Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A yearbook named msmc01001-1-1

Lightning title page.
TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-SEVEN yearbooks, catalogs, journals or magazines have been carefully entered in the complex Excel spreadsheets; only 2,177 items to go. The physical objects are on their way to becoming digital ones, and pretty much the first order of business is to give this particular yearbook a new name in proper computerese. MSMC01001-1-1 is Mount St. Mary's College's first item in the first box of the first shipment, and will thus be our first digital object to go into the Internet Archive.

After a couple days of processing with my meticulous volunteer, library student Jennifer Ta of San Jose State, we are up to MSMC04002-10-39, which happens to be the final volume of Inter-Nos, the excellent campus quarterly journal that ceased publication in 1958. Its successor, Westwords, is next on the data docket. (Volume I, No. 1, of January, 1959, will be MSMC05001-1-1, in case you were wondering.)


For us as new members of the Lyrasis Mass Digitization project,  this is what the process is all about -- creating a representation of a real book in a form that can be understood by a computer.  The process involves lots of spreadsheets, first to inventory the items and numbers of pages, then to create the metadata (aka "data about data") that will make the collection and individual items appear in a web search, and finally to generate paper packing lists for the numerous heavy-duty shipping boxes. 

When the scanning company is done taking pictures and capturing text from our pages, the spreadsheets we create will be married up with the scans, and voila -- a searchable database of pages in the data "cloud." The same process will be repeated through the remaining eight collections selected for digital glory.

Ironically, MSMC01001 - 1 - 1 technically isn't a Mount publication. It's Lightning, the yearbook of St. Mary's Academy for 1930, the last of the of the five years the Mount met at the high school campus. We selected it for scanning with the rest of the Mount yearbooks because it has some interesting text and a picture of the new Chalon Campus, and of course there were many future Mount students and CSJs among the SMA student body.

It's exciting, this process of bringing history to the 21st Century community of the Mount -- even if we're mostly typing strings of letters and numbers at this stage.


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