Friday, October 31, 2014

Spotlight on Special Collections: Repurposed Medieval Manuscripts

Today medieval manuscripts are preserved as valuable historical artifacts. Unfortunately this has not always been the case. For centuries unwanted manuscripts were repurposed as binding material for other works. Because paper and parchment were expensive commodities, it was cheaper to simply re-use old manuscripts rather than purchase new binding material. This practice was widespread and today volumes bound with old manuscripts can be found at a number of libraries and archives around the world, including the Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections.

The first example from Mount Holyoke's Special Collections is this 1791 copy of a comedy written by the Roman playwright Publius Terentius Afer. This book was bound in a manuscript fragment taken from a medieval song book; the binding was then covered by a sheet of marbled paper, leaving only the spine and corners of the manuscript layer uncovered. Some of the lyrics and original musical notation are still visible and give some clue as to the manuscript's origins.

This 1491 copy of Dante's Divine Comedy is bound in fragments taken from what appears to be a medieval choir book. The words, which are shown together with the original musical notation, are lyrics to various religious songs. There are three different songs on the front cover, namely, Omnes de Saba, Psalm 95:9, and Ab Oriente Venerunt Magi.

Front Cover
Back Cover

The smudging along the outer edges of both the front and back covers was likely caused by the many hands that have opened the book throughout the centuries.

Although the primary purpose for binding a book using old manuscripts was practical, the book binder also seems to have appreciated their decorative potential as well. It appears that he took care to align the manuscript in order to display the colorful, illuminated letters that mark the beginning of each song.

Although it is disappointing that we can no longer read these manuscripts in their entirety, it is fortunate that these documents were preserved at all. If they had not been used as binding material, it is likely that these manuscripts would have been thrown away. Today we can appreciate them for their content and for what they can tell us about how different societies have used and valued them throughout time.

Emily Wells, Class of 2015, is a student assistant in the Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Spokesgoose Jorge On the Move

Before there is a campus wide panic that Jorge has left us forever and been replaced by an imposter, let us reassure you that the real Jorge has not left the Mount Holyoke Campus (nor is he likely to) and can still be found swimming in Lower Lake, honking at obscene hours, patrolling the Prospect Patio at mealtimes, and just making a general nuisance of himself. However this lovely little chap, pictured to the right, (who has impeccable manners barring the odd bagel) has gone on a journey.

This past summer I worked for Historic Huguenot Street in my hometown of New Paltz, New York. Earlier in the spring they had a visitor in their archives in the form of a Northern Long-Eared Bat. While the real bat flies free they now have Archie the Archives Bat as their social media mascot.

Archie has his own twitter, instagram, and facebook accounts to promote findings in the archives and material objects collections, events happening on the street, as well as promoting awareness about bats. He has procured many friends along the way!

Meet Virgil the VAM Gnome. Virgil hails from the Virginia Association of Museums and is known to pop up at events in that area. Virgil and Archie became friends via instagram. When Virgil sent Archie a letter in July, Archie just knew he had to go visit his friend down in Virginia and went off bearing gifts from Huguenot Street.

What does this have to do with our intrepid goose?

Naturally, Jorge was just a little bit jealous of all the fun Virgil and Archie were having. After all, he is quite a well traveled social media star! After much flapping and honking we determined that Jorge wanted to go visit Archie himself. So we sent off our favorite goose with some of his favorite buttons, stickers, and zines to visit Archie! Though we haven't heard back from the friendly bat we're hoping to hear from him soon and will keep you updated when he does!

This project is way to reach to other museums, libraries, and archives in order to have fun with social media but also to learn more about what we're all doing and how we do it! Do you have any other mascots that you think Jorge should meet? If so, leave a comment down below, send Archives a tweet, tell us on tumblr or instagram and we will try to arrange for Jorge to travel out to meet them! 

About the author: Margaret Stanne, Class of 2016, is a student assistant in Mount Holyoke's Archives and Special Collections. 

More info about Archie:

More info about Virgil:

Contact us!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Moodle Faculty Mixer: all instructors welcome!

All instructors are welcome at the Moodle Faculty Mixer on Wednesday, October 22 from 4 to 5:30 PM in Library 431.

fisheye photo (waughmp waughmp) of man explaining something to two other people in front of a laptop and a large screen.
Image courtesy of techcocktail and altunsunphoto (CC by-sa 2.0)
What is a Moodle mixer? It's an informal time for you to gather and talk with other instructors about what you're doing with Moodle: you can bring your laptop or let us know to provide one. You can show others what you've been up to in Moodle, or something you'd like suggestions or feedback about, or just come to chat and have a snack. We guarantee you'll learn something, regardless, because we teach with Moodle in a variety of ways.

We know instructors are doing a variety of interesting stuff in Moodle, and that something simple you came up with might be just the tip someone else is looking for. We also know that everyone's busy, so we're using a format where no advance preparation is required other than letting us know you're coming. 

Got something you think might help others? Looking for ideas? Want opinions on how to do something better or more easily? Please RSVP here or send a note to your LITS Liaison so we can get enough snacks. Coffee and tea and tasty treats will be provided.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Word to the Wise: Adobe Digital Editions and privacy reading eBooks

Thanks to helpful reports from Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader and Sean Gallagher at Ars Technica, we learned of some serious security and privacy issues with the Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) ebook reading & management software.

Adobe Digital Editions 4, has been logging data on the books used with this application, and also logging data on other ebooks that have been downloaded on the same device (mobile device or computer). This information is being uploaded in plain text to Adobe servers, without any encryption, meaning that book logging data is potentially open to interception. This privacy breach seems to be limited to Digital Editions 4, the most recent version of the software.

LITS provides access to hundreds of thousands of ebooks and all can be read online.  Due to digital rights management (DRM) restrictions, however, some require Adobe Digital Editions for offline reading.  And you might well have personal ebooks that are using ADE.   If you use ADE and want to protect your right to privacy, we recommend you revert to version 3, which did not have these issues.   Or simply read ebook content online without downloading - at least until this breach is fixed.

In response to a request for information from the American Library Association, Adobe reports they “expect an update to be available no later than the week of October 20”.

Omnomnom! Eat and Greet!

As the weather gets colder, and papers get longer, have you ever wished you could just stay put in the library, and not hike across the world to Blanch? Have you hoped that food would magically appear in the Reading Room, or that there would be a LITS feast? Then you will be glad to know our most well-kept secret: the Research and Instructional Support (RIS) librarians are undercover foodies, and they know how you feel!

In the cavernous realms behind the ASK LITS board lie their official dwellings aka. their gingerbread houses. But our librarians are hardly bad apples, grumpy behind towers of books. They love having visitors and seekers of food for thought. So, to dispel any myths about the scary and famished land of research at this library, the fantastic RIS librarians are asking you to dine with them for the first-ever 

Eat and Greet!

Where:   Research Help Desk, Reading Room
When:    October 16th,  2-3 pm

Come by the Research Help Desk at that delectable date and time to pick up your map to the seven different offices, each housing different librarians.

Jorge at the Research Help Desk
Jorge awaits your visit!

And wait, there's even more choice on this menu: each librarian specializes in supporting different academic departments, so each office will have a different fall goody to snack on!

Eat your way through the map, and discover to whom and where you can go for your research and technology needs.  And at the end of this banquet, you can enter to win a Rao's gift card for your future library-hunger pangs!

We promise, our undercover foodies want to help you with your research, and feed you (even when you feel like you've bitten off more than you can chew).

Nourishment and research, all in one: productive procrastination, don't you think?


Psst. Another secret: some of our librarians are great cooks!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Interested in a career in Library and Information Science?

Join us for an informal gathering to learn about library and information management careers!

Date: Friday, October 10
Location: Stimson Room on Library level 6 (building map)
Time: 2-3pm

Come talk to librarians, archivists, academic technologists, and faculty from library and information science graduate schools. We will be joined by Barbara Moran, Louis Round Wilson Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Information & Library Science (SILS). UNC SILS is one of the nation’s top-ranked schools of information and library studies.

Participants will be given the opportunity to learn more about graduate studies in Information & Library Science, hear from librarians and information professionals in the Five Colleges about their career paths, and ask questions of the panel. Barbara will be available to talk to interested students and staff about graduate studies in library and information science in general and the program at UNC-Chapel Hill specifically. Stay for the entire session, or drop in for as long as your schedule allows. We look forward to seeing you!