Humanities & History Division Newsletter
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Preserving the Print Record in the Digital Age

Recently, a multi-organization working group was formed to examine the future of the print record. Members from Modern Language Association, American Historical Association, several libraries, and humanities scholars convened to discuss the print record in the digital age. We are following this group closely and wanted to offer some information about our approach in the Columbia University Libraries to preserving the print record.

Beyond our strong commitment to conservation and preservation of print materials, we also use the ReCAP facility in Princeton, New Jersey to ensure our lower use materials are taken care of in a climate controlled and secure environment. Each year we acquire approximately 150,000 new print volumes. Because we are at full shelving capacity on the Morningside campus, we transfer approximately the same number of volumes, 150,000, to ReCAP each year. We make the decisions on what to transfer from Butler through two mechanisms. The first is circulation data. If a book has not circulated for six years or more, it becomes a candidate for transfer. The second input for these decisions comes from the subject selectors who know the collections in their areas.

We wanted to share this information so that you can get to know the library subject expert in your area to communicate about print materials of importance to your teaching and research. If you are unsure of your library liaison, please see Subject Specialist Liaisons.

Check out the new Virtual Shelf Browse feature that
allows researchers to browse the catalog as if all of our items, including titles that are at Offsite or online, were arranged by call number on a single shelf.  

Start browsing from the foot of a CLIO catalog record, by choosing “Show” or “Full Screen." See the CLIO blog for more details.


Featured Resources:

Digital Loeb Classical Library

More than 520 volumes of Latin and Greek texts, including works of epic and lyric poetry; tragedy and comedy; history, travel, philosophy, and oratory; the great medical writers and mathematicians; those Church Fathers who made particular use of pagan culture — are represented with accurate English translations.

Trench Journals and Unit Magazines of WWI

Over 1,500 periodicals written and illustrated by serving members of the armed forces and associated welfare organisations published between 1914 and the end of 1919. The magazines include full-color illustrations, photographs, poems, advertisements, and articles, offering insight into life in the trenches for servicemen and women of all the involved nations.

Several Judaica rare books & manuscripts were recently acquired for RBML. See the Jewish Studies blog for more details.

Arabic Collections Online (ACO) is a collaborative project by libraries at Columbia, NYU, Cornell and American University in Beirut to digitize and make freely available Arabic books online. The project now includes over 400  books on Arabic language, literature and Islamic history and culture. The goal is to digitize ca. 15,000 titles from partnering libraries, including 4,000 from Columbia University Libraries.

In Memoriam
Materials from Professor Robert L. Belknap’s working library, donated by his widow Cynthia Hyla Whittaker, continue to be processed into the libraries. In addition, the many volumes that have joined the Slavic Department Reading Room were labeled with a special bookplate (featuring one of Bob’s well-known, whimsical doodles), and are now available for student and faculty use on the 7th floor of Hamilton Hall. 

Frederick Fried Coney Island Collection

(Participants in the "Venus Contest," Steeplechase Park, Coney Island, 1928)

RBML has acquired a unique array of resources that document the rise and decline of Coney Island, one of New York City’s most iconic destinations. The collection includes 32 feet of photographic materials, drawings, blueprints, newspaper and magazine clippings, research notes, published and unpublished writings, brochures, printed advertisements, correspondence, trade literature, sheet music, and ephemera.
New and Improved Databases
Rotunda Databases
Columbia recently acquired several databases on the Rotunda platform, developed by the University of Virginia Press for publishing original digital scholarship and new digital critical editions in the humanities. They include: See CLIO for other databases on this platform.


Digital Dante Revamped!

The new Digital Dante, a collaboration between the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship, Columbia's Dept. of Italian, and the Humanities & History division of the Columbia University Libraries, features:

  • Italian text and English translations of the Divine Comedy, complete with original commentary by Professor Teodolinda Barolini;
  • Library of Dante's other works in their original languages and, sometimes, in translation;
  • Unique illustrations of Dante's work drawn from 15th- and 16th-century editions held in Columbia's Rare Book and Manuscript Library;

and much more!

Digital Projects in Music Research
Friday, Feb. 27, 2-5 pm, 523 Butler Library
Sponsored by the Department of Music and the Columbia University Libraries.


Presentations on several digital projects in music research, in areas such as music repatriation and digital media archives; motion-capture to study musical experience; a digital edition of works of Marenzio using digital music notation and OCR; music technology at the Computer Music Center; and J-DISC, a tool for searching and exploring jazz recordings.
Exhibition: Digital Musicology
February 16th – March 13th
7th floor, Dodge Hall (Music & Arts Library)


 This exhibition, intended to complement the Feb. 27th "Digital Projects in Music Research" event in Butler Library, will present a survey of projects, tools, research, and history of digital musicology, including work being done at Columbia.


Studio@Butler (Room 209)
Fridays, 2-6pm

Join us for openLab at the Studio@Butler on Fridays from 2-6pm, a great way to co-work with students and faculty engaged in digital humanities. You can work on your own projects, collaborate with others, ask questions, or share ideas. From 3-4pm, you're also invited to participate in the exciting new Group for Experimental Methods in the Humanities.
Book History Colloquium
All sessions take place at 6pm in 523 Butler Library unless otherwise noted.

Thursday, February 26
The Future of the (Digital) Book
e-book in library
Diana Taylor, Professor of Latin American Studies and Performance, NYU, and Alexei Taylor, interactive designer.
Monday, March 23
Books & Barrels: Readers and Reading in Colonial America

1795 NYSL wo caption
Anthony Grafton, Henry Putnam University Professor of History, Princeton University.

NOTE: This event will take place at the New York Society Library: 53 East 79th Street (at Madison Ave.) To RSVP, please contact the NYSL at or (212) 288-6900 x230, and indicate that you want to attend the Columbia BHC Grafton event.
Thursday, April 16
The Geography of History: Plotting Columbus in Map and Narrative

Columbus-Atlantic map
Lindsay Van Tine, PhD Candidate in English, Columbia University

Important Links


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