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About the Exhibit...


     In June 2004, a few members of the L&ET staff met to discuss the possibility of digitizing selected “Founding Documents” in Special Collections in celebration of JMU’s upcoming Centennial in 2008.  By early 2005, Special Collections Librarian Chris Bolgiano drafted a proposal stating the purpose of the project as follows:  “To enable the Library to make a substantial, permanent, and uniquely relevant contribution to the celebration of the JMU Centennial that will begin in January 2008.”  Toward that end, Ms. Bolgiano also described the intended goal:

To digitize a selection of the most important documents dating from the establishment and earliest years of the institution that reflect the values, goals, and strategies of administrative planning, the nature of curricular offerings, and the multiple facets of student life.  Further, to create an attractive, user-friendly, searchable website to facilitate access to these documents by a variety of patrons, from elderly alumni to contemporary students researching topics in education (JMU Founding Documents Digitizing Project Proposal.  Chris Bolgiano, Special Collections Librarian, Jan. 18, 2005).

The L&ET staff moved forward in the spirit of that goal.  With the exception of a“search feature, which was not feasible to incorporate at the time, Phase I of the Founding Documents in Special Collections webpage now contains links to hundreds of early documents and images in the JMU Historical Collection, organized into the following six categories:  Academics, Board of Trustees, Faculty, President Burruss, Student Life, and Timeline.  [Upon completion of Phase II this fall, scans of the original minutes of the Board of Trustees, as well as documents from President Julian A. Burruss will also be available.]


     This web exhibit involved several people in very different capacities. During the planning stages of the project, Chris Bolgiano, Special Collections Librarian, selected documents and collections to include and coordinated with the staff of L&ET’s Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) to establish procedures and workflow. Craig Baugher, CIT Graphic Designer, spearheaded the scanning, which took place between 2004 and 2007. Over the course of the project, scanning equipment included a Microtek Scanmaker 9800 XL flatbed scanner and an Epson Expression 10000XL flatbed scanner, as well as a Canon EOS 10D Digital SLR camera, at 6.3 megapixels. While one widely respected source for industry standards suggests that master .tiff images be scanned at 600 ppi, that same source also emphasizes that “the master image should be the highest quality you can afford.” (Western States Digital Standards Group, Digital Imaging Working Group.  “Western States Digital Imaging Best Practices.” Version 1.0. January 2003. p. 24-31.) Given the extremely slow rate of scanning at 600 ppi, and the enormous file sizes that resulted, it was decided that in the interest of labor and server space, the majority of the items would be scanned at 400 ppi and saved as uncompressed .tiff files residing on a server in CIT.

     With the retirement of Chris Bolgiano in December 2005, Preservation Specialist Julia Merkel took over the task of coordinating with Craig Baugher to continue scanning. In August 2006, when the new Special Collections Librarian, Tracy Harter, came on board, the scanning was approximately two-thirds complete. In the fall, Harter and Merkel collaborated with a number of L&ET staff to move the project forward: Sandy Maxfield, Director of CIT; Jennifer Keach, Head of Digital Services; Bill Hartman, Systems Administrator; Craig Baugher, CIT Graphic Designer; and Kevin Hegg, CIT Software Engineer. After lengthy discussion, the group determined that a web exhibit was more practical and sustainable at this time than a searchable digital collection. A new web manager was to start in October and would work with Special Collections on an exhibit-style web design.

     Service images were then created from the master images. Harter coordinated with Kevin Hegg, who used xat’s Professional Image Optimizer to batch-process .jpg derivatives of varying sizes when necessary, typically for images of 800-pixels and/or 1600 pixels on the long side.  These worked very well for serving the student literary society posters. However, for multi-page documents, of which there were several, individual .jpgs were unwieldy, so Harter used Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Professional to combine multiple .jpg images into .pdfs. Images were reviewed and file names verified to help establish the sequence in which they should be ordered in the combined .pdf. Occasional scanning errors or omissions were also identified and corrected.  Descriptive metadata, which would have proven helpful for management of the digital collection during this process, as well as assisting with search functions in the future, had never been compiled. However, this additional step was taken with the Board of Trustees minutes, and will be taken with the addition of the Burruss documents, then completed retrospectively as time permits.

     Greg Brown, Web Manager for the Library’s Digital Services, spearheaded the web design after Julia Merkel's initial mock-up.  Harter coordinated with Baugher and Hegg to complete the remaining scanning, to continue creating the necessary .pdfs, to take responsibility for transferring all service copies of images to the library webserver, and for documenting the location of those files to Brown as they became available for linking.  Merkel selected images for the timeline from the JMU Historic Photos Online Collection and provided those locations to Brown.

     The documents that comprise the President Burruss Papers were generously provided in digital form as pdfs by Tamara Kennelly, University Archivist at Virginia Tech, for use in this exhibit.  The digital images were then described and arranged chronologically by Special Collections staff.  JMU is fortunate to have been given the opportunity to serve these images here for academic use; please cite them appropriately.

     Special Collections invites the JMU community and the general public to review and enjoy the site.  Suggestions for improvements, enhancements, or corrections to the site are welcome.  For more information about the material in each catagory, please see the "Digitization Information" or "About the Collection" links on those pages.

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