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ESF Archives and Special Collections Holds College’s Hidden Treasures

Materials accessible to campus community
1/23/2019

The ESF Archives and Special Collections has undergone a re-awakening since 2014. After a three-year closure due to staff retirement, ESF alumna and Associate Librarian Jane Verostek volunteered to re-open the archives and special collections. Since then, significant progress has been made with physically re-housing fragile collections, digitizing materials, creating finding aids and making materials accessible to the campus community and public.

Verostek has coordinated the digitization of more than 6,000 items from the archives. All items that have been digitized are accessible via two online repositories - New York Heritage and Digital Commons @ ESF. The following collections are digitized: The Empire Forester, the ESF yearbook; The Knothole, ESF's student newsletter/literary magazine; ESF's history books; the films of the late Dr. William Harlow; and garden plans, photographs and nursery orders from the collection of renowned landscape architect Fletcher Steele. This semester Verostek is focusing on digitizing the Camp Logs, the Cranberry Lake yearbooks.

"These and all of the other materials being digitized are unique and valuable primary source materials," Verostek said.

Outreach efforts, including digitization, online finding aids and special lectures, have reached audiences worldwide. Readership and download statistics for Digital Commons @ ESF alone show that, from 2014 to the present, users from 88 countries have accessed digitized items from the archives and special collections, according to Verostek.

Behind the scenes, an immense amount of hands-on time has been put into rehabilitating the archives. A donation of 100-plus hand-turned wooden bowls created from tree species from around the world has been inventoried and re-housed and is ready for use.

Two other collections receiving attention so they can be stored properly and easily used are a collection of ESF faculty headshots and a collection of glass lantern slides showing exceptional images of plants, fish and mammals.

"Words cannot describe the beauty of the glass lantern slides. The colors used and the way they transport you into the slide is magical," Verostek said. A slide depicting men fishing in New York state was used for the Winter 2018 cover of New York Archives Magazine.

Another continuous project is compiling a list of class gifts. This has involved searching in the Knothole and yearbooks, and contacting alumni and campus departments. Results of such projects are made available online while still in progress. The class gift list can be found at http://libguides.esf.edu/Traditions. More guides regarding the ESF Archives and Special Collections can be found from Moon Library LibGuides.

Every day, existing archival collections and new donations are being evaluated, re-housed and evaluated for digitization. Other collections that will be digitized and made accessible to the ESF community include past alumni newsletters and ESF Board of Trustee minutes. These are print items, but the archives has audio and video recordings that are unique and historical as they literally give a voice to ESF, Verostek said.

From 1950 to '68 the Department of Forest Extension hosted a radio show about forestry and conservation. The segments - The Forestry Journal and Tree-Time - were conversations with specialists and ESF deans and faculty. The original reel-to-reel audio tapes were converted to compact discs. Verostek hopes to make these recordings of iconic ESF figures available in an online repository.

To learn more about the ESF Archives and Special Collections contact Verostek at jmveros@esf.edu or visit the Moon Library Archives.