My “Special Collections” Education

by Devin Bostick, Class of 2014

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Digitizing Lehigh-Lafayette 100th Game Booklet for a library patron

Since I started working in Special Collections in the fall of 2011, I have gained a great deal of experience related to research for digitization projects, camera imaging and editing in Photoshop, library collection and material organization using Omeka, and library exhibit display and presentation.  Through my experience in Special Collections, I have digitized hundreds of images ranging from book pages to maps and Lehigh alumni photograph albums.  I have had the privilege of seeing up close the progression of Lehigh’s history as related to its campus buildings, student organizations, sports teams, Lehigh/Lafayette games, and graduation and reunion ceremonies.  Towards the end of my Lehigh career and particularly my senior year, I frequently look back with nostalgia at my own experience at Lehigh, and my experiences in Special Collections have affirmed the fulfillment and satisfaction of so many other past Lehigh students shown in its records.   To name a few specifics, I have learned about the scientific and engineering laboratories of Lehigh, famous alumni and their many achievements, the passing of important faculty and the significance of their past work on Lehigh’s future, the work of talented and driven Lehigh doctoral students, Lehigh’s history as recorded through the eyes of the Brown and White, changes to the Epitome and Lehigh’s course catalog over time, and more humorously the extent to which older alumni at class reunions compete with each other for most ridiculous costume by dressing up like astronauts or clowns.  That last one will give me some ideas for Halloween in future years no doubt.

In addition to increasing my appreciation for Lehigh and all it has provided me in terms of education and personal growth, my work at Special Collections has allowed me to learn so much about the effective operation of a high-tech camera and about digital image editing, which can serve me well in the future. I enjoyed learning how to troubleshoot the camera and became an expert on how to operate it when problems occurred. I have also learned how to manage and standardize digitization projects encompassing the collaborative work of several others, create and organize hierarchies and logical progressions for items displayed in Special Collections online exhibits, create folders and holding devices for damaged rare materials, and develop descriptions for the Special Collections physical exhibits and display cases in Linderman Library.

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Digitization is finished and the file delivered. Another patron is happy.

Special Collections contains a fascinating plethora of rare and old books, maps, journals, and manuscripts showcasing Lehigh’s history.  It allows students to study original materials first-hand and identify intriguing pieces of history only found through diligent and perceptive research.  I will miss many of the life lessons and experiences I have gained from working in Special collections, and I hope the department can continue on an upward path of growth and expansion for the educational and cultural enrichment of Lehigh University and the broader community.

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