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Northwestern University Transportation Library Menu Collection

Slide 1
Northwestern University Transportation Library Menu Collection

  • Northwestern University

Notes:
Paul Burley, Cataloging/Indexing Librarian at the Northwestern University Transportation Library, Evanston, Illinois

The Transportation Library is special library within the Northwestern University Main Library; meaning we independently perform acquisitions, provide reference, and catalog independently of the Main Library, and have our own ILL units

450,000 volumes in monographic collection; 311,000 articles in TRANWeb Article Database; contributor to TRIS

In my presentation today I’ll roughly follow the chronology of the Transportation Menu project, with a sidestep into brief explanation of EAD, since I’ll be throwing that word around pretty extensively, conclude with some lessons learned from the project and the continued status of the project.

In the background of this presentation, I’m approaching this as working on the project as a semi-novice:
--I consider myself a librarian, and this is an archival collection;
--I had no experience with EAD;
--I had little understanding of the underlying software to deliver the EAD to the web, and still don’t;
--And I think I’m pretty typical of someone (i.e., a cataloger) who’s going to work on a project like this.

Slide 2
Menu Links

  • Transportation Menu splash page:
    http://www.library.northwestern.edu/transpor tation/digital-collections/menus/
  • Transportation Menu EAD:
    http://findingaids.library.northwestern.edu/fe dora/get/inu:inu-ead-trans- 001/inu:EADbDef11/getDescriptiveSummary

Notes:
Important links:
Transportation Menu splash page
Transportation Menu EAD

These will be available as single clicks once the presentation is archived; can also be navigated from the Northwestern University Library page.

Slide 3
Provenance of Menu Collection

  • Bulk of collection a gift from George M. Foster
  • Noted anthropologist from the University of California, Berkeley, also Northwestern University Alumnus
  • Important donor to the Northwestern University Africana Library

Notes:
Provenance of Menu Collection
Bulk of collection a gift from George M. Foster
>>>Display Foster biography

Mr. Foster was a noted anthropologist from the University of California, Berkeley, also Northwestern University Alumnus Important donor to the Northwestern University Africana Library; along with his donation came a collection of airline menus from his extensive travels throughout the world, meaning, the entire world

A link to his biography is available from our menu page.

Slide 4
The Transportation Library Menu Collection

  • Curator: Roberto Sarmiento
  • Received menu collection in 1997; focused exclusively on air transportation, but has since been broadened
  • Now includes over 400 menus
  • International in scope
  • Unusual collection in that Mr. Foster annotated menus

Notes:
The curator of the collection is Roberto Sarmiento.
When the Transportation Library received menu collection in 1997; focused exclusively on air transportation
The earliest menu is of the steamship SS Bremen, Germany, 1927, in German, which Transportation Library already owned,
>>>Display Bremen menu
The Bremen menu probably also has the most extensive menu of any in the collection, with roughly 46 items served.
We also have another luxury liner menu from the QE2.
Due to new donations, not all the menus are incorporated into the EAD or digitized yet: we have more rail menus and airport terminal menus.
The collection now includes over 400 items, and is a growing collection

The collection is international in scope: not just Europe/North America, but also Africa, South America and Australasian After working on this project I think I gained concept of the __culture__ of air travel that existed in the mid-20th century that predates me.

It’s also valuable collection in that Mr. Foster annotated many of his menus, most often about the quality of the food, but also the date of the specific flight, type of airplane for the flight, the specific routes (which were by no means direct back in the day), his travel companions. This ties the menus to a very specific point in time, valuable not only for research, but also for establishing provenance.

Slide 5
Why a Transportation Menu Collection?

  • Institutional emphasis on uncovering hidden collections
  • Custodial responsibility to the donor
  • Research value: touches on interdisciplinary fields, not just transportation
  • Resource that can be used by both researchers and the general public

Notes:
At this point, you may ask, why did the Transportation Library and the University Library choose this collection, of all collections in the library, to go through the costly process that went into this project?

First and foremost there is a major emphasis at Northwestern to uncover hidden collections in the library. This was identified as one of the hidden collections.

Secondly, we needed to show custodial responsibility to the collection received from Mr. Foster. It was fortuitous that we created a finding aid and started the larger project, because when Mr. Foster visited the library, he didn’t just stop in the Africana Library to discuss his donation, he detoured into Transportation and asked specifically about the status of the menu collection.

Finally, research value. Roberto Sarmiento wrote in the introduction to the collection that the menus touch on “art, history, economics, sociology, culinary, and transportation topics [and present] an invaluable picture of the history of commercial air travel.  This collection would be of interest to transportation researchers and historians, culinary historians, sociologists, and travel aficionados.”

An important aspect of this particular collection is that it’s a resource that can be used by both researchers and the general public. And indeed the interest of the general public in the collection has been in how air transportation has changed for passengers, and especially the fact that airlines once served an extensive menu, and now serve almost nothing.

Slide 6
Original Finding Aid: MS Word

  • Finding aid was created in 2005 by Ron Carrier, library assistant, and Tim Leonard, student assistant
  • Created as MS Word documents; each menu description existed as a separate Word document

Notes:
So, how the project got started.
The original finding aide developed for the collection was created by Ron Carrier, library assistant at Northwestern University Transportation Library, and Tim Leonard, student assistant
Much like most finding aids, it existed only in Microsoft Word
The finding aid was not one flat file originally; each menu had own MS Word document
Here’s an example of the Word finding aide for Air France 002.
>>>Display Word finding aide AF002

Slide 7
MS Word Docs > EAD/Fedora

  • Crosswalk from MS Word doc(s) to EAD/XML
  • EAD loaded onto Fedora platform by Library IT at later phase
  • Splash page added to link to EAD in later phase

Notes:
Actual mechanics of creating the online finding aid:
Main cataloging used the MS Word documents and performed a crosswalk from MS Word to EAD/XML
LATER PHASE of PROJECT: EAD loaded onto Fedora software by Library IT
LAST PHASE of PROJECT before launch: Splash page added to link
>>>Splash page

Slide 8
EAD: Encoded Archival Description

  • Developed at University of California, Berkeley in 1993
  • Roughly analogous to MARC standard for archival finding aids
  • EAD developed originally in SGML; moved to XML
  • Hierarchical in nature

Notes:
Sidenote: I’d like to talk briefly about EAD at this point.
EAD is Encoded [] Archival [] Description.
Developed at University of California, Berkeley in 1993 by a group of archivists
Roughly analogous at MARC standard, except for archival finding aids
EAD developed originally in SGML; moved to XML in 1999
>>>Display EAD in XML
The EAD is hierarchical in nature as you’ll see in the next image, developed by Amanda J. Wilson.

Slide 9
EAD Resources

  • Library of Congress EAD Version 2000 Official Site http://www.loc.gov/ead/
  • OhioLINK Database Management and Standards Committee: http://platinum.ohiolink.edu/dms/ead/contentguide/ContentGuidelines_v2_0.pdf

Notes:
Two excellent references, among many, are the:
Library of Congress EAD Version 2000 Official Site: http://www.loc.gov/ead/
I found the OhioLINK Database Management and Standards Committee:
http://platinum.ohiolink.edu/dms/ead/contentguide/ContentGuidelines_v2_0.pdf
Especially important is the following diagram showing the structure of an EAD:
>>>Show EAD hierarchy

Slide 10
Transportation Menu EAD

  • Doesn’t fit neatly into the standard collection, series, file, item hierarchy
  • Menu EAD: Collection level: descriptive summary, subject headings, administrative information, biography/history, and scope and content
  • File level: used corporate bodies
  • Item level: menus

Notes:
The Transportation Menu EAD didn’t strictly fit into this
Collection level, pretty standard: descriptive summary, subject headings, administrative information, biography/history, and scope and content
Collection level written by Roberto Sarmiento
File level: used corporate bodies
>>>Show EAD corporate bodies
Item level: menus
>>>Menus

Slide 11
Editing of XML EAD

  • Received EAD/XML for editing
  • Corrected basic errors from the many individual item-level records; all diacritics mapped to EAD
  • PRB working in XML viewed through Mozilla; could not see final version in Fedora
  • Sticking point in project

Notes:
So back to the project,
After the crosswalk from MS Word I received the EAD/XML for editing
Corrected very few errors from item-level records
Astounded feat that all diacritics, and because this is an international collection, there are many diacritics in the text, mapped to the EAD
Needed a lot of editing at the higher-level elements.
So I was working with the XML file, which I could only view through Mozilla
Could not see final version in Fedora: sticking point in project
Asked IT to load the XML file into Fedora over and over and over to see my edits

Slide 12
Deacidification

  • Deacidification occurred simultaneously with the creation of EAD
  • Deacidification was mostly outsourced
  • Necessary because menus were created as ephemera on acidic paper
  • Deacidification occurred in batches

Notes:
In the background of the project:
Simultaneous to the creation of the EAD were the deacidification and digitzation of the menus.
I was already at the editing stage of the process without having the physical menus in hand – they were out at deacidification

Menus are ephemera so they’re likewise printed on acidic paper. The entire collection is physically in excellent condition, but it’s only a matter of time before it becomes brittle and sees damage.

It’s very important to note that as custodians of the collection, we’re as concerned with the physical preservation of the collection as creating a finding aid/EAD/digitization.

The Main Library provided the monies for deacidification; did not have to come from our budget; it was part of the larger budget of deacidification at Northwestern.

So the menus came back in three sets as the project moved along.

Slide 13
Digitization of Images

  • Performed in-house according to University standards
  • 600 dpi uncompressed TIFF 24-bit color for archival masters and JPEG2000 for delivery
  • Many menus in unconventional formats: multiple pages, folders containing discrete sheets, and a scroll

Notes:
The digitization of the menus was performed according to the University Library’s established standards for digital imaging: 600 dpi uncompressed TIFF 24-bit color for archival masters and JPEG2000 for delivery.
Digitization seems a challenge to me; some menus are in a standard flat-sheet format
Many in very __unconventional__ formats, such as the Bremen ship menu, which exists in parts; folders containing multiple discrete sheets
The infamous menu is actually rolled up into a scroll >>>TWA

Slide 14
Interface for Transportation Library Menu Collection

  • Menus are unlike single photographs, etc., such as those found in other NU Library collections
  • Separate interface developed with thumbnail index at left and full images at right
  • Full images can be navigated, zoomed, and otherwise examined

Notes:
At this point it became clear that menus would be not just a finding aide, but rather an exhibition of sorts
IT developed an interface to browse menus
>>>Go back to AF002
Very pleased with the work that went into the interface; for me, this was unexpected aspect of the project
Zooming of images allows viewing of features not apparent to examination of fine details
Same ability exists with Africana Maps collection at NUL; more significant in detailed examination of maps

Slide 15
Copyright Statement

  • Menus may or may not be under copyright; all are post-1923
  • Some airlines/railroad companies still exist, many do not
  • Did not want to deal with permission from each company
  • Copyright statement came from University Legal Counsel

Notes:
Prior to the launch of the menus, we needed clarification on the copyright issues of displaying the digitzed menus.
Menus may of may not be under copyright; all are post-1913.
Some airlines and railroad companies still exist, many do not
Did not want to deal with obtaining permission from each corporation that issued a menu; beyond our resources
Copyright statement came from University Legal Consel, and is found on our splash page

The gist of the copyright statement is found in the opening: “The Northwestern University Library respects the intellectual property rights of others. These digitized menus have been made available solely for non-commercial research, teaching and private study. Northwestern University has not sought the permission of the copyright holders to digitize menus and does not claim any copyright interest in these menus.”

Copyright clearances is up to the individual who wants to use the images.

Slide 16
PR

  • Worked with University Public Relations and Library Public Relations throughout 2007
  • Menus used extensively in University publications
  • Culminated with writing of press release
  • At this point we moved from a traditional archival finding aid to an exhibition

Notes:
Through 2007 we worked with University Public Relations and Library Public Relations
The menus used extensively in University publications, on the Library website, etc.
PR produced a press release
At this point, from their point of view, we moved from a tradition archival finding aide to an exhibition

Slide 17
Launch

  • November 6, 2007
  • Questions and technical troubleshooting needed from first morning
  • Immediate response from bloggers
  • Closely followed by Chicago newspapers and eventually national outlets
  • Continued coverage

Notes:
Our launch was November 6, 2007 with a press release going out from University PR.

Questions and technical troubleshooting were needed from first morning. I had e-mails coming in at some points almost every five minutes and telephone calls almost constantly.

Reporters didn’t understand the interface and I spent time guiding them through to find the actual images

The most immediate response from bloggers – they were fascinated with the collection but in their usual honestly they gave a blunt evaluation of our interface

That was closely followed by coverage in the Chicago newspapers and eventually a MSNBC and CNN (the websites), a spot on NPR and a local radio station

Since November we’ve continued to find articles and references to the collection in more sources

Slide 18
Lessons Learned

  • Different user communities have different expectations
  • Copyright statement interpretations
  • Navigation between interfaces received poor reception by general public
  • “Search” box issue
  • Internal issues: software, interface, URLs, etc.

Notes:
Different user communities have different expectations: the traditional archival community sees this as a research tool vs. general public seeing this as an exhibition of digital images

The copyright statement came to be interpreted beyond our strict statement; PR, newspapers and bloggers copied and used images at will

Navigation between interfaces received poor reception by general public. We have the splash page, which connects to the EAD, which has a link at the bottom right to the collection levels; what the general public really wanted was to just plain find the digital images.

(splash page >> EAD >> collection levels >> images themselves)
>>>Search box on AF002
“Search” box poorly understood: searches all the finding aids, not the actual menu collection: this point is being worked out right now
Internal issues: software, interface, URLs, etc.
Different units in the NU Library using different XML editing software – we all need to be using one product.
The interface and links to the EADs – all of them at Northwestern – greatly need to be simplified and improved.
The URLs are too long.

We do have an EAD user’s group, which I’m part of, and we’re tackling these issues as well as the larger issue of how to migrate 400+ paper finding aids at the University Library into EADs.

Slide 19
Lessons Learned: Paul Burley

  • Not just cataloging in MARC/AACR2
  • Definition of “cataloger” will broaden, especially in the special library environment
  • Will be using new metadata schemes, most likely unfamiliar ones, with little notice
  • XML, and whatever is next

Notes:

I knew without a doubt that I wanted to be a cataloger when I was working at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute from 1997 on. I ___thought___ at the time, and throughout library school, that I’d be cataloging strictly in the MARC/AACR2 environment. Bad assumption.

In the special library environment “cataloging” doesn’t just include monographs and electronic resources, but also archival resources, and whatever else I might be assigned. So there’s a blurred distinction between a traditional cataloger, working with archival materials, working with metadata… and that’s a general trend even within the Main Library.

At the same time I need to be strongly rooted in the MARC/AACR2 cataloging environment, both from the bibliographic and authorities side.

I’m certain now that in the future I’ll be quote unquote “cataloging” in new metadata schemes, most likely unfamiliar ones, with little notice

Finally, as far as keeping up with technology, or not, I thought HTML was good enough; I did get through editing in XML, but clearly I needed to already have knowledge of XML.

Slide 20
Menu Collection: Into the Future

  • Growth of the menu collection, further deacidification, digitization, and incorporation into EAD
  • Redesign of workflow by EAD creators/editors
  • Redesign of EAD interface
  • EAD for other Transportation Library collections

Notes:
Looking into the future, we’ll see:

Growth of the menu collection, which has already occurred, mainly through internal sources but now inquiries from outside sources, further deacidification, digitization, and incorporation into EAD

We need a redesign of workflow and interface of our EADs

As far as the redesign of EAD interface – the discussion have already begun, and there’s a possibility of a one-year FTE working on just the redesign of the process and interface

Finally, we hope to create a few more EADs with some collections from the Transportation Library