Author Archives: Rebekah Irwin

About Rebekah Irwin

Director of Collections & Archives at the Middlebury College Libraries.

A little look at Middlebury’s dwarf-sized books

We’ve been talking a lot about little things in the College’s Special Collections & Archives as we pay extra attention to pocket-sized books in our midst. Our smallest book (so far) is a 2 inch tall History of the Bible, published in Cooperstown, New York, in 1836 (pictured below).  The general definition of a miniature book is anything under 3 inches. We’re assembling miniature books up to 5 inches, since we’ve found big books and tiny books don’t play nicely on the shelves together and can cause damage to each another over time. You can learn more about miniature books here or visit us and ask to see our mini books yourself.

photo 1

photo 2

Thanks to our hand-model, Joseph Watson, Preservation Manager and Special Collections and Archives .

“2-D printing, meet 3-D printing.”

The Korean American novelist Chang-rae Lee’s newest novel, On Such a Full Sea appeared in January with a technological twist: Lee collaborated with the 3-D printing company MakerBot to create a first-of-its-kind, limited edition 3-D printed cover, formed from a corn-based bioplastic and made on a MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer.

Screen Shot 2014-02-14 at 1.01.05 PM

© Riverhead books

On Such a Full Sea

Middlebury College Special Collections & Archives, copy number 465

“What I like about this project is that it re-introduces the idea of the book as an art object. Content is what’s most important, but this [3D edition] is a book with a physical presence too.” Chang-rae Lee.

 

Screen Shot 2014-02-14 at 1.11.55 PM

Chang-rae Lee using a MakerBot Replicator 2 Photo © MakerBot

Middlebury’s limited edition copy, number 465 of 500 copies, will be on display in Special Collections and Archives in the Davis Library this spring.

 

A face-lift for the LIS Blog

Did you know the LIS Blog published its first post around the same time the iPhone was released? (For the technology history diehards in the audience: the first generation iPhone came out on June 29, 2007.)  In that time, the iPhone went through eight generations, but our original blog design stayed the same. As a rule of thumb, most Web designers often freshen up Websites every 4-5 years! It was time.

So, LIS Blog readers, meet your new LIS Blog design. We hope its clean, elegant, and most importantly, gets out our good news and updates.

Staff changes in Collections & Archives

I’m overjoyed to share two recent staff promotions from the ranks of library collections and archives:

Arabella Holzapfel has taken on a newly expanded role as Electronic Resources Manager and Library Systems Specialist. In this role, Arabella has taken on more responsibilities managing the lifecycle of the Library’s collection of online journals and databases. In addition, she’ll be providing more assistance to Bryan Carson with behind-the-scenes support of library-related systems and infrastructure.

Danielle Rougeau has a new title too: Assistant Curator of Special Collections and College Archivist. Officially, Danielle is now the recognized subject expert of the College’s historical archives and has significant oversight of the collecting practices, organization, outreach to academic and administrative departments, and the long-term preservation of the College Archives collection.

Cheers for Arabella and Danielle.

The Technologies of Makerspaces

Below is a dispatch from The Technologies of Makerspaces workshop, attended recently by Heather  Stafford and Rebekah Irwin…

MakerSpace

Makerspace smack in the middle of a Connecticut library

But wait! Before you read on, it might be helpful to browse the following Wikipedia entries: Maker culture, DIY cultureHackerspaces, Fab Labs, Raspberry Pi3D Printing, and STEM fields (also sometimes STEAM 1 with an “A” for art).

So what’s a makerspace? Generally, a place where DIYers, Makers, and anyone else interesting in making things, designing things, or fixing things, rather than plain ol’ buying things, join together to fabricate, code, build, and collaborate. Makerspaces are also something of a theoretical ideal: a communal educational environment where kids and adults can use new, and old, hands-on tools in meaningful and creative ways.

Why were we at a Makerspace workshop? The article, What is a Makerspace? Creativity in the Library  2 helps answer that question:

When most people think of libraries, they naturally think books. Anyone working in a library today, however, knows that we are so much more than just books. Libraries are places of community engagement. Recently many libraries have begun to develop spaces for design and activities that both teach and empower patrons. The learning in these spaces varies wildly–from home bicycle repair, to using 3D printers, to building model airplanes. Fittingly, they are called makerspaces.

So we went to learn how a makerspace, and the culture of designing, creating, and building, might fit into the activities that are already taking place in our library spaces and across campus. We learned about 3D printing from colleges and universities already doing it (like Williams, Yale, Colgate, Brandeis and Wheaton); we watched the blinking lights on our instructor’s handknit scarf thanks to an Arduino LilyPad microcontroller board and conductive sewing thread; and to top off our day, we hooked up peripherals and booted up the Raspbian operating system on a Raspberry Pi Model B.

Presentation materials were shared with all attendees and included this slideshare on the Technologies of Makerspaces as well as a Google presentation on 3D printing.

Thanks for reading.

Notes:

  1. Science, Technology, Math, “Art” and Math.
  2. http://www.alatechsource.org/blog/2012/12/what-is-a-makerspace-creativity-in-the-library.html

Exhibition cases, on display

During the October break, two exhibition cases will be relocated adjacent to Special Collections & Archives, near the Harmon Periodicals Reading Room.

Please stop by and view the collections on display. We’re looking forward to sharing the College’s unique and historical items with a wider audience (especially outside of the hours of our Reading Room) and better accommodating classes. We’re happy when we’re bursting at the seams, but it doesn’t make for a smooth visit when we’re short on tables, chairs, and space for books and bodies.

Thanks,

Rebekah Irwin (as Interim Curator of Special Collections)
Daniella Rougeau, Assistant Curator of Special Collections & College Archivist
Joseph Watson, Preservation Manager, Special Collections & Archives Associate (Chair of the Space Team)

Reading Rowland Out Loud

UncleLishasShop

Recently, while digitizing some song recordings from the Helen Hartness Flanders Ballad Collection, we discovered an undocumented recording of a man reading from Rowland E. Robinson’s book Uncle Lisha’s Shop: Life in a Corner of Yankeeland.  We recognized it as a Robinson story because of the characters mentioned, so we searched the online version of one of his most popular books for the word “voter”, which seemed unlikely to be a common word in the story, and we found that the text being read starts on pg. 13, seven lines from the bottom of the page.   We recommend that you read along in the book while listening to the recording. Click here for the online text and listen to the recording by clicking the icon below.

The reader takes on the accent of two of Robinson’s classic characters, a “Yankee” and a “Cunuck”, aka French Canadian.   Robinson wrote most of his fiction in the 1890s and it was very popular, particularly in Vermont, right up through the 1930s and 40s when Flanders was collecting her ballad recordings.  Unfortunately we don’t know who the reader is or when the recording was made.  The ballad recording that precedes it on the tape was originally on a disc, which means it was recorded between 1939 and 1950, but the story on the tape seems to be covered over by the ballad recording, and how that happened is a bit of a mystery yet to be solved, and we can’t be certain the singer of the ballad is the same person reading the story.  We may eventually discover a more complete version of the reading.

For more about the Flanders Collection and to hear some of the recordings visit this site.

The home of Rowland E. Robinson is a museum open to the public in nearby Ferrisburgh. www.Rokeby.org