3D Modeling Rare Books: The Digital Aura

With collaborators Allen Riddell and James Dietrich, I work on a project that proposes adding 3D models of books — especially rare books — to digital library catalogs. Digital library catalogs are the platforms that we rely on for researching books, yet the electronic library catalog as well as digital copies of books they sometimes contain fail to adequately describe their physical appearance or condition. (This is so much the case that the director of Rauner Special Collections at Dartmouth College started the fantastic Rauner library blog in order to make up for the paucity of information given in library catalog records.) Bibliographers and researchers often judge books by their covers; that is, we can see the printing, publication, and use history of a book manifest in its exterior details before we even turn to the first page. Augmenting library records with 3D images of a book offers researchers all of the information contained in a book’s spine, binding, covers, and page edges, modeled to scale. Together, we are developing a process for low-budget 3D modeling rare books that we hope to present at DH 2016.

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