Tuesday, June 30, 2009

State University Libraries are Awarded Runner-up in IGI Global

The Ball State University Libraries were recently recognized for technology excellence by IGI Global, an international publishing company specializing in research publications in the fields of computer science and information technology management.

The corporation created an award and recognition program for an organization judged to use and promote innovative technological programs or systems that have proven critical to the successful integration, implementation, and diffusion of electronic resources within an academic library setting.

The submission by Dr. Arthur W. Hafner, Dean of University Libraries, and John B. Straw, Assistant Dean for Digital Initiatives and Special Collections, focused on the Libraries’ development of the Digital Media Repository (DMR). The submission was sent to IGI Global on April 29, 2009. Dr. Hafner was notified of the award in May. The interested reader can learn more about it at

The focus of the submission centered on Ball State University Libraries’ collaborative resource, the Digital Media Repository, http://libx.bsu.edu, which offers 72 collections with more than 120,000 digital objects.

It provides a centralized, coordinated, and user-focused resource to serve the teaching, learning, academic achievement, and research needs of students, faculty, and others. The DMR brings together the digital collections and projects of the University Libraries into a single, cohesive, accessible, easy to navigate, Web-based environment, while also providing access to external digital resources that support the educational processes for instructional objectives and learning outcomes.

An analysis of visits to the DMR during the seven-month period of September 2008 through March 2009 showed 286,476 hits. In March 2009, for example, there were 89,151 visits to different collections in the DMR. These statistics reflect use by Ball State students, faculty, international researchers, the media, and many other users who are both local and global.

The DMR is a key component of the Libraries’ goal to expand digital initiatives and facilitate development of emerging media opportunities for learning, research, and classroom enhancement and it continues to be a highly successful resource in the ongoing transition from print to digital resources that meet the expectations and information needs of the Ball State academic community and the continually growing international global research community.

As runner-up, the University Libraries received a plaque and the opportunity to publish an academic article featuring best practices and examples of transitions from print to electronic resources in one of IGI Global’s premier reference books.

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Muncie’s Railroad History is Subject of New Publication, Exhibit, and Digital Collection

As anyone driving around Muncie knows, railroads are very prominent in this community as they are in many cities and towns throughout the country. The many tracks you may cross each day are reminders of the importance of railroads in the history and development of our local community and our nation. As Michael L. Johnston states inhistory of railroads in Muncie, Indiana, “Throughout the history of the United States, the railroad industry has been a prominent contributor to the development and growth of states and communities.”

Thanks to Mr. Johnston, others can learn about the history of railroads in this locale by reading his publication in the Ball State Virtual Press,

This publication and a recent Friends of the Library program on the history of local railroads given by Larry Campbell are the inspirations for a forthcoming exhibit by Archives and Special Collections in Bracken Library. Railroads of Delaware County will feature photographs, timetables, histories, and other items documenting the history of the local railroad industry. It will run from July 1 through mid-September. A digital collection of railroad history materials is also planned for the Digital Media Repository, http://libx.bsu.edu.

According to Johnston’s history, the railroad industry began about 1810 in the United States, and railroad construction became rampant after the Civil War. He writes that Muncie attracted railroads earlier than many cities because of the gas boom and the resulting rapid industrial growth starting as early as 1848. The first railroad line in Delaware County was completed through Muncie in 1852. By 1902, six intercity railroads, a local industrial railroad, and a belt-switching railroad served Muncie. During the peak railroad period, Muncie had five railroad freight houses, five agency offices, and a railroad division headquarters. In the first half of the 20th century, Muncie enjoyed direct or indirect railroad passenger service to all major cities.

The railroad history by Michael Johnston published in the Ball State Virtual Press is just one more example of his and his wife’s many contributions to Ball State and the University Libraries. A Ball State alumnus with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration and marketing, Mr. Johnston served 20 years as an adjunct professor of international transportation in the Miller College of Business. He worked for many years in logistics and transportation.

Mr. Johnston is a member of the Friends of the Alexander M. Bracken Library’s Board of Governors, and he serves on Ball State’s Beneficence Society Advisory Committee, the National Philanthropy Council of the Ball State University Foundation, and other university and community organizations. Mr. and Mrs. Johnston donated a collection of contemporary art works to the University Libraries in memory of their late son, Michael Gregory Johnston.

For more information on the Railroads of Delaware County exhibit, or railroad research materials in Archives and Special Collections, contact John B. Straw, Assistant Dean for Digital Initiatives and Special Collections, JStraw@bsu.edu, 765-285-5078.

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Indiana Highlights in Ball State Libraries' Architecture Images Collection

The Architecture Images Collection in the Digital Media Repository (DMR) is made up of images of buildings, gardens, parks, city streetscapes, and aerial photos of sites around the world. It also offers images of many sites closer to home. More than 7,500 images in the collection feature works in Indiana, from historic courthouses to modern architecture in Columbus and beyond.

There are world-renowned works in the collection such as Richard Meier’s Atheneum building in New Harmony, Indiana, which was awarded the American Institute of Architect’s Twenty-Five Year award in 2008 for architecture that has stood the test of time. The collection also offers images of typical local houses and views of ordinary main streets.

Users looking for Indiana images can search for specific buildings, like Meier’s Atheneum, or specific designers or firms such as the Indianapolis-based firm of Pierre & Wright. The rich metadata that accompanies every image in the collection also supports searches for building and site types as well as geographic areas. For example, by searching specific fields in the DMR, users can search for parks or courthouses in the state. Users may also wish to search by town or county for all of the images from the area. Combine these building type and geographic area searches and users are able to find churches in a particular county or houses in a specific town.

Many of the collection’s Indiana images were contributed by student and faculty photographers. Some were donated as 35mm slides and the University Libraries later created digital scans for online access. Old and new images of sites are both important parts of the collection. Historic images can help create a picture of how a site, such as a park, has changed over time or document a building that has been lost or significantly altered.

Take, for example, the Delaware County Courthouse. In the Architecture Images Collection, there are historic images of the 1837 courthouse that was demolished in 1884, images of the building that replaced it in 1885 as well as photographs taken as that courthouse was being demolished in 1966, and there are pictures of the courthouse as it stands in Muncie today.

Joseph Cezar Architectural Records Collection

As you recline on a lawn chair in your backyard this summer, you might consider for a moment how you would design your own perfect lawn chair. A recent discovery in the Drawings and Documents Archive at Ball State University Libraries illustrates one architect’s classic, yet innovative, design for the perfect lawn chair.

One of many interesting items in the Joseph O. Cezar Architectural Records Collection, this 1943 drawing titled Lawn Chair is an interpretation of the classic Adirondack style chair with its sloping back, plank boards and wide armrests. The history of the Adirondack chair began, not surprisingly, in the Adirondack Mountain resort area of New York. Created in 1903, its popularity quickly spread throughout the country due to its rugged construction combined with the high level of comfort it provides despite its lack of cushions. Forty years later, Indianapolis architect Joseph O. Cezar (1903-1991) updated what was already a classic Adirondack design and incorporated two discrete wheels under the front chair legs for increased mobility. Clearly, he was familiar with the design but felt he could improve upon it by making a few alterations.

This drawing illustrates a period in Cezar’s life when he was establishing an architecture practice in Indiana and raising a growing family. Born in Austria in 1903, Cezar found his way to Indianapolis in 1938 after he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Chicago Technical College. He worked in architecture firms until he began his own practice in 1944.

Architecture and landscape architecture students and faculty can utilize design drawings, such as this one, to learn about the decision-making process involved in matching need, such as comfort in the out-of-doors, with a design solution, in this case a sturdy and mobile chair. The technology of creating a simple functional object like a chair that bears appropriate weight, maintains its shape, and is comfortably reliable for an extended use is communicated in the clear, concise drawing and exact specifications Cezar incorporated into his drawing.

Cezar’s creativity is evident in his creation of a chair design, but one can also see his superb artistic talents on display in other drawings often containing interior or exterior elevation drawings of the room or building, which serve to give the client a visual representation of the space that is often difficult to decipher solely from the architectural drawings. This extra touch must have been successful for Cezar, as the collection attests to clients who employed him for multiple jobs.

The Joseph O. Cezar Architectural Records Collection will soon be available for online viewing through the Ball State University Libraries’ Digital Media Repository, http://libx.bsu.edu.

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University Libraries Featured in Digital Scanner’s Customer Profile

Recently, the University Libraries were featured by Atiz Innovations, Inc., a scanning equipment manufacturer, in a profile of some of its customers,

The profile was about the company’s BookDrive DIY Scanner. This unit is one of the significant pieces of equipment used in the University Libraries’ Digitization Center that helps advance the creation of Ball State-produced digital content. The unit is like a double copy stand with two digital cameras set at 90 degree angles so that a book can be photographed in a cradle position rather than laid flat to protect the book’s spine. The unit produces a high quality digital image and minimizes damage to fragile pages.