Report of Nancy M. Cline, Roy E. Larsen Librarian
Creating virtual access to the Library's materials continues to be a priority as users carry out more research off-site, and at all hours of the night and day. Items or collections are digitized in response to research and teaching needs of faculty, as well as preservation considerations. Digitization efforts are often the result of collaborations within Harvard and with peer institutions both in the US and abroad.
The Xiu Chronicles, 1608–1817, a collection of documents in Spanish and Yucatec from a Mayan ruling family, was digitized. It is considered one of Tozzer Library's most significant primary sources, and the digital version will help preserve the physical object as well as make it more widely accessible.
Considerable progress was made in building the Judaica digital visual resources collection, which is stored in the Digital Repository Service (DRS) and accessible through the VIA catalog. Over 800,000 images were added, bringing the total number of Judaica images in the DRS to over 1.75 million. Included this year were historical photographs from the Central Zionist Archives and the Jewish National Fund archives, as well as the complete archive of the photojournalist Boaz Lanir, part of the archive of photojournalist Reuven Milon, and photographs from archives of various kibbutzim in the Galilee that document Jewish life in Israel over the past 100 years. With the addition of 128,000 images of Judaic and Israeli posters and ephemera, Harvard holds the largest online collection of such materials.
The Fine Arts Library partnered with ARTstor to digitize over 3,500 photographs of architecture and sculpture from the Ralph Lieberman collection and completed the digitization of the Ali Khan Vali album, a collection of 1,400 photographs of 19th-century Persian life. At Widener, faculty drew upon the expertise of the Middle Eastern Division to identify materials from their extensive collection of 19th-century Persian lithographs for the Women's Worlds in Qajar Iran digital archive and web site project.
The Loeb Music Library is engaged in an ongoing program to digitize scores and libretti selected for their rare or unique nature and their popularity as objects of research and teaching. By providing online access to historical editions from its holdings, the Library seeks to make primary source materials available for classroom and research use at Harvard and to scholars around the world. As items from the collection are digitized, they are made available in the library's virtual collection, which was constructed and launched this year. The scores and libretti in this virtual collection include first and early editions and manuscript copies of music from the 18th and early 19th centuries by J.S. Bach and Bach family members, Mozart, Schubert, and other composers, as well as multiple versions of 19th-century opera scores, seminal works of musical modernism, and music of the Second Viennese School. Many, such as variant editions of 19th-century operas and related libretti, fall into intellectually related sets that are meant to be seen and used together. As a group, they give scholars a window into the study of historical performance practice.
Houghton Library participated in several digitization projects, including Harvard University Library's Open Collections Project (OCP) Expeditions and Discoveries: Sponsored Exploration and Scientific Discovery in the Modern Age; the OCP Islamic Heritage Project; and the Poet's Voice, a HUL Digital Initiative program devoted to digitizing hundreds of audio tapes of poetry readings presented at Harvard. Houghton cataloged and digitized over 1,000 photographs from its Theodore Roosevelt Collection, and digitized several items from the Harry Elkins Widener Collection, including Walter Crane's commissioned design for Widener's personal bookplate and a partial manuscript of Thackeray's Pendennis with sketches by the author. In collaboration with HCL Communications, an online exhibition was created for the HCL web site detailing the story of Harry Widener's time at Harvard through the founding of the Memorial Library.
Collections assets, like the General Artemas Ward House, that cannot fit on a library shelf but are important to researchers speak to the need for digital specialists like photographers and technicians. HCL was well prepared when Harvard professors Laurel Ulrich and Ivan Gaskell, who have used the Ward House collections since 2005 in their History 1610 course, "Confronting Objects/Interpreting Culture," proposed a digitization project that would benefit students. The house, owned by Harvard since 1925, had proven difficult to study because it is located 40 miles from Cambridge in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. It took three months of meticulous work by HCL Imaging Services photographers and digital technicians to capture the hundreds of 18th- and 19th-century artifacts in the house. Now available online, the collection's accessibility is greatly improved for not only Harvard students, but for the world.