Mapping the Movement of Books Using Viewshare: An Interview with Mitch Fraas

By Gretchen | December 20, 2013

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Mitch Fraas, Scholar in Residence at the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania and Acting Director, Penn Digital Humanities Forum, writes about using Viewsharefor mapping library book markings.  We’re always excited to see the clever and interesting ways our tools are used to expose digital collections, and Mitch was gracious enough to talk about his experience with Viewshare in the following interview.

Offenbach Library Marks View, created by Mitch Fraas

Offenbach Library Marks View, created by Mitch Fraas.

Erin:  I really enjoyed reading about your project to map library book markings of looted books in Western Europe during the 1930s and 1940s.  Could you tell us a bit about your work at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries with this collection?

Mitch: One of the joys of working in a research library is being exposed to all sorts of different researchers and projects. The Kislak Center at Penn is home to the Penn Provenance Project, which makes available photographs of provenance markings from several thousand of our rare books. That project got me thinking about other digitized collections of provenance markings. I’ve been interested in WWII book history for a while and I was fortunate to meet Kathy Peiss, a historian at Penn working in the field, and so hit upon the idea of this project. After the war, officials at the Offenbach collecting point for looted books took a number of photographs of book stamps and plates and made binders for reference. Copies of the binders can be found at the National Archives and Records Administration and the Center for Jewish History. For the set on Viewshare, I used the digitized NARA microfilm of the binders.

Erin: I was particularly excited to see that you used Viewshare as the tool to map the collection. What prompted your use of Viewshare and why did you think it would be a good fit for your project?

Mitch: Viewshare really made this project simple and easy to do. I first heard about it through the library grapevine maybe a year and half ago and started experimenting with it for some of Penn’s manuscript illuminations. I like the ease of importing metadata from delimited files like spreadsheets into Viewshare and the built-in mapping and visualization features. Essentially it allowed me to focus on the data and worry less about formatting and web display.

Read full post here. (Originally posted 13 December 2013)