Inspired by the recent popularity of coloring books for grownups, the New York Academy of Medicine is sponsoring Color Our Collections week. Libraries all over the country — including ZSR Special Collections & Archives — are offering free, printable scans of their illustrated materials for your coloring pleasure.

ZSR’s coloring pages are available in a #ColorOurCollections Flickr set created by Special Collections & Archives. You can also pick up a paper copy of the coloring book at the library’s main Circulation desk, or print one for yourself [PDF].

As ZSR’s Rare Books librarian, I always enjoy projects like this, because they give me the opportunity to look at our collections in a different way. We have examples of many types of book illustrations in Special Collections, but I found that the best candidates for coloring were often woodcut illustrations. Some of our books’ previous owners (or their offspring?) must have felt the same way, since we have many examples of illustrations enhanced with paint, pencil, or crayon (see example below).

nuremberg celestial spheres color
A previous owner used one of ZSR’s 1493 Nuremberg Chronicles as a coloring book.

After I chose the illustrations for our coloring book, our digitization staff took over. Melde Rutledge, ZSR Library Specialist for Digitization and Metadata, describes the process of scanning and editing the images:

Digitization of the images were completed using the BookDrive DIY to make use of the cradle, which lessens the stress on the books’ binding. Final editing was completed using Adobe Photoshop.

Two particular techniques were used to create a clean black and white image. The technique used depended on the type of image. For example, most images were completed using a Photocopy filter which also allowed for adjustment of the detail and darkness of the lines. The image from Venetia Edificata is a more intricate drawing and relied on a separate technique of adding a black and white adjustment layer in Photoshop that allowed adjustment of the images’ color tones.

Lastly, the paint brush tool was used to clean up the images of any unwanted spots or blemishes.

We hope you enjoy coloring these pages as much as our staff has enjoyed choosing and preparing them!