Digitization project of the Novela Mundial series at CU-Boulder

La Novela Mundial is a series of popular fiction...

La Novela Mundial is a series of popular fiction that was published by Rivadeneyra (S.A.) in Madrid, Spain between 1926 and 1928, during the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera. Among many collections of short literature and other publications, La Novela Mundial represents one of the larger collections of the period before the Spanish Civil War.[1] Similar to "dime store" books, these were known as "novelas de kiosko," because they were sold in newsstands, most for between 30 and 50 cents. The series includes novellas and plays with beautiful color illustrations on the cover and black and white illustrations throughout. The aim of this series was to make international literature available to a wide audience, but most authors were Spanish.[2] They included Leopoldo García-Alas y Ureña (Clarín) and members of la generación del 98 like Ramón María del Valle-Inclán and Manuel Bueno.
The University of Colorado at Boulder (CU) has a small collection of paperbacks from this series. I worked with Alison Hicks to select the Novela Mundial series from amongst some other collections that had been uncataloged for years. The short novels and plays were purchased as part of a large collection in the ‘90s but hadn't been processed yet. Alison had discovered them in a box sitting next to a photocopier! During my practicum at CU-Boulder, I assisted in the digitization of 12 of these short novels. There were many stages of the process, and I was directly involved in most of them.

I began by conducting research to find out if any of the volumes in our collection were already available online from another source like Google Books, HathiTrust, the Biblioteca Nacional de España (BNE), or The Internet Archive.  Next, I looked into copyright. I was not sure at first if I should be looking at U.S. laws, Spanish laws, or European Union laws. We eventually found that only four of the twelve novels we were going to digitize were out of copyright and could be made publically available. I prepared a proposal for the digitization of these books and Alison and I met with the librarian who is the head of Digital Initiatives at CU. The head approved our proposal, she had the manager of the Digital Initiatives Lab and the Metadata Specialist begin their work simultaneously, and she began preparations of the online interface for viewing the collection.
Alison found a scholarly bookabout this collection in the Norlin Stacks, La novela mundial: introducción y estudio de la colección por Alberto Sánchez Álvarez-Insúa con catalogación por Ma. del Carmen Santamaría Barceló. While I scanned some of the books in the Digital Initiatives Lab in Norlin Library, I was able to review the scholarly book as well as do some online research about the authors and the social and historical contexts of this series. Over the next two months, I learned how to scan, process, and perform optical character recognition (OCR) on the images of the pages of the books. For these tasks I used CU's Epson Expression 10000 XL flatbed scanner with its factory software as well as Adobe® Photoshop® and ABBYY® FineReader.
During the scanning I discovered a flyer that had been stuck in between pages of a book. The flier was 7 years younger than the book, so it appeared as if someone had stuck it between the pages as a bookmark. It had a date on it, Thursday, July 13, and names of saints whose day it was. It also had some information about the sun and moon rising, highest, and setting points in time. On the back of this flyer were two quotes from well-known Spanish writers. It was a strange piece of ephemera, but Alison and I were able to determine its age and a little bit of information about the saints that were listed.
During the OCR process while proofreading in Spanish, I had a lot of questions about best practices for editing the text of a book. I wasn't sure if it was more important to make sure the text matched the original printing or fixing grammatical errors. I sent my questions to the lab manager, Alison, and the Digital Initiatives head who had approved our proposal. Ultimately, we determined that the OCR text that overlays the image should reflect the original text. I was then able to provide the lab manager with some guidelines to the lab manager about how students, even monolingual ones, could continue the OCR work.
After finishing my time in the lab, I met with the Cataloger and Metadata Specialist to discuss improving the metadata for this collection. We discussed how he would use the MARC records in the catalog to crosswalk them into a format that he could use and eventually upload to CU's Digital Content Management System. Although my time at CU was coming to a close, I still was able to provide English summaries of the collection and each novel to include in the Digital Library's record. You can find the collection and records here. Similar works and additional titles of this series are available from HathiTrust's Archive.
In addition to working on this digitization Project, I also assisted with a collection development project for the Latino Studies materials at Norlin Library, provided research desk service, assisted in Spanish classroom instruction for undergraduates, and had an all around outstanding experience. My thanks to Alison Hicks and all of the wonderful librarians at CU-Boulder for their support.

[1] Sánchez Álvarez-Insúa, Alberto and Santarmaría Barceló, Ma. del Carmen. La Novela Mundial: Introducción y Estudio de la Colección. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1997. Print.
[2] Ibid.