Here at the Digitization Centre we are fascinated and excited by the vast amount of primary-source material that our digitization work exposes us to.  Whether a document of historic significance, a beautiful illustration, or even a particularly fine typeface, we are frequently amazed by the materials we’re working to share with the world.  So much so, that not only will we crowd around to ogle a particularly interesting specimen, but we’ve started decorating our workplace with copies of some of our favorites.  But why stop there?  Surely, we can’t be the only ones geeky enough to appreciate such “gems” in our collections, and so we’ve decided to share them here with you.  Below you will find some of our favorites, hand-picked by staff from both existing and upcoming collections.  We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!   TIP: To view full resolution versions of the images on any size screen, click to enlarge and then right-click and select “open image in new tab.”

BC Sessional Papers Phase 2 Now Online!

Posted on January 10, 2018 @11:39 am by Emily Chicorli

Phase 2 of the BC Sessional Papers project (from 1887-1911) is now complete and available online. Phase 2 has increased our collection by 25 years!

Click here to visit our digital collections page to view the volumes we have digitized.

Click here to read more about what sessional papers are and how they can be utilized for research.

1899_0117 1899_0224A 1887_454A 1903_A0001

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Managing Metadata: “A Love Note to the Future”

Posted on December 15, 2014 @10:41 am by Emily Chicorli

Managing metadata might not seem like a glamorous task when working with digital materials, but it is one of the most important. Managing metadata means ensuring digital materials are identified, maintained, made accessible, made searchable and preserved over time so that the digital materials can be accessed in the future.

 What is metadata?

The classic definition is: “metadata is data about data”. Our digital collections, for example, contain data (i.e. information) about the objects, which can include elements such as the creator of an object, the date or date range the object was created, the publisher and so forth. These fields (date, creator and so on) is data (information) about a particular object, document, photograph or object.

In the image below we have a snapshot of a digital object found on our digital collections webpage. Below the image is the metadata. This metadata provides users with additional information/data about the original digital object, which is the image. Click on the image to enlarge it.

The digital object, the map, gives us information. It is a map of North America. On the map we can view different places, see borders, and so on. The additional information below the digital object, the metadata, provides further data about the digital object. It tells us the size, or extent of the map, in the note field we are given information on how to access similar maps, we are told which collection the map belongs to, the format of the image, etcetera.

Metadata can also be generated as we use technology. When we take a photograph of an object, or scan an object, information like the date and time of the image/scan and the machine we used and the settings are all bits of information added to the object. Thus, the data generated by the computer programs add data to the digital object.

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 10.34.55 AM

In this screenshot, we can see the additional information generated by the computer and programs to show when the image was last opened, modified, and other information that can be pulled down when the tabs are opened (image is from the second phase of the BC Sessional papers going online in early 2015!)

Currently, the Digitization Centre is working on standardizing our metadata to make it more consistent throughout the collections and to ensure prolonged access and usability in the future.

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How We Digitize: Contex Scanner

Posted on December 4, 2014 @9:59 am by Emily Chicorli

How do large maps get scanned? How do materials larger than average size get digitized?

While we may use our TTI device (more about it coming soon in a new post!) we often use our Contex HD5450 scanner that can handle large format materials up to 54″ wide and of unlimited length. Not only does the Contex scanner produce fast high-resolution scans, it also has a gentle mode to protect delicate materials. Inside the Contex are three built in cameras. Once the material is scanned the scanner and software stitch the images together.

One of the most recent uses of the Contex is for oversized materials in the BC Sessional Papers. Often the volumes have pull out documents that range in sizes and cannot be scanned by the Fitjistu machines like the other pages in the volumes can be.




To use the Context:

We lay the documents to be scanned flat on an empty table. The first image shows a bunch of maps and charts from a volume of the BC Sessional papers. The second image shows what they look like when they are unfolded.

photo 2 (3)

Materials from BC Sessional Papers.

photo 1 (1)

Materials unfolded from BC Sessional Papers.

We place the document, in this case a chart, face down. The centre of the document is centred with the centre marker on the scanner.

photo 2 (1)

Chart to be scanned.

photo 3 (1)

Chart is placed facedown on the Contex.

We then go to the computer and click preview to make sure the entire document is visible in the image. The preview we see on the computer is a low resolution image.

photo 1 (2)

Preview image of chart.

If we are happy with the preview, we click scan and the document goes back through the feeder and is scanned in a high resolution format. If we are not happy with the preview, we will manually replace the document and try again.

photo 4 (2)

Chart coming out of the scanner.

photo 2 (2)

The scanned image differs than the preview image in that there’s a higher resolution and better quality picture.

photo 1 (3)

To control the document from entering and leaving the scanner, we use the up and down arrows.


Stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes posts about the Digitization Centre! 

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Coming Soon: Materials from the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE)

Posted on January 10, 2018 @11:56 am by Emily Chicorli

Back in 2012 we digitized materials from the David Conde Fonds. We are currently working with UBC Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) to make materials from the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) available up on UBC RBSC’s Access to Memory (AtoM) database once they are uploaded through archivematica and descriptions are finalized.

David Conde was a Canadian journalist working in Japan from the 1940’s through the 1960’s who reported on the IMTFE (International Military Tribunal for the Far East) trials for Reuters from 1946-1948.  Also known as the Tokyo War Crimes Trials, the tribunal brought charges against leaders of the Japanese Empire for war crimes. Conde was ultimately expelled from the trial proceedings by General Douglas MacArthur, but not before collecting a massive amount of documentation.  Aside from the court proceedings, there are biographical profiles on the defendants, copies of exhibits, evidence, and diplomatic communications, as well as Conde’s copious research materials.

Here are some page examples of the materials to be uploaded from the David Conde Fonds’ documents related to the IMTFE:

rbsc_arc_1135_19_03_001_001 rbsc_arc_1135_19_10_001_001 rbsc_arc_1135_22_10_001_001 rbsc_arc_1135_25_05_024

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More BC Sessional Papers Will Be Available Early 2015

Posted on January 10, 2018 @11:39 am by Emily Chicorli

Project update:

Early next year, the Digitization Centre will make the second phase of the BC Sessional papers digitization project from years 1887 to 1911 available online for all to access.

What are sessional papers?

Sessional papers contain materials that document the political, historical, economic and cultural history of British Columbia. The sessional papers include official committee reports, orders of the day, petitions, correspondence, maps, images, voters lists by districts, and more.

Using sessional papers for research

Sessional papers are great resources for research. From birth, marriage and death registries, to reports, graphs, maps, and photographs related immigration, mining, fisheries, famers’ institutes, education, the Canadian Pacific Railway and more, the sessional papers can aid providing context and facts for a certain period on BC’s history.

Check out our current selection of BC Sessional Papers tabled in the Legislative Council of BC (2nd to 8th Sessions, 1865-1871) and the Legislative Assembly (1st to 32nd Parliaments, 1872-1982).

Page examples from Sessional Papers:


From 1899.


From 1902 report on agriculture.


From 1904 mining report.


1904 map depicting coal in South-east Kootenay, BC


From 1905 fisheries report.


Page from a 1905 high school examination


Page from a 1905 high school examination


Image from a 1907 report.


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Updating collections for higher quality images

Posted on November 19, 2014 @3:52 pm by Emily Chicorli

One of the projects the Digitization Centre is embarking on includes rescanning photographs in the Japanese Canadian Photograph Collection and the MacMillan Bloedel Limited fonds. The goal is to provide users with high quality images and update the metadata to meet new standards.

The Japanese Canadian Photograph Collection documents the experiences of Canadians of Japanese descent in British Columbia with a strong emphasis on their treatment during World War Two.

The records of the MacMillan Bloedel Limited fonds (often referred to as “MacBlo”) document the history of one of the largest forest products companies in the world.

Photographs in both collections provide rich information about the history of British Columbia and provide different perspectives on life and industry in the province.

Stay tuned for high quality images and coherent metadata!

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Remembering with Photographs

Posted on January 10, 2018 @12:29 pm by Emily Chicorli

On Tuesday November 11th, 2014, British Columbia will be celebrating Remembrance Day along with the rest of Canada and Commonwealth countries to remember the men and women of the armed forces who died in the line of duty. Remembrance Day (Veteran’s Day in the United States) is a memorial day created in 1919 to remember the lives lost during World War One, which just had its 100th anniversary on August 4th, 2014. Remembrance Day has evolved to remember the men and women who served during other wars, such as World War Two and the Korean War, to military duties today.

We recognize Remembrance Day on November 11th because hostilities formally ended “at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day on the eleventh month” as representatives of Germany, Russia, France and Great Britain signed an armistice in 1918.

Rather than writing about the causes, events, and effects of the war, some of the students at the Digitization Centre have come across wonderful images taken on the front from the World War One British Press Collection that they think should be shared. While remembering the war as a horrific event that involved the loss of countless lives is one way to think about the past, we can also look for the joyous moments and remember what we fought for. Many of the photographs displayed in this post depict moments when soldiers were away from the battlefield, either enjoying recreational activities or happy moments on the job, and women and civilians contributing to the war effort.

On November 11th, we will remember those who fought in the past and those who are involved in military activity today.


To view more images, visit the World War One British Press Photograph collection

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How We Digitize: Multipage Scanners

Posted on November 19, 2014 @3:55 pm by Emily Chicorli

Another machine that we use on a regular basis here at the Digitization Centre are our Fujitsu fi-6670A multipage scanners.


One of our lovely multipage scanners.

The Fujitsu scanners are high-speed, sheet-fed machines that can scan up to 90 pages per minute on both sides, which is approximately 180 images per minute. These multipage scanners can handle a range of material sizes, from business card size up to tabloid size. Although the image quality is not as good as the flatbed scanners, they are still useful for many projects. The BC Sessional Papers project, for example, primarily uses the Fujistu scanners to quickly and efficiently digitize the documents.

Some projects require an important step before we actually begin to scan the materials. This step involves removing the binding of volumes and cutting the pages to size. Here at the Digitization Centre, we use a large paper cutter (by Krug & Priester) nicknamed “The Discoverer” to cut the bindings off books and to cut the pages to a uniform size. Click here for a video of a student using “The Discoverer”.


One of our students, Derek, demonstrating using The Discoverer. Click here to read more about about it.


How we use it the multipage scanners:

  1. Once we have the individual pages we then turn the scanner on and run the ScandAll Pro software to load on a Windows platform.

    Volume has been disbound.


    Now we have individual pages.

  2. After we have changed the scan settings in the software to our standards and preferences, we load the pages into the tray.

    The pages need to be put face down, top first, so that the top of the pages pointing toward the scanner, into the feed tray.

    Pages loaded.

  3. We click scan and the the process begins! While the pages are scanning, we monitor the .tiff images appear on the computer.

    Pages going through the scanner.

    photo 1

    Monitoring the scans.

  4. After the volume or print has been scanned, we open the images in Photoshop to enhance the image.

    Preparing to edit in photoshop.


  5. Now the images are ready for the addition of metadata.


Stay tuned for our next post on our ATIZ scanners, used for imaging rare books!

Read our earlier posts in the How We Digitize series on:

Flat Bed Scanners
Conserving Materials
Disbinding volumes

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Costume Ideas Inspired by Our Digital Collections

Posted on January 10, 2018 @12:21 pm by Emily Chicorli

Still trying to decide on your epic Halloween costume? Then look no further! The Digitization Centres’ photographic collections have a plethora of images that can provide inspiration for costume ideas. Whether your budget is thrift-store-chic, you have some cash to spend, or, you are looking for costume ideas that you can base off your current (or parents’) wardrobe, I have scoured our photographs to provide some costume suggestions for you from the collections of:

The Termaine Arkley Croquet Collection
The Capilano Timber Company fonds
The Fisherman Publishing Society Collection
The Peter Anderson fonds
The UBC Library Framed Works
The Uno Langmann BC Historical Photograph Collection
The World War I British press photograph collection
and Discorder, a collection coming online in early 2015!

Ideas for a 1980’s inspired costume – dress up as 80s band members with your friends!

The bottom left image can also be used for inspiration for an 80s inspired band costume

Inspiration for an 80s costume. Image from Discorder, a collection coming online in early 2015.

Get a group of your friends together and dress up like you are all from an 80s band

More 80s band inspiration. Image from Discorder, a collection coming online in early 2015.


A Greek/Roman God or Goddess?

Ideas for a World War One inspired costume:






Ideas for an authentic lumber jack costume


Men working in the timber/lumber industry, BC


The Mad Hatter

A 19th century inspired costume

A 1950’s inspired costume


Image from Discorder, a collection coming online in early 2015.

How about a DIY partner costume? Be the Capilano suspension bridge!

What about a protester inspired costume?

A fisherman inspired costume

Partner Costume


Clown inspired costume

A Fine Looking Dandy


Someone from the 1920s 


Have you seen any costume ideas in our collections not mentioned here? If so, let us know in the comments below!

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Introducing the One Hundred Poets Project

Posted on February 16, 2015 @3:46 pm by Emily Chicorli

In an earlier post in our How We Digitize series, I spoke with UBC Library conservator, Anne Lama, about her role here at UBC and at the Digitization Centre.

Anne was here again a couple of weeks ago to work with students and the project leader of the One Hundred Poets project to determine what types of conservation treatments some of the materials may need before they get digitized.

The One Hundred Poets project is centered around a collection of largely Edo-period (1615-1868) material focusing on The One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each (Hyakunin isshu, hereafter HNIS) poetry collection, edited by the famous poet and scholar Fujiwara no Teika (1162-1241). This project is part of a larger project with Professor Joshua Mostow of the Department of Asian Studies and Shirin Eshghi of UBC’s Asian Library to digitize materials, create a database, as well as host seminars and exhibits. These works once digitized will complement the Library’s other major Japanese digital collection, the Beans Tokugawa Map Collection—one of the three most important collections of Edo-period Japanese maps in the world.

Some questions we had to consider:

  • What kinds of treatment or repairs do the objects need?
  • To what extent do we repair or conserve these objects so that we can digitize them properly, but ensure they do not loose any historical significance?
  • Which objects have priority and why?
  • What is the best method of scanning each fragile object?


Below are some images of materials Anne and the students looked at (click on any of the images to increase its size):


This volume has very tight binding, which restricts the amount of information we can get when trying to open the volume. Not only does the tight binding make it more difficult to read the text and view all of the images, it also makes it very difficult to scan the volume.


The main concern for this volume is that the pages are very soft and fragile as they have incurred a lot of damage, including crinkled and torn pages.


This large hardcover volume has a very tight original binding that obscures the text. We are hesitant to remove or change the original binding because it will loose its historical significance.



Many of the pages in this text are stuck together and the paper is very acidic.


This volume has been severely damaged by insects.


These oversized maps have to be flattened and strengthened.


The stickers need to be removed from these wooden blocks.


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