Can you imagine the thrill of viewing Robert Browning's original source material on your computer?
Dr. Anabel Reeser, assistant professor in modern foreign languages, felt that excitement when she received electronic copies of Browning's newspaper articles from the Baylor Libraries last fall. Dr. Reeser is transcribing and translating nine articles which were published in the French regional newspaper, Journal de Caen, in 1873. Browning used the newspapers as source material for his poem, 'Red Cotton Night-Cap Country.'
These unique materials, housed in the Armstrong Browning Library, are in extremely fragile condition and were deteriorating every time they were used. The challenge of providing accessibility while preserving these resources was of paramount concern.
To solve the dilemma, state-of-the-art equipment in the Riley Digitization Center was used to scan the newspapers and convert them to pdf files that could be accessed electronically by Dr. Reeser. 'I was delighted when I received these beautiful color copies via e-mail. Having access to these files has accelerated my research because I can work on them whenever I have time. The quality is wonderful and being able to increase the size to 400 percent is very helpful.'
Located on the third floor of Moody Library, the center is used to digitize and provide electronic access to unique collections of materials in the libraries. Harold and Dottie Riley of Austin donated $100,000 to provide furniture and high-quality equipment for the center, named in memory of Harold's father, Ray I. Riley.
The Riley Center will continue to meet the challenges of accessibility and preservation by handling on-going digitization projects for the libraries and allowing researchers both on and off campus to use these valuable resources.