When the Cambridge Libraries Digitisation Competition 2018 was advertised I immediately thought about the C.U.M.C Golden Book, a notebook containing signatures and short musical quotations of famous musicians, composers and musicologists. Many of them came to Cambridge for significant musical events or had other Cambridge links.
The Golden Book fitted the competition criteria quite well; it is a unique, distinctive and quirky item and links to the research collections relating to music and performance. The Pendlebury Library team was delighted when we came in at joint third place and we are making the most of the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of a digitisation project.
So where did we start? During an initial exploratory visit to the Cambridge Digital Library, we talked through the various stages of the work involved. Firstly we needed to look at the content. The Golden Book is basically a collection of signatures and musical quotations. The earliest signature, by Antonin Dvořák, dates back to 1891, the most recent, by Witold Lutosławski, to 1989. So, we need to consider whether there are any copyright and GDPR issues and if there are, try to ensure we obtain the appropriate permissions. We are currently working on this; we have deciphered all the signatures, and are now looking at the musical quotations. All information will later be used to create metadata and accompanying texts for the Cambridge Digital Library. We are planning to do research into related archival materials, including CUMC, CUMS and concert programme collections, in order to illustrate the historical and musical context. Spoiler alert: we already know the golden book starts and finishes with signatures collected on the award of Cambridge honorary degrees.
Whilst data work is ongoing the music team have visited the Digital Content Unit. We were shown how various rather impressive pieces of equipment are suited for different types of material. Our book was not too demanding. It’s a late 19th century hardcover notebook in pretty good condition, so it went to the table with overhead 80 megapixel camera setup.
The most tricky bit turned out to be the shiny golden cover, which involved some clever use of manual filters in addition to the technical setup. At this point I think I ought to clarify that all images on this blog are snaps made on my phone and have absolutely nothing to do with the brilliant work of the Digital Content Unit. The real thing will be available on Cambridge Digital Library when we have finished our research and data management.