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What's New

Collaborative Collection with Brooks Memorial Library Now Online

Published: December 10, 2010 by Robin M. Katz

We are pleased to announce the launch of the Porter C. Thayer Photographs collection.

The collection will contain 1300 photographs of Windham County made from silver gelatin prints by this early 20th century itinerant town photographer. The prints were made in 1980 from the 5×7 glass plates negatives held at the Brooks Memorial Library in Brattleboro, Vermont.

“During the time period Porter worked, Vermont was extremely poor and rural, yet held a close-knit population that shared the labors of life. Farmers helped one another to survive in a subsistence and barter economy. For women, men, and children, life meant constant work. Thayer’s images describe the work and the tools involved. His landscape images reveal this working landscape, which today is mostly hidden by trees.” (by Jessica Weitz and Forrest Holzapfel)

This collection is being digitized through a collaboration between the UVM Libraries’ Center for Digital Initiatives and the Brooks Memorial Library. The collection will launch with 100 initial photos in early December, after which batches of 50 images will be added to the collection on a continuous basis. This work is supported in part by a grant from the Windham Foundation.

Read more about this collection in a recent article from The Commons News.

Please join us for an afternoon talk about “The History of the Town Photographer” by local photographer Forrest Holzapfel, sponsored by the Vermont Humanities Council, and a discussion of the Porter Thayer project to date, on January 15th at 3:00 PM in the Brooks Memorial Library’s meeting room. Brooks Memorial Library, 224 Main Street, Brattleboro, VT 05301.

How to Use the Porter C. Thayer Photographs Collection

Published: December 09, 2010 by Robin M. Katz

Collaboration with Brooks Memorial Library Featured in The Commons News

Published: November 30, 2010 by Robin M. Katz

Over Thanksgiving, The Commons News did a fairly extensive piece on our forthcoming collaboration with Brooks Memorial Library of Brattleboro, VT. We're currently working with Jerry Carbone, Director, and Jessica Weitz, a library school student, to digitize about 1,250 photographs of Windham County taken by Porter C. Thayer between 1906 and 1930.

This collection will add to our growing strength in local photography, will provide easy access to unique materials, and serves an excellent model for collaborative digitization. An initial 50 photographs will launch in just about a week, and will be added to on a continuous basis.

This is our fourth collection to launch after going through the CDI's collection proposal process, and the first of those involving collaboration with an outside institution.

Read more about the photographer and our collaboration in the full article. A PDF can also be downloaded here. Many thanks to Olga Peters and Jeff Potter at The Commons!

Tommy DeFrantz Discusses Kake Walk

Published: September 21, 2010 by Robin M. Katz

Former Alvin Ailey dancer and MIT Professor of Music, Theater Arts, Comparative Media Studies, and Women's and Gender Studies Dr. Thomas DeFrantz will situate UVM's Kake Walk in the broader context of American performance history. His most recent book is titled //Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American Dance and Dancing//. His most recent creative works include /Queer Theory! An Academic Travesty/ commissioned by the Theater Offensive of Boston and the Flynn Center for the Arts & "CANE," an immersive environment dance theater experience that explores black sharecropping after the Civil War. He created historical choreography, including a Juba Dance, for the second iteration of the New York History Workshop's award-winning exhibition /Slavery in New York/ on display at the New York Historical Foundation since 2007.

Part of the launch announcing Kake Walk at UVM, the newest digital collection from the Center for Digital Initiatives.

UVM’s Kake Walk, a synchronized dance competition during the annual Winter Carnival, featured fraternity brothers in blackface and kinky wigs high-stepping to the tune “Cotton Babes.” The event, abolished in 1969, occupies a controversial position in the university’s institutional memory; it is, for some, a hallowed tradition and for others, overt racism.

To read more about student contributions to the digital collection, see this recent story in UVM Today.

Bamboozled, Kake Walk, & Blackface

Published: September 01, 2010 by Robin M. Katz

BAMBOOZLED the movie

KAKE WALK the tradition

BLACKFACE the issue

Join us as we examine blackface and UVM's once popular minstrel tradition Kake Walk through a film screening of Spike Lee's Bamboozled. A pre-screening presentation will include a brief history of Kake Walk, an exploration of racist visual vocabulary, and a look at the resurgence of these themes. A discussion will follow the film.

7:00 PM - THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2010 - Lafayette 108

Organized by the Center for Digital Initiatives, the Fleming Museum, and the Center for Cultural Pluralism. The CDI's forthcoming collection Kake Walk at UVM will featured digitized archival material, and will launch on September 16th.

Long Trail Featured on Vermont Public Radio

Published: August 17, 2010 by Robin Katz

VPR News: Collection Includes Rare Long Trail Photos

Last month, Curator of Manuscripts and Photographs Chris Burns spoke to Vermont Public Radio about the Long Trail collection. Listen to the story on VPR's site.

Cover Boy: CDI Favorite Chosen For Journal Cover

Published: August 01, 2010 by Robin Katz

Librarians across the country will see one of our favorite photos, Lucius Stanton and an unidentified friend enjoy a glass of cider, on the cover of July's issue of Library Resources and Technical Services. LRTS is a peer-reviewed journal which publishes research and papers on many aspects of librarianship.

See Lucius' cover appearance on the shelf in Current Periodicals, 2nd floor, Bailey/Howe Library.

The original photo in our Tennie Toussaint Photographs collection

Long Trail Video Featured in UVM Today

Published: May 06, 2010 by Robin Katz

This video, featuring the UVM Libraries' Dan DeSanto and Chris Burns, was created by University Communications and was prominently featured in this week's edition of UVM Today. See the slides digitized for our Long Trail photographs collection, and the "magic lantern" projector used for Dean and Congdon's presentations of the images.

How much has time altered the nation's oldest long-distance hiking trail? A new collection available on the UVM Libraries' Center for Digital Initiatives (CDI) website helps answer that question. With more than 900 images, the site offers a glimpse into the early days of the trail.

View more University Communications videos.

Long Trail Panel Discussion Thursday Night

Published: April 16, 2010 by Jill Wharton

The Long Trail Photographs have recently gotten national attention.

The Scout Report, part of the Internet Scout Project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, selects and annotates valuable online resources. See the Long Trail photographs annotation here.

Join Us In Celebration

We'll be celebrating the Long Trail's centennial (and our collection's success!) on April 22, 2010 at 7:00 PM in the Special Collections Reading Room, Bailey/Howe Library. Three special guests will present a panel on the history and dynamic connections between the university community and the advancement of Vermont's Long Trail: Pete Antos-Ketcham from the Green Mountain Club; Daniel DeSanto, Collection Specialist at Bailey-Howe; and John Abbott from UVM Outdoor Programs.

Refreshments will be served, and free parking is available at the Visitor Lot on College Street. For more information on the reception, please call 656-2138, e-mail, or visit the website. We hope to see you there!

Update: View Dan DeSanto's powerpoint presentation on the CDI collection.

Browse or search the Long Trail photographs.

Bennington Battlefield, Long Trail Glass Lantern Slides

It's Maple Time!

Published: March 27, 2010 by Robin M. Katz

We are pleased to announce the newest addition to the CDI, the Maple Research Collection. In the historic photographs from UVM's Proctor Maple Research Center, researchers can view evidence on sugarbushes, tapping, and sugaring. Significant research on maple is now publicaly available online in the collection's UVM Agricultural Extension Bulletins from 1890-1988.

These materials were digitized thanks to a grant from the USDA's Agricultural Information Network (AgNIC) and will be featured alongside many other maple-related resources on the UVM Libraries' new Maple Research Website. Plus, we'll be adding this collection to the National Digital Library for Agriculture soon.

Celebrate with us all week! The UVM Libraries is hosting a Maple Week full of events:

  • Library Exhibits: "It's Always Maple Time in Vermont," "Sweet and Savory: Cooking with Maple," and "Women's Contributions to Maple"
  • A Maple Cook Off featuring notable local judges and tasty prizes on March 28
  • A lecture on March 31 by Middlebury College Professor John Elder on the impact of climate change on the maple industry.

Long Trail Photographs Get Lots of Attention

Published: March 23, 2010 by Robin M. Katz

We knew our latest collection, the Long Trail photographs, would be well received. Look at the recent news publications featuring our images:

Marcy, Darren. "OutdoorsVT: GMC celebrates Long Trail centennial." Rutland Herald 19 March 2010.
"In addition, more than 900 Long Trail photos have been made available online from the Special Collection archive at the University of Vermont Library. The archive can be viewed by logging on to"
Page, Candace. "Green Mountain Club celebrates 100 years." Burlington Free Press 14 March 2010.

Also, the Green Mountain Club, which built and maintains the trail, has featured our collection on their website.
We sure enjoyed the centennial birthday gala, GMC!

For permission to use a photo from the Long Trail collection, please email us.

Librarians Present the CDI to New England Archivists

Published: March 21, 2010 by Robin M. Katz

The Spring 2010 Meeting of the New England Archivists was held this past Saturday at UMass Amherst. The conference theme was "The Open Archives: From Doors to Data."

CDI librarians Sibyl Schaefer and Robin Katz co-presented a poster session describing the CDI's curation of digital collections. View the poster.

Professor Schaefer also chaired a session entitled "Repurposing Metadata" which featured Mike Rush (Yale Beinecke Library), Anne Sauer (Tufts University), and Mark Mentienzo (Yale Manuscripts and Archives).

CDI to Present Local History Resources on TV This Thursday

Published: February 23, 2010 by Robin M. Katz

Mark your calendars!

Live at 5:25 - Thursday, February 25, 2010 - Channel 17

The CDI will share some of its excellent local history resources with the audience of Preservation Burlington's "Live at 5:25." Outreach Librarian Robin Katz will be joined by two UVM Libraries staff members who have helped create CDI collections.

Mary Van Buren-Swasey of the Cataloging department uses her local history expertise to create rich museum-level descriptive records for the ongoing additions to the McAllister photograph collection. Dan DeSanto, a staff member in Reference and Instruction and a recent graduate of the University of Alabama's School of Library and Information Science, is currently working on our forthcoming collection of Long Trail photographs.

Robin, Mary and Dan will highlight collection materials, share anecdotes about the research involved in digital collection production, and invite viewers to further explore the CDI.

Update: Watch the Video Online

See how the CDI was mentioned on a previous "Live at 5:25" show entitled "Researching Your Old House" and featuring historian and museum consultant Erica Donnis.

Vermont State Librarian Commends CDI

Published: February 10, 2010 by Robin M. Katz

Today, the UVM Libraries welcomed Martha Reid, State Librarian of Vermont. Reid delivered a presentation to library faculty and staff entitled "Vermont Libraries in the Digital Age: Challenges and Opportunities for Our Rural State." She discussed the twenty-first century challenges for, goals of, and initiatives by libraries across the state.

Reid recognized that the University of Vermont is a statewide leader for digital intiatives. "You're way ahead of the curve of other libraries in this state," she said. "We can learn from you."

Reid stressed the need for visibility of library resources and services. Specifically addressing the Center for Digital Initiatives, she stated, "I think that's something Vermonters need to know about."

We couldn't agree more! To send suggestions on how we can better serve your community, please contact us.

Library Colleagues Tour the CDI

Published: December 11, 2009 by Robin M. Katz

Fiften of our colleagues attended yesterday's noontime presentation on the CDI organized by the library's Faculty and Staff Development Committee. In addition to touring our beautiful facilities on the third floor of the Bailey/Howe Library, those in attendance heard librarians Robin Katz and Sibyl Schaefer present on:

  • A walk-through of the CDI website
  • A brief history of the CDI
  • The CDI's current goal of creating and better serving a participatory user community
  • Our collection development process
  • Our project development process
  • Metadata standards and workflow
  • The endless possibilities for additions to the CDI
  • A sneak preview of upcoming collections

Thanks to those who came for the great questions and conversation afterwards.
If you are interested in scheduling a CDI presentation, please write to

Our New Proposal Process Announced in UVM TODAY

Published: December 02, 2009 by Robin M. Katz

UVM Today, our weekly campus newsletter, recently picked up on the CDI's new collection development process:

"The University of Vermont Libraries' Center for Digital Initiatives (CDI) is requesting proposals to expand their online digital holdings. While current collections within the CDI have made several of the Bailey/Howe Library's Special Collections available for viewing via the Web — from the photos of Burlington-based photographer Louis McAllister to writings about the Vermont dairy industry — the next phase of expanding the CDI will mean reaching out to the campus, public and other institutions to find research materials that may not currently reside within the library."

View the full story here. Then, submit a proposal.

Watch for the CDI on TV

Published: November 11, 2009 by Robin M. Katz

Watch for our pilot PSA on RETN. It highlights the types of materials in our current collections, shares our URL with the Vermont public, and emphasizes one of the best aspects of the CDI: "Anyone can use it, from anywere, for free!"

RETN Channel 16 is a local educational cable access station serving Vermont's Champlain Valley. If you're outside of the viewing area, you can still catch us on RETN's channel.

Many thanks to RETN's Doug Dunbebin for his support and to the UVM Libraries' Jake Barickman for lending his voice.

Louis McAllister Audio Slideshow in UVM's The View

Published: October 09, 2008 by Chris Burns

Amanda Waite, from UVM's The View has put together a wonderful article and audio slideshow in The View, a UVM publication, featuring images from the The Louis L. McAllister Photograph collection.

McAllister's photographs of the Burlington area span a large area of topics, including, group and individual portraits, documentation of building construction and Burlington Street Department projects, and more.

The CDI has been adding digital images to the McAllister Collection for the last year. There are now over 1600 images available, with more being added on a regular basis.

See the audio slideshow below.

UVM Marks National Library Week by Opening Center for Digital Initiatives

Published: April 16, 2007 by Jeff Wakefield


BURLINGTON, APRIL 16 – The University of Vermont Libraries launched the Center for Digital Initiatives (CDI) today, the first day of National Libraries Week, a new online resource that allows any user with Internet access to view and search documents and photographs from the university’s Special Collections. The CDI Web site is located at

Previously, library patrons had to visit Bailey/Howe Library and wear white gloves to view these often fragile materials. The CDI allows them to access UVM's signature collections in digital form from a remote location.

CDI’s initial collection – more will follow – is a rich, searchable archive of more than 1,000 pages of materials generated by eight Vermont Congressmen, including such well know figures as George Aiken and Robert Stafford, documenting topics ranging from the abolition of slavery to social life in Washington, D.C. The first document dates from 1818, the last from 2004. The collection also includes photographs.

The collection is organized in categories that grew out of recurrent themes in the materials: Dairy and the U.S. Congress, Letters Home from Congress and Speeches.

Leahy, Jeffords secured funding

An initial grant of $250,000 to develop the CDI was secured in 2005 through the joint efforts of U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy and former U.S. Senator James Jeffords, which enabled UVM Libraries to purchase hardware and software, hire a digital librarian and build the center’s first digital collections.

"I'm so pleased I was able to work with Senator Jeffords on this project that brackets Vermont's past and present," Senator Leahy said. "CDI creatively harnesses modern technology to open windows to earlier periods of Vermont's history. By making these archives more accessible, it will also make them more useful."

"We’re very grateful to both Senator Leahy and former Senator Jeffords for their insight into the importance of this innovative project and their support of it," said Daniel Mark Fogel, UVM president. “CDI represents the library of the future. It allows UVM to make its library holdings available to the entire world, significantly facilitating access, collaboration and the creation of new knowledge.”

"We chose to begin our digitization efforts with some of our most interesting Congressional papers, so we could highlight both Vermont's unique contributions to public policy and one of the university’s major collection strengths,” said Mara Saule, dean of libraries and learning resources.

Significant growth in future

In addition to those of Aiken (1892-1984) and Stafford (1913-2006), the CDI collection contains documents authored by Samuel Crafts (1768-1853), Jacob Collamer (1791-1865), Justin Morrill (1810-1898) and Warren Austin (1877-1962).

Also available are photographs of North Danville, Vt. from around 1900, which depict agricultural landscapes, logging, mills, barn raisings and railroad bridges, providing a visual legacy of Vermont’s agricultural, industrial and community history.

The digital collection unveiled today will grow significantly in future years. Archivists hope to digitize selections from the papers of the other Vermont House and Senate members held by Special Collections, which date from 1791. Special Collections holds significant collections of 22 Vermont House and Senate members, and those of 52 members in total.

In addition to CDI’s emphasis on public policy papers, plans call for the digitization of resources such as maps, photographs, artists books, newspapers, and the literature of agriculture in Vermont.

New material will be added on a daily basis.

This project is funded through the Institute of Museum and Library Services by an Act of Congress, in accordance with the FY 2005 Consolidated Appropriations Bill. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of the Institute for Museum and Library Service.