Folger Tooltips: Announcing Impos[i]tor

With today’s Tooltip, the Folger Shakespeare Library is proud to offer Impositor, an online tool to automatically arrange digital images from the collection into simulated impositions (the laying out of pages into the formes of printed sheets). Folio, quarto, octavo, duodecimo, and sextodecimo formats are available. Try it out and let us know what you think!

But first, a bit of background.

What online resources are missing for effective teaching of bibliography?

On April 20, 2011, the Folger inaugurated an occasional ”Lab Work” series to explore new research and teaching methologies. Called Teaching the History of the Book: New Theories, Approaches, Pedagogies (agenda in pdf here), the workshop included a diverse mix of participants: Folger staffers from the Research Division and from Central Library, Folger fellows, Folger seminar participants, and local scholars. During an informal afternoon presentation on Folger resources available to support teaching history of the book, Folger Database Applications Associate and programmer Michael Poston introduced a new tool he developed to answer a question that had come up in conversation with Sarah Werner, the Undergraduate Program Director. Sarah had expressed a desire for a digital tool that would let her and her students take apart and put back together a book so that they could explore its construction. Although Sarah had imagined something like an animated movie, Mike realized that he had a more innovative way to accomplish the same thing. And thus was born Impositor.

So let’s give that a try—not physically, but virtually.

As you’ll see from the homepage of Impositor, the resource builds on our Digital Image Database. Let’s walk through the instructions together, and unpack them a bit:

  1. Search the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Luna Insight database for digital images of books and other items
    • There are a couple of ways of accomplishing this. From Impositor’s search page (or follow the “Click here to get started” link), enter a search for an item you know has been digitized cover-to-cover.
    • A few examples are provided to get started with.
    • Or you could find other candidates by searching “bookreader” in Hamnet (as covered in our last Folger Tooltip post).
    • For demonstration, let’s use a provided example for the unique 1594 Titus. Your screen should look like this:

    Searching Impos[i]tor for the 1594 Titus

    Searching Impositor for the 1594 Titus

  2. Click the image containing the first page of the gathering. Subsequent images will be loaded to fill out the imposition.
    • Wondering how to ID the first page of a gathering? Here’s where consulting the Hamnet record would help, where we learn: Signatures: A⁴(-A1) B-K⁴.
    • Or you could just pick a thumbnail. You’ll have a chance to double-check that you’ve got the right one.
  3. Select the imposition options for the gathering. Default values are based on the metadata associated with the image stored in Luna.
    • So let’s run through the options here: first, in this case we’ll print out 8 1/2 x 11-sized handouts for the class; second, according to Hamnet, this is a quarto (description reads 4⁰, although it may instead sometimes read 4to or 4o); third, note that this image is of a double-page spread (otherwise you’ll want to select “one” from the drop-down). And finally, if you really want to look “under the hood” click View Metadata to see our database description in OAI-PMH-formatted XML.
    • So here’s what your final settings will look like:

    Selecting Impos[i]tor Options

    Selecting Imposter Options

  4. Print the sheet. Fold. Enjoy!
    • The final output will be a pdf file like this one. The layout of the pages will now represent the inner and outer formes, as they were placed on the bed of the press in the print shop prior to printing the recto and verso of the open sheet.

Summing up

Workshops like the one held last April are great opportunities for cross-fertilization of ideas between our Readers and our staff in the Research and Central Library divisions. Impositor was developed in direct response to an unmet pedagogical need: to better demonstrate bibliographical format, collation, imposition. As a tool that builds on already-available resources created through our ongoing efforts at cataloging and digitization, it represents one way we can help increase the potential value of these resources for our Readers as well as for colleagues at other institutions engaged in bibliographical research and teaching.

So what next?

Well, this is a new tool. So we’d welcome feedback in the comments section or via email to Mike or Jim from anyone who tries it out. We’d be especially delighted to hear from folks who might want to put it to use in their own teaching. Got suggestions for improvement? Or a bug report?

And how would you, Dear Readers, answer last April’s question:

“What online resources are missing for effective teaching of bibliography?”

Author: Jim Kuhn

JIM KUHN is Head of Collection Information Services at the Folger Library. He is responsible for planning and managing technical services operations (Acquisitions, Cataloging, and Photography and Digital Imaging) and acts as primary liaison with the Library's ILS vendor (Ex Libris: Voyager), digital image database vendor (Luna Insight), and digital preservation cooperative (MetaArchive). In addition to an MLS, Jim has a Master of Arts in Philosophy.

One Comment

  1. I think this is a fantastic tool, and I will certainly use it when I teach material bibliography to my undergrads next year! One option that I’d like is to be able to overlay chain lines onto the images. Is this possible? The direction of the chain lines can be really helpful for understanding and determining format.

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