About This Project

“Documenting the Gilded Age: New York City Exhibitions at the Turn of the 20th Century” was made possible by a Metropolitan Library Council (METRO) collaborative digitization grant awarded in fall of 2010 to the NYARC partners Brooklyn Museum Libraries and Archives and Frick Art Reference Library. The grant enabled the recipients to accomplish two distinct goals. First, the digitization of the ephemeral materials included in the project significantly increased access to these unique items while also laying the groundwork for future expansion of the “Gilded Age” digital collection. In addition, the project allowed the partners to formulate best practices, workflows, and procedures to guide both the continued internal digitization of high-use collections and the ongoing preservation of the structured digital content resulting from digitization.



The “Documenting the Gilded Age” project digitized select items from the collections of Brooklyn Museum Library and Archives and Frick Art Reference Library. The scanning was done by an off-site vendor, Digital Conversion Solutions, a division of The HF Group. One challenge to determining digitization technical specifications was the heterogeneity of the materials selected for the project. The variety of item sizes, bindings, and encapsulations necessitated multiple scanning methods and item-level tracking during both the digitization and quality assurance stages. Imaging technical specifications were created in compliance with the Digital Library Federation’s “Benchmark for Faithful Digital Reproductions of Monographs and Serials.” As well, a full conservation assessment was performed on each item prior to its delivery to the scanning vendor.

Items digitized: 172
Digital objects created: 6720
Imaging: 400ppi, 24-bit color scans
File output: uncompressed TIFFs and text-searchable PDFs
Vendor: The HF Group
Equipment: Flatbed & overhead scanners



MARC records were created for the digital versions of the books and imported in the Arcade online catalog. A full list of the digitized texts is available in Arcade. Based on the MARC records for the physical versions, these bibliographic records altered multiple existing fields and added numerous fields, included the 042, 506, 533, 538, 583, 588, 856, and 906 (local project identifier) fields. The 138 MARC records for the digitized versions are available for download. A list of OCLC master record numbers for the records created are also available. MARC records are also available for Phase II of this project. Please see the Metadata section of the Phase II website for more information. 

Selected descriptive metadata was embedded into the header code of each TIFF file using Adobe Bridge. Also, Dublin Core metadata was created for use in the Omeka online collection software. The DC metadata is a combination of the descriptive metadata cross-walked from the existing MARC records and additional metadata applicable to the access surrogates.

Finally, additional metadata was created prior to ingest of the preservation master TIFFs into a digital asset management system. These additional metadata elements facilitate the composition of METS records, specifically the metadata necessary for creation of the METS <structMap> element.


Project Documents

The project also created a basic best practices guide for use by other small cultural heritage organizations and special collections undertaking similar digitization projects. This document can be downloaded from the NYARC website. METRO also maintains a digitization LibGuide that can be a valuable resource for digitization information.



Thanks go out to all the staff of Brooklyn Museum Libraries and Archives and Frick Art Reference Library for their contribution to the project. The project administrators were Debbie Kempe, Chief Collections Management & Access, Frick Art Reference Library and Deidre Lawrence, Principal Librarian, Brooklyn Museum.

Documenting the Gilded Age Project

Project Manager: Jefferson Bailey
NYARC Project Coordinator & Systems Manager: Lily Pregill
Conservation: Kelly Piotrowski, Frick Art Reference Library & Keith Duquette, Brooklyn Museum Libraries and Archives

Documenting the Gilded Age Online Exhibition

Exhibition construction: Jefferson Bailey
Exhibition text: Jefferson Bailey, Caroline Barnett, Amber D'Ambrosio, Suz Massen, Sophia Walter.
Bibliography: Jefferson Bailey, Suz Massen, Sophia Walter

The exhibition was built using the Omeka online collection software.

Special thanks to METRO for their generous support of the project.