2021 Brodsky Series for the Advancement of Library Conservation Lecture to Feature Digital Archivist Monique Lassere

Monique Lassere, Digital Archivist at Houghton Library, Harvard University, will present at Syracuse University Libraries’ annual Brodsky Series for the Advancement of Library Conservation. Lassere’s virtual lecture, titled Translating Bits: Maintaining (Born-)Digital Heritage, will be held via Zoom on Monday, May 3 from 1:00-2:00 pm EST. The lecture will discuss born-digital preservation, a nascent but growing area of work in academic and cultural heritage institutions. Lassere will interrogate how born-digital materials and the surrogate materials that constitutes born-digital objects require a reframing of physicality to understand and initiate proper methods for long-term stewardship. This includes strategies such as information maintenance, file format migration, and emulation. All are welcome to attend the public lecture with advance registration at https://syracuseuniversity.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_UsXpI6HSTKKOy8lxBAY4Aw.

The annual Brodsky Series for the Advancement of Library Conservation is endowed through a generous gift by William J. ’65, G’ 68 and Joan Brodsky ’67, G’68 of Chicago. Beginning in 2004, the endowment has been used to sponsor programs that promote and advance knowledge of library conservation theory, practice, and application among wide audiences, both on campus and in the region. Programs typically include lectures and workshops by prominent library conservators.

In her role as Digital Archivist at Houghton Library, Harvard University’s rare books, manuscripts, and literary and performing arts archive, Monique Lassere stewards born-digital archival materials within the Manuscript Section. Her research interests include issues in software preservation, born-digital archives, and information maintenance. Prior to joining Harvard, Monique worked for the University Libraries at the University of Arizona, where she oversaw development of the Libraries’ digital preservation strategy and program, and a digital preservation startup company called Digital Bedrock, researching file formats and software obsolescence.

To request accommodations please contact Julia Chambers jschambe@syr.edu by April 26.


2022 SCRC Faculty Fellows Program Call for Proposals

The Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) at Syracuse University Libraries is now accepting proposals for two Faculty Fellows who would like to provide students with an opportunity to handle, analyze, and interpret SCRC’s primary source materials in their classes. Proposal applications for the development or revision of a 3-credit course to be taught in the Fall 2022 or Spring 2023 semester from any discipline on campus are being accepted now through June 4, 2021.

The SCRC Faculty Fellows Program supports innovative curriculum development and fosters new ideas about how to transform the role of special collections in university instruction. Each fellow selected will receive a $5,000 payment, hands-on introduction to the collections, and ongoing classroom support throughout the semester. 

The Libraries is thankful to George Bain G’06, a member of the Library Associates, for his generous gift funding towards the Faculty Fellows in 2022-23. The original funding for the SCRC Faculty Fellows Program was made possible through the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, which promotes the advancement and perpetuation of humanistic inquiry and artistic creativity by encouraging excellence in scholarship and in the performing arts, and by supporting research libraries and other institutions that transmit our cultural heritage. The SU Libraries and Library Associates invite gifts to support the SCRC Faculty Fellows Program and this unique opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students at SU. Each $5000 will support a Faculty Fellow for a semester long class. Please contact Ron Thiele, Assistant Dean for Advancement for the Libraries at rlthiele@syr.edu or 315-560-9419 for more information about making a gift.


Libraries to Adopt Quartex, an Adam Matthew Digital Platform, for its Digital Collections

Syracuse University Libraries recently selected Quartex as its new platform for in-house digital collections. Quartex, designed by Adam Matthew Digital, is a flexible and responsive hosted digital asset management platform with extensive front-end capabilities that enables organizations to showcase, share and celebrate their archival materials with a global community of users. Déirdre Joyce, head of the Libraries’ Digital Library Program, led a comprehensive review of digital collection platforms before the Libraries chose Quartex. With Quartex, the Libraries will provide a more user-friendly system for students and scholars to use their’ unique digital materials. The first collections published will likely include materials from the Special Collections Research Center’s (SCRC) Plastics Collection Area, Glass Plate Negatives from the University Archives, and selections from various holdings related to Central New York social reformer and abolitionist, Gerrit Smith. Users may expect to see digital collections on the new platform by fall 2021, with a projected completion date by 2023.

Syracuse University Libraries has an established relationship with Adam Matthew Digital and, along with utilizing the Quartex digital collections platform, acquired most Adam Matthew published primary resource collections in 2020, adding a significant amount of interdisciplinary content for the Syracuse community.

“Adoption of this new platform will make it easier for Syracuse students and faculty to use our important collections in their courses and research,” said Déirdre Joyce. “In addition, we are working with the Quartex team to take advantage of innovative enhancements to their product, including greater platform accessibility, integration with third-party media players, expanding capabilities in the creation and use of transcript files for handwritten and audio-visual assets, and other practices that will enhance our digital stewardship work.”

The Libraries needed a system with an intuitive user interface, powerful tools to build and publish collection sites, and a platform that could host their diverse and complex multi-format digital objects. Using Quartex, their Digital Collections will become more discoverable and searchable thanks to improved metadata, Handwritten Text Recognition technology, and full-text searching of audio-video transcription files. The Handwritten Text Recognition functionality improves searchability of content using algorithms and artificial intelligence, marking a significant upgrade in user experience. Finally, Quartex will offer additional, multiple entry points into the world-class special collections and archival content held by SCRC – along with other locally-curated digital materials – that enhance teaching and learning.


“Harry Haft: Survivor of Auschwitz, Challenger of Rocky Marciano” Audiobook Wins AudioFile’s Earphones Award

One of Syracuse University Press and Sound Beat: Access Audio’s first audiobook collaborations  has been recognized as an Earphones Award Winner by AudioFile, the premier audiobook authority publication. The Earphones Award, given to Harry Haft: Survivor of Auschwitz, Challenger of Rocky Marciano  by Alan Scott Haft, recognizes “truly exceptional titles that excel in narrative voice and style, characterizations, suitability to audio, and enhancement of the text.”

Over the past couple of years, the Sound Beat team, part of the Special Collections Research Center, has worked with the Libraries’ Advancement staff to include longer format audio projects, like narrated journals and documentary-style pieces. Partnering with SU Press to create audiobooks was a natural progression and partnership. And through an exciting partnership with the Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education, InclusiveU students form an integral part of the production team. The opportunity to produce high quality audiobooks with students from InclusiveU at the center of the experience demonstrates the impact of cross-collaborative scholarship at Syracuse University.

SU Press has been publishing vital scholarship, sharing ideas, and giving voice to important stories since 1943. They were delighted to collaborate on providing an alternate format for authors and readers. Audiobooks are the fastest-growing segment in the digital publishing industry. And they provide another medium to reach audiences and to share stories that might otherwise have not been told.

The AudioFile reviewer described Harry Haft: Survivor of Auschwitz, Challenger of Rocky Marciano  as an “… exceptional audiobook [that] proves there are still unique stories of Holocaust survival to hear. Alan Haft’s biography of his father… who used brawn and boxing skills to survive … imprisonment at Auschwitz, is one listeners will long remember. Narrator Price Waldman tells Harry’s story with a sense of rage, determination to survive, and even love, allowing the story to excel on audio in a way that print books cannot match…” (AudioFile 2021).

The book is available for purchase  through several vendors, including Apple Books, Hoopla, Libro.FM, and Audible. 


Special Collections Research Center Launches Latin American 45s Digital Collection

Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center (SCRC), working in partnership with the Digital Library Program (DLP), recently launched the Belfer Latin American 45s Digital Collection. The digital collection will eventually provide access to over 12,000 recordings that date from the 1950s to the early-1960s and include many rare and little-known issues on small independent record labels from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Mexico, the United States, and elsewhere.

This major digitization project to preserve and make accessible this unique collection began in 2017 as an early partnership with the Libraries’ newly launched DLP. As a result, images of record labels and covers in the collection, as well as basic descriptions of the recordings, are now publicly available online. New images and audio files will be added to the collection on an ongoing basis as recordings are digitized over the next several years.

Primarily sourced from 45-rpm discs, the digital collection encompasses a wide range of musical genres, including merengue, bolero, guaracha, cha cha, Pachanga, mambo, and others. It also includes a large selection of salsa recordings from the 1970s, reflecting the origins and development of that musical genre. Recordings were selected from The Bell Brothers Collection of Latin American and Caribbean Recordings, which is housed within  the Special Collections Research Center. Max and Joseph Bell, the owners of Bell Music Box, a New York City record store, were avid collectors of Latin and Caribbean Music. In 1963, Syracuse University acquired the entire inventory of the Bell Music Box store. The acquisition constitutes the bulk of Latin American 45-rpm discs in SCRC’s Belfer Audio Archive.

The digitization was also made possible by several generous financial gifts, such as those from Elias Savada, for sound digitization and preservation.

“One of our greatest priorities as stewards of the rare and unique materials that comprise Special Collections Research Center is preservation. Our other priority is making these collections accessible,” said Petrina Jackson, Director of Special Collections Research Center. “We are delighted to be able to provide access to sound recordings through this digital collection to researchers and our SU community.”

For more information, watch the Libraries’ virtual event recording that outlines the process of creating the Latin American 45s Digital Collection.


Sound Beat: Access Audio Offering Children’s Audiobooks about Enslaved People by Cheryl Wills

Sound Beat: Access Audio is providing two free family audiobooks, written by Emmy Award-winning journalist Cheryl Wills ’89,  the great-great-great granddaughter of Emma and Sandy Wills, enslaved people from Haywood, Tennessee. The audiobooks are narrated by the author and are also available in video form, featuring artwork from the original print books. Educational materials and discussion questions are included for educators and caregivers, designed to spark conversation and foster understanding for younger listeners. Both stories offer important tales of triumph in the face of extreme adversity. These Access Audio productions have been made available as a gift from the Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center. Links to the materials is available online at http://soundbeat.org/sound-beat-access-audio/emma-the-emancipation-of-grandpa-sandy-wills/.

“The Emancipation of Grandpa Sandy Wills” uses actual Civil War military records as a backdrop, detailing Sandy’s journey from a suffocating slave plantation to a Union Army camp, then on to a new life as a free man. Featuring Carter Boone as Grandpa Sandy.

“Emma” would become Sandy’s wife, and grew up a brave and strong enslaved woman who had to fight for everything in her life – her freedom, her hope, and her dream of education for her family.

Author Cheryl Wills ’89 (S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications) has received awards from The Associated Press, New York Press Club, Newswomen’s Club of NY Front Page Award, as well as a medal of excellence from the prestigious United Nations Correspondents Association. In recognition of her career, the veteran journalist received an Honorary Doctorate from New York College of Health Professions in May of 2005. Wills was the first journalist invited to speak before the General Assembly of The United Nations in March of 2011 about the impact of slavery on her family during the UN’s International Remembrance of Victims of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. To read more about Cheryl Wills’ background and story, read this interview from a Newhouse student.

About Sound Beat: Access Audio

Sound Beat is a daily, 90-second radio show highlighting the holdings of the Belfer Audio Laboratory and Archive. Belfer is part of Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center and is one of the largest sound archives in the United States. Each Sound Beat episode focuses on one particular recording from the Archive and provides a back story detailing its place in recording history. Sound Beat: Access Audio features long-form audio projects including audio books, interviews, narrated journals, and documentary-style storytelling that highlights the experiences of iconic Syracuse University community members. Sound Beat: Access Audio projects have included collaboration with students, faculty, staff, and administration from partners across the Syracuse University campus. Inclusion and the student experience are at the forefront of Sound Beat: Access Audio’s mission. Through an exciting partnership with the Lawrence B. Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education’s InclusiveU, students form an integral part of the Sound Beat: Access Audio team in all aspects of production, working with Libraries staff to develop their research, writing, and editing skills.


SCRC Receives Grant to Process Forrest J. Ackerman Papers

The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation is providing Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) with a $17,000 grant to process the Forrest J. Ackerman Papers. Forrest J. Ackerman was a popular American science fiction author, editor, agent, collector, and fan. His papers include correspondence from 1930 to 1967 and includes fan mail; communications with other writers including Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Andre Norton, and others; and correspondence with book and film companies.

“This is especially gratifying to receive good news at such a difficult time,” said David Seaman, Dean of Syracuse University Libraries and University Librarian. “We thank The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation for their support of our world-class Special Collections, and the faculty and students who benefit from them daily.”

“This grant will help SCRC process this popular collection and provide broader access to researchers globally,” said Petrina Jackson, Director of the Special Collections Research Center. “SCRC benefits greatly from foundations and private donors that enable us to ensure resources like the Forrest J. Ackerman Papers are accessible for wider communities and long into the future.”


“You Don’t Surrender: Journal and Memoirs from Don Waful, World War II P.O.W.” Audiobook Now Available

Sound Beat: Access Audio, part of the Special Collections Research Center at Syracuse University Libraries, has recently released the long-anticipated audiobook of Don Waful ’37, G’39 titled “You Don’t Surrender: Journal and Memoirs from Don Waful, a World War II P.O.W.” on the Sound Beat: Access Audio website.

This two-hour production provides remarkable insight into the psyche of a captive soldier set against the backdrop of one of the most compelling events of the 20th century. The journals, narrated by Brett Barry ’98, G’13, tell part of the story. Four interview sessions conducted between 2018-19, with then 103-year-old Waful, gave him a chance to fill in gaps and reminisce on his experience 75 years after the war’s end. A third part of the audiobook voiced by famed broadcaster Sean McDonough ’84 , provides reference through a historical timeline. McDonough, who began his career calling games for the Syracuse Chiefs baseball team (of which Waful was former President) also gives the audiobook’s prologue and epilogue.

The journal details Lieutenant Donald R. Waful’s time behind enemy lines. Captured by the German army and held captive from 1942-44, Waful recorded details of daily life, diversions the prisoners employed to pass the time, and his burgeoning love for Cassie, the enlisted nurse he’d become engaged to weeks before his capture.

This original audio content was produced by Sound Beat: Access Audio, which creates audio projects that highlight iconic Syracuse University community members. Don Waful (1916-2019) was an icon in the community and on campus for decades. He received his bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University’s College of Arts & Sciences in 1937 and his master’s degree in 1939. He was a member of the Alumni Glee Club and quite possibly the longest-tenured football fan.

Sound Beat, both the 90-second interstitials and the longer form Sound Beat: Access Audio, provide opportunity to incorporate applied learning for Syracuse University students. Student interns help to research and write Sound Beat episode scripts and serve as production assistants for Access Audio. These interns come from a wide range of programs on campus, including our project partner InclusiveU, which provides support and opportunities for students with cognitive and intellectual disabilities. “You Don’t Surrender” was recorded at WAER and Newhouse studios, and was mixed and mastered at Silver Hollow Audio.


Elias Savada Provides Gift for Sound Digitization

Elias Savada, Director of the Motion Picture Information Service, is gifting Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) with a three-year cash donation for sound digitization and preservation. Savada is the son of the late Morton Savada, who was proprietor of the Manhattan record store Records Revisited.

The Savada family donated the complete inventory of the store, more than 200,000 78-rpm records, to SCRC’s Belfer Audio Laboratory and Archive after the store closed in 2008. In addition, the family gifted papers from Records Revisited; correspondence from customers, other dealers, and friends; inventories and receipts; and obituaries, clippings, and other information about artists of the era to complete The Morton J. Savada Papers collection. In 2015 the Savada Family renewed their philanthropic commitment to the collection through creation of the Savada Family Sound Beat Endowed Fund, which provided seed funding for the ongoing creation of daily episodes of Sound Beat, an interstitial broadcast program that uses recordings from Belfer Audio Laboratory and Archive. The Belfer Audio Laboratory and Archive houses over 500,000 items, from the earliest experimental recordings on tinfoil to modern digital media. Through digital transfers made at the Belfer Audio Laboratory and Archive, the collections provide source material for Sound Beat episodes.

“One of our greatest priorities as stewards of the rare and unique materials that comprise Special Collections Research Center is preservation. We are so grateful to Elias Savada and the Savada family for their ongoing commitment to the preservation of recorded sound at Syracuse University,” said Petrina Jackson, Director of Special Collections Research Center. “Being able to maintain this commitment takes a lot of invisible labor on the part of our staff. As we continue to collect and care for materials, we are guided by the fact that many, like the Savada family, have entrusted us with their collections and that documenting these histories are not only the root of new and original scholarship, but a source of accountability and remembrance. Preservation is a protection of our investment in these archival and cultural heritage materials and a commitment that allows us to continue to provide access to materials to researchers and our SU community.”

“I am unaware of any other donation of recordings as large as the Savada gift to Syracuse University Library,” said Sam Brylawski, past president of the board of Association for Recorded Sound Collection. “It is an outstanding gesture by the family. It is gratifying, too, to know of Syracuse University’s commitment to preserving the work of Morty Savada and making it available to the public and the research community.”

Elias Savada holding record from Records Revisited in the Belfer Audio Laboratory and Archive, 2010.

New Special Collections Research Center Exhibit: ‘Provisions for Your Research Journey’

Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) announces a new exhibition located in the Plastics Pioneers Reading Room on the 6th floor of Bird Library. The exhibition, entitled ‘Survival Kit: Provisions for Your Research Journey’,  is on display now throughout 2021. It utilizes a selection of artifacts, documents, and photographs from the Edwin F. Bushman Papers, a mid-century plastics engineer, and the Plastics Artifacts Collection, to guide students and visitors through developing primary source-based research projects that dare to inquire into the unexpected.

From the discovery of materials, to the unfolding of their analysis, this unique exhibition has been designed to function as a standalone resource for students, as well as a scaffold for instruction in any course that emphasizes primary source research. An artifact can be an object of inquiry even on its own, but in finding and articulating relationships among artifacts, a world emerges with its own history to tell. SCRC intends to provide live-streamed interactive class sessions, as well as asynchronous video tours, to immerse students in the environment of the exhibition. 

“Our plastics-related collections are unique to Syracuse University and I am excited for students to walk away empowered with skills for primary source research and the knowledge that these collections are available for them to engage with and interpret,” said Courtney Asztalos, Curator of Plastics and Historical Artifacts. “Immense potential exists within the plastics collections in discovering untold histories and imagining new plastics futures—my hope is for this exhibit to inspire students to follow their curiosities within this unique resource.”

The labor, skills, and perspectives that built this interdisciplinary exhibition were a collaborative effort between Courtney Asztalos, Curator of Plastics and Historical Artifacts; Jana Rosinski, Curatorial Assistant of the Plastics Collection and PhD student in Composition & Cultural Rhetorics; Lynn Wilcox, Design Specialist, Syracuse University Press; Ann Skiold, Librarian for Visual Arts; and Emily Hart, Science Librarian, Research Impact Lead. Exhibition curators also acknowledge the invisible labor and absent voices of those who made the manufactured objects from which the plastics collections were created.

For more information about the plastics collections in SCRC, please visit https://library.syr.edu/scrc/collections/areas/plastics.php and https://plastics.syr.edu/.