An update from Emily

Hi everyone,

I hope all of your individual projects are progressing well. It has been a while since I last blogged and I figure a little bit of an update is overdue. I have been assigned to the physical exhibit team for our final project. Last week I was tasked with documenting the measurements of the exhibit space we are going to put our artefacts inside. So I created a diagram with the measurements of the spaces we are looking at in the History Department and shared it with our group.

This coming week I am going to select another manuscript to display in the exhibit, along with another one that I had previously chosen. I am then going to write out information cards for each of the manuscripts I have chosen and share those with my team for further feedback. In addition to these tasks, I am in charge of determining which objects we put inside the display case to accompany the manuscripts. These objects are going to relate to the manuscripts and our class in one way or another, and I am going to write out information cards to be paired with each one.

Talking about our tasks in class yesterday made me realize just how close the exhibit launch date is (It was exactly a month away). This also got me thinking about how much has to be done in order for everything to be ready for the launch date. This is somewhat stressful, but I think we will be able to manage it well. Things are moving at a much faster pace these days and everything is getting very exciting!

See you in class!


A Post-Seminar Reflection

Hi Everyone,

Yesterday I led my final seminar for the term. I am very relieved to be finished with leading seminars as it is something I still have yet to become completely comfortable doing.

The seminar went very smoothly and it seemed as though there was a lot of engagement. In addition to discussing digital images, a lot of our conversations began to turn towards brainstorming for our final project. I felt as though I had skipped several classes because everyone was talking as though we have figured out exactly what we are doing.  We are now using Trello which is yet another app/program that I will have to become familiar with to communicate with our peers. Even though everyone is talking as though we have everything figured out, I am still not sure exactly what our final project will be (I believe this is true for everyone – unless I am VERY out of the loop despite attending every class). Matt brought up an exciting idea of interviewing everyone and compiling the footage into an exciting video we can use for publicity purposes. The trip to the history department digitization studio and the Underhill Reading Room was a nice mini field trip to end the class with.

Overall, I am happy that the majority of the online portion for our final project will be handled by the web development team. The exhibit team is for sure where I will be most comfortable. I am really looking forward to working with Veronica as a team leader – I feel as though she will be very successful in this role.  I talked briefly with her over slack about my project for next Monday. I am being placed in charge of deciding which manuscripts will be included in our exhibit. I look forward to working on this over the coming week and discussing it more with my peers. I am excited to see where we go with this project.

See you in class!


Photographing Documents

Welcome back everyone in HIST 4006! Another semester beginning means that the blogposts are due to start once again. I’m not sure how many of you recall, but in my blogpost reflecting on my seminar lead I mentioned wanting to start my preparations for my next seminar lead over the Christmas break. This unfortunately did not happen and as a result, I largely repeated the same process over again, stressing myself out the entire way! So, here is my pre-seminar blogpost.

This week we will be discussing photographing and digitizing documents. Our readings focused on a variety of topics from types of images to various digital technologies that can be used to capture these photos.

Our readings went over the definition and intended use for the file types TIFF, GIF, JPG, RAW, BMP and PSD/PSP. They highlighted the pros and cons of each, as well as detailing the various compression capacities each file format is capable of. The readings also discussed things to keep in mind when undertaking a digitization project including costs, legal issues, research, and preservation techniques among other things.

There are two types of compressions that were discussed in the readings: lossless and lossy. Lossless is a compression format that discards no information, whereas lossy is a format that accepts some loss of information in order to have smaller file sizes.

We were required to watch an assortment of videos this week as well, which explained various functions of some of the high-tech scanners that are available at some institutions. In addition to the scanners, some of the videos were propaganda that institutions were using to spread the word about their digitization efforts to a wider audience. Some of these were done successfully, and I found to be very interesting, while others were quite dry.

Some questions to consider for class tomorrow:

  • RAW images are commonly not compatible when switching between devices. Do you believe these are a valuable resource to consider when photographing documents? Why/Why not?
  • Some of the videos we were required to watch for class today, despite attempting to gather interest into digitization initiatives, were quite dry. What are some things about these videos that we should aim to avoid in our publicizing practices for our own exhibit? What are some things we maybe should consider adopting?
  • One of the articles we were required to read today stated that a large aim of the project they were working on was to bring access to these documents to audiences outside of academia to read ‘in coffee shops or on the bus’. Do you think this is something people will actually do? If not, what are some ways these institutions can encourage people to take interest in these documents?


See you all in class,


Preparing for the Final Omeka Entry

With the end of the term quickly approaching it is clear by the energy in class last Monday that everyone is feeling a little overwhelmed. This is a feeling that I am not impartial to. When I first read our Omeka assignments I began to worry about how I was going to finish my lengthy research papers for my other classes in addition to this large project. However, when you look at it more closely, the majority of the work required for this project has been completed, or at least partially completed, in the weekly exercises and in class workshops. If it was not completed, Marc has given us the tools to be able to complete it much easier than we would have been able to do on our own.

I am lucky and have been able to keep up with the weekly assignments and homework but I understand that is not a reality all the time. I have compiled a list of things that I plan to do this coming week in preparation for my catalogue entry and thought that I would share it as a blogpost in case anyone was looking for a starting point.

#1 – Go through the weekly plans on our class website here:

While this does not give you all of the answers you will need in regards to your particular manuscript, it helped me to compile a list of important topics to cover. These topics include writing supports, paleography, abbreviations, codicology, and others. Making this list also helped to refresh my memory on some of our class discussions and reminded me of some important details that should be included in my catalogue entry.

#2 -Consult your in class notes

In this class I opted to hand write my notes and did not end up typing them out afterwards (something I always convince myself I will do every semester, yet never gets done). Every time we would discuss a topic relevant to my manuscript I would write it down in my notebook. This left me with a lot of very useful notes and ideas that I would lose completely if I do not go through my notes.

#3 – Consult in class handouts

A number of times during this semester Marc handed out some very useful reference materials in class that can be very useful to help your catalogue entry. Like handwritten class notes, the important information on these handouts is lost if you do not take the time to go over them again.

#4 – Skim over your textbook/readings one more time

We were assigned these readings because they are helpful and relevant to the topics required for our cataloguing. Skimming over them again may allow you to discover little details you forgot but can be added to your entry.

#5 – Browse various cataloguing databases

It is sometimes useful to view other databases to compare handwriting, or search for clues on your manuscripts provenience. In addition to these, catalogue entries found in databases can help to give you a clearer idea on what to include in your own work.

I hope some of this has been helpful! See you all in class.

A Project Update From Emily

The last couple of weeks in our class have caught me largely off-guard. I knew going into this class with little digital or medieval knowledge that aspects of it were going to prove to be difficult for me. However, I largely underestimated just how challenging it would turn out to be. I even had to postpone my trip to Montreal over reading week to focus on preparation for leading my seminar (despite being on campus for more than twelve hours everyday working on it leading up to the day I was supposed to leave). In this blog post, I will highlight some things I am struggling with in the course, as well as sharing some aspects that I am thoroughly enjoying. Hopefully I am not the only one sharing some of these struggles.

I will start off on a more positive note with something in our course that particularly sparked my interest. Those of you who were in my seminar will most likely be familiar with the fact that I was very interested in the medieval pecia system. This is a system in which universities rent out piece, or copies of textbooks, to allow students to write their own notes to study from. These notes are called pecia. Our text mentions these copies were later returned or the students incurred a fine. As many of you know, I work in the Carleton library and this system particularly sparked my interest due to the many similarities it shares with the reserve service we offer. Professors can request material to be put on reserves for students to rent for short periods of time to study and take notes from. If the material is not returned by the end of the time allotted, the student receives a fine on their account. Though hundreds of years later, the fact that we still have a similar system in place in our own library interests me very much. The pecia system is definitely something, when time allows me to, I would like to do some further research on.

Something that I have found particularly frustrating thus far is the digital tools we are downloading and working on each week. Our professor (thankfully) gives very straightforward step-by-step guides to navigating through these processes. One would think this would make the process simple, but I still somehow find a way to make mistakes. This can normally be fixed by watching many YouTube tutorials on how to use the programs and eventually figuring out how to do the simple task that was assigned originally. However, this normally takes me much longer than it should have taken.

I also struggled with transcribing the first couple of lines of my manuscript. Even though I was leading the seminar on paleography and had read about the different practices in medieval writing, I still could not decipher the letters in my manuscript. This was particularly frustrating to me due to the fact that my letters had initially appeared to be relatively clearly written. I had checked out a Latin-English dictionary in hopes of deciphering the first two letters and then looking to see if any words in that section were close to my manuscript. This proved to be a largely ineffective process that was very time consuming and I do not recommend it to any of you. In class when Marc mentioned that medieval Latin is a bit of a free-for-all when it comes to spelling, everything made a little more sense.

I can go on for much longer about how difficult I found it to prepare for my seminar and how time consuming it is, but I touched largely on that in my last blog post which details some struggles I encountered in my preparations. So, I will choose to end this project update here. However, if any of you have any questions about preparing to lead your seminar that I did not touch on, I am more than happy to talk with you (as are your other peers who have led seminars, I am sure).

See you all in class!