Blog Entry 002; Blueprints and Tracking Down Sources

One of the cool things about digitizing the Water Resources Collection is reviewing the blueprints. Although we are not in the metadata stage right now, scanning the smaller blueprints is really interesting. There is not as much time spent on the larger blueprints because we have to put them on hold for photography or the overhead scanner in the Special Collections Reading Room. However, these blueprints highlight irrigation systems and other notable rivers such as the Colorado River and the San Luis Rey River.

The reports and correspondence letters to different organizations and professors can range from 13 pages to 75 pages. The more bulky reports typically have 3-5 blueprints inside. And the blueprints are either cutouts of larger blueprints or the whole entire sheet folded strategically so that it can fit into the portfolio. Varying between an all-blue or an all-white background, the blueprints either have white or blue ink (respectively).

Although I love my work station, I have a favorite scanner that I like to use for my portfolio covers and blueprints. It is a flat bed scanner that is connected to the desktop work station opposite me and its resolution wins my heart. Cropping and adjusting the histogram scale of the blueprints is much more easier with a flatbed scanner.

Another interesting thing about working with these resources is properly tracking them down to submit requests for them. For example, when most of my materials are digitized from my prior shift, I notify my supervisor and she gives me a list of items to submit Aeon requests for. I like to do this part at the beginning of my shift because it could be tricky sometimes: Most of the time you can type in the full title of the item and find it in the library catalog, but 2 times out of 5 you are going to have to pick out keywords from the title in order to find them in the online catalog. For example, it took me 8 different search forms to find a correspondence letter. I searched by the title, call number, the person the letter was addressed to, the name of the river it mentioned, the date of the letter, partial call number and given person, and partial call number and name of the river. Finally I just searched the river and restricted the search to only special collections and sorted the results alphabetically. The search process can be tricky because the titles of the documents are long. With primary resources, it is common to have resources with long titles because there has to be attention to detail and a lot of keywords are vital and cannot be leftout.

Therefore, whenever I tell someone that I am digitizing the California water documents and they reply back “Isn’t that boring?”, I have no choice but to tell them that it is much more complicated than it sounds.