Doughnut sales help university acquire Ken Kesey archive

Sales at VooDoo Doughnut in Portland and Eugene of this colorful, lemon cream-filled doughnut called the “Easy Peasey Lemon Kesey” help the University of Oregon’s Knight Library raise money to buy the Ken Kesey collection. Right now the collection is at UO and worth at least $2 million.

Kesey grew up and graduated from UO, and the film based on one of his most well-known works, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” was shot in Oregon. UO wants to permanently house Kesey’s archive of letters, manuscripts, and artwork and his family has given the school first shot at purchasing it. UO has responded with a fundraising effort to avoid losing the collection.

(Editor’s note: University of Oregon purchased the Ken Kesey collection earlier this month – prior to this post – allowing the Knight Library to keep the author’s archive at his alma mater. The partnership between UO and Voodoo Doughnut was an example of how an everyday experience connected to the important work archivists do to acquire, preserve, and enable access to institutional and regional cultural heritage. We look forward to highlighting more partnerships between archives and the communities they serve.)

Fall crawl toasts Oregon State University’s new brewing archive

Before Oregon became a state, German immigrants Henry Saxter and Henry Weinhard had established a thriving Pacific Northwest beer industry which today includes 137 brewing companies in Oregon. To help tell, preserve, and provide access to the state’s story of hops production and the craft brewing industry, Oregon State University Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives Research Center recently started the Oregon Hops and Brewing Archive (OHBA). An active Tumblr blog goes in-depth about the project.

Historian Tim Cox of Old World Deli in Corvallis gave a talk on local brewing history and brought 19th-century business documents to show.
Buttons promote the Oregon Hops and Brewing Archives (OHBA) at OSU's Special Collections and Archives Research Center.

To promote the archive, the research center put on a downtown Corvallis brewery crawl on Saturday, Oct. 19 for the public to learn about Oregon’s beer industry from a historical perspective. A schedule of events included talks, presentations, and brewery tours. Organizers distributed buttons and a colorful self-guided walking tour map of Corvallis breweries and sites of pre-Prohibition breweries. Some spots were picked for their  historical interest, such a newer locale which crafts an ale named after Linus Pauling – a nod to the two-time Nobel Prize-winning OSU alum whose papers and other materials are in the school’s archives.

The OHBA brewery crawl was one of several events OSU planned for Oregon Archives Month, the state’s celebration of American Archives Month each October. It also helped promote the connection between the OHBA’s research and scholarly value and Oregon’s beer industry. OSU is one of two universities in the country with a Fermentation Science program and a 120-year-old hops research program gets U.S. Department of Agriculture support. Oregon lawmakers also approved funds for a new distilling program and further fermentation research at OSU. This means that as the Oregon beer industry and related research – from hops to production – grows, so will the archive and its impact.

Five final Friday thoughts

To end a busy work week, here are five things I didn’t get a chance to write about that deserve mentioning:

  • Issue 22 of the Code4Lib journal came out Monday, Oct. 14 and it features two works by OCLC Research staff, including members of the ArchiveGrid team. Bruce Washburn, Merrilee Proffitt, and Marc Bron (our intern from earlier this year) co-authored a report about their recent EAD tag analysis using ArchiveGrid data and what it means for online discovery. A case study by Wikipedian-in-Residence Maximilian Klein and his counterpart at the British Library is about their integration of VIAF authority data in biographical Wikipedia articles and what it means for broader presentation of library data.
  • What happened on Dec. 28, 1986? Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gene Weingarten wants to know. Good stories will be included in a book he’s working on, scheduled for release in 2016. Do you have a story about that date from your life to tell, or a story about someone or something you researched? Let ArchiveGrid help.
  • The 16-day government shutdown ended on Thursday, Oct. 17, which means one of my favorite blogs, “The Bigger Picture” by staff at the Smithsonian archives, was back in action. I look forward to their next round of Link Love.
  • This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of Home Movie Day, an amateur film and video screening held around the world for individuals and families to show their recordings and learn about preserving them. While most events will be Saturday, Oct. 19, HMD in some locations have already happened or will take place through early November.
  • A newspaper in Belfast noted all week its oldest surviving edition from 1738 by republishing it as an insert in Monday’s print edition. Highlights from that and the News Letter’s second earliest edition, both of which are held at Linen Hall Library, were also featured the rest of the week both in print and online.

The Wreckage was a new look at ArchiveGrid traffic

Lately we have been using GoogleAnalytics more in-depth to learn how people get to ArchiveGrid and this week we found out how much Wikipedia helps.

On August 14, more referrals than usual came from a Wikipedia page about The Wreckage, a historic log house in Ocean Park, Wash. These referrals were going to a record in ArchiveGrid for the Guy S. Allison collection held at Western Washington University. August 14 happens to be the last day the Wikipedia article was modified and because of that, it was featured in the website’s highly-visited Did You Know section, where new and edited pages get mentioned.

That explains the traffic spike that day. But what is The Wreckage and why is WWU’s Guy S. Allison collection relevant? Guy Selwin Allison, it turns out, moved from Missouri, his home state, to Bellingham and graduated from WWU in 1907 when it was called Washington State Normal School. A box of his scrapbooks are now held in the school’s special collections in the Wilson Library.

According to the collection description, the Guy S. Allison collection “contains poems, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, correspondence, and miscellaneous facsimiles of contemporary documents.” Topics emphasized Abraham Lincoln so it would be interesting for scholars to read what Allison, who became a syndicated newspaper columnist, had to say.

Here is some more information about Allison, taken from both the collection description and the Wikipedia page it helped enrich. After a short teaching career, Allison bought coastal property in Ocean Park, Wash., which is on a peninsula near the Columbia River mouth. River traffic was heavy because the Columbia was the only water passage between Portland and the Pacific Ocean. Rough waters at the mouth caused ships to lose cargo or wreck. In 1911 and 1912, Allison salvaged enough logs and cement blocks which washed ashore from two different vessels to build a cabin. “The Wreckage” is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

You’re getting warmer: using click trail heat maps to evaluate ArchiveGrid

Click trail heat maps are visual overlays on a website that can help identify whether important features are being seen and used by visitors.

We recently updated ArchiveGrid with some user interface changes and wanted to see whether that update changed how the system is used.

In the previous system, the heat maps indicated that the only parts of the home page that were getting any significant use were the search box and the map with its list of archive locations. It didn’t surprise us that those were the most popular features, but we were surprised that other features appeared to be almost entirely ignored. Were they not being seen, or just not of interest or use?

The new interface didn’t make any significant changes to the content of the home page, but design and layout changes may have made some of these features a bit easier to recognize and use. In particular, we’re seeing a little more use of the topic browse feature.

The visualization of clicks and views can also help evaluate how this page appears and is used by visitors on mobile devices. In this view it appears that Search is the only thing that matters enough to “click” or “tap,” and mobile visitors tend not to scroll very far down the page.

We’re turning our attention to how the pages for individual archival collection descriptions are viewed and used, as those had more substantial changes and improvements (we hope!) in the most recent system update. We’ll report what we learn here on the ArchiveGrid blog.

Score collection notes music performed at Emmy Awards

This collection of music scores at University of California, Los Angeles may be of interest to music history researchers and anyone with an ear for television show theme songs. I learned about this collection, which came from the CBS Music Library, by keyword-searching “Saturday Night Live” in ArchiveGrid because according to the New York Times, the series debuted 38 years ago today. The collection title, “Collection of Music Scores for the Emmy Awards,” caught my eye so I decided to read more about it.

According to the finding aid in the Online Archive of California, scores were copied by hand or by ozalid until laser printing replaced that process in the 1990s. Some of the unpublished manuscripts are annotated, which is an interesting study of how the scores were rehearsed as well as how they were performed. This would be of value to those studying orchestral practices at the Emmy’s.

Here is an except from the scope and content note:

“…the scores include both ‘play-on’ and ‘play-off’ cues for popular television shows nominated for Emmy Awards. This means that an abridged segment of a theme song is adapted for orchestral performance, and structured as either a ‘play-on’ cue that is played when a television program is introduced, or a complementary ‘play-off’ cue that is played as the representative awardees of a given program leave the stage with their award in hand. This collection contains such cues adapted from popular television programs from 1969-1970 and 1980-1988. Some notable television programs include: The Rockford Files (1969), Hill Street Blues (1982), and Perry Mason (1986). In addition, the collection includes medleys of popular TV themes that were performed to entertain the live audience during commercial breaks.”

Scores from 1983 and 1984 awards shows which paid musical tribute to Saturday Night Live share folder space with scores adapted from other big names in pop culture such as Cheers, Mash, Taxi, and Late Night with David Letterman. The latter is not to be confused with Late Show with David Letterman, which was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award this year.

October index update welcomes design changes and record growth

Happy American Archives Month. Although there is no connection between the observance each October of archives and the archival profession, and our most recent index update – which this blog post is about – both occurrences are meaningful. For us, two pieces of news distinguish our most recent index update from others: We launched a new design to ArchiveGrid which Bruce wrote about, and our count of finding aids and collection descriptions passed the two million mark.

New contributors are:

State Historical Society of Missouri
African American Museum and Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library
Bibliotheek Universiteit Leiden
California Judicial Center Library
Moravian Archives
Roger Williams University Library

You will also start seeing more content on this blog, as we are ironing out a more comprehensive and branding-oriented ArchiveGrid communications strategy. American Archives Month is a perfect time to make this happen.

Thank you for all your continued support of ArchiveGrid.

A fresh look for ArchiveGrid means there are more places to call home

We recently updated the ArchiveGrid interface, applying the popular Bootstrap framework to make the system more responsive on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices, and to take advantage of Bootstrap’s built-in features for handling common layout and design problems.

While the basic features of ArchiveGrid did not change in this update, this is more than a fresh coat of paint.  We’ve long recognized that, for many visitors to ArchiveGrid, their first experience of the system is on a page other than the system’s official “home page.”  About 76% of visitors arrive in ArchiveGrid, typically from a link in a Google, Bing, or Yahoo search result, on a page describing a single collection.

In the previous ArchiveGrid design, this page was fairly static.  Other than a search box to continue searching and a link to contact information for the archive, there wasn’t really much you could do from here:


In the redesign, we’ve made more access points available, added a map to help with finding your way to the archive, and changed the layout to move more information “above the fold”:

We’ll be watching ArchiveGrid analytics closely to see how these changes affect the use and utility of the system.  If we’re making incremental progress, we could see a reduction in the “bounce rate” (visitors who arrive and leave without doing anything else).