Thursday, August 09, 2007

A to Z

I processed the last faculty file from the News & Pubs donation today. The gamut of Alexander to Zimmerman will join the existing range of Abdulhay to Zook, and our 32-box Biographical Files will swell to 62 boxes. Men and women, researchers and clinicians, doctors, nurses, dentists, administrators, an architect, a captain of industry, short timers and fifty-year employees, saints and sinners--in short, someone for everyone. Not only will these go a long way towards answering innumerable patron questions, they'll really help with our grand plan to do a whole series of exhibits on those characters we've begun referring to as "The Handsome Devils."

Separated out from the 30 new boxes of biographical materials were 16 boxes of portrait photographs, which--along with the five donated boxes of images arranged by subject--will be incorporated in our Historical Image Collection.

And yes, we do plan to sleeve them all, and I'm a little self conscious about that now, having gotten the sense from the special collections community at large that this may simply be a sign of our "rinky-dinkedness," if you will. Rather like "if you have to ask, you can't afford it," the impression seems to be that "if you can sleeve it all, you must not have very much--or very much else to do." We're certainly not the Library of Congress, but we have our fair share of images (we're roughly estimating 15,000 at this point) and plenty else to do. But, we've made this aspect of collections care a priority, because we've seen what time, rough handling, and poor conditions have done to the materials we didn't get to in time. A picture is worth a thousand words, and as long as we're able to get up in the morning and come to work, we're going to do whatever we can to make sure those visual records remain for the next generation.

There, I've said my piece. Now, back to getting dried rubber band off negatives...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Sanitizing the print record

The following views are, as per the usual, my own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of OHSU or the OHSU Library.

The Orbis Cascade Alliance, which is a consortium of libraries in Oregon and Washington and to which OHSU belongs, has distributed the final draft of the Memorandum of Understanding for the Distributed Print Repository, an initiative to identify unique holdings among member libraries, reduce overlap in print collections, and inform local deaccessioning projects. I am all for this. However, when I read through the MOU, I have to admit that my rare book librarian's heart practically stopped at clause 3.6 on Physical Markings and Bibliographic Identifiers:

3.6.1. Transferred Material. As soon as possible after the Member Library first obtains possession of the Materials, it shall eradicate, remove, or cover over markings of previous owners (e.g., bookplates, ownership stamps, call numbers, and barcodes) in a way that reduces confusion about ownership and that does not damage the Materials.

3.6.2. Bookplate. All Materials shall bear a Distributed Print Repository bookplate to be supplied by the Alliance.

Remove all provenance? Without damaging the book, I doubt is even possible. I respect the intended consequence: reduce confusion about who owns what in the event something gets lost in the system. But isn't there a better way? I think about all our lovely volumes, both journals and monographs, donated over the years by faculty members, alums, community health care workers. I have added tracings for many of our former owners in the bibliographic records in our catalog, but the beauty of seeing E.E. Osgood's presentation inscription to Laurence Selling far outmatches the sanitized transfer of this information through a MARC record. We need to put our thinking caps on and rework this clause, so that we can keep the print in all its messy glory--and still have a good way to tell the courier where to go!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Calling Dr. Kinsey

It has been uncharacteristically cool and cloudy here the past few days, but the faculty file of Dr. Joseph B. Trainer brought a little sunshine to my day.

Dr. Trainer is probably best remembered on campus these days for his work in establishing the university's student health center, which was renamed in his honor in 1993. Walkers headed into the lower level of Baird Hall, just next to Dillehunt Hall and behind the parking structure stairwell area, can still see the plaque commemorating the dedication.

Trainer worked at the Medical School here from 1949 until 1982, teaching physiology and preventive medicine, and practiced internal medicine downtown at the Portland Clinic. He was a bit of a local Dr. Kinsey: he was known as The Marriage Doctor for his work in marriage counseling, family health, and human sexuality. While Kinsey's background was in botany and entomology, Trainer's background was in zoology and parasitology. There must be something about studying primitive organisms that gives researchers great insight into human behavior...

Included with the new material on Trainer which came as part of the News & Pubs donation, there are two biographical data sheets, obviously compiled by Trainer--a bit tongue-in-cheek, I wonder whether they were meant to be handed out to students on the first day of class. Tidbits include:
Born: who isn't--but long ago enough to be of legal age and to be tired of celebrating ends of wars to end wars.
Interest in sex: consciously not until about age two, but unquestionably there must be some Freudian impressions earlier and buried deeper. This seems to persist either as a detached scientific interest, or an involved clinical interest, or as simply a personal interest.
Education: prolonged and inadequate.
Academic societies: Phi Sigma, Sigma Xi, A.O.A., Portland Academy of Medicine, Multnomah County Medical Society, Oregon State Medical Association [...] I don't know what I'm doing on all these. The lunches are highly variable but all seats are hard.
Literary work: [...] I should add that I once had the experience of being Associate Editor of a short-lived magazine, "Northwest Boating News" and wrote "Piloting Handbook of the Columbia River." I can tell you from this that "Red Light, Occult" doesn't mean a red light district in a foreign port!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Hiroshima, mon amour

On this anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, a Reminder that, whether we like it or not, all viewpoints need to be represented in libraries and archives. This item is from the Herbert Merton Greene Papers, Accession No. 2006-005.


"Aid in The Atomic Age for people to survive is vital. Color is an extra hazard. Color absorbs deadly fallout fire that white reflects. The Hiroshima bomb branded into the skin the black and white pattern of the robe, see picture below. With color an extra hazard; without extra aid to survive, mixed races will become extinct in the Atomic Age." ...