FIU, UM Join Statewide Effort to Raise Florida Presence in National Online Library

Sunshine State Digital Network Helps Organizations Around State Enlarge Access to their Digitized Collections

Souvenir of Miami, Miami Beach, Florida

Souvenir of Miami, Miami Beach, Florida from the University of Miami Special Collections.

Cultural, historical, and educational institutions throughout South and Central Florida can now share their digitized holdings with people across the United States and around the world with guidance from librarians and digital strategists at Florida International University (FIU) and the University of Miami (UM).

The two universities have partnered with Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee, FL, to create the Sunshine State Digital Network (SSDN), which serves as the state’s administrative and infrastructure portal to the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).

The Boston-based DPLA is a public, open-source platform that connects users to digitized art works, artifacts, archival documents, and other materials from organizations ranging from modest community historical societies to massive cultural institutions. Assets contributed by Florida organizations to DPLA are displayed in search results alongside those from many other collections, fostering learning, research, tourism, business, and other endeavors.

The shared network roles of FIU and UM will be to help South and Central Florida organizations make sure that the metadata—information such as title, description, and copyright status—of each item in their collections conforms to DPLA standards. FIU and UM then transmit the optimized digital files to the SSDN hub at FSU, which gathers and prepares the files for quarterly “harvesting,” or uploading, by the DPLA. FIU and UM also collaborate with the SSDN on efforts to facilitate and expand the representation of Florida institutions in the rapidly growing national research resource.

“DPLA and SSDN offer a tremendous opportunity to share the depth and richness of our state’s digital collections,” said Anne Prestamo, Dean of Libraries at FIU. “We look forward to advising and assisting libraries, museums, and archives throughout South and Central Florida to fully leverage that potential.”

“Through SSDN, we are making it possible for archives, libraries, museums, and other collections across the state to publish their unique holdings on a global platform,” said Charles Eckman, Dean of University of Miami Libraries and University Librarian. “It’s all about fostering discovery and innovation through enhanced access, which is central to our mission and vision.”

By presenting search results aggregated from diverse sources, DPLA also creates new options and experiences for site visitors. “When people see items from Florida troves intermingled with those from other contributors, they are able to make novel connections that would have been extremely difficult to make otherwise,” said Sarah Shreeves, associate dean of digital strategies at UM Libraries.

“The community at large benefits from this increased ability to engage with cultural and historical content across multiple institutions,” noted Jamie Rogers, director of FIU’s Digital Collection Center.

Since FIU and UM have already uploaded a significant portion of their own digital collections to DPLA, the two universities are now prioritizing efforts to grow the number of Florida organizations participating in the initiative. A November series of introductory SSDN workshops attracted representatives from more than 30 public libraries, museums, academic libraries, library cooperatives, and other cultural heritage institutions.

Greater Miami: Guide Book and History to The Magic City

Greater Miami: Guide Book and History to The Magic City from the University of Miami Special Collections.

In addition to outreach and orientation, metadata experts at FIU Libraries and UM Libraries provide interested organizations with hands-on assistance as needed. Initial development of the universities’ SSDN planning, training, and metadata evaluation procedures was supported by a grant from the Knight Foundation.

SSDN goals for 2018 include bringing the State Library and Archives of Florida into the DPLA fold while mentoring the many smaller organizations, both public and private, that seek to share their digital holdings on DPLA.

DPLA is completely open to public and can be visited at dp.la. Items in its collections can be located via a standard search query, maps, timelines, or in special exhibitions, as well as through an array of independently developed extensions that allow highly customized searches.

To learn more about the SSDN, visit sunshinestatedigitalnetwork.org or explore the collections on the dp.la site.



Handle with Care | Preservation Strategies for Pan Am’s Digital Archive

Conservator Duvy Argandoña prepares a document in the Conservation Lab on the first floor of the Otto G. Richter Library.

Repair and conserve: a phrase that drives a vast and complex component of University of Miami Libraries’ (UML) mission. Primary source materials and books are handled over years, decades, and even centuries; room conditions fluctuate, humidity falls and rises, and critters occasionally find their way to them for a snack. For the specialists that manage UML’s Preservation Strategies Department, “repair and conserve” holds a significance akin to a “search and rescue” operation—only rather than a search for people, it’s about the search for and provision of aid to materials that are in distress or imminent danger. As items become damaged and too fragile to handle, they require treatment and special care in order to ensure they can remain accessible by students and researchers in the future.

The grant from the National Historic Publications and Records Commission has allowed UML to sustain such specialized preservation efforts as the digitization of materials from the Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records collection continues. This ongoing project is now at a stage where a second group of images from the renowned aviation collection are in the process of being made accessible by keyword search. These brochures, timetables, directories, and other items require special treatment prior to any scans or photographs to ensure that the text in them can be recognized, or that they can even be handled for image capturing purposes.

Argandoña uses the hot spatula and tweezers to repair small tears in a Pan Am brochure.

Duvy Argandoña is the conservator at the Otto G. Richter Library. She spends a good portion of her workdays in the Conservation Lab repairing Pan Am materials before they can be scanned. The Lab, a brightly-lit, state-of-the-art equipped facility, is an infirmary for the collection’s torn or creased materials, where Argandoña uses specialized machines and tools to reconcile any damage that might interfere with digitization.

“The meticulous work done by Duvy is so important to the process, because it’s essentially our means of loss control—vetting and repairing the materials in a way that ensures we are able to capture the best scans possible,” says Gabriella Williams, who works closely with Argandoña and is managing this digitization project. Williams prepares and triages the materials before they are sent to the Lab. She flags each box, folder-by-folder, and creates a detailed, object-level spreadsheet of the items that require attention.

The humidification dome releases a mist of deionized water to relax a map’s paper fibers.

Argandoña then uses both basic and more complex techniques, depending on the level of damage, to repair the selected materials. “For mending small tears in brochures and timetables, I use the hot spatula tool and heat-set tissue paper,” says Argandoña. She first cuts the tissue paper into five millimeter strips and then uses tweezers to line up the strips with the seams of the torn documents. Carefully holding the tissue paper in place with tweezers, she applies soft pressure with the hot spatula until the paper adheres.

If a large map or fold-out is wrinkled or bent, Argandoña places it in a humidification dome for up to 15 minutes before any further repairs are made. “The dome uses a deionized water vapor mist to help the paper fibers relax, then the item is arranged between blotter paper sheets in the oversized book press for 24 hours, or until all the creases are gone,” says Argandoña.

Martha Horan, head of Preservation Strategies.

On October 17, UML welcomed new Head of Preservation Strategies Martha Horan, who is enthusiastic about working with the Pan Am materials under the NHPRC grant.

“Too often one does not consider the highly skilled, artisan-like techniques that go on behind-the-scenes in a library to stabilize and treat materials as part of preservation and digitization,” says Horan. “It’s an impressive operation here, with an even more impressive team behind it. It’s an exciting time to be a part of the Libraries.”

Digital images of these materials from the Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records—which date from the company’s inception in 1927 until it ceased operations in 1991—are now available to the public for browsing and research purposes on the University of Miami Libraries’ Digital Collections web site.

Photos by Brittney Bomnin



Fact Books (1972 – 2016) Are Now Accessible Online!

By Koichi Tasa, University Archivist

The fact books provide the most reliable benchmark data about the University.

We are pleased to announce the completion of a digitization project of another invaluable publication of the University of Miami, the entire run of the “Fact Books,” produced by the University of Miami Office of Planning, Institutional Research, and Assessment (PIRA).

The fact books provide the most reliable benchmark data about the University, such as student enrollments, retention and graduation rates, degrees granted, class sizes, library statistics, tuition and expenses, research funding, financial highlights, and endowment statistics. They are also an excellent source of information about the University’s history, administration and facilities, student life, and athletics.

The best way to research the collection is to browse the volumes one by one. Please click the icon “Browse All in this collection” at the landing page (link below) to access the digitized fact books. Once you have selected the volume you need, click the “Download” icon on the upper right corner of the screen, and select “All (PDF)” to save the file on your computer.

For further information about the PIRA, please visit their website at the link below.

The digitization project of the Fact Books was made possible by an interdepartmental collaboration among the University Archives, Digital Production, Metadata & Discovery Services, and Web & Application Development at the Otto G. Richter Library.



Now Boarding | Explore Pan Am’s Digital Archive

Thanks to a grant from the National Historic Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the first group of images from the Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records collection have recently landed on the University of Miami Libraries’ Digital Collections website.

Left and center: Fly by Clipper to Hawaii brochure cover and fold-out map, 1949. Right: Miami to Nassau flight map brochure.

Housed in Special Collections at the Otto G. Richter Library, the Pan Am collection is one of UM’s most researched and extensive, containing historical brochures, newsletters, periodicals, correspondence, photographs, and many other records documenting the 60-plus years of aviation history and world impact of the iconic airline. “From gender issues related to the early hiring and treatment of female flight attendants to a local artist constructing a larger-than-life cardboard model of a jet fighter, the collection is vast and eclectic. It’s a source of continuous discoveries, most of them fascinating and delightful,” says Cristina Favretto, head of Special Collections.

Continuing the work of a previous NHPRC-funded grant completed in 2014 to re-process the collection in its entirety, the digitization efforts of this project will ultimately add over 100,000 pages of brochures, timetables, directories, annual reports, and periodicals from the printed materials series to Digital Collections, where the materials are fully text searchable and available to the public for browsing and research purposes.

Digitization Grant Project Manager Gabriella Williams.

“This ongoing project will not only help with improving the discovery and accessibility of the collection worldwide, but will also serve to foster collaboration with other airline companies and institutions,” says Gabriella Williams, digitization grant project manager. Williams has worked extensively with periodicals as Serials Technician at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and brings a strong background in digitization from the Florida Institute of Technology. She started with UM Libraries on February 20 and is supervising the 1.5-year project.

Directing the grant’s workflow, Williams is responsible for entering metadata, flagging duplicates, choosing the best copies for scanning, creating special handling instructions for large fold-outs and maps, and working with student employees to perform quality control checks on the digital images. The next group of boxes to be digitized includes publications that date from the World War II era. “Pan Am played a crucial role in aviation and global history during this time period, as the company was the leader in creating transportation routes and had already established a large fleet of aircrafts, which was invaluable to the war effort in the United States,” says Williams.

Williams reviews executive staff memorandums from the 1930s prior to digitization.



Miró Cardona audio recordings online

José Miró Cardona

Now online: 74 audio recordings from the José Miró Cardona collection including speeches, interviews, and radio broadcasts from the 1960s. The majority of these recordings are speeches and interviews with Miró Cardona and broadcasts of the radio program La voz del Consejo Revolucionario de Cuba. They also include interviews with exile leaders and activists Manuel Antonio Varona, Manuel Ray, and others; radio broadcasts from Cuba; and an interview by Cuban journalists with José Miró Torra, Miró Cardona’s son, who was captured during the Bay of Pigs Invasion.

A lawyer and politician who served as Prime Minister of Cuba for just over one month in early 1959, Miró Cardona (1902-1974) was president of the Consejo Revolucionario Cubano (Cuban Revolutionary Council), or CRC, the Cuban exile organization that worked with the CIA and the administration of US President John F. Kennedy to prepare the Bay of Pigs Invasion of 1961.

These reel-to-reel audio recordings form part of the José Miró Cardona Papers held by the Cuban Heritage Collection.

 



IBIS Yearbook (1927-1959) Now Available Online

IBIS, the University of Miami’s yearbook, has been published annually since 1927. Click the image to browse the digital collection.

IBIS, the University of Miami’s yearbook, has been published annually since 1927. Click the image to browse the collection.

The University of Miami Archives has recently completed a significant digitization project resulting in online access to one of the University’s oldest and most-cherished publications, IBIS yearbook. The first 33 volumes of IBIS, from 1927 to 1959, are now available for browsing and research through the University of Miami Libraries’ website. The collection is fully searchable by keyword, and images can be saved or printed for research or personal use.

Foreword from IBIS, 1927, stating “we hope [this yearbook] will prove as good a guide to those who follow as the blazed trail was to the settlers of the western frontier.” (Click to enlarge.)

Foreword from IBIS, 1927, stating “we hope [this yearbook] will prove as good a guide to those who follow as the blazed trail was to the settlers of the western frontier.” (Click to enlarge.)

The project, which began in fall 2013,  was completed in collaboration with the Libraries’ Preservation, Digital Production, Cataloging & Metadata, and Web & Application Development departments.

Housed at the University Archives in the Otto G. Richter Library, the entire yearbook collection is one of the most frequently researched archival resources by the UM community. It’s also considered a record of enduring historical value on subjects ranging from student life and campus activities to regional and national events. The publication is a frequent past recipient of the Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s Gold Crown Award, the highest honor for college yearbooks in the country.

You can visit the University Archives, located on the eighth floor of the Otto G. Richter Library, on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please contact University Archivist Koichi Tasa for questions or suggestions on archiving and using historical resources of the University of Miami.

Browse the IBIS Yearbook Digital Collection »





Life in an Archive: Examining Operation Pedro Pan, 1960-1962

Program Brought 14,000 Unaccompanied Children to the U.S.

by Natalie Baur, Cuban Heritage Collection Archivist

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A young girl holds her doll as she arrives in the United States with the Operation Pedro Pan Program, circa 1960-1962. From “Cuba’s children in exile: the story of the Unaccompanied Cuban Refugee Children’s Program.” Cuban Refugee Center pamphlet, 1967. (Cuban Refugee Center Records, CHC0218).

Between 1960 and 1962, more than fourteen thousand unaccompanied children left their families in Cuba for a new life in the United States, many of them arriving through Miami. They came as part of a program run by the Catholic Welfare Bureau (Catholic Charities) of Miami, with the support of the U.S. Department of State, known as Operation Pedro Pan. Through the program a large number of children were reunited with family already in the United States, but about half spent their early years in their new country under the care of the Catholic Welfare Bureau. Operation Pedro Pan is an important part of U.S. immigration history, Miami history, and a powerful moment in the Cuban exile community.

In 1961, a month before her fifteenth birthday, Cuban Heritage Collection staff member Gladys Gómez Rossie boarded an airplane alone in Havana and started her journey to the home of an aunt and uncle living in New York. Eventually relocating to Miami when her unaccompanied younger brother arrived, seventeen years passed before Gladys was reunited with her parents in the United States.

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Cuban boys take a sled ride in Columbus, Ohio, circa 1960s. (Cuban Refugee Center Records, CHC0218)

Because of her own experiences, Gladys is dedicated to helping tell her own story and those of countless other Pedro Pan alumni through the power of the archives. Gladys uses materials from the Cuban Heritage Collection archives to share the dynamic history of Operation Pedro Pan with members of the University of Miami’s Federation of Cuban Students, for which she serves as the group’s adviser. Now a beloved annual event for the group, many students look forward to the Operation Pedro Pan presentation as a way to learn about the immigration experiences of their parents and grandparents through photographs, documents, and guest speakers.

Many of the memories and stories around Operation Pedro Pan are preserved and open for study and reflection at the Cuban Heritage Collection. Starting last year, Florida Atlantic University intern Alexandra Díaz processed collections relating to Operation Pedro Pan and created an online subject guide to help users explore the Cuban Heritage Collection’s holdings on the experiences of Pedro Pan families.

James Baker (right), former director of the Ruston Academy in Havana, Cuba, receives an award with Monsignor Bryan Walsh (left) at an Operation Pedro Pan alumni event in 1980 recognizing their instrumental work in organizing Operation Pedro Pan. (Ruston Academy Records, CHC5293).

James Baker (right), former director of the Ruston Academy in Havana, Cuba, receives an award with Monsignor Bryan Walsh (left) at an Operation Pedro Pan alumni event in 1980 recognizing their instrumental work in organizing Operation Pedro Pan. (Ruston Academy Records, CHC5293).

Stay tuned throughout Archives Month for stories about how UM students, researchers, donors, and community members are breathing life into UM Libraries’ unique and distinctive collections. Happy Archives Month!