Digital Forensics

by Adam Harwood

It sounds like something from CSI New York. And its something that I, an Archivist, have been doing for the last few months. No dusting off old manuscripts for me – digital forensics is my bread and butter. The reality unfortunately is not as exciting as it sounds, but maybe you, my library and archive colleagues, might be interested in this young yet burgeoning aspect of digital preservation.

On my desk currently sits a normal looking laptop computer, but boot it up and you’ll be looking at an unfamiliar screen that is the first step in preserving all Special Collections’ digital collections. I call it the digital forensics machine and we will use it to transfer digital records off of physical storage media like external hard drives and usb sticks and into a digital repository. Our digital repository doesn’t exist at the moment, but we can prepare our records to be transferred to it for when we do get it. I’ll explain what a digital repository is in another post where I’ll also explain what digital preservation is. For the moment I want to describe the digital forensics process and explain why we need to do it in the first place.

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Speed Conservation

by Rose Lock

Rosey Pool and the case of the damaged Equiano; or a book made safe and a treasure revealed.

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The world of archives works slowly – the papers we hold need care and attention to prepare them for researchers, often to their frustration. But sometimes we get a request that we just can’t say no to, so it’s stoke up the coals and full steam ahead! Sometimes such emergency procedures provide us with surprise gifts, as happened in this case.

Dr. Rosey Pool and her papers are well known to us here in Special Collections, and we’ve always felt the fascinating archive created by a Dutch Jewish teacher and translator involved in the early days of the field of African-American studies was underused by researchers.

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Introduction to the University of Sussex Rare Book collections

By Rose Lock

We are lucky at the University of Sussex Special Collections to have a number of fabulous and varied rare book collections, which are now part of the wonderful collections held at The Keep. As well as individual researchers ordering in our reading room, academics from Sussex and other universities use the books to teach their courses, running seminars in our education rooms where the students can get first-hand experience of handling rare volumes.

Our largest collection is the University of Sussex Rare Books, formed in 2003 from our library’s stock and including donations from Harold Foster Hallett, Sir Henry D’Avigdor-Goldsmid and Bishop George Bell. The range of dates and subjects in the collection is wide, and with nearly 2000 volumes it is our largest collection of published material. A highlight of this collection is The works of that famous chirurgeon Ambrose Parey (SxUniversityRareBooks/784 ) from 1678 was at its time a revolutionary book of surgery, not just for the skills and techniques developed by the man considered the father of modern surgery, but also because he did not publish in Latin.

The Travers Collection was donated to the University by Joy Travers and represents a selection of the collection of Michael Travers, a book collector with wide ranging tastes. It showcases a range of different printing and binding techniques from the 15th to 19th centuries. The themes of the development of modern culture and of the impact of the printing press run through this collection. It includes the first book printed in England in the English language, The Polychronicon (SxTravers/7) printed in 1482 by Caxton, and first editions of The workes of Benjamin Jonson, (SxTravers/226) 1616 and Hobbes Leviathan, (SxTravers/250) 1651. Demonstrating its variety, the collection also includes the largest book in our collections, a reprint of the second volume of Audubon’s Birds of America, (SxTravers/335) printed in Double Elephant and has pages 23×28 inches. Known as ‘the most expensive book in the world’, our 1970’s reprint allows researchers to see the rich, full size illustrations close up. Continue reading