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Ballooning update

Work on the RLG Ballooning project is proceeding, with a due date of the end of April now in place.

Sharyn has been working diligently on the historical ballooning images. Some issues that have come up:

  • Many scans are cropped, from minor cuts (uneven borders trimmed) to major (50% or more of the image cropped out). The bigger the crop, the harder it is to match the image in the book to the image as scanned.

  • Many of the captions or illustration titles that Sharyn must transcribe are in other languages, primarily French and German. While she can enter special characters in these languages with only a little slowdown, the real issue is when German titles are in the Fraktur script, which is extremely difficult for the untrained eye. Luckily, we have the trained eye of Sue Zuriff on staff. Sue has agreed to help out with any Fraktur script we run across.
  • One of the books that posed an intellectual problem was a bibliography that reprinted images from its list of works on the history of ballooning. Captions for these images were limited to "See No. 175" or something similar, directing the reader to the work from which the image was pulled. The question was whether to chase these references down, communicating to the viewer the bibliographic information for the source.

    In the end, the cataloger's adage to "catalog the book you have in your hand" and the pressures of time convinced me that the best approach was to include a descriptive note for the entire book to the effect that the captions referred to works in the bibliography.
  • The principal bottleneck in the process of creating this metadata is actually finding the images in the books. Usually, only a selection of images from each book were scanned, ignoring the sequence in which they appear in the book; and their identifying numbers give no clue as to their page number.

    It has become apparent that we will need to bring in help to do the task of finding the images within the books and flagging them for Sharyn's descriptive work. Beth Kaplan of Archives and Special Collections has volunteered funds to pay for such a student, a a search is under way in both Wilson and Andersen to find a student in-house who could perform such a task.