Beyond the Page: Open-Access & Open-Source Digital Literary Archives

For notes on this session & my participation in others, see: [].

I would like to propose a session on Digital Literary Archives.

Who should be involved in the design & development of the digital literary archive at the college / university level? Authors . . . Readers . . . Librarians . . . Scholars . . . Publishers . . . Editors . . . Students . . . Programmers . . . Booksellers? Can we imagine an open-access & open-source model for the digital literary archive, one that would build opportunities for collaborative research, creativity, authorship, and publication?

For my contribution to ThatCAMP, I would like to explore new directions for my research, publication, and teaching that are converging in dynamic ways. The changing roles for digital archives define the nexus of that convergence. I recently led the NEH Digital Archives Workshop for the University of Denver’s Digital Humanities Institute [] and will be presenting a related paper in November at the “Reconfiguring Authorship” conference at the University of Ghent []. I have also co-authored (with faculty colleagues at the Penrose Library, Peggy Keeran and Jennifer Bowers) a book chapter in a forthcoming MLA volume, Teaching Early Modern Literature from the Archives. And I am the founding editor of two electronic, peer-reviewed, MLA-indexed and EBSCO-distributed journals, Appositions: Studies in Renaissance / Early Modern Literature & Culture; and Reconfigurations: A Journal for Poetics & Poetry / Literature & Culture. These experiences have led me to new questions about collaborative research, teaching, and publishing, which I have recently addressed in a journal article, “WYSIWYG Poetics: Reconfiguring the Fields for Creative Writers and Scholars,” in the Journal of Electronic Publishing (Fall, 2011): [].

How might digital literary archives facilitate new forms and fields of knowledge within and beyond academia? How might such non-conformist DH projects engender new relationships within, across, and beyond Departments and Divisions?

Categories: General, Session Proposals | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Let’s dump out all the crayons and make a mess or How long would it take to get at all the cool digital stuff our libraries have?

This proposal is less a calculated intervention and more (in the spirit of THATCamp?) a loose whirlwind of things I’ve been thinking about. Also, I notice we have a number of good proposals for discussion sessions—I’m looking forward to Re-Skilling for Research and one on doing DH instruction—so I thought, in the interest of balance, I would try to come up with a session based around making something (or at least trying to).

There are two proximate inspirations for this proposal. The first is the brilliant and beautiful new Web site unveiled by the Rijks Museum (may we all be so good as to copy it): One of the best things about the site is that everyone is encouraged to download hi-res versions of images and to re-use them—and it is dead simple to do. The second inspiration is the great work that Tim Sherratt (@wragge) has done and continues to do with digital collections at a variety of Australian institutions. (Seriously, someone give this man a job.) I particularly recommend looking carefully at the work Sherratt has done with digitized collections from the National Archives of Australia in projects like Invisible Australians.

As I’m sure is the case at everyone’s institutions, we have digitized some wonderful things at Maryland (childrens’ books printed during the American occupation of Japan after World War II, anyone?) but how hard does a prospective (prospecting?) digital humanist have to work to get access to these things? In many places (including MPOW), they have to work way too hard. Bravo to those who have APIs or download functions as easy as the Rijks Museum. For the most part, my hunch is that whether it’s Fedora, DSpace, ContentDM, etc., etc. — we’re often putting collections out there in ways that make them easy (or easier) to search and browse, but not to download, remix, re-make, re-present, and create with.

So, with all that said, what I propose is to devote a session and a small share of our insider knowledge (as the custodians of these access systems and discovery layers) to figuring out how to pull down some of this cool digital stuff and get it ready to use in ways that digital humanists might be apt to want to do. How long does it take? Are the terms and conditions clear? What might it be possible to make or at least concretely imagine making with the goods we can “liberate” from our collective digital collections?

Maybe that all sounds too messy or too hard to do in an unconference session but I’d at least like to try. I think we’ll find out some interesting things by dumping all the crayons on the table and making a mess.




Categories: Collaboration, Research Methods, Session Proposals | 1 Comment

User-Generated Content / User Engagement with DH Projects

We added a feature to our recent yearbook site at the University of Idaho ( that allows users to digitally “sign” a yearbook.  We released the site in September and just got our first signature yesterday. As you might guess, we expected a bit more engagement.

There are many reasons why the feature has not been that successful, prime among these being that the feature resides below the fold on the yearbook pages, but I am wondering if/what others experiences with user generated content has been like and if anyone has seen any trends with user engagement with DH projects generally.

On a personal note, this is my first THATCamp, and I’m really looking forward to meeting and talking to you all.

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Scholar-Librarians: Original Research from the Library

Free from some of the constraints of traditional departments and the faculty tenure track, Scholar-Librarians have been very active in producing digital humanities projects. However, there are some challenges to housing these hybrid-professionals and striking the balance between independent research and the traditional service mission of the library is one of the biggest. How might libraries re-imagine some staff roles as they embrace digital humanities work?

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Library IT Support: What does your org chart look like?

Some libraries have their own IT departments while others use their campus IT division. In either model, that support may be highly centralized, highly decentralized or, in some cases, confederated. In this session, I want to compare notes about how these various approaches work, what are the pros and cons, and – if necessary – to try to imagine new ways of conceptualizing IT in the library.

In particular, I am interested in ideas about IT support for Digital Humanities. This often presents special challenges because the work can be experimental and done in collaboration with partners who have very busy schedules.

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Research Library as Digital Press?

I would like to propose a panel on digital publishing and libraries. I have more questions than answers at this point but I think this is a potentially exciting direction for libraries.

My interest in this stems from my experience working with a number of online journals at Emory but is also related to the growing collection of digital projects the library has developed in partnership with scholars. At many libraries, such projects are handled on a case-by-case basis but as they become more numerous, libraries will want to develop standard tools and procedures.

If there is a workflow and if the library is providing technical and design support and if the library is hosting the projects, then it would appear that the library is operating as a publisher. In this session, I would like to hear ideas about how we could do better at this job and what sorts of personnel are needed. Could the jobs of existing staff be re-configured or are entirely new positions needed.

I am also interested in the how a library-as-publisher might approach the issue of selecting projects. The library traditionally helps anyone but has no say in whether or not the project is published. This dynamic is likely to change if all stages of the scholarly process – research, development, launching, hosting and archiving – are vertically integrated in the library.

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Collaborations with faculty on DH research

Hello all,

I’m interested in hearing how people are collaborating with faculty on digital humanities research projects. My experiences have been limited to obtaining data sets for them, introducing them to DH tools, and/or connecting them to campus centers that have the computing tools they need. But with the rise in libraries becoming research partners who are being written into grants and all, I’d like to learn more about strategies for partnering with faculty on research projects.

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Training LIS students for DH Work

I’m interested in discussing what current/upcoming LIS students can do to become involved in the digital humanities. As DH gains momentum, more and more MLIS/MLS students are becoming interested in pursuing work at DH centers and in libraries that support DH, though finding opportunities to learn DH-centric skills and experience in the field is not always easy or obvious. What types of courses–currently offered at most LIS programs–would be most beneficial? What skills are necessary for librarians to work in DH? How can we better connect MLIS/MLS students with DH centers in terms of internships, work experience, project support? In the future, how can LIS programs better support students in the DH community–new course offerings focusing on DH skills, connections to centers, other ways of connecting and involvement?

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Building Sustainable DH Projects w/ Re-usable Components

How have DH projects evolved from “boutique” to modular/sustainable over the years? What are faculty, librarians, and academic technologists at your institution or organization doing to create sustainable, adaptable models that can be used by multiple DH projects? Why have some of the DH projects (Bamboo, etc.) not gained more momentum? How do we share common frameworks and components to make DH projects simpler to build and maintain? How do we resource projects that require maintenance and enhancement over time, and how do we reduce costs by leveraging existing tools and standards?

Categories: Coding, Collaboration, Funding, Project Management, Session Proposals | 3 Comments