Many apologies for the lack of posts lately, but life in the library has been hectic. While not meant to be excuses, there are reasons your archivist/blogger Kira has been otherwise occupied. Since they related to food history in at least a few ways, it seems like this week is a good week to talk about some recent activities and changes! Summer is that time of year when I always think I’m going to tackle a bunch of projects–then a million other things come along, asking for my attention.
- Last month, the library was closed for one day while we had our biennial staff day. The last few times, I have done food-related programs and this year was no exception! I talked about some of my favorite hot-spots (pun intended!) in the history of baking in America. Then, armed with 6 dozen cookies (sugar and gluten-free, dairy-free sugar), 5 cups of homemade buttercream (vanilla, chocolate, and vegan vanilla), and a bunch of edible decorations, attendees let loose customizing their own frostings and decorating cookies. I’m working on a place to share presentation about the history of food & drink materials on the LibGuide (more on that below), so it will hopefully be online soon.
- Next week, I have a historic cocktail tasting and talk on the docket, so I’ve been putting together notes, menus, and more. I’m really looking forward to talking about the History of the American Cocktail Collection itself, as well as how it’s being used by researchers, with a new audience!
The biggest changes lately have to do with how you can search for and discover materials in Special Collections and the University Libraries generally. In May, we got a new catalog and a new discovery search tool. If you’ve been on the library website, you’ve probably noticed some changes and may wonder how this affects you. (I’ve definitely been spending part of my time finding problems and trying to help solve them!)
- Our new catalog is here: https://catalog.lib.vt.edu/. The catalog contains information on the physical collections held by the University Libraries at Virginia Tech (including Special Collections). Library staff are still working on some issues, so if you have trouble locating materials or need help using the new catalog, we encourage you to contact us and we’re happy to learn while we help you! (Here in Special Collections, we are still adjusting our workflows accordingly and learning as we go.)
- Our new discovery tool is located here, right on the library’s front page: https://lib.vt.edu/. The discovery tool includes physical (items in the catalog) and electronic resources (e-books, databases, articles, and the like). Special Collections materials are in here, but it works a little differently from the catalog and some items are a little more hidden than others. Again, please reach out to us if you have trouble and we’ll help!
- We hope that we will also be able to include our finding aids AND records for digitized collection content in this system in the near future. We are in the first stages of looking at making that happen, so stay tuned!
- As you may know, I’ve created several resource guides for researching aspects of our history of food & drink collecting area. As of this week, there is a quick and easy way for researchers to find any and all guides related to Special Collections materials! “Special Collections” is now its own group on the list of guides. You can go to the group list and click on “Special Collections” to see our guides OR you can jump right to the alphabetical list of guides.
- In light of the new catalog and discovery system, I’ve been updating links in the food-related resource guides (as well as some others I’ve developed), so they should be working correctly. Since you can’t search the new catalog the way you could the previous one, I have removed old directions, updated some text, and once we have some more things figured out, will go back and add some more detailed text about searching to those guides!
- Also, I’ve been working on a new set of pages on the Food & Drink History Resource Guide. There is now an FAQ about the collecting area for some questions we get most often. And there’s a tab called “Sources for Selected Topics” that contains some content. Click on the arrow next to “Sources for Selected Topics” to see the list and jump to a page. There are a few more topical pages in draft mode that will get done one of these days…
What’s Coming Soon?
As if all that wasn’t enough, there’s still more! There are several projects in progress in Special Collections–basically, some things to look forward to in the coming months.
- Our staff is working on a new and updated website. It will be a little more streamlined and you’ll probably also see some new resource guides, as we move some information around. But don’t worry, I’ll have a new post about the site when it goes live!
- After over 6 years on a hosted WordPress site, “What’s Cookin’ @Special Collections?!” is starting to run out of space for content! (Side note: our blog will have it’s 7th anniversary this fall!) While it’s a problem I’m VERY glad to have, it also means we need a new place for our blog. Behind the scenes, I have been working with our IT Services department to move to a blog that is hosted on the library’s website. Good news: No concerns about space limitations! Bad news: There was a hitch or two (fixed!) and now it’s taking me a bit of time to update links and develop a new look and feel. I’m hoping to have it done later this month. When it’s ready for prime time, I’ll have a post here to redirect people to where new content will be posted. This site will remain, so you’ll still be able to find/read old posts, I just won’t be adding new ones.
- Over the last 9+ years, I’ve done a fair number of presentations about the food & drink history materials. Some of them are posted in different places, but I’m hoping to be able to collect them together on the Food & Drink History Resource Guide to share. It’s definitely on my project list and we’ll see how it goes!
So, a long text post this week, but there was a lot to tell! But, to finish up, here are a couple of pages from one of my favorite publications in the collection, just because!