John Phillips would have been very pleased to see our Library yesterday.
Ten students and one faculty member, Eimer Page, worked in the library dusting the shelves as their Community Action Day project. Most of the shelves on the upper floors were dusted, and all of the shelves in the Academy Archives. The following quote, for the original Deed of Gift for the Academy, clearly outlines John Phillips’ expectations that were fulfilled during yesterday’s Community Action Day. The students did not procure material for the Library, but they sure made it a better place to be.
“They are to give special attention to the health of the scholars, and ever to urge the importance of an habit of industry. For these purposes they may encourage the scholars to perform some manual labor, such as gardening, or the like, so far as is consistent with cleanliness and the inclination of their parents; and the fruit of their labor shall be applied, at the direction of the trustees, for procuring a library, or in some other way increasing the usefulness of this Seminary.”
What is your role in the library? I am the Assistant Librarian & Academy Archivist. I previously served as Periodicals Librarian, Circulation and Reference Librarian, and Assistant Catalog Librarian.
Where are you originally from? I was born and raised in Central Falls, Rhode Island, a heavily French Canadian/American community. I have worked at Exeter since 1975, and both of my children attended PEA. Prior to Exeter, I worked in the Phillips Library at Providence College.
What are your interests or hobbies? I have been a member of the Society of American Archivists and New England Archivists since 1977 and have served as both Secretary and President of the latter. I received the Distinguished Service Award from NEA in 2011 for my promotion of and involvement with Secondary School Archives.
Any fun facts? When I’m not in the library, I enjoy landscaping in my yard, bird watching, playing with my grandchildren, and walking in the woods on foot or on snowshoes. I love trying ethnic foods I’ve never had and encourage my colleagues to do the same.
Closing comments? I’m passionate about Exeter’s history and traditions, and I love discussing the Academy with the community, from trivia tidbits and anecdotes to the many cool items held in the Academy Archives.
A recent acquisition of some old Academy images brought up some thorny problems. The photographs, taken by Edwin L. Cunningham in the early 1900s, were in very rough shape, with prints exhibiting extensive waterstaining, thick layers of surface grime, and in some cases, obvious mold growth, and glass plate negatives which were either broken or rendered entirely useless by having been stuck together for decades. While we accepted many of the images for scanning, once completed, they were returned to the donor as they were pretty much at the point where physically restoring them would have been either been prohibitively expensive, or in most cases, an act of futility.
Once we had good “master” scans of the images (meaning that no editing is done besides rotating and cropping), we set about making “user” copies, where we employed some fairly basic Photoshop techniques to make the images usable again for possible online publication and/or physical printing. Deciding exactly how much editing to do can be a tricky business, but we tended to be a bit conservative on this project. Basically, we simply tried to minimize the most visually damaged elements, rather than attempting to bring the images back to a pristine state.
Click the images below to see large versions, and a read a terrific Q&A on how to handle some of your own photograph/document collections here.