Friday, July 8, 2011

Historical Road Trip

The angels in heaven were bowling strikes as Evan and I hit the road for home on Thursday, July 7, 2011.

The strong lightening, loud thunder and hard downpour didn't last long though but our historical road trip to UNC Chapel Hill was a full and exciting day.

It started out getting lost - no, I mean - a drive through campus including the mega-hospital complex. But the nice receptionist at UNC's administration building got us to Louis R. Wilson Library - a place I could live amongst all that history!

Once again were up and down, up and down steps, i.e. lost, until we found Nicholas Graham with the Digital NC project - where Wake Forest School of Medicine and NC Baptist Hospital School of Nursing yearbooks will be digitized. After unloading them and taking care of business, Nick showed us around including the equipment used to digitize the yearbooks. Through grants and UNC's budget, they are using equipment and staff from the Internet Archive. There are three scanners - books are laid on a V-shaped stand, like they would be displayed, and a camera from each side shoots the pages. Then they magically appear legible and with little editing on the screen, ready for the world to see! Nick quickly walked us through the Digital Production Center with all types of equipment.

Then we were left on our own, still in Wilson Library, where we explored the exhibit gallery about the formation of Text and Images and Paper; the NC Collection gallery where Evan was scared to glance at the life-size statue of Sir Walter Raleigh but he enjoyed the etchings of Louis Orr (Evan is an aspiring architect) and then our research began.

Evan decided he wanted to look up his aunt, my sister, in the UNC yearbook which meant registering on paper, getting my driver's license copied, locking up our valuables and finding the 1995 Yackety Yak in the Rare Books room. Much to our dismay, we didn't find her - ugh!! She probably didn't show up for the picture - ugh again!! But here's proof that he actually tried:
Next we made our way to the Southern Historical collection on Level 4 where I wanted to check out two folders in the Human Betterment League collection. And here we go again with registering (just re-read the above paragraph). This time I was handed the box through a window and told to go to a private research room, probably because I had a very curious nine-year-old checking out, i.e. touching, everything! I attempted photographs of some papers but that didn't work out well. Same-day photocopying wasn't available and it is expensive to get an entire folder copied so I decided to just remember what UNC has and refer patrons there, i.e. collaboration.

Working in a medical library, I couldn't leave UNC without checking out its Health Sciences Library. Yet another drive around campus with nice views of Keenan Stadium, under the UNC Hospitals pedestrian bridge, passing Wilson Library twice :) until I decided to park in an alcove down the street from the Health Sciences library. Our hot trek up the hill included this view:

I saw brown, smelled coffee and touched the elevator button to Level 5. Still seeing shades of brown but no one around to help us find that rare book reading room. I can't leave when I'm this close so I peak in the preservation office where Rachel Hoff gladly shows off the tiny Wilcox Reading Room. While talking, Evan checks out the leather reading chair, floor lamp and tried on Dr. Wilcox's antique surgery glasses. His curiosity continues in the "stacks" area with movable shelving and his touching of the very old book. I did let him touch the blue velvet brick holding up the books but we quickly departed before we would really have to move in to pay for the damages :).

We then enjoyed a quick trip to the student stores and lunch in the "quad," suggested by a passing employee. Evan shoots photos while I finish up my lunch, now being attacked by various insects under the tree.

Then down - not getting lost - Highway 54 to our meeting location to drop off three boxes of personal materials to the daughter of a doctor whose collection is in the Archives here.

We leave with the angels bowling and our faces smiling!