Monday, April 30, 2012

Clarke staff bids farewell to graduating seniors

by Christa Clare

If you have visited the Clarke Historical Library in person, you already know that our student employees are a big part of the daily operations of running the library smoothly. In the reading room, they assist our users with many duties from making photocopies to doing minor research. They prep documents for microfilming, run errands, help with the Clarke website, and process collections. They often are given many of our tedious jobs and they do them cheerfully. Many of our students come to us as freshmen, and leave 4 or 5 years later when they graduate and head out into the “real world.” This year we have five such students graduating on May 5. Between the 5 of them, they total close to 20 years of experience!

We wish our graduating students well and thank them for their exceptional service to the library. Besides taking a bit of us with them, they leave a little of themselves behind, too.

Pictured Back row left to right: Hannah Jenkins (5 years) , Andreah Grove (1 year), Andrew Kreiner (4 years)

Front Row : Clay Kreiner (4 ½ years), and Andrea Plude-Binge (5 years)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

ALA Preservation Week and the Clarke

by Kim Hagerty and Bryan Whitledge

This week is the American Library Association’s Preservation Week. It is a week designed to highlight all of the complexities that are involved in preserving the objects of enduring cultural value that are stored in libraries across the United States. The goal is to raise awareness and give educational opportunities to those who care about preserving all forms of information – from priceless antiquarian books to the latest presidential tweet – for generations to come.

As part of the Clarke Historical Library’s mission to keep and make available resources related to the history of Michigan, we are involved in a very large project to preserve local newspapers from throughout the state. Newspapers, as many of us have seen, do not do a good job of withstanding the test of time. They tend to become acidic over time and they will eventually become yellow and brittle and, in the advanced stages of degradation, they can begin to crumble with even the slightest touch. To ensure that researchers have access to old newspapers without worrying about deterioration, the newspapers must be preserved. The primary way that we preserve newspapers for future use is to photograph them and store them on microfilm.

While it seems that everything is going the digital route, analog preservation microfilming is still a preferred method for keeping information well into the future. The advantages of microfilm include that it is static and cannot be changed (i.e. it is exactly the same as when it was created), it will last for over 500 years if it is stored and maintained properly, and it doesn’t require any special equipment other than something to magnify the image unlike digital documents which require computer software or a special player.

At the Clarke, our preservation microfilming unit uses state-of-the art equipment and techniques that meet or exceed American National Standards Institute (ANSI) specifications for preservation microfilming. We work with several libraries and newspaper publishers to create high quality, enduring, accessible copies of historical and contemporary newspapers. Many of our projects are continuing and we have standing orders to microfilms all copies of specific publications. On average, we process 100,000 images on microfilm each year. After the pages are filmed and inspected, multiple copies of the film are created and stored in climate-controlled secure locations, both in-house and offsite. We also work with libraries and other clients to distribute user copies of film. The redundancy of multiple copies ensures that if one copy is ever damaged, there will be a backup available, and if one storage location suffers a disaster, all of the copies will not be affected.

Besides newspapers, the Clarke Historical Library preservation microfilming unit works with documents, manuscripts, and scrapbooks to reformat the information. We offer institutions across the World the opportunity to purchase user copies so their researchers can remotely access the unique holdings of the Clarke Historical Library.

If you are interested in further information about preservation microfilming in general, please see this Northeast Document Conservation Center Preservation Leaflet regarding preservation microfilming. If you would like further information about working with the Clarke Historical Library to preserve documents or newspapers that are in need of reformatting, please visit the microfilming unit’s webpage or call us at 989-774-3352.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Generosity of Clarke Staff Recognized by University

by Frank Boles

At a ceremony on April 19, the Clarke staff was recognized for its contributions to CMU’s Annual University Campaign (AUC). The AUC is a fundraising event in which CMU employees are asked to voluntarily give back to the University. Employees are allowed to direct their contribution to specific units on campus. As an added incentive the President’s office matches each dollar pledged with an additional fifty cents.

This year the Clarke staff was recognized for having the highest percentage of donors for a CMU unit with less than twenty-five employees. Although the award itself is significant, what is particularly noteworthy is that this is the third consecutive year the Clarke Library staff has been awarded this honor.

Part of my job is asking people for things. Whether it is a bunch of books in the attic or a sizable number of dollars, much of what the Library accomplishes is due to the public’s generosity. In a typical year at least one-third of our newly acquired material is donated. Annual giving and spendable funds from our endowment accounts make possible at least an additional one-third of our acquisitions, with this percentage likely to increase dramatically over time. The spendable income from the endowments and annual giving also support a wide range of other Library activities and services, including speakers, exhibits, reference, and digitizing activities.

Dependent as we are on our many friends for so much of what we do, it is nice to be able to share with them that those of us who work in the Library also understand the need for non-university funding and that we believe so much in what we do that what we support the Library’s activities with our gifts.

Today, my thanks go first to the people I work with for their generosity, and then to you, for your generosity. Together, we make a difference.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Sinking of the Titanic and Clarke Resources

by Bryan Whitledge

April 14-15 this year will mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic - an historic event, the legend of which permeates our general knowledge to this day. It has been characterized as one of the greatest maritime disasters in history and the hundredth anniversary is being remembered with a flood of information about the subject, from historic investigations of the sinking on news websites and in magazines to the re-release of a big-budget Hollywood film - this time in 3-D.

At the Clarke Historical Library, we are also marking the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking by reflecting on the coverage provided in local newspapers and highlighting some of the historic resources that we make available to researchers across the world. One of many local newspapers that reported the Titanic tragedy was the Clare Sentinel. The April 19, 1912 edition of the Clare Sentinel features the story of the ill-fated ocean liner front-and-center with stories of local happenings in Mt. Pleasant, Harrison, and Farwell. The first bit of information mentioned in this report concerns the number of survivors and why the survivors would include men and some of the crew members, commenting on the fact that "women and children first" was not followed 100%, but was the general rule.

Besides this edition, the Clarke has thousands of reels of historic newspapers available on microfilm for researchers to use - but that is not all. In addition to making historic newspapers available in microfilm format, this edition of the Clare Sentinel and the entire run from 1896 to 1945 has been made available in a digital format via CONDOR. You can view the entire April 19, 1912 edition of the paper by clicking on this link.

There are also numerous other historic and contemporary resources made available on CONDOR, including Central Michigan Life (currently 1968-98, but it is always expanding), the Chippewa Yearbook, CMU Board of Trustees Minutes, historic local newspapers, and select titles from the Clarke Historical Library and Park Library holdings. CONDOR, an effort of the Clarke Historical Library, the Park Library, and Central Michigan University as a whole, is a institutional repository or “a permanent, safe, and accessible collection of the academic and intellectual output of the CMU community.” The CONDOR homepage can be accessed via this URL -

If you have any questions about the functionality of CONDOR or any of the web resources that the Clarke Historical Library makes available, or if you would like to see other historic newspapers that are not yet available in a digital format, please feel free to contact us for more information - Stay tuned for a future post about the reaction to the sinking of the Titanic by a former Michigan Senator.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Birch Bark Book

by Tanya Fox

The Clarke Historical Library has a new acquisition that is very interesting not because of its content but because of its pages. The book is made entirely of birch bark. The souvenir book holds sketches of sites in and around Petoskey, Michigan. Though it is small with just 10 pages, its unusual composition is worth checking out. The title of the birch bark book is Souvenir of Petoskey Michigan and it was published around 1900. Some of the pictures in the pint sized book include the Arlington Hotel and a bird’s eye view of Petoskey. The pages are surprisingly thin. The birch bark grain can be clearly seen. The book’s texture can be felt by the reader. One of the neat things about the Clarke Historical Library is we allow patrons to use our collection with few limitations.

Our current exhibit focuses on Petoskey and the Little Traverse Bay area as tourist destinations at the turn of the 20th century. So, come on in and peruse the birch bark book and our exhibit, as well as many other interesting and informative items in the Clarke. For information on the Clarke Historical Library’s current exhibit click here.