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Not Your Grandmother's Library!


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An overview of library types with a description of the Purposeful Gaming research project and the digitization of seed and nursery catalogs, and how research library continue to provide collections and services , but also conduct research and build digital collections.

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Not Your Grandmother's Library!

  1. 1. Not Your Grandmother’s Library! Marty Schlabach Food & Agriculture Librarian Mann Library Cornell University Interlaken Historical Society April 25, 2016
  2. 2. Types of Libraries •Public Library • Small Towns to Large Cities •School Library • Elementary, Middle School, High School •Special Library • Museums, Hospitals, Courts, Corporations, etc. •Academic Library • Colleges, Universities, etc.
  3. 3. Large Collections of Strength at Cornell • Asia Collections • • Witchcraft Collection • • Ethel Z. Bailey Horticultural Catalogue Collection •
  4. 4. Listings of fruit and vegetables with descriptions Amateur's Fruit and Ornamental Trees, York, PA 1867
  5. 5.
  6. 6. Ethel Zoe Bailey 1889-1983 • Curated the seed & nursery collection for 4+ decades, 1930s-1980s • Daughter of Liberty Hyde Bailey • Graduated from Smith College 1911 • Assisted her father with many of his plant collection trips around the world • Assisted and coauthored with her father many of his botany and horticultural publications • Awarded the George Robert White Medal in 1967 from the Massachusetts Historical Society • Awarded the Smith College Medal in 1970 • Continued curating the seed & nursery catalog collection until her death in 1983 at the age of 93 • Lived a long and distinguished career in botany and horticulture
  7. 7. How was it used? 1889 Introduction of Vick’s Irondequoit Melon, as found in Annals of Horticulture, by LH Bailey
  8. 8. Image of collection in Mann Vault
  9. 9. Why Digitize Seed & Nursery Catalogs? • Taxonomists • Discover dates of early introductions of new plants • Gardeners • Peruse old catalogs for historical availability and uses of traditional cultivars of heirloom annuals and perennials • Museums and botanical gardens • Recreate historical gardens • Plant breeders • Look for descriptions of plants with unique disease and pest resistance • Historians of art and illustration • Drawn to the striking representations of flowers, fruit & vegetables • Historians of printing • Catalogs documented changes in printing • Text-only broadsides & pamphlets • Multipage booklets with engraved illustrations • Colorful lithographs added • Photographic illustrations, b&w and later color
  10. 10. Collaborative Digitization Effort • Cornell University Library • Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium (Plant Specimen Collection) • Ethel Zoe Bailey Horticultural Catalog Collection • 130,000+ catalogs • New York Botanical Garden • LuEsther T. Mertz Library • 50,000+ catalogs • National Agriculture Library, USDA • Henry G. Gilbert Nursery & Seed Trade Catalog Collection • 200,000+ catalogs
  11. 11. Cornell’s Digitization • Public Domain items only • i.e. no longer under copyright • Pre-1923 American, public domain • Post-1922 American, need research to determine • Non-US catalogs • different copyright laws apply • Began scanning firms that carried grapevines • Ethel Bailey indexed catalogs by specie & cultivated variety (cultivar) • Then scanned other firms not held by partners • Funding in part provided by • Institute for Museum & Library Services (IMLS)
  12. 12. Seed & Nursery Catalog Digital Collection • Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) • • Collaboration among 20+ botanical & natural history libraries • 180,000+ volumes • 49,000,000+ pages • Seed & Nursery Catalog Collection • • A subcollection in BHL • Currently 23,000+ volumes and growing • 1,100,000+ pages • Combining NAL, NYBG, and Cornell digitized catalogs
  13. 13. Broadside One sheet only Approx 12”x18” (Prince Nursery, 1793)
  14. 14. B & W Lithography, followed by chromolithography
  15. 15. BHL Problem Statement: • Major challenge for digital libraries: • full-text searching of scanned texts is significantly hampered by poor output from Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. • Historic literature has proven to be particularly problematic because of its tendency to have • varying fonts • varying typesetting • varying layouts • ink bleed-through • foxing • other physical condition issues
  16. 16. VicK's Garden and Floral Guide for 1908 GAIN it is our pleasure to send to our customers and friends a copy of Vick's Garden and Floral Guide for 1908, trusting it will meet with as warm a welcome as has been accorded its half-hundred pre- decessors, and that its contents will receive as careful and discriminat- ing attention. It has always been our policy to spare neither time nor expense in selecting the best of Seeds ; to give our customers the best possible for their money ; to make it a question not of price, but ot quality ; to give a square deal and only ask a square deal in return. Therefore, we have omitted many of the so-called novelties listed in various catalogues, and offer for your consideration only those which careful trials, extending over several seasons, have shown to be worthy of a place in the 1908 edition. Among them, we ask you to note particularly the Rochester Beet, the 20th Century Cabbage, Refugee Wax Bean, Golden Self-Blanching Celery, Golden Nugget Sweet Corn, Lemon Cucumber, Big Boston Lettuce, Irondequoit Muskmelon, Ailsa Craig Onion (the finest of recent introductions), Thomas Laxton Pea, Vick's Early Scarlet Globe Radish, Earliana Tomato. Surely this list must make you want a garden, if only a few feet square, and the entire Specialty Colleclion can be had for $1.00, postpaid.
  17. 17. • National Leadership Grant for Libraries awarded to Missouri Botanical Garden in St Louis. • Partners included • Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology Library • New York Botanical Garden Library • Cornell University Library • Ran Dec 2013-Nov 2015 • Funded in part by IMLS Purposeful Gaming and BHL: engaging the public in improving & enhancing discovery & access to digital texts
  18. 18. • Built an online game to crowdsource the correction of inaccurate OCR • Crowdsourced the transcription of inaccurate OCR and handwritten texts • Added new content types upon which to test the approach • Seed & Nursery Catalogs & Seed Exchange Lists • Test OCR correction on this content type • Crowd-source the transcription when needed • Field Notebooks, • Handwritten, OCR virtually impossible • Crowd-source the transcription How are we engaging the public in improving and enhancing the discovery and access to digital texts in BHL?
  19. 19. Beanstalk
  20. 20. • Smorball 1353 sessions 1081 players • Beanstalk 991 sessions 829 players Amount of Game-Playing?
  21. 21. What happens with the game output? • Multiple players enter the same character string for a word, system considers it correct • String of characters or the correct word is added to the index • Made available for searching & improves discoverability
  22. 22. Not your grandmother’s library! • Libraries continue to provide collections & services and assist users in finding information • But libraries also engage in research and contribute to the development of new digital collections and services through special projects
  23. 23. Thanks to my colleagues at: • Mann Library, Cornell University • Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium, Cornell University • Biodiversity Heritage Library • Mertz Library, New York Botanical Garden • Peter H. Raven Library, Missouri Botanical Garden • National Agriculture Library, USDA • Institute for Museum and Library Services • Tiltfactor
  24. 24. Questions??