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Jenny Brown, Collection Manager of the Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants at Harvard, will be giving a lecture about this amazing collection, with its 847 species created between 1887 and 1936 by the Blaschkas’ German studio. The event is at Brooklyn’s Observatory at 8pm, August 27, 2013. Tickets are $8. Presented by Morbid Anatomy.

Details of the event here: http://observatoryroom.org/2013/08/04/the-glass-flowers-marvels-in-art-and-science/

 

Allow me to be blunt – there is no efficient way to import finding aids created and saved as Microsoft Word documents into Archivists’ Toolkit without the painstaking exercise of copying and pasting lines of data into individual database cells.  For the past eighteen months, we have been writing finding aids for the archival collections in the Library thanks to the CLIR grant.  Twenty one finding aids have been completed and reviewed.  The final Word documents, once approved, are entered into the Toolkit, as mentioned, by copying and pasting data.  It can be a slow and tedious process, especially when dealing with numerous subject headings and name entities.  Entering lengthy container lists is even more dreary – dates must be input into multiple cells, a simple box and folder enumeration containing only two numbers is seven clicks from completion.  Not the best use of anyone’s time.  Not to mention the probability for error!  When your eyes are glazed over from transferring data piece-meal for hours, a “7” could easily look like a “1”.

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Over the past year, we have been gathering descriptive data in spreadsheets for archival collections in the Library and Science Departments. Collection records are then converted into MARC and batchloaded into the catalog. EAD-encoded collection-level finding aids will also be generated using Archivists’ Toolkit. The ultimate goal is to publish catalog records and finding aids on the web for resource discovery. (You may be asking yourself) what in the world does all this mean? Here, let me illustrate the journey of data in this colorful, and hopefully more intelligible flowchart. Click here for a PDF. And look for links to handy guidelines!

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In December 2011, the AMNH Research Library hosted the first of three site visits being conducted by the CLIR postdoctoral fellowship team continuing their research into scholarly engagement in cataloging hidden collections.  With a focus on natural history collections, we are in the company of the University of California Museum of Paleontology and the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, also 2010 CLIR recipients for the Cataloging Hidden Collections grant.  The multi-year study investigates the roles scholars play when interacting with librarians and archivists.  You can see some of their findings here.

Our guests for the day were postdocs Lori Jahnke, Timothy Stinson, Elizabeth Waraksa, joined by two members from CLIR, Alice Bishop and Amy Lucko.  The study team gave a presentation of their research methodology and findings so far. Tom, Barbara, Becca, and I shared our project objectives, gave a tour of the Research Library and were fortunate enough to visit Ruth O’Leary in the Vertebrate Paleontology Archives (as well as sneak a peek into the Anthropology and Ornithology archives!).

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For the last couple of weeks, I have been working on transforming the Department Records spreadsheet data into solid MARC records using MarcEdit. MarcEdit has a “handy, dandy function” called the Delimited Text Translator which allows you to assign individual fields to a MARC code complete with indicators and subfields using the Tab Delimited Text Wizard! Sounds exciting, no? But let me back up for a moment…

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It has been a productive summer in the AMNH Research Library: 454 collections cataloged in the Photographic Print collection, and 461 collections for the Photographic Slides. That’s over 900 collections recorded for a single term! To our benefit, we did start with some pretty solid inventories, but verifying the data and assessing risk is no small task. Many improvements were made such as adding access points to the subject and contributor fields. Titles, dates, and summaries were revised to be made DACS-compliant. There was even time to do authority work on personal and corporate names. In twelve weeks, I think we accomplished a lot.

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In arranging and describing the T. Donald Carter Field Book Collection, a question emerged that required delving into the topic of field books with more specificity than had previously been required. Though he was AMNH Assistant Curator of Mammals, TDC was what you might call an obsessive bird bander from his youth through post-retirement. Whether it was at his country house in New Jersey or while on expedition in South America for the AMNH, TDC engaged in bird banding activities all the time. What exactly is bird banding, you ask? I had to learn that as well: bird banding is an attempt to track bird migration by placing a ring around one of their feet. The TDC bird banding books include recorded date regarding dates, locations and numerical values assigned to different birds. I was unsure if these activities, outside of the scope of TDC’s official scientific department and conducted outside of his purview as AMNH mammals curator, constituted field books, as the TDC personal Papers are a distinct collection from the Field Books from scientific expeditions sponsored by the musuem.

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