The Digital Production Lab | Headquarters for Pan Am’s Digital Archive

Left to right: Manager of Digital Production Veronica Cabrera uses a bound copy of Clipper Magazine from the Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records to review best scanning practices with student assistant Corey Fehlberg.

By Cory Czajkowski

A few steps beyond the main elevator on the third floor of the Otto G. Richter Library is a generic looking door numbered 346. Despite its ordinary exterior, this door leads to an extraordinary workspace known as the Digital Production Lab (DPL), where skilled imaging specialists convert a wide variety of traditional library materials into digital formats, including printed books, journals, photographs, maps, manuscripts, fine art, and more.

The faculty, staff, and student assistants of the DPL represent an evolving circulation system that has become a prevailing focal point in the University of Miami Libraries’ (UML) mission to open worlds. In this case, rather than simply delivering printed, physical materials to library patrons in-person, the Lab instead offers local and distant users free access to digital surrogates that span the Libraries’ vast collections and strengthen the foundations of teaching, learning, and research at the University. Perhaps most importantly, the DPL’s expert team ensures the long-term preservation of UML’s unique digital content for future generations of scholars.

For the past 1.5 years, the Lab has fittingly served as the heart of operations for the digitization of materials from the Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records under a grant from the National Historic Publications and Records Commission. Whether scanned in-house or off-site, the DPL acted as both the starting point and finish line for 60 boxes of brochures, timetables, directories, and periodicals from the Printed Materials series of the Pan Am collection. The combined efforts have since added over 100,000 new images to UML’s Digital Collections, where they are fully text searchable and available for browsing and research.

Interim Associate Dean for Digital Strategies & Head of Digital Production Laura Capell worked with Digitization Project Manager Gabriella Williams to manage the complex workflows involved with preparing the Pan Am boxes for either of two scanning destinations: in-house with the DPL team, or off-site at Creekside Digital, a leading digitization vendor based in Glen Arm, Maryland.

“For a project of this scale, one of the first considerations was the groundwork laid by our staff and students to carefully record each box item-by-item, while maintaining the original order of the folders and verifying the information listed for each document was complete and accurate,” says Capell. “All 60 boxes were assigned specific digitization instructions for each individual item, which we call ‘technician’s notes’, to help make sure our team and the vendor were on the same page, so to speak.”

Imaging specialists in the Lab use a variety of equipment to digitally preserve materials from UML’s collections.

For in-house scanning, the staff and students of the DPL employed a variety of specialized imaging equipment designed for a wide range of formats. Former Digital Production Technician David Almeida captured high quality images of Pan Am’s oversized posters and maps with the DigiBook SupraScan and used the Atiz BookDrive Pro for smaller bound objects, such as Clipper Magazine, one of the airline’s in-flight publications. Veronica Cabrera, manager of Digital Production, was responsible for the grant’s file management and the Lab’s color calibration, ensuring digital surrogates had the highest level of quality and accessibility.

Additionally, Cabrera supervised the work of two assistants—UM students who have since become fascinated with the records of the former aviation giant. Corey Fehlberg, a student in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, performed quality control reviews of the outsourced Clipper Magazine. He inspected the gutters, or inside margins, of the bound periodical and brochure images produced by Creekside Digital to make sure no information was lost during scanning, ensured that all technical image specifications were met, and verified that the technician’s notes were accurately followed. “The quality control work required my undivided attention, and the experience has taught me to look at the materials from a researcher’s perspective, which has been both challenging and rewarding,” says Fehlberg. Daniel Correa-Manzor, a sophomore studying computer science, assisted with the in-house scanning of selected Pan Am materials. “As an undergrad, it’s incredible to have the opportunity to handle and be a part of the long-term preservation of the archive,” says Correa-Manzor. “It’s fun to imagine that someday my grandchildren will be able to view the work I did as a student under this grant.”

UML welcomed new Digital Production Technician John Hay earlier this year. “It’s great to be a part of a team of like-minded individuals at the DPL,” says Hay. “Working with materials on the history of aviation and Florida is exciting. I feel privileged to be a part of the expansion of new approaches to digitization.”

The culmination of these efforts has resulted in the extensive archive of digital images representing Pan Am’s Printed Materials series. The complete digital collection is now available to the public on the University of Miami Libraries’ Digital Collections web site.

Photos by Brittney Bomnin and Gisele Rocha

Left to right: Digital Production Technicians Robert Largaespada and John Hay perform quality control checks on scanned documents from the Pan Am collection.



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.

By Cory Czajkowski

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



Now Boarding | Explore Pan Am’s Digital Archive

By Cory Czajkowski

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.



Now Accepting Applications: The Dave Abrams and Gene Banning Pan Am Research Grant

The Dave Abrams and Gene Banning Pan Am Research Grant

Abrams Banning Winner Graphic (275x105)The Pan Am Historical Foundation announces the eight annual Dave Abrams and Gene Banning Pan Am Research Grant competition. Up to $1,500 will be awarded to support scholarly research using the Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records held by the University of Miami Libraries’ Special Collections. The grant honors two of Pan Am’s most avid historians, Dave Abrams and Gene Banning.

Since its first international flight in 1927, Pan Am positioned itself as a world leader in American commercial aviation. The Pan Am records date from 1927 to the 1990s and include administrative and financial files; technical and research reports; public relations and promotional materials; internal publications including newsletters, journals and press releases; and thousands of photographs. Image015

The grant is open to advanced graduate students, independent scholars, and faculty. Priority will be given to research proposals that will result in publication in any media.

Application Procedures

Applicants must submit a proposal of no more than two pages describing their research project, include a curriculum vitae or résumé, and provide two letters of recommendation.

Application deadline is October 15, 2015

Please send inquiries and applications to:

The Dave Abrams & Gene Banning Pan Am Research Grant
c/o Jay Sylvestre
University of Miami Libraries
PO Box 248214, Coral Gables, FL 33124-0320
j.sylvestre@miami.edu

About Dave Abrams and Gene Banning

After graduating from the University of Miami, Dave Abrams (1919-2005) joined Pan American Airways and worked for 42 years as a meteorologist, navigator and Director of Flight Operations for Latin America. Abrams was instrumental in the formation of The Pan Am Historical Foundation after the company shut its doors in 1991, and in finding a home for the Pan Am’s archives and memorabilia.

Gene Banning (1918-2006) was one of the longest serving pilots for Pan Am. His aviation days started with the infamous flying boats in 1941 and ended with Boeing 747s in 1978. An avid researcher, Banning was a guiding member of The Pan Am Historical Foundation from its inception and the author of Airlines of Pan American since 1927 (McLean, Va.: Paladwr, 2001).

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About the Pan Am Historical Foundation and the University of Miami Libraries

The Pan Am Historical Foundation is a group dedicated to preserving the heritage of Pan American World Airways. For more information about the Foundation, visithttp://www.panam.org/. The Special Collections of the University of Miami Libraries preserves and provides access to research materials focusing on the history and culture of Florida, the Caribbean and Latin America. The Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records consists of hundreds of boxes of materials and reigns as the most avidly consulted single resource in Special Collections. For more information about the Special Collections of the University of Miami Libraries, visit http://library.miami.edu/specialcollections.

Past Winners

2014: Hadassah St. Hubert, “Visions of a Modern Nation: Haiti at the World’s Fairs”

2013: Ken Fortenberry & Gregg Herken, “Point of No Return: Solving the Mystery of the Lost Clipper”

2012: Felipe F. Cruz, “Flight of the Toucans: Technology and Culture in the Brazilian Airspace”

2012: Gordon H Pirie examined Pan Am’s role in civil aviation to, and from, in post-colonial Africa

2011: Jonathan Ruano, “Pan American Airways, the South Atlantic Route and Rise of the American Empire”

2010: Houston Johnson, “Taking Off: The Politics and Culture of American Aviation, 1927-1929”

2009: Augustine Meaher “Pan Am Arrives Down Under: A Diplomatic and Aeronautical Accomplishment”

2009: Roger Turner, “Pan-Am’s Contribution to the Development of Aeronautical Meteorology”

2007: Jennifer Van Vleck “No Distant Places: Aviation and American Globalism, 1924-1968”

 



CHC receives funding to digitize La Gaceta de La Habana

La Gaceta de La Habana

Gaceta de La Habana, 1889

The Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC) at the University of Miami Libraries has received $29,850 from LAMP and LARRP to digitize its oversize holdings of the nineteenth-century newspaper La Gaceta de La Habana. LAMP (formerly the Latin American Microform Project) and LARRP (Latin Americanist Research Resources Project) are entities devoted to preserving and providing access to Latin American and Caribbean cultural heritage material and are administered by the Center for Research Libraries.

The CHC holds issues of La Gaceta from 1849 to 1899, representing one of the most complete sets of the newspaper publicly available outside of Cuba. Funding from LAMP and LARRP will cover the cost to digitize over 27,000 pages in 44 oversized bound volumes of the newspaper spanning from 1849 to 1886. The 22 volumes for the years 1887-1897, which are smaller in size, are being digitized in-house by the Libraries’ Digital Production unit.

La Gaceta de La Habana was the newspaper of record for the Spanish colonial government in the second half of the nineteenth century in Cuba.  La Gaceta was the successor to Diario de La Habana, which was published until 1848, when it changed its name to La Gaceta de La Habana: Periódico Oficial del Gobierno.  In turn, it was succeeded by La Gaceta Oficial de la República de Cuba in 1902.

The social, cultural, legislative, and commercial information published in the pages of La Gaceta is of interest not only to scholars of Cuban Studies, but also scholars of Atlantic, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies. Digitizing this considerable work will open avenues of research to faculty and students around the world and help preserve an important historical resource.

Meiyolet Méndez, CHC Librarian, and Laura Capell, Head of Digital Production and Electronic Records Archivist, are leading this project.