International Librarians Visit BYU, Maxwell Institute
On June 18, 2007, a group of six librarians from various international institutions visited the Maxwell Institute's Center for the Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts (CPART) to learn more about the digital preservation of ancient texts at Brigham Young University. This visit was sponsored by the U.S. Department of State to further the professional development of these specialists. Visitors included Ioana Damian of the IAŞI (Romania), Billy Leung Tak Hoi of the University of Macau, Larisa Kislova of the Republic Library for Youth and Children (Kyrgyzstan), Tutu Mukherjee of the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (India), D. B. Vuwa Phiri of the University of Malawi, and Gulnar Tussupbayeva of the National Academic Library of Kazakhstan. Their local hosts were Susan Neff of the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy and Elder Ben B. Banks, emeritus member of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
The delegation was received at the Maxwell Institute's main offices and introduced to us and our work by Institute executive director Andrew Skinner and CPART associate director Carl Griffin. Delegation members discussed their mutual interest in digital preservation and exchanged thoughts on the challenges that digital preservation projects present to information professionals and to institutions. The group then enjoyed a lunch together on campus.
BYU faculty and staff then gave brief presentations on digital preservation projects to the delegation and hosts. Scott Eldredge, Harold B. Lee Library Digital Program Manager, first gave an overview of the library's digital projects and demonstrated their flagship Overland Trails online repository of pioneer diaries. Carl Griffin presented on the use of digital imaging as a manuscript preservation tool, illustrating this with several past CPART projects, including the Vatican Syriac manuscript project and the imaging of Greek biblical manuscripts at the Freer Gallery of Art (see Insights 24/2 and 20/5 and 11). Professor Roger Macfarlane (Classics) concluded with a presentation on the Herculaneum papyri, with which CPART has done extensive multispectral imaging work. The group responded with a number a comments and questions, and expressed enthusiasm for the work BYU was doing with ancient texts. Local host Susan Neff later wrote and thanked the Maxwell Institute on behalf of the delegation for "one of the highlights of their visit to Utah."