The Bentley Snow Crystal Collection of the Buffalo Museum of Science
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The Collection
Snow Crystals
Wilson A. Bentley
Photographic Process

Making the Digital Library

Other Resources
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Digital Library Creators

Class Photo

Collection Development

Copyright and Compliance

Interface Design


Metadata and Organization



User Liasons

The Bentley Snow Crystal Collection of the BMS digital library was a class project for a graduate course called "Digital Libraries" in the Library & Information Studies Department at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Our professor, Dr. June Abbas, negotiated a contract with the Buffalo Museum of Science to have her class build this digital library of their Bentley Snowflake Collection of original glass plate slides.

Prof. June Abbas

Dr. June Abbas,
Assistant Professor of Library and Information Studies for the course LIS 563 Digital Libraries.

Digital libraries, and digitization in general, are changing the ways libraries and other cultural heritage organizations, as well as commercial organizations, think about collections, preservation, access and information organization and management. Library and information professionals can provide the knowledge set and skills to help organizations manage and preserve their increasing deluge of information and information objects. Digital libraries also increase access to and awareness of the rich treasures of these organizations that might previously be unknown to the rest of the global community.

The Digital Libraries course was designed with the following objectives: 1) to provide students with a meaningful and practical learning experience as they work through the real issues and processes that are part of creating a digital library, 2) to teach students about project management and team-building to prepare them for work situations, 3) to create a digital library for a nonprofit organization in the Buffalo metropolitan area, in this small way contributing to the community in which we all live, and 4) to illustrate how digital libraries serve many purposes in our society and how the library and information science profession can be leaders in this area of growth and change.

Collection Development:

Anna Fishaut (Team Manager), Darren Chase, James Harris, Susanne Lischer, and Tom Stieve

Collection Development TeamOur mission is to provide access to information of determined historical, technical, biographical, and cultural value that furthers the understanding and appreciation of Snow Crystal Science and of Bentley’s photomicrographic process. In addition, because of advancing deterioration of the emulsion on Bentley’s glass plates, our digital library strives to serve as a means of heightened awareness of the analog collection and its preservation issues, and as a lasting means of preserving Bentley’s snow crystal images.

Read the complete Collection Development Policy.


Interface Design:

Heather Glogowski (Team Manager), Yu-Tsui Chang, Jen Goul, Lyla Lalik, and Lou Omel

Interface Design TeamWe have created a user interface that is a comprehensive representation of the Buffalo Museum of Science's Bentley Snowflake Collection, complying with W3C guidelines whenever possible and supporting the interests of the users specified by the User Liason Team. We have built a simplistic and visually consistent site with intuitive/obvious navigation that supports both basic and advanced searching. This interface has been created in Dreamweaver and connected to an Access database built by the Infrastructure team.


Metadata and Organization:

Elain Knecht (Team Manager), Sandra Blackman, Steve Borelli, and Rebecca Luhman

Metadata and Organization TeamThe Bentley collection at the Buffalo Museum of Science consists of 8,908 Snow Crystal plates, 828 Frost plates, 467 Plants plates, 101 Spider web plates, 73 Clouds plates, 253 Composite plates, 6 pieces of equipment, 64 miscellaneous pieces and 23 scene plates. LIS 563 has chosen to just focus on the snow crystal plates. Each snow crystal is on a plate of glass and Bentley etched negative numbers on the glass. In his journals Bentley detailed the weather conditions, type of crystal structure pictured, and meterological data. The Buffalo Museum of Science has put the information from his notes and journals into a Microsoft Access database and we will be gathering our information for the metadata from this database.



Kara McGuire (Team Manager), Nancy Churchill, Judy Coyle, Cyndy Lenzner, and Amy Strauss

Digitization TeamThe Digitization team was responsible for all aspects of the imaging process. The team researched methodologies and determined appropriate file formats and sizes to use for the project. The team then wrote procedures for scanning, saving, altering and protecting the image files as well as preserving the integrity of the slides during use. We hope we have adequately shown the beauty of these slides as well as provided adequate visual representations for both the recreational user and researcher. Happy viewing!


Copyright and Compliance:

Jennifer Lipps (Team Manager), Patrick Dougherty, Gina Lombardi, and Mike Krajewski

Copyright and Compliance TeamOur team has constructed the Copyright and Compliance Policy for the Bentley Snow Crystal Collection by paying careful attention to legal practices and fair use issues. The copyright of the digital images available in this collection belongs to the Buffalo Museum of Science. The copyright policy of the collection is in agreement with the United States Copyright Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. We have clearly outlined what is considered fair use of the images, including research and scholarly purposes. In addition, it is our policy that the Bentley Snow Crystal Collection Web site meets W3C and Section 508 compliance standards, so that the collection will be accessible to the greatest number of patrons.

Read the complete Copyright and Compliance Statement.



Todd Metting (Team Manager), Chien-Lin Liu, Rachel Gyore, and Andrea Sicari

Infrastructure TeamThe Infrastructure Team was responsible for building the structure behind the digital library and making the system work. Our team researched possible open source software options, as well as other commercial options. We brought together both the hardware and software necessary for the project. The digital library has been built using a Microsoft Access database to hold the metadata for the snow crystal images. Active Server Pages (ASP) has been used to create dynamic browse and search pages. Our team has also made documents accessible on the infrastructure side so that BMS can manage the collection. Much of our work was dependent on the interaction between our team and the Interface and Metadata Teams. Our team also served as a resource for the class’s questions about system operations. Our team is also responsible for assisting BMS to migrate the digital library to their own server or their internet service provider.


User Liaisons:

Mary McMillen (Team Manager), Lynn Magdol, and Melissa Manczuk

User Liaison TeamThe expected User Groups for the William Bentley Snowflake Digital Library include students and teachers from 5-12, meteorology buffs, photography historians, and general museum users. It is our suggestion that Buffalo Museum of Science (BMS) promote the existence of this digital library to their members through their newsletter. Advanced education institutes with meteorological programs should receive knowledge of the founding of this library.


Image Gallery of the Creation Process

Kathy at the BMS   Class at the BMS
Kathy Leacock, primary contact at the Buffalo Museum of Science.   Our first class at the BMS.
Regular Thursday Night Class at UB   Chien-Lin's Demonstration at UB
Regular Thursday night class.   Chien-Lin Liu demonstrating Digital Library search engine.
Examining Slides at BMS   Showing the Class a Slide
Examining Bentley's slides at the BMS.   Kathy, at the BMS, showing the class one of Bentley's slides.


 Buffalo Museum of ScienceUniversity at Buffalo, School of Informatics  

© 2004