Through the mirror-glass: Capture of artwork framed in glass.

 

State Library’s collection material that is selected for digitisation comes to the Digitisation team in a variety of forms. This blog describes capture of artwork that is framed and encased within glass.

So let’s see how the item is digitized.

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Two large framed original artworks from the picture book Teacup written by Rebecca Young and illustrated by Matt Ottley posed some significant digitisation challenges.

When artwork from the Heritage collection is framed in glass, the glass acts like a mirror and without great care during the capture process, the glass can reflect whatever is in front of it, meaning that the photographer’s reflection (and the reflection of capture equipment) can obscure the artwork.

This post shows how we avoided this issue during the digitisation of two large framed paintings, Cover illustration for Teacup and also page 4-5 [PWC/255/01 ] and The way the whales called out to each other [PWC/255/09].

Though it is sometimes possible to remove the artwork from its housing, there are occasions when this is not suitable. In this example, the decision was made to not remove the artworks from behind glass as the Conservation staff assessed that it would be best if the works were not disturbed from their original housing.

PWC/255/01                                                         PWC/255/09

The most critical issue was to be in control of the light. Rearranging equipment in the workroom allowed for the artwork to face a black wall, a method used by photographers to eliminate reflections.

 

We used black plastic across the entrance of the workroom to eliminate all unwanted light.

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The next challenge was to set up the camera. For this shoot we used our Hasselblad H3D11 (a 39 mega pixel with excellent colour fidelity).

 

Prior to capture, we gave the glass a good clean with an anti-static cloth. In the images below, you can clearly see the reflection caused by the mirror effect of the glass.

 

Since we don’t have a dedicated photographic studio we needed to be creative when introducing extra light to allow for the capture. Bouncing the light off a large white card prevented direct light from falling on the artwork and reduced a significant number of reflections. We also used a polarizing filter on the camera lens to reduce reflections even further.

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Once every reflection was eliminated and the camera set square to the artwork, we could test colour balance and exposure.

In the image below, you can see that we made the camera look like ‘Ned Kelly’ to ensure any shiny metal from the camera body didn’t reflect in the glass. We used the camera’s computer controlled remote shutter function to further minimise any reflections in front of the glass.

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The preservation file includes technically accurate colour and greyscale patches to allow for colour fidelity and a ruler for accurate scaling in future reproductions.

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The preservation file and a cropped version for access were then ingested into the State Library’s digital repository. The repository allows for current access and future reproductions to be made.

From this post you can see the care and attention that goes into preservation digitisation, ‘Do it right, do it once’ is our motto.

Simpson and his Donkey – an exhibition

Illustrations by Frané Lessac and words by Mark Greenwood share the heroic story of John Simpson Kirkpatrick in the picture book Simpson and his Donkey.  The exhibition is on display at the State Library until  27 April. 

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Unpublished spread 14 for pages 32 – 33
Collection of draft materials for Simpson and his Donkey, PWC/254/18 

The original illustrations, preliminary sketches and draft materials displayed in this exhibition form part of the State Library’s Peter Williams’ collection: a collection of original Australian picture book art.

Known as ‘the man with the donkey’, Simpson was a medic who rescued wounded soldiers at Gallipoli during World War I.

The bravery and sacrifice attributed to Simpson is now considered part of the ‘Anzac legend’. It is the myth and legend of John Simpson that Frané Lessac and Mark Greenwood tell in their book.

Frané Lessac and Mark Greenwood also travelled to Anzac Cove to explore where Simpson and Duffy had worked.  This experience and their research enabled them to layer creative interpretation over historical information and Anzac legend.

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On a moonless April morning, PWC254/6 

Frané Lessac is a Western Australian author-illustrator who has published over forty books for children. Frané speaks at festivals in Australia and overseas, sharing the process of writing and illustrating books. She often illustrates books by , Mark Greenwood, of which Simpson and his Donkey is just one example.

Simpson and his Donkey is published by Walker Books, 2008. The original illustrations are  display in the Story Place Gallery until 27 April 2017.

  • This exhibition is supported by a self-guided trail and educators guide. For school group bookings visit our website.
  • Copies of the book are available for sale from the Discovery Store at the State Library.

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Teacup – One Boy’s Story of Leaving His Homeland

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“Once there was a boy who had to leave home …and find another. In his bag he carried a book, a bottle and a blanket. In his teacup he held some earth from where he used to play”

A musical performance adapted from the picture book Teacup written by Rebecca Young and illustrated Matt Ottley, will premiere at the State Library of Western Australia as part of Fringe Festival. 

Accompanied by musicians from Perth chamber music group Chimera Ensemble, Music Book’s Narrator Danielle Joynt and Lark Chamber Opera’s soprano composer Emma Jayakumar, the presentation of Teacup will be a truly ‘multi-modal’ performance, where the music of Matt Ottley will ‘paint’ the colours, scenery and words into life.

Performance Times:

Fri 27 January 2:30pm
Sat 28 January 10:30am, 1pm and 2:30pm
Sun 29 January 10:30am, 1pm and 2:30pm

  • Suitable for all ages.
  • Bookings not required

Matt Ottley’s original paintings from the picture book Teacup from part of the State Library’s Peter Williams collection of original picture book art. The artworks will be displayed in  Teacup – an exhibition in the ground floor gallery between 20 January – 24 March 2017.

Image credit: Cover illustration for Teacup, Matt Ottley, 2015. State Library of Western Australia, PWC/255/01  Reproduced in the book Teacup written by Rebecca Young with illustrations by Matt Ottley. Published by Scholastic, 2015.

This event is supported by the City of Perth 

Housing the Fairbairn Collection

The Fairbairn collection includes over 100 artefacts of various types; clothing, a sword,  hair ornaments made out of human hair, items used for sewing , just to name a few. All of these objects need to be stored in the best possible way.

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Housing is the process of making protective enclosures for objects to be stored in. By housing an object or group of objects we are creating a micro environment; temperature and humidity become more stable, direct light is deflected, materials are not damaged when handled or when placed on a shelf. Housing can be a box, folder or tray that has been custom made and fitted out to the exact requirements of the object. Inert materials and/or  acid free board are used.

Some of the objects in the Fairbairn collection required conservation treatment before they were housed. For example, the leather had detached from the front of this object but was reattached during treatment.

Some objects required individual housing (for example clothing items, sword and shoes) but the majority of the objects could be housed in groups. These groups were determined by object type and the material it was made of (for example all the coin purses made from similar materials are in a group).

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This was done not only for ease of locating a particular object but because different material types can need different storage conditions and some materials can affect other materials if stored together (for example the vapours released from wood can cause metals to corrode).

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Each object was arranged to fit into a box in such a way so that its weight would be evenly supported and so that it can be retrieved without being damaged or damaging neighbouring objects. Then layers of board and/or foam were built up to support the items.

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Labels were placed to give direction on safely removing the objects from there housing. Labels were also placed on the outside of the boxes to identify what each box holds  as well as the correct way to place each object inside the box.

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Custom supports were made for some objects. For example the internal support for this hat.

 

Each item in the Fairbairn collection has now been housed and placed carefully into long term storage with the rest of the State Library of Western Australia’s collection.

School Magazines

avon_northam_june_1939_cover_2016-10-26_0936School magazines provide a fascinating glimpse into the past.

What was high school like from 1915 through to the 1950s? What issues interested teenagers? How did they react to current events including two world wars? In what ways did they express themselves differently from today’s teens? What sort of jokes did they find amusing? (Hint: there are many of what we would call “dad jokes”.)

The State Library holds an extensive collection of school magazines from both public and private schools. Most don’t start until after 1954 which, as with newspapers, is our cut-off date for digitising, but we have digitised some early issues from public schools.

 

In the first part of the 19th Century they were generally produced by the students, with minimal input from school staff – and it shows. The quality of individual issues varies widely, depending, most probably, on the level of talent, interest and time invested by the responsible students.

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Cricket cartoon Northam High School (The Avon) Sept. 1930

These magazines may include named photographs of prefects and staff, sporting teams and academic prize winners. Photographs from early editions tend to be of much higher quality, possibly because they were taken using glass negatives.

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Essay competition. The subject: “A letter from Mr Collins congratulating Elizabeth on her engagement to Mr Darcy”  Phyllis Hand and Jean McIntyre were the prize winners.      Perth Girls’ School Magazine Nov. 1922

You will find poetry and essays, sketches by and of students, amateur cartooning, and many puns, jokes and limericks.

Some issues include ex-student notes with news about the careers, marriages and movements of past students. There is an occasional obituary.

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Northam High School (The Avon) June 1943

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Does anyone know these twins from Meckering?  Northam High School (The Avon) May 1925

Issues from the war years are particularly interesting and touching. You may also find rolls of honour naming ex-students serving in the forces.

There is also often advertising for local businesses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Girls’ A Hockey Team Albany High School (Boronia) Dec. 1925

These magazines reflect the attitudes of their tight-knit local community of the time.  Expect to hear the same exhortations to strive for academic, moral and sporting excellence that we hear in schools today – while observing the (in retrospect) somewhat naïve patriotism and call to Empire and the occasional casual racism.

 

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The following high school magazines for various dates are either available now online or will appear in the coming weeks: Perth Boys’ School MagazinePerth Girls’ School Magazine (later The Magpie); Fremantle Boys’ School; Northam High School (The Avon); Girdlestone High School (Coolibah); Eastern Goldfields Senior High School (The Golden Mile – later Pegasus); Bunbury High School (Kingia); Albany High School (Boronia) and Perth Modern (The Sphinx). None are complete and we would welcome donations of missing volumes to add to our Western Australian collections.

If you would like to browse our digitised high school magazines search the State Library catalogue using the term: SCHOOL MAGAZINES

*Some issues of The Magpie are too tightly bound for digitising so they are currently being disbound. They will then be digitised and rebound. Issues should appear in the catalogue in the near future.

Digital Collecting – Exciting and Challenging times

Dear Reader, this post does not (yet) have a happy ending, but rather it’s a snapshot of some of the challenges we’re facing, and might provide some insight into how we handle content (especially the digital stuff).  I’m also hoping it’ll start you thinking about how you might handle/organise your own personal collections.  If it does, please let me know by adding a comment below.  Now enough from me, and on with the story…

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Not so long ago we received a trolley full of files from a private organisation.  This is not an unusual scenario, as we often collect from Western Australian organisations, and it is part of the job of our Collection Liaison team to evaluate and respond to offers of content.  The files we received included the usual range of hardcopy content – Annual Reports, promotional publications, internal memos and the like… and a hard drive.

Not being totally sure what was on the hard drive, we thought we’d best take a look.  We used our write blocker (a device to stop any changes happening on the hard drive), and accessed the drive.  Well, we tried to… Challenge 1 was hit – we couldn’t open the drive.  A bit of investigation later, (and with the use of a Mac), the drive was accessed.  Funny to think at this point how used we get to our own ‘standard’ environments. If you are the only person in your family to use a Mac, and your drives are Mac formatted, how are you going to share files with Windows users?

Once we could get to the content, we carefully copied the contents onto a working directory on our storage system.  (Carefully for us means programmatically checking files we were transferring, and re-checking them once copied to ensure the files weren’t corrupted or changed during the transfer process).  At the same time, our program created a list of contents of the drive.  There were a mere 15,000 files.  Challenge 2 started to emerge… fifteen thousand is a big number of files!  How many files would you have on your device(s)?  If you gave them all to someone, would they freak out, or would they know which ones were important?

[Enter some investigation into the content of the files].  Hmmm – looks like most things are well organised – I can see that a couple of directories are labelled by year (‘2014’, ‘2015’, ‘2016’), and there are some additional ‘Project’ folders.  Great!  This is really quite OK.  What’s more (following our guidelines), the donor has provided us with details of each section of the collection – including a (necessarily broad) description of what’s on the drive – that’ll be really helpful when our cataloguers need to describe the contents. Challenge 4 – Identifying the contents, is (at a high level anyway) looking doable.  Oops – hold that thought – there’s a directory of files called ‘Transferred’ – What does that mean? Hmmm…

 

Enough for now – stay tuned to updates on the processing of this collection, and feel free to get in touch.  Comments below, or if you think we may have something that is collectable, start at this web page:http://slwa.wa.gov.au/for/donations

A Sausage Went for a Walk One Day

Can cats fly? 
Can a goat be a superhero?
Can a sausage go for a walk? 

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Peter Kendall, Out of the gate marched breakfast,  reproduced in A Sausage Went for a Walk by Ellisha Majid and Peter Kendall, 1991. Published by Fremantle Press. 

In picture books anything is possible, just as anything is possible in the imagination of a child.  The power of picture books to ignite imagination is highlighted in our current exhibition,  A Sausage Went for a Walk One Day – celebrating Western Australian picture books and 40 fabulous years of Fremantle Press

Beginning with the award winning,  A Sausage Went for a Walk  (1991) by Ellisha Majid and Peter Kendall, the exhibition includes artwork drawn from the State Library Williams collection of illustrations, as well as artwork loaned from illustrators.

Readers of picture books usually only see the finished product in the form of the published book. The process of book making is revealed in this exhibition through sketches, storyboards, colour experiments, text revisions, and published artwork.  The artworks in the exhibition reveal surprising insights into how picture books are brought to life. This post will explore five of these ideas.

1. A work in progress
Illustrations from Palo Morgan’s book Cat Balloon highlight how stories often change during the process of illustration.  A closer look at sketches show cat balloon depicted with arms outstretched, and  wings attached to his back.  In the published illustration below Cat Balloon is shown pursuing his dream to fly by other means.

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Palo Morgan, To sea in a large silver spoon, reproduced in Cat Balloon by Palo Morgan, 1992. Published by Fremantle Press. State Library of Western Australia collection, PWC/253 

2. From big to small 
Picture books are portable art. They are small enough to be held in little hands. To capture detail of shape and form,  many illustrators choose to work with a larger scale. Moira Court’s, Leaping in single bound for the story My Superhero (written by Chris Owen) is more than four times the size of the published book!

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Moira Court, Leaping in a single bound, reproduced in My Superhero by Chris Owen and Moira Court. Published by Fremantle Press, 2012. State Library of Western Australia collection, PWC/218. 

3. Hints of home 
A picture book can be found and read anywhere in the world, and translated into a variety of different languages and formats.  The picture books featured in A Sausage Went for a Walk One Day have all been published in Western Australia, and embedded within them, are connections to place and the daily lives of their creators.

Street scenes of Fremantle in Sonia Martinez illustrations for The World According to Warren (written by Craig Silvey) might be recognisable to visitors.

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Sonia Martinez, And he was never again distracted whilst on duty, reproduced in The World According to Warren by Craig Silvey and Sonia Martinez. Published by Fremantle Press, 2007. State Library of Western Australia collection, PWC/115

The colours and patterns found in Sally Morgan’s illustration, Beneath the stars we all sleep. are inspired by her close observation of the Western Australian landscape, and the inter-connectedness of humans and the natural environment.

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Sally Morgan, Beneath the stars we all sleep, reproduced in We All Sleep by Ezekiel Kwaymullina and Sally Morgan. Published by Fremantle Press, 2016.

4. Universal themes 
Picture books succinctly deal with complex themes and messages with global relevance. These range from cultural diversity, social inclusion, environmental concern, and  the impacts of historical events, particularly war and its aftermath. They communicate about human emotions as varied as joy, to loneliness and grief, and themes of family, friends, belonging, and home. They affirm the importance of the imagination , which has the power to unlock dreams and human potential.

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Michael Thompson, But we love their food, reproduced in The Other Bears by Michael Thompson. Published by Fremantle Press, 2010.

 

5. Medium and the message
Illustrators carefully select a style and technique which compliments the words. Some styles are detailed, while other styles are more spontaneous and free flowing. Each technique has a different effect on the viewer.  The repetition of shapes and the geometric style of Kyle Hughes-Odgers, as seen in On a Small Island and Ten Tiny Things, draws attention to details in line, pattern, and shape. In contrast, Brian Simmonds’s realism in Lighthouse Girl and Light Horse Boy provokes an emotional response.

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Kyle Hughes-Odgers, So many strange buildings, reproduced in On a Small Island by Kyle Hughes-Odgers. Published by Fremantle Press, 2014.  

A Sausage Went for a Walk One Day is presented by Fremantle Press, the State Library of Western Australia and AWESOME Arts. It was launched as part of the 2016 AWESOME Festival and Fremantle Press 40 Year Anniversary celebrations.  It runs until 31 December 2016. For opening hours go to www.slwa.wa.gov.au

  • Curatorial tours on the art of picture books will be conducted on the following days and times: Monday 17 October 12:00pm – 12:45pm, Friday 11 November 1:00pm – 1:45pm, Wednesday 23 November 12:00pm – 12:45pm. For bookings go to slwa.eventbrite.com.au 
  • Books featured in the exhibition are available to purchase from The Discovery Store at the State Library.

A Crash of Rhinos in Wanneroo

With a flamboyance of flamingos, a murder of crows,  a band of gorillas and a parliament of owls, Patricia Mullins A Crash of Rhinos is a picture book which delights the ears and the eyes. Marvel at the original illustrations and sketches currently on display at the Wanneroo Gallery Library and Cultural Centre.

The energetic illustrations and and clever use of collective nouns in A Crash of Rhinos entertains and amuses readers of all ages.  Patricia Mullins unique illustrative style involves collage and layering of coloured tissue paper, with pen and ink drawings, to build up the action in each of her scenes.

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A band of gorillas, 2010, Patricia Mullins, State Library of Western Australia, PWC161 

The exhibition at Wanneroo Gallery marks the first time the complete collection from the book is displayed outside of the State Library of Western Australia.  Acquired in 2011 for the State Library’s collection, it includes original illustrations, preliminary sketches, story boards, and working notes, which provide a unique insight into Patricia Mullins creative process.

One of Patricia Mullins motivations for writing and illustrating is to share her love of language through her stories.

“I’d love them (children) to learn about language through just discovering words, through making up their own words, through understanding that it’s easy and that it can be fun. It’s not about sitting down and learning ‘this is a collective noun’ – it’s about how to use that language…thinking about what language is.” – Patricia Mullins

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A platter of platypuses, 2010, Patricia Mullins, State Library of Western Australia collection, PWC/169 

Patricia Mullins has authored and illustrated a number of picture books including Hattie and Fox (1986), Crocodile Beat (1988), Dinosaur Encore (1992) and Lightening Jack (2012).  A Crash of Rhinos  published by ABC Books by was awarded the Notable Book (Picture Book of the Year) in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards, 2011.

Visitors to the exhibition  are invited to take part in a series of free activities and art workshops.

A Crash of Rhinos is on is on display at Wanneroo Gallery Library and Cultural Centre until 12 October 2016. For opening hours and further information visit: wanneroo.wa.gov.au

Legal Deposit is for you

Legal Deposits Cover Image

Are you a writer, editor, musician or film-maker?

Have you produced your own book, magazine, pamphlet, CD or DVD for the public?

Have you given a copy to the State Library?

If you prepare and issue your own work to the public without the involvement of an established publisher, this is called self-publishing. When you give a copy of your self-published work to the State Library, the public can access it and learn of our history.  The State Library carefully maintains your publication in its original state for many years to come.

You will also meet your legal responsibilities (Legal Deposit Act and Regulations) that apply to self-publishers and commercial publishers. Your publication is protected from unauthorised copying by law (Copyright Act and Regulations), including your music and film.

Western Australians have helped preserve our history by giving to the State Library:

Post your publication to Legal Deposit, State Library of Western Australia, 25 Francis Street, Perth 6000. Or bring it with you to the State Library.  You may also wish to donate a second copy, to help us preserve the first copy.

For more information visit www.slwa.wa.gov.au, email legal.deposit@slwa.wa.gov.au or phone 9427 3348.

Equipment used in the Conservation Lab

There are many valued and interesting pieces of equipment necessary for us to properly treat objects in the lab. Let me introduce you to some of them!

Board cutting machine

Valiani

As the name suggests we use a board cutting machine to cut board. This machine is used daily to cut and crease boxes which are then folded and glued by hand.

We also use the board cutting machine to cut out mats when framing objects, inserts to fit out boxes and backing boards. In fact anything that fits the dimensions of the table and is made of board may be cut using this machine.

In the past boxes, folders and cutting mats were done by hand. It took approximately 40 hours to make 30 boxes. We are now able to cut up to 65 tailor made boxes per day, i.e. each book is measured and a perfect match is produced.  Conservation is currently running a boxing program to house all our Rare Heritage materials. We box as a preventative measure to protect materials. By boxing we are creating a micro environment; temperature and humidity become more stable, direct light is deflected, materials are not damaged when handled or when placed on a shelf.

Boxes                                   Folders                                  Mats

A microscope is a handy piece of equipment to have around when your job is to see what is wrong with an object and to try to stop it from deteriorating further. Using a microscope to examine an object can allow us to see problems that cannot be seen by the naked eye and closely investigate problems in greater detail. Currently this microscope is been used on our photographic panoramas.

Microscope

full shot microscope

A microscope is a handy piece of equipment to have around when your job is to see what is wrong with an object and to try to stop it from deteriorating further. Using a microscope to examine an object can allow us to see problems that cannot be seen by the naked eye and closely investigate problems in greater detail. Currently this microscope is been used on our photographic panoramas.

Item been worked on                         Through the Microscope

Using a microscope in this example has allowed for tears to be correctly aligned; to consolidate flaking gelatine; to accurately repair small losses and assist with the application of a surface gelatine cote over both scratches and tears where necessary.

Suction/Humidification Table

Suction Table                                            Humidification Chamber

The suction table is used for any porous 2-dimensional collection items, usually paper or textile. The perforated surface of the table is equipped with an adjustable suction level to suit  various treatments, for example; localised washing of dirt and/or stains, controlled drying, lining and treatments where it is necessary to monitor humidity or use a liquid solution safely.

The humidification chamber sits on top of the suction table and can be used for mass humidification, humidifying large objects or applying steam as the best option. We often humidify an item preparing  it for flattening.

Did you find this article interesting? Would you like to hear more about the conservation lab or our equipment? Please comment below with any questions, suggestions or feedback below.