Archiving Special Collections: Children’s Books from the Young Research Library at UCLA

yrlsc-07.jpgThe Internet Archive, with sponsorship from Yahoo!, is now in the process of digitizing books from UCLA’s Department of Special Collections which is located on campus in the Charles E. Young Research Library. The primary focus so far has been the rare books that make up the Children’s Book Collection. Many of the books chosen for the project originate from Colonial America and the United Kingdom and were used by young children as psalm books or primers in churches and schools during the18th and 19th centuries.yrlsc-04.jpg

The Archive’s UCLA Scanning Coordinator, Kris Brix, says that she has only four scanners working on this collection.

“Our scanners are being very careful while scanning this collection. We have added extra weights to the book cradles to alleviate pressure on the pages, and on occasion we simply bring the book up to the glass in order to eliminate pressure altogether. The scanning of these books naturally is going very slowly; our priority is to prevent damaging these fragile books and they are kept under lock and key when I am not here.”

yrlsc-05.jpgKris has provided photos of some of the special preservation packaging the books come in which includes custom pamphlet pockets, acid free paper sleeves, cellophane dust jackets and other creative protective measures. Kris says that these books have been specially prepared for long-term preservation and storage and are sent to her through an arrangement with Rare Books Librarian, Cristina Favretto.

“You can see there is a great deal of in-house preparation and preservation that goes into some of yrlsc-01.jpgthese books. I tried to find and photograph several unique examples. Special Collections has their own conservationist prepare long term packaging or it may be sent it to our library preservationist, Kristen St. John. Some of these books are as thin as tissue and no bigger than a credit card – great pains are taken to protect these little gems.”