term class, Special Collections has mounted an exhibit drawn from the College Archives–  A People’s History of Middlebury College: Student Resistance and Social Change.   From an uprising of students in 1822 asking for the dismissal of a professor, to the student strike in 1970 to protest of the war in Vietnam, through the formation of diverse activist groups like the Black Students for Mutual Understanding, the exhibit draws on primary sources in the College Archives.  These resources have been heavily used by Hanna Mahon ‘13.5 and Kristina Johansson ’14 as they’ve worked on the People’s History of Middlebury project over the past year, and used by the students in the J-term class that Hanna and Kristina are teaching.  See the exhibit in the front vestibule, and the Harman Periodicals Reading Area of Davis Family Library.

To listen to an audio recording of the related panel discussion “Middlebury in the 1960s” see this blog post.

People's History of Middlebury Exhibit

Also on display in the Davis Family Library Atrium–  Antique wooden toys produced in local toy factories.

 

Busy start to 2014 in Special Collections

Special Collections has enjoyed a busy start to 2014 with several J-term classes visiting this week to use our collections for coursework. Prof. Peter Lourie’s class Adventure Writing and Digital Story Telling came to see 17th to early 20th century examples of travel and adventure writing, as well as to view photos from the College Archives of students engaging in their own adventures over the years.

And below see some photos from Prof. Kacy McKinney’s class Space and Place in the Graphic Novel. Students learned about the history of illustrations in books, viewing everything from a 1484 illuminated Latin text, to recently published graphic novels.

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Students looking at a wide selection of illustrated books

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Special Collections Director Rebekah Irwin shares a large format art book.

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Prof. McKinney and students view illustrated books from the 16th to the 18th century.

Better World Books and library book sales

Instead of holding book sales to get rid of unwanted books, we’re now sending withdrawn books to Better World Books, a company that turns them into money for the good of humanity.

In recent years, the quality of our local book sales has been declining because we are receiving fewer large gifts of books than in the past. When we accepted large gifts in the past, we often sorted through them and added appropriate books, which was sometimes a small percentage of the total gift, and put the rest of the books into the book sale. Our book sales had interesting duplicate copies and fun books that wouldn’t be appropriate for an academic library. Without that influx of gift books, the local books sales just consist of withdrawn academic books that relatively few people are interested in purchasing. After all, the reason those books are being withdrawn from the library collection is because nobody is using them, so it’s not surprising that hundreds of those books were left over at the end of the last sale. (We couldn’t even give them away for free.)

Rather than sending them directly to recycling, we found the Better World Books library program. We ship our withdrawn books to them at no cost to us, they market them to a world-wide audience, and when they sell them, a percentage of the profit comes to us and a percentage goes to the BWB Literacy Partners. It’s a very efficient way to dispose of our withdrawn books while benefiting both Middlebury and the world beyond.

If we ever have a quantity of books that we think will be of interest to our local community, we’ll probably put them in a sale, but for now, no book sales are scheduled for the foreseeable future.