The University Libraries has recently added 62 historic snow sample notebooks from the James Edward Church Papers to its online Digital Archive. The earliest of these materials date back to 1907 and capture Church’s groundbreaking work sampling snow in the Sierra Nevada.
Many people know James Edward Church as the namesake of the Church Fine Arts building. However, his influence extends beyond campus, up into the Sierra, and to the world. Dr. Church was integral to the development of modern snow science through his development of the Mt. Rose snow sampler. At the University Libraries we hold Dr. Church’s papers, including the records he generated during his groundbreaking snow studies. Up until now, these materials have been available for viewing onsite. This project expands the reach of his work, exposes the longitudinal data sources held in the archives, and presents his records and journals for renewed study and worldwide access.
The ongoing project to digitize materials from the collection grew out of a partnership with the Church family and involved a team drawn from departments throughout the Libraries. "Due to this project being a selection and not a collection as a whole, it took teamwork from all departments (and clever naming practices) to ensure each piece was effectively selected, handled, digitized, and described uniformly," said Emily Boss, Head of Metadata and Cataloging.
The digitization process began with archivists in the Special Collections selecting materials for digitization. Staff and students in Digital Services then worked to capture high quality images of the notebooks and photographs. Finally, the Metadata and Cataloging Department described each item so that they could be discovered by the public in the Libraries Digital Archive.
We are so grateful to Dr. Russell Church and the entire Church family's commitment to help make this important collection available online. "Russell's generous gift provided the funding for the Digital Services Lab team, in partnership with Special Collections and University Archives, to digitally capture photos, field notebooks and other items from the collection, and make them available to researchers, scholars and curious learners everywhere via a simple internet connection," explained Robin Monteith Schimandle, Advancement and Engagement Officer for the University Libraries. "My only regret is that Russell passed away in May of this year and did not have the opportunity to experience the online collection for himself."
Digitization of additional materials will continue during the coming months. University students, faculty, and staff can access these records at the University of Nevada, Reno Libraries' Digital Archive, in James Edward Church Papers digital collection. Users interested in viewing other digital collections of unique materials, can browse them on the Libraries’ Digital Archive.
The University Libraries embrace intellectual inquiry and innovation, nurture the production of new knowledge, and foster excellence in learning, teaching and research. During each academic year, the Libraries welcomes more than 1.2 million visitors across its network of three libraries: the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, the DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library and the Savitt Medical Library. Visitors checked-out more than 90,000 items and completed more than 2 million database searches.