Thursday, April 26, 2018

True Confessions: My Digitization #EpicFail aka how we turned my mistake into a #WinWin!

In our professional careers, we all make mistakes sometimes and last year I made a BIG one…  Here in the ARCHives, we refer to that unfortunate day one year ago today as #426—as disaster—April 26th, 2017. 

First, I will provide some clarification.  ARCH is an Islandora installation, developed by PALS.  As an administrator of ARCH, I monitor, approve and publish digitized objects that my student workers scan and describe in the Simple Workflow Utility Module.  This gives both my student workers, and myself, the opportunity to edit digitized images before they “go live”.  As you can imagine, some objects need more work than others.  Some images may sit in the Simple Workflow for a while before I get a chance to edit or fix it.  Such was the case that fateful Wednesday in April 2017. 

Now let me set the stage for this blunder.  One year ago today, on Wednesday, April 26th, 2017, I was working away—answering questions from my student workers, talking with colleagues, etc.  I made the poor decision to review my exploding Simple Workflow queue at that time.  A time when we were very busy.  I quickly selected all of the images that I felt looked suitable.  Surely, I could quickly breeze through my Simple Workflow queue and publish those objects/images that look appropriate, right?  I quickly selected and published what I thought to be only my selections in the queue…

At the bottom of the Simple Workflow queue are the following buttons.

Sample only.  On that fateful day, April 26, 2017, the number was 2,000+.

I quickly confirmed and PUBLISHED the objects/images. 

Yep, I selected Publish All.

Hmmm, 2,000+ objects/images, that seems like A LOT.  After publication, Islandora brings you back into your Simple Workflow queue…EVERYTHING IS GONE…  I HAD PUBLISHED THEM ALL!!!

“No.  No, no, no” (And yes, those were the exact words I uttered.).  I refreshed.  I hard refreshed.  I even tried the control-z.  Crazy I know.  I closed my browser, reopened and checked again.  Still gone.  I even opened another browser and checked again.  Empty, gone, gone, gone…

Anne's reaction

I contacted our vendor PALS.  Nope, apparently in Islandora you cannot pull them back into the Simple Workflow.  I had literally unleashed Pandora’s Box!  Objects/Images with grammatical, spelling and incorrect metadata.  Objects/Images that were sideways, objects that we were waiting on Donor Agreements prior to publication.  In other words, a true HOT MESS!

After a sleepless night, I had to come clean and figure it out.  I confessed to my supervisor who very understanding considering the magnitude of this mistake.  In addition, I started to figure out how to fix the mess that I had created.

I created a review log.  For those of you that know me—you know how I love a log!  My two student workers and I reviewed/browsed each page that contained twelve images per page and noted each image that needed editing.  All misspellings, grammar, sideways and downright wrong images recorded in a large Excel spreadsheet with links to the offending image.  Then we went back and got to work.  Fixing, editing, replacing images and logged that information in our Clean-up Spreadsheet.

How long did it take us?  Surprisingly, the first review only took us about two weeks.  The actual clean-up process took much longer—closer to two months.  Once I developed a plan to fix this hot mess and during the clean-up process, I began to feel better about it.  Some of these images had been problematic.  Many were a part of our digital collections since the beginning and probably migrated from our original CONTENTdm installation to our current Islandora installation.  Islandora allows for many options of editing including download and replacement of the original image, which was super helpful for the sideways images. 

The moral of the story?  Looking back, I now realize that ARCH is in better shape than ever.  Does that mean that we do not have any problems with some of the objects?  No, but I have refined my process for clean-up.  I have now formulated new clean-up processes.  We turned lemons into lemonade.  Even though the debacle seemed like a disaster, I now realize it was not life or death.  I created a calamity but with the help of my two student workers, we resolved it.

Anne Stenzel is an Archives Technician specializing in digitization at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Comment below with suggestions and any questions!


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Welcome Adam Smith - our new Archives Technician!

In March 2018, the University Archives at Minnesota State University, Mankato welcomed Adam Smith as the newest member of the Archives team! 

Adam supports and assists with the coordination of daily activities of the Archives and Special Collections area, provides assistance to users, supervises and trains student assistants, provides backup for digitization efforts, assists with the University's Record Management program and does so much more!  Adam writes:

Hello! I am so excited to be a member of the Archives and Memorial Library team here at MSU, Mankato. The warm welcome you have given me has been so inspiring and I’m enjoying getting to know all of you. I graduated from Missouri S&T in 2010 with a BA in History and UW-Milwaukee in 2012 with an MA in Public History concentrating in Museum Studies.  I worked at the Stearns History Museum and Carver County Historical Society as a Curator of Collections before coming here.  My primary roles were collecting and preserving 2D and 3D artifacts along with researching and installing exhibits. I’m excited by all the interesting projects going on at the Memorial Library and Archives in particular and looking forward to working with you more in the future. 

Photo of Adam Smith in the University Archives

Welcome Adam!

If you have questions about the University Archives, you can call Adam at 507-389-1029 or send a note to him at

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Celebrating Minnesota State Mankato Authors - 2018

On April 4, 2018, Library Services hosted the 7th Minnesota State University, Mankato Authors reception for 35 faculty, staff, and emeriti who wrote or edited a book, monograph, video, or other scholarly publication between March 2016 and March 2018. The Minnesota State University, Mankato Authors Collection, along with the reception to honor the newest publications included in the collection, offers insight into just a portion of the scholarship and creative achievement of our University community.  A complete list of the 2018 honorees and addition information about the April 4, 2018 event can be found online at

A group photo of honorees attending the Minnesota State University, Mankato Authors reception on April 4, 2018.
Photo Credit: Bobby Duehring. 

COMING SOON! The Official Sesquicentennial History

October 7, 2018, marks the anniversary of the founding of the Mankato State Normal School and the start of 150 years of history for Minnesota State University, Mankato.  The forthcoming book, Minnesota State University, Mankato, 1868-2018: A Sesquicentennial History by Professor Emeritus Dr. William E. Lass, follows the development of the university from its first 27 students pursuing two-year diplomas in 1868 to the almost 15,000 students pursing undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees in 2018.

This extensively illustrated and researched book covers in detail the development of academic programs, the physical campus, university leadership and faculty, as well as student life. Readers will learn about the 1922 fire that destroyed the Teachers College building, the development of twin campuses in the 1950s, Vietnam War era campus protests, campus consolidation, the University of 2018, and much more.

In his more than 40 years at the university, Professor Lass taught courses in Minnesota History and US History, served as History Department Chairperson, and on numerous campus committees, and was the founding director of the Southern Minnesota Historical Center and University Archives. He has written 10 books and more than 60 journal articles, book chapters, and dictionary and encyclopedia entrees. His previous books include: Minnesota: A Bicentennial History, Minnesota: A History (2nd Edition); Navigating the Missouri: Steamboating on Nature’s Highway, 1819-1935; Shaping the North Star State: A History of Minnesota’s Boundaries; and A South Dakota Country School Experience.

Details on the release of the book are coming soon. For more information contact the University Archives at 507-389-1029 or

Friday, February 9, 2018

From Normal School to University: Celebrating 150 Years postcard book now available!

In celebration of the Minnesota State University, Mankato Sesquicentenntial, the highly anticipated postcard book, From Normal School to University:  Celebrating 150 Years is now available for sale!
From Normal School to University: Celebrating 150 Years cover.
Yes, you too can now own your very own Minnesota State University, Mankato commemorative postcard book.  The book featuring historic photos of Minnesota State University, Mankato covers four themes; Heritage, Academics, Student Life and Athletics.

What?  Postcards?  You ask?  Yes, postcards--they're still a thing! Save yourself some cash by mailing these fun postcards to your family and friends who are Mankato State College or Mankato State University Alumni!  Imagine the kick they'll get out of receiving a snail mail postcard featuring photos that bring back college memories of yesteryear.
From Normal School to University: 
Celebrating 150 Years,
page 15.
From Normal School to University: 
Celebrating 150 Years, 
page 16. 
Postcard stamps are a bargain at .35 cents each!
But even better, consider purchasing the From Normal School to University:  Celebrating 150 Years postcard book as a gift for your family and friends.  Supplies are limited!  Act now before they're gone and all that jazz!

The University Archives is the official repository of the records of Minnesota State University, Mankato.  The Archives contains records from the creation of the Mankato State Normal School in 1868 to the present.  Plan your visit to the Archives soon!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

New Digitized Collection: King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968. Speech in Mankato, Minnesota, 12 November 1961. SMHC Manuscript Collection 259.

As one of the new collections recently added to the University Archives at Minnesota State University, Mankato, we've been especially excited to add the  King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968. Speech in Mankato, Minnesota, 12 November 1961. SMHC Manuscript Collection 259 to University Archives Digital Collections, ARCH just in time for the Martin Luther King, Jr Holiday which will be commemorated on January 15, 2018.

This collection, consists of an audio recording provided by KMSU and a transcript of the speech given by King at Mankato High School, "Facing the Challenge of a New Age" on November 12, 1961, as well as College Reporter articles about King's 1961 event.

The College Reporter, Tuesday,
November 7, 1961, Page 1

We often get asked the following question, "What famous people have visited Mankato or Minnesota State University, Mankato over the years?"  Honestly, we find out about new "famous people" who visited all the time and we expect that those discoveries will continue.  Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 1961 visit to Mankato, Minnesota, was one of those extra special discoveries.  MSU Archives digitization efforts over the past decade has revealed, and will continue to reveal, more of our hidden history that we've been able to share with the world through ARCH, University Archives Digital Collections.

Want to visit the Minnesota State Mankato's University Archives! Contact us with any questions or to make an appointment for your visit.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Book Handling: Things Missing from Books

In a previous post, we spent time discussing things found in books. Now let's take a moment to consider the opposite issue.

Patrons return incomplete books often. Sometimes we receive books that have a single word cut out of a page, a paragraph may be missing or a page ripped out. Art and illustrations inside our books disappear and sometimes entire chapters are sliced right out. There have even been a few instances where the entire textblock went missing while the cover was still returned. Though we are happy that our books are being found useful, it makes it very difficult for the next person to enjoy a book that is missing some of its key components. Many times, the Preservation department can restore these items but sometimes the issue isn't caught until it is returned by an innocent and unsatisfied patron.

Image courtesy of

What You Can Do to Help:
  • Contact the Copy Shop located in Memorial Library at Minnesota State University, Mankato for information regarding photocopying.
  • Ask the Reference Desk librarians if there are any digital copies of the book that you could read and print out.
  • If that doesn't work, contact the Reference Desk for help regarding use of our scanners on first floor to make a digital copy of your desire page(s). 
  • Buy your own copy of the book. Check out ours first but if you need it for long term reasons, why not see if you can order it online or at a local bookstore?
  • And, most importantly, tell the Circulation staff that parts of the book are missing so we can get it replaced for the next person. **Please do not try to repair books yourself!* And don't forget to tell your friends to do the above steps if you see them attempting to take pages out of books.
Of course, sometimes books just fall apart. It is often times uncontrollable as books age and they may go beyond wear and tear. Let us know so we can resolve the issue for you. The Circulation Office does a wonderful job working with those who have damaged books. Call today at (507) 389-5759.

Take care of your library books so the next person can enjoy them too!
Image courtesy of 
How do you take care of your books? Comment below!

Jamie Dalbey is a Preservation and Government Documents Technician at Minnesota State University, Mankato.