A NOTE FROM THE WOLFSONIAN’S DIGITAL LIBRARY SPECIALIST
During the past four and a half years working at the Wolfsonian-FIU as the Digital Library Specialist, my main duty has been the digitization of rare books and ephemeral materials housed in the library. Hand in hand with that duty, is the technical routine of photographing thousands of items and the enriching experience of handling items that only a few people are fortunate enough to see behind Plexiglas frames and cases. This brings me to an additional responsibility, four times a year, which involves the creation and maintenance of the Library Displays website.
This website recreates the Wolfsonian’s library exhibitions in a virtual format and has been visited by thousands of people since its inception in the summer of 2007. It serves as an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the various themes covered in the museum’s collection. The advantage of presenting the collection in this format, as opposed to simply having them available digitally in the library catalogue, is that the items are put in a context and related to each other with interpretative text.
Last week I finished working on the new virtual exhibition titled, Rewriting the World, curated by our Curatorial Research Assistant, Matthew Abess.
I wanted to contribute this blog post to invite and encourage the general public to visit the museum and look at the exhibit, but also to briefly describe the process of publishing its “virtual” component. Library exhibits are a collaborative endeavor. The curators, working with our Chief Librarian, Dr. Francis Luca, select the materials to be included in the show. Digital surrogates are made of the actual items chosen. After descriptive and interpretative label texts have been generated and edited, the corresponding captions and text are sent to me. I design the website page layouts, incorporate text and images, and present them for final adjustments and corrections before the final version is published online and made available.
One of the advantages of providing a “virtual” display is that an exhibition that otherwise would be viewed only by those persons visiting the museum in person can now be viewed and enjoyed by anyone with access to the internet.