Gilding the Gilded Age: Interior Decoration Tastes and Trends in New York City was made possible by a Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) collaborative digitization grant awarded in the fall of 2012 to the Frick Art Reference Library (FARL) of The Frick Collection. The grant allowed the Frick to partner with the William Randolph Hearst Archive, Digital Initiatives at LIU Post in order to create a virtual digital collection that greatly expands access to two distinct print collections at the respective institutions. As an additional benefit, the project allowed the partners to formulate best practices, workflows, and procedures to guide both the continued internal digitization of high-use collections and the ongoing preservation of the structured digital content resulting from digitization.


The Gilding the Gilded Age project digitally reformatted select auction catalogues and other archival material from the collections of The William Randolph Hearst Archive and the Frick Art Reference Library. The scanning of the items contributed from both institutions was conducted onsite by the FARL Conservation Department's Digital Lab. Digital photographer, Ardon Bar-Hama contributed digital copies of three catalogues from the Hearst collection. One challenge to determining digitization technical specifications was the heterogeneity of the materials selected for the project. The variety of item sizes, bindings, and encapsulations necessitated multiple scanning methods and item-level tracking during both the digitization and quality assurance stages. Imaging technical specifications were created in compliance with the Digital Library Federation’s “Benchmark for Faithful Digital Reproductions of Monographs and Serials.” As well, a full conservation assessment was performed on each item prior to scanning.

Items digitized: 107
Digital objects created: 19,294
Imaging: 400ppi, 24-bit color scans
File output: uncompressed TIFFs and text-searchable PDFs
Scanned by: The FARL Conservation Department Digital Lab
Equipment: Zeutschel overhead book scanner


MARC records were created for the digital versions of the auction catalogues and imported to the Arcade catalog. A full list of the digitized texts is available in Arcade. Based on the MARC records for the analog versions, these bibliographic records altered multiple existing fields and added numerous fields, included the 042, 506, 533, 534, 538, 583, 588, 776, 856, and 906 (local project identifier) fields. The 104 MARC records for the digitized versions are available for download. A list of OCLC master record numbers for the records created are also available.

Selected descriptive metadata was embedded into the header code of each TIFF file using Adobe Bridge. Also, Dublin Core (DC) metadata was created for use in the Omeka online collection software. The DC metadata is a combination of the descriptive metadata from the existing MARC records and additional metadata applicable to the access surrogates.

Finally, supplementary metadata was created to upload the preservation master TIFFs into a digital asset management system. These additional metadata elements facilitate the composition of Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (METS) records, specifically the metadata necessary for creation of the METS <structMap> element. 

Project Document

The first phase of this project created a basic best practices guide for use by other small, cultural organizations and special collections, undertaking similar digitization projects. This document can be downloaded from the NYARC website. METRO also maintains a digitization guide that can be a valuable resource for digitization information.



Digital Project

Project Manager: Victoria Pilato, FARL
Project Administrators: Deborah Kempe and Stephen Bury, FARL
NYARC Project Coordinator and Systems Manager: Lily Pregill, NYARC
Conservation and Digital Lab: Don Swanson, FARL
Cataloging: Rodica Tanjala Krauss and Cynthia Biber, FARL; Derek Stadler and Donald Ungarelli, William Randolph Hearst Archive, Digital Initiatives at LIU Post; Mellissa Hinton at LIU Post
Conservation: Melanie Martin, Pinky Fung, and Alex Bero, FARL
Digital Reformatting: Susan Young, Sarah Quick, and Dean Smith, FARL
DAMS, Metadata and Technical Support: Luciano Johnson, FARL


Website and Online Exhibition

Exhibition Design: Victoria Pilato, FARL
Content Contributors: Catherine Larkin, William Randolph Hearst Archive, Digital Initiatives at LIU Post; Rodica Tanjala Krauss, Cynthia Biber, Sophia Walter, and Victoria Pilato, FARL; April Thompson, Elizabeth McIntosh, and Grace High, interns at FARL
Content Editors: Catherine Larkin and Alexandra Janvey, William Randolph Hearst Archive, Digital Initiatives at LIU Post
Bibliography: Catherine Larkin and Alexandra Janvey, William Randolph Hearst Archive, Digital Initiatives at LIU Post; Victoria Pilato, FARL

The exhibition was built using Omeka software.

Special thanks to METRO for its generous support of the Documenting the Gilded Age project.