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What's New

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.

CDI Librarian Publishes Article on Open Source Archival Software

Published: March 22, 2010 by Robin M. Katz

Today, the peer-reviewed journal Code4Lib publishes an article by Digital Initiatives Metadata Librarian Sibyl Schaefer. The article, entitled "Challenges in Sustainable Open Source: A Case Study," discusses Schaefer's work on The Archivist's Toolkit.

Article abstract:

The Archivists’ Toolkit is a successful open source software package for archivists, originally developed with grant funding. The author, who formerly worked on the project at a participating institution, examines some of the challenges in making an open source project self-sustaining past grant funding. A consulting group hired by the project recommended that — like many successful open source projects — they rely on a collaborative volunteer community of users and developers. However, the project has had limited success fostering such a community. The author offers specific recommendations for the project going forward to gain market share and develop a collaborative user and development community, with more open governance.

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).

New Collection Documents the Long Trail’s Early Years

Published: March 09, 2010 by Robin M. Katz

The UVM Libraries’ Center for Digital Initiatives is pleased to announce our newest collection, the Long Trail Photographs, is now available online. This collection documents the nation’s first long-distance hiking trail and is comprised of over 900 digitized glass lantern slides dating to the 1910s – 1930s.

The images capture the landscapes seen by early hikers, document recreational and maintenance activities on the trail, and provide an historical record of people associated with the trail’s formation. The photographs were taken by early Long Trail advocates Theron S. Dean and Herbert Wheaton Congdon.

This collection launch coincides with the March 11, 2010 centennial of the Green Mountain Club, the member organization which built and maintains the Long Trail. The CDI will present the collection to Green Mountain Club members at their Birthday Gala celebration. This GMC event is open to the public, but RSVP soon - space is limited.

Items of the Month: March 2010

Published: March 01, 2010 by Sophia Lloyd

The March Sugarmaking Tradition

Boiling sap outdoors, Tennie Toussaint photographs

View of an outdoor sugar making operation. Pictured are sap buckets, a boiler over a wood-fire, logs for the fire, and an axe for cutting wood.

Group with horses in front of a sugarhouse, Tennie Toussaint photographs

Horses pulling sap into the sugarhouse.

Did you know that Vermont produces more maple syrup than any other U.S. state? In 2009 we produced 920 thousand gallons of syrup - more than double that of the runner-up, Maine, which produced 395 thousand.

In New England, sugaring season happens between late February and early April, during the spring thaw. Sap flows most optimally when temperatures drop below freezing at night and rise to around 50 degrees F during the day. If you break a twig off of the end of a maple branch on a sunny spring day, chances are you'll soon see sap dripping out! Consequently, the best 'sugarbushes' consist of stands of sugar maples on south-facing slopes; these trees will have maximum exposure to spring sunlight during the day, and thus will ensure the longest possible sugaring season.

Before New England was settled by colonists, Native Americans were learned sugarmakers; collecting sap in birch bark buckets and heating it in earthenware containers in order to reduce it to syrup. Colonists soon caught on to the practice, eventually modifying sap collection technology through the use of metal buckets and evaporators. They also incorporated domesticated livestock, using draft animals in the transportation of sap from the woods to the sugar house.

Maple syrup and maple sugar are now gourmet food items, but in the 17th and 18th centuries maple sugar was the standard sweetener in New England kitchens!

Today, many maple syrup producers have outfitted their sugarbushes with vast networks of plastic pipelines that carry sap directly from every tree to a central holding tank. This circumvents the activity of outfitting each tree with its own bucket, and hence the involved process of transporting dozens of sap-filled buckets over the snowy forest terrain to the sugar house.

There is, however, still a thriving cottage industry, and many families and small farms still collect sap in buckets and boil it down in small sugar shacks. Some even still use horses or oxen! Despite the scale of our maple syrup industry today, small-scale sugarmaking and community maple festivals continue to represent sugaring season in Vermont.

Maple Week at the UVM Libraries

With the help of a grant from the Agriculture Network Information Center, UVM Libraries has undertaken several initiatives relating to the culture, history and ecology of maple syrup production. We have created a Maple Syrup Research Website and are celebrating its launch with Maple Week at the end of March.

Maple Week will feature many events, including a Library Exhibit, a Maple Cook Off, and a lecture by Middlebury College Professor John Elder on the impact of climate change on the maple industry. More information is available on the Maple Syrup website.

The CDI will be adding collections of maple-related materials in upcoming months, and will soon be contributing to the National Agricultural Library's digital library.