Catalog Cards and Fiche

Texas State University has recently completed building an Archives & Research Center which will serve as an offsite storage facility for collections. In preparation, units have been weeding the collection and identifying items to be moved offsite.

The old backup microfiche copy of the library online catalog is one such collection identified for weeding.

Back in the day, this microfiche provided an alternative access to the collection if the OPAC was down or the building lost power after the card catalog was retired. Although it was not up to date, it still proved useful to me on several occasions as a Reference Librarian when I worked the public services desk.



dobie1 dobbie3


Seeing the microfiche reminded me that I had been present when the original card catalog was retired in 1999.




I saved a few cards as souvenirs.



There still are other remnants of older library technology which can be found in the building. You can still find punch cards from the first computerized circulation system in the backs of some books.


The National Tour of Texas



This unique project brought together specialists in GIS, web development, and digitization to create an interactive website based on Dick J. Reavis ’s 1987 year long journey driving every highway in Texas.

Dick J. Reavis is the award-winning author of seven books, including The Ashes of Waco: An Investigation; If White Kids Die: Memories of a Civil Rights Movement Volunteer; Catching Out: The Secret World of Day Laborers and more. He has been a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, a Senior Editor at Texas Monthly, and a finalist for a National Magazine Award. He is now Emeritus Associate Professor of English at North Carolina State University.  While on assignment for Texas Monthly in the late 1980s, Mr. Reavis got lost and pulled from his glove box his official Texas Highway map. Looking at the map, the thought occurred to him, “there sure are a lot of roads on that map … I wonder if anyone has ever driven them all.” He decided he would try.

He proposed to Texas Monthly that he spend a year driving every single road on the map and write a series of articles for the magazine about his experiences. Mr. Reavis divided Texas into 48 Regions and drove over 117,000 miles in a Chevy Suburban. The Dick J. Reavis Papers at the Wittliff Collections contain thousands of photographs, postcards, notes and even a logbook chronicling each day’s driving. Mr. Reavis published fourteen articles in Texas Monthly throughout his tour.

Our exhibit contains digitized photographs, postcards, notes and copies of the articles as they appeared in Texas Monthly. We decided to digitize his original hand-shaded map, overlay it on Google Maps, and use that as the foundation for navigating the online exhibit.  The exhibit also features a new video interview with Mr. Reavis and a collection of photographs from 1987 matched with corresponding images from Google Maps demonstrating the changing landscape of rural Texas during the last three decades.

We decided to use Omeka as the primary platform and use the Google Maps API and JavaScript to integrate the geospatial  features. The first part of the process was digitizing Reavis’s 67 x 90 cm Texas Highway map with the RCAM and Phase One digital back. Nathaniel Dede-Bamfo, GIS Specialist, used this to create KML layers. The difficulty in this part of the project is that Reavis created his own regions. Although they often followed county boundaries and rivers, they often included only parts of counties. Nathaniel pulled data from the US Census Bureau and the Texas Natural Resources Information System (TNRIS) into ArcGIS to perform Geo referencing, Editing & Dissolving, and Symbolizing. Nathaniel then converted the layers to KML files.


Geo referencing




Our programmer Jason Long, then used two KML files created by Nathaniel to create a custom page in Omeka using the Google Maps API. The first KML was an image overlay of Reavis’s digitized shaded map and the second KML was a series of polygons for Reavis’s regions.Since the Google API does not generate a mouse over event for polygons when loading a KML layer, Jason used the geoxml3 extension as a KML processor for use with Version 3 of the Google Maps JavaScript APS. First he generated a map with the Google API with javascript. Next he parsed the KML polygon layer with geoxml3 and finally used AJAX to create links to items in the Omeka Exhibit based on mouse events.

Putting it all together, Jason created a custom theme in Omeka and used the Unite Gallery javascript for the slide shows.

We thought it would be interesting to try to show some of the changes since Reavis’s tour. We pulled some excerpts from his tour notes and added links to photos he took at the time and also links to current Google Maps Street Views of the same locations.

notesOne of Dick Reavis’s motivations for making the tour was to try to view a part of Texas that he knew would soon disappear. The then and now photos show that he was unfortunately correct in his prediction.


History of Spring Lake


In a previous post I discussed a project to digitize and create an exhibit related to the history of Aquarena Springs. Entitled The “History of Spring Lake”, the online exhibit is now available. Only a portion of the archives’ materials are included in this exhibit.

This “History of Spring Lake” exhibit was initially planned and constructed by Jason Crouch, a Graduate Student in the Public History Program at the Texas State University Center for Texas Public History. Digitization support was provided by Digital Media Specialist, Jeremy Moore. Programming support and customization of the Omeka site was provided by Jason Long. Additional support provided by Todd Peters, Head, Digital & Web Services.

This exhibit was edited and revised to feature a variety of primary source materials from the University Archives. The purpose of this exhibit is to provide a brief history of Spring Lake; it is not meant to be an exhaustive history of the people, places, or details.

The University Archives would like to thank Anna Huff and John Fletcher for providing content representing The Meadows Center, as well as the local repositories and local collections that allowed us to feature their materials in this exhibit.

And the earth did not swallow him

dvd-coverWe recently completed a fun project that is notable for a few reasons. The first is because the subject of the project was creating on online exhibit on the making of Severo Perez’s beautiful film, … and the earth did not swallow him, based on Tomás Rivera’s classic 1971 Chicano novel, …y no se lo tragó la tierra, which is a semi-autobiographical novel that recounts the life of workers and families of the migrant camps where his family stayed while doing farm work. In 1995 Severo Perez wrote an English screenplay, using his own translation, produced, and directed a film version of the novel. The film was well received and received critical acclaim and several film awards.

Severo Perez

Severo Perez – 2014

In 2014 Severo Perez donated the production archives from the film to the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University. The Severo Perez Archive is a comprehensive collection that traces the development of all of his major works, from the first drafts to the finished productions. Included are scripts, correspondence, location photos, storyboards, animation cells, casting photos, production forms, continuity photos, rough cuts, outtakes, master reels, sound reels, editing logs, artifacts, and publicity materials.

The second reason the project is notable is the participation of the donor and filmmaker in the project. During the Fall 2015 semester, Severo Perez was an artist-in-residence at Texas State, sponsored by the Center for the Study of the Southwest and its director, Dr. Frank de la Teja. Severo Perez’s presence on campus coincided with the university’s 2015-2016 Common Experience theme: “Bridged Through Stories: Shared Heritage of the United States and Mexico, an Homage to Dr. Tomás Rivera.”

He offered his time to help with the online exhibit and went through his archives with Steve Davis, the curator of the Southwestern Writer’s Collection.

The third and possibly most interesting feature of the exhibit is its arrangement. We were able to create a unique web resource which not only provides information on the making of this film but also explores the film making process in general process from beginning to finish, drawing from the extensive materials in the Severo Perez collection. With the assistance of the Texas State Instructional Technology Services Video Production team, we conducted a new video interview of Mr. Perez talking about the making of the film. Steve Davis reviewed the video and took notes and included time codes with each note.

notesThe next step is probably the most important part of the process. Mr. Davis rearranged his notes by topic and added topic headings based on his knowledge of the content and arrangement of the collection. These rearranged notes then became an outline which was used to construct the framework for the exhibit in Omeka by our programmer, Jason Long.
Todd Peters used the outline with time codes to create 109 short video clips from the 2.5hr interview and Jeremy Moore, the Digital Media Specialist, digitized objects selected by the Curator. Jason put everything together into the site and we went live in late Spring 2016.

We hope you enjoy the site.

Omeka site

Then and Now

Several websites that feature juxtaposed historic and recent images have appeared over the last year. It is a fun way to showcase historic images in an archive. The Knight Lab at Northwestern University has created an easy tool to create photo juxtapositions. The software allows a user to move a slider to swipe between the two versions of an image.

We decided to use the JuxtaposeJS software to create a few test images to learn more about the process. We took a couple of prints of historic photos of Old Main we had recently digitized, and tried to find the locations from where they were shot.  For this pilot project, we did not use the high resolution PhaseOne digital camera. We wanted to keep the amount of equipment we needed to carry to a minimum on our first attempt, so Jeremy used a smaller Olympus OM-D E-M5II capable of stitching together 40mb images from several shots, and a tripod.

The resulting images were scaled and visual reference points lined up in Adobe Photoshop. The JuxtaposeJS  website automatically creates the HTML embed code to insert into a website.


Click to view juxtaposed Then and Now images of Old Main.


Old School Work Study


During the early part of the University’s history, “work study” apparently meant something different than it does today. While listening to  a digitized 1974 oral history, I stumbled upon an amusing recollection from Biology professor Thacher R. Gary and his wife Nawona (both also 1940 graduates of Southwest Texas State Teachers College.)





Jessie and Claude Kellam, 1923



They recalled the hardships on students in the 1920s and 1930s and that most students worked and many could only afford one meal a day. In recalling that some would do anything to stay in school, they recount that several students had kept cows on campus in the early years, including J. C.  Kellam and his brother, and they would sell the milk to other students to help earn money.



Library Exhibit

Digital & Web Services Exhibit

Digital & Web Services Exhibit

The Digital & Web Services Department has mounted a physical exhibit in the Alkek Library to showcase digitization at the Library. It is scheduled to be displayed from September through December 18, 2015. Located on the 1st floor of the Alkek Library and entitled From Paper to Pixels: Digitization at the Alkek Library, it uses samples from recent projects to provide a look at some of the equipment and procedures used for digitization.

Front page of the 1929 San Marcos Record


Included are over-sized prints including the Taffola Manuscript, the restored Sallie Beretta Painting and older issues of the school newspaper.




The exhibit also features a step by step photo breakdown of the dis-binding process used in preparation for scanning the Pedagogs, the student yearbook.

interferenceAlthough the title of the exhibit only mentions paper, it also features work on digitizing audio and video. Physical examples of open reel, cassette, Betacam and Hi-8 tapes are on display and screens-shots demonstrating the capture of audio are shown.

Selected photographs printed from the unlabeled negative project are also on display including a large print of Dana Jean Smith and Gloria Odoms, taken on the day Southwest Texas State College was officially integrated in February 1963.


Past Wimberley floods recalled

The University Archives holds nearly 200 oral histories on open reel and cassette tape, dating from the 1970s through the early 2000s. Graduate student Virginia Pickel has begun digitizing these materials.

A recent open reel tape digitized contains an interesting section in light of the devastating floods which hit the Wimberley and San Marcos areas in May 2015.

In 1974, longtime Wimberley residents Mr. & Mrs. Emmet Cowan participated in a recorded interview for an oral history project.  This excerpt contains a short portion of the recording where the interviewer asked if they had ever seen any floods of the Blanco river. They recall a major Blanco flood  in May 1929 that forced them to move to higher ground and minor flooding in 1900 and 1957-58.

Reddit Effect

The Digital & Web Services department began uploading digitized versions of the university yearbook, the Pedagog, in March 2015. Promotion for the site has included a featured link on the main library website, the University Archives Facebook page, and the Alumni newsletter. The site can also be found through Google.

During a nineteen hour period during the second week of June the site experienced an unusual amount of traffic. Logs revealed that it had been generated through a post on Reddit, a social media platform of online communities. Since Reddit has become so popular and posts can direct so much traffic to a site, servers can be overwhelmed and slow to a crawl. This has been dubbed, “the Reddit Effect.”

Our site is hosted on a Virtual Machine that has been allocated CPU and memory resources adequate for the relatively small amount of regular traffic currently drawn to the site. Within hours of the Reddit post, incoming traffic began to overwhelm the capacity of the server.  The increase lasted for about 6 hours until it began a steady decline. Another media site, Cosmo, posted a story re-blogging the link 13 hours after the original Reddit post. Although there was not another spike in traffic, it may have lengthened the plateau until traffic fell to usual levels.

Reddit directed over 4,400 additional visitors to our site over a 19 hour period.


Tafolla Manuscript


A recently completed project for the Digital & Web Services department is the digitization and online exhibit creation for the recently acquired Santiago Tafolla manuscript. A description of the history of the manuscript and its acquisition by The Wittliff Collections is contained in a press release on The Wittliff Collections web site.

It is the handwritten personal memoir of Santiago Tafolla recounting the first 39 years of his life. It is a fascinating document and includes first hand observations during the U.S.- Mexico war, the Texas Indian Wars, and recounts his experiences as a Mexican-American Confederate soldier during the U.S. Civil War.

cover1_750_wm Page_view_750_wm

The manuscript consists of two legal sized pads and the paper has become brittle with age. It was decided that conservation and digital photography would have to happen at the same time. Each page was digitally captured and then carefully removed and placed in a protective Mylar sleeve, revealing the next page to be photographed.


The manuscript was photographed using the PhaseOne iQ180 digital back using Capture One version 8.  Images of individual pages were saved as 400ppi 8-bit RGB tiffs and composite PDF versions of each manuscript were also created.


split_view_300 B&W versions of the manuscript were created to make it easier to decipher the text.







The online exhibit was created and is hosted on the Omeka open source software. Our new programmer Jason Long, first created a new launching page where this and future Wittliff Collections exhibits will live. Using the open source  JQuery plugin Justified Gallery, he created an image-based linking page. There are already a number of Wittliff Collections exhibits on other platforms and they were also  incorporated into the gallery.

The Tafolla exhibit itself uses the open source Unite Gallery JQuery plugin. The exhibit builder theme first had to be customized to conform the data to the plugin’s requirements.

The complete manuscript, Part 1 and Part 2, are available for research use in the Alkek Library Digital Collections Repository.