The UBC Library Digitization Centre is celebrating another birthday: seven years! In many cultures and religions, seven is a special—and sometimes lucky—number. There are seven continents, seven seas, seven classic world wonders, and seven colors in the rainbow.

For everyone at the Digitization Centre, seven years also marks many proud milestones.

  • Over 50 collections
  • Over 30 partners and supporters, from UBC, British Columbia, Canada or other countries like China and Japan
  • Over 200 thousand unique digital objects
  • Over 380 thousand downloads of our items
  • Over 8 million views of our collections

Looking back, our first projects were ambitious in their scope, but focused on topics close to home. They included the digitization of BC’s historical newspapers, the Japanese-Canadian newspaper Tairiku Nippo, and UBC Institute of Fisheries Field Records.

The British Columbian, Feb. 6, 1886

 

Today, our collections provide access to primary sources from all over the world, as well as our many more local communities, including:

Get to know even more histories in our international collections—such as Chinese Rare Books Collection and Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era—and access Open Collections.

While our collections are accessed mainly by residents of Canada, interest has been growing. In the last year alone, we’ve had visitors to our website from the United States, United Kingdom, China, Japan, India, and other countries.

 

Google Analytics Map, from Jan. 1, 2017 to Jan. 31, 2018

 

Our team’s mission is to support and enrich the educational, cultural and economic endeavors of the University, the people of British Columbia and communities beyond. Thanks to the support of our amazing partners here at UBC and throughout the world, as well as the dedication of our many student workers, we have accomplished a phenomenal amount of work and will continue to thrive in that mission.

Thank you all for the past seven years, and the next seven to come!

 

Sources

Woolman, J. Advancing the digital agenda (UBC Library)

Derbyshire, D. Why ‘lucky 7’ really is the world’s magic number (Daily Mail)

Documentation (UBC Library Digital Initiatives)

Stibravy, R. The UBC Library Digitization Centre: our equipment and its uses (Slideshare)

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We’ve got another new (but actually really really old) addition to our digital collection. We’re excited to share that we have digitized a rare Latin Bible from the 13th century! You can check it out in out Western Manuscripts collection where many of our oldest books live.

 

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The pages are made from vellum or dried calf skin as most books were at that time.

This Bible is an amazing addition to our collection for a few reasons. First, it was a Student Bible made in Oxford England around 1250 AD, something that at the time was pretty remarkable. Back then most Student Bibles were produced on the continent, typically in Paris, for university pupils and professors who used them for their studies. This makes our Bible unique – and the only one like it in a Canadian collection.

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This book contains a fair amount of marginalia! Check out all the faded notes on the side.

A second special aspect of this Bible is the concordance at the end of the book. The concordance, pictured below, is an index created for the Bible on where to find certain words or phrases within the book.

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Click here to see the concordance for yourself!

One of the early owners created this concordance shortly after the book was finished. The concordance is obviously not part of the original book. We don’t know exactly when or who created it – and if any of you scholars out there want to try to find out, take a shot and let us know about it! We wholeheartedly support you!

Even you are not a scholar take a look at the book for yourself, or take a look at the UBC press release on this book. It might make you into a bibliophile!

We’ve got a special treat for the blog today! An advance peek at new digitizations:

Vintage Vancouver circa.1925-1933

This hand tinted shot of Vancouver taken between 1925 and 1933 is from some of the Uno Langmann Collection items awaiting digitization. It is a panorama taken from the Capitol Hill area over the Burrard Inlet showing much of Vancouver proper as well as North Vancouver.

From the photo you can see a clear view of the Lions mountains. In the lower righthand side you can see what is today known as the Second Narrows train crossing bridge. It is one of the few things that date the photo. The original bridge was constructed in 1925 mainly for train travel, and was the first to connect Vancouver to the North Shore. After being hit a number of times by ships passing through  it was bought in 1933 be the government, and had a lift section added- which is not seen here.

Here’s a video of the image being scanned. Curious? Learn more about our scanners!

 

 

On the left side of the photo you can see the Giant Dipper, a rollercoaster built in 1925, in what is now the PNE, but was then known as the Vancouver Exhibition. It  was demolished in 1948 to make room for an expanding Hastings Racecourse track.

There is also something missing from this photo. The Lions Gate Bridge isn’t hidden behind the clouds, it wasn’t built until 1938.

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This photo has been edited to make the image easier to see – It is extremely faint in the original scan.

Other cool things to note about this image – it was printed on the back of “Empress Jam” cardboard. Empress Manufacturing Co., Ltd.,  imported coffees and made local jams and jellies and one of the earliest and most successful of the local food supply companies.

This week we are going give you a sneak preview of one of the coolest new machines coming soon to the Digital Initiatives, and even better a new collection we are partnering with Woodward Library!

The machine sounds about as futuristic as it gets—a 3D imager. But not to worry, it is far from HAL territory.

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The imager is made up of small tent, turntable, some light boxes, an image program, a Canon EOS camera.

Currently the 3D imager is being used to digitize the Memorial Artifact Collection at Woodward. The collections of 450 medical artifacts are from mainly the 19th and 20th centuries (though there are a few from as early as the the 18th century and as last as the 21st century). People from the British Columbia area, including retiring doctors and antiques collectors, donated the bulk of the collection. The items range from brass microscopes, to cough syrup bottles – with cough syrup still in them, to electroshock therapy machines

 

 

 

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Check out one of the first items to be digitized: a Whitehead mouth gag. It was once used to hold patient’s mouths open during mouth examinations. The camera snaps each item as it rotates on the table 16 times.

It allows for cool gif’s like this! [here’s hoping this works on wordpress]

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Having a bit of fun! We hope you are too!

 

How do you image the REALLY big items? Or the items that won’t fit in a normal scanner?

The largest (and most exciting!) image-processing machine we have here at DI is definitely the TTI.

The TTI is used to scan large, fragile, or otherwise oddly shaped items. You may have caught glimpses of it here.

To show you how it works we are scanning a few delicate maps from the Chung Collection. The maps are foldouts from a book by Sir George Simpson that are still attached, so we couldn’t use THIS machine.

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Pretty cool old book!

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Who else thinks this would look just FANTASTIC in their personal library?

To start, we boot up Capture Flow. Capture Flow is an image-processing program with settings for the exposure time and color adjustment. We also turn on the camera back (Sinarback Evolution 86 H with a Sinaron Digital HR 5.6/90 CMV lens) pointed at the TTI flatbed, and two banks of LED lights that evenly illuminate any item being imaged.

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Very bright!

Laying the map on the large TTI bed (40” by 60”) the color corrector, a QPcard 101, and a Better Light focus card are used. They help color correct the image in the editing phase and focus the image properly, respectively,  so the picture comes out as true to life as possible.

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The map was so thin we added paper underneath- otherwise you’d see right through it!

Test images are taken. They are viewed on the attached screen to check everything is working properly. The color sometimes looks off in the image, but we will correct that later.

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This extra screen is mounted near the TTI to help the scanner see what the picture will look like.

Then the real fun begins! To flatten the map we turn on a vacuum built in to the flatbed of the TTI. It will draw the scanned item gently flat. A clean glass plate is set over the map to smooth it out even more.

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Laura, a digital librarian here at DI, doing all the heavy lifting

The camera’s CCD sensor’s pixel matrix is shifted three times laterally or vertically by exactly one pixel width from one exposure to the next, so that every image point is covered by every primary color (red, blue, 2x green).. Captureflow receives the images as a single unit for a more color-realistic and detailed image.

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Don’t move anything while the camera is snapping or your image could end up like this!

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This is a composite of those four pictures stitched together. Pretty nifty.

This particular map is too big to image all at once. The map gets flipped and moved to image additional sections.

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Laura and the TTI machine hard at work

Later the images are stitched together in the post processing step, using Adobe Photoshop. The final product you end up with is a beauty that looks like this:

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A lovely world map coming soon to the digital archive near you!

Maybe you’ve heard the buzz here. Maybe you’ve got a hankering for learning a little more about ancient dinner invitations or old papyri from Egypt- either way you’ve come to the right place! This week’s blog is all about the newly digitized ancient artifacts up on our website right now!

The two ancient papyri pieces, believed to have originated in the second century AD, have been stored at one of our favorite collaborators, Rare Books and Special Collections, since 1932. Historian (and skilled papryrologist!) Arthur Edward Romilly Boak, in conjunction with the University of Michigan where he was a professor, donated the papyri in 1932 to the UBC Library.

The first scrap is an invitation to a Sarapis dinner – a.k.a a dinner honoring the Egyptian God Sarapis who represented both abundance and resurrection.

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Invitation to a dinner honouring a god …Translation: Ancient Egyptians like to party down

The second is a fragment of a letter from an anonymous writer to his/her mother. As with all letters written to mothers, the writer promises come visit soon and in turn asks the mother visit the writer at their home as well.

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Whether it’s AD or BC letters to your mother never change.

These letters remained under wraps until 2014 when Classics PhD student Chelsea Gardner went to RBSC to check out out more about Stone to Screen projects here!

One of the genius (is genius-superhero going too far?) librarians at RBSC told Gardner about the papyri. Gardner alerted Professor Toph Marshall to the papyri, and he has since written a paper on them and submitted it for publication.

These papyri are part of a collection known as Ancient Artifacts. Stay tuned for more information on the cuneiform tablets, mentioned above, coming soon!

We are excited to announce that we will be digitizing issues of PRISM International, Western Canada’s oldest literary magazine out of Vancouver, British Columbia, whose mandate is to publish the best in contemporary writing and translation from Canada and around the world. The digitization project is in partnership with the UBC Creative Writing department and is set to start in May.

Stay tuned for updates!

 

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Volumes to be digitized

 

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