Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Browse by popular format on Keys

(by Heather Hernandez, Technical Services Librarian)

We've added a new pull down menu to the main page of the Keys Catalog--the ability to browse by popular format:

Screenshot of the Keys Catalog highlighting the new search feature
With this tool you can quickly retrieve all the archives, books, games, maps, musical CDs, musical scores, online resources, videos on DVD or videos on VHS in the Library.

To accomplish this, we moved the links to other catalogs; you'll find them under the "Other catalogs" link on the left side of the screen.

Interested in how we did it?  Keep reading!  Not interested?  Just click over to the Keys Catalog and enjoy the new feature!

Nicole Engard recently posted to the ByWater Solutions blog about creating a new items pull down menu, and for us, a light bulb went off!  As anyone who has gone to our Advanced Search screen has seen, we have a lot of item types.  Why so many?  Because we use the ability to search by item type for back room operations such as preservation surveys--for this, it makes a great deal of difference whether a sea shanty recording is on audio cassette, CD, or a vinyl record.

But the ability to retrieve in one search the most popular formats seemed lost in the huge sea of item types under Advanced Search, until we saw Nicole's blog post.  I was able to easily adapt her HTML to the formats that users ask us about searching the most, and then plug that into the OpacMainUserBlock preference of the OPAC global settings.  Be sure to let us know what you think of the new search tool!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Digging for Gold at the Library: Freak ships

(by Gina Bardi, Reference Librarian)

Who amongst us would have such self-control as to be able to walk past a book called Freak Ships and not take a little look see? Friends, not me.

Freak Ships (1936), written by Stanley Rogers is a book of "naval oddities…which in truth is a side-show in the vast bibliography of sea literature" (ix). Listen to Mr. Roger’s exuberance (and hubris) as he describes this book:
As an assiduous student of maritime history who grows a little weary  of the pedantic solemnity of your true sailor, I hold up my discovery with a shout of glee. Freak ships! What a notion. This will fall like a fire-cracker in the academic halls of nautical learning. Here is a side show to disturb the pedants; a frivolous tome to rub shoulders with treatises on naval architecture and nautical dictionaries” (ix).

What follows however is not really going to blow your mind clean out of your head. The author focuses on ships that were strange or unusual for the time, such as the 7-masted schooner Thomas W. Lawson or The Great Eastern, simply for her size.  I was hoping more for strange terrible ships born from the opiatic nightmares of madmen but I got the Monitor.  I think I was looking for something more in the line of this.

There are some interesting sketches and the designs in Roger's Freak Ships and his heart is certainly in the right place.  I suppose this book will always have a place in my heart for chapter titles such as "Some Victorian Freaks" and "Freak Fore-an-Afters."  Just for that it’s definitely worth a read.

By the way, here’s a librarian time wasting - I mean research tip: using your favorite search engine, do an image search for Steampunk AND ship. Wow. I know, right?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


(by Heather Hernandez, Technical Services Librarian) 

These week we're offering another instructive rhyme from Nautical Nursery Rhymes by Billy Ringbolt,  which resides in the Peterson, Peter H. (Capt.) Papers, (SAFR 18665, HDC 571):


Side lights are colored green and red
They show for two miles right ahead,
And circle round they throw their light
Two points abaft the beam at night;
The masthead light five miles is seen,
Shows round same space as red and green.

A staemer under way at night
On foremast has a masthead light,
On starboard side a light of green,
While on the port the red is seen;
And if she takes a ship in tow,
Two masthead lights she then must show.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Collection spotlight: Ron Cleveland Photograph Collection

(Written by M. Crawford and Amy Croft)

The Ron Cleveland photograph collection (P90-062, SAFR-22583) was recently processed at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park (SFMNHP) and contains photographs of the construction of ship models built by Ron Cleveland from 1965-1984. One of the models he built was of the KOHALA, a California-built barkentine that played a role in the West Coast lumber and sugar trades during the early 20th century. The model is a product not only of his interest in maritime history but also the result of in-depth archival research.
Ron Cleveland (1912-1987) was a California architect who had a strong interest in maritime history and the construction of 19th century sailing vessels. Ron's interest in maritime history started because his grandfather worked on spritsail barges on the Thames River in England in the late 19th century. Ron's first ship model was of the English spritsail barge KATHLEEN and his second model was of the Norwegian brigantine LEON. In his professional life, Ron worked as a principal architect at Leach, Cleveland and Associates for 36 years, specializing in the design of over 100 Southern California supermarkets. The firm designed some permanent exhibits at the Los Angeles Museum of Science and Industry and was retained in 1968 by the California Museum Foundation as consultants for, and designers of the exhibit "The Queen Mary Story" as part of Jacques Cousteau's Museum of the Sea, on board the QUEEN MARY while she was a museum ship in Long Beach.

Cleveland did extensive research using archival and library resources to ascertain the specifications of the vessels that he created, in order to build them to scale as accurately as possible.  Ron also consulted with other maritime historians and people who had worked or sailed on similar vessels in the past, particularly to ensure that he built the structure and rigging correctly. For example, he interviewed Harlan Gow, who worked as a shipwright in the Bendixen shipyard from 1898-1908, about how they had built the West Coast vessels. Cleveland also interviewed Lester Stone, whose grandfather built one of the first shipyards in San Francisco in 1853, and who later took over the shipyard. Both of these interviews are now in the San Francisco Maritime's collections. Cleveland also relied on the assistance and knowledge of Robert "Bob" Weinstein, Captain Fred Klebingat, and San Francisco Maritime Museum Founder and Chief Curator Karl Kortum. Ron joined the Nautical Research Guild in 1964 and later began a Southern California Chapter with the assistance of Bob Weinstein.
In 1969, Ron began construction of a model of the barkentine KOHALA, which took him nearly 15 years to complete. During this time he wrote a manuscript titled "Rigging of West Coast Barkentines and Schooners" which has details about the construction of his model of the KOHALA. According to Ron, Karl Kortum told him that no one to his knowledge had pursued the study of structure and rigging of West Coast barkentines to the extent that Cleveland had over this 15 year period.
The KOHALA was a four-masted barkentine that was built at Fairhaven, California in 1901 by the Bendixsen Shipbuilding Co. for the management of Hind, Rolph & Co., San Francisco and was first primarily used in the West Coast lumber trade. Later she established herself in the sugar trade on a cargo route to Hawaii from San Francisco, and is named after the North Shore and volcano of the Big Island itself. Her last sail passage was in 1921 and she was later turned into a fishing barge. On December 25, 1941 the KOHALA was mistaken for a possible Japanese submarine and accidentally sunk by American bombers near Redondo Beach!
In 1985, Mr. Cleveland donated the KOHALA model to San Francisco Maritime NHP. The model of the KOHALA is on display in the San Francisco Maritime Museum at 900 Beach Street - come check it out! In addition to this model of a vessel that played a role in 20th century maritime history and commerce, Ron's extensive research and notes are a valuable resource about how the KOHALA was constructed and can be found in his manuscript collection, also held here at the San Francisco Maritime NHP (HDC 1061, SAFR 12782). Although the age of sail has past, Ron's model of the KOHALA literally and figuratively preserves a small piece of that history with remarkable accuracy.

Check out the finding aid on the Online Archive of California to learn more about the nearly 3000 photographs in the Ron Cleveland photograph collection! Some of the photographs have been scanned and can be viewed on NPS Focus (http://npsfocus.nps.gov/npshome.do?searchtype=npshome) by searching for "Ron Cleveland Photographs".
Quote: "If I could shrink my body to one-inch size I could walk up the gangway, go to the wheel house and sail her out to sea," said Captain Fred Klebingat in a Los Angeles Times article published on March 5, 1984. Ron Cleveland (left), Captain Fred Klebingat (right) and KOHALA model. Photograph courtesy of the SFMNHP, Series 1.1, File Unit 40, Item 01.

Quote: Ron constructed each of these figures by hand. According to Ted Miles, Reference Librarian at the San Francisco Maritime Library, most ship models do not have miniature people on them. Photograph courtesy of SFMNHP, Series 1.1, File Unit 43, Item 20.