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News and events from Skillman Library's Digital Scholarship Services
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GIS Librarian John Clark Offers Spring “Beware of Maps” Workshops

Thu, 01/26/2017 - 14:30

Historic map of the British Empire

This spring, Data Visualization & GIS Librarian John Clark will offer two workshop opportunities for students and faculty to learn about critical cartography. Reading a map is trickier than you might expect. While maps casually present themselves as a visualization of reality, the truth is, all maps are imperfect models of natural and cultural features on the surface of the Earth. Reading a map involves understanding how a map maker has chosen to represent these features and, perhaps more importantly, what s(he) has left out. Join for a guided tour through a variety of different historical and contemporary maps as John explains some common principals used by cartographers. Participants will then have an opportunity to make a map using Social Explorer, an online mapping tool available to the Lafayette community through Skillman Library.

This event is being offered twice, Wednesday, February 1st and Friday, February 3rd, from 12:15pm to 1:00pm. Please RSVP to John Clark at clarkjh@lafayette.edu and indicate if you would like to attend the Wednesday or Friday event. Lunch provided.

Digital Scholarship Services Welcomes New Co-Director

Wed, 01/04/2017 - 11:14

Co-Director of Digital Scholarship Services, James Griffin. Photo credit: Kylie Bailin

DSS recently welcomed James Griffin as the new co-Director for Research and Development.  James joined DSS in the position of Digital Library Developer in 2012, and the team at Skillman is thrilled that James agreed to step into this new role.  Motivated by an interest in digital preservation and scholarly communication, James is deeply involved in the application of open source technologies within librarians and archives.  James’s research interests focus on the semantic web.  He aspires to expand the usage of linked data beyond the domains of digital preservation and curation.  He is also intrigued by the potential for Development and Operations (DevOps) service management methodologies to increase durability and performance in technical infrastructure through server virtualization. 

Since joining DSS, James has worked on implementing Islandora, an open-source digital asset management framework.  He has also collaborated with faculty on the Swift Poems Project, the East Asia Image Collection, and the Easton Library Company Database Project.  Since 2015, James has been exploring how linked open data may be further integrated within the digital repository architecture for DSS.  He is Skillman Library’s liaison to the Project Hydra community.  In his new co-Director role, James will continue to collaborate on faculty projects and lead the migration of DSS digital assets to the Hydra repository solution.  James is excited to execute a vision for DSS anchored in the values of open-source collaboration and digital library preservation.  Congratulations, James!

DH Summer Scholars Impress at Bucknell Digital Humanities Conference

Mon, 11/07/2016 - 14:28

Guest-blogger Will Gordon ’17, one of the Skillman Library 2016 Digital Humanities Summer Scholars, reports on a successful presentation at the Bucknell University Digital Scholarship Conference

From left to right: DH Summer Scholars Will Gordon, Tawfiq Alhamedi, Caroline Nawrocki, Mila Temnyalova, and Johnny Gossick

Last Friday, I piled into a van with four of my friends and fellow digital humanities scholars to drive to Bucknell University to present our undergraduate research and learn more about digital humanities.  Research and Instruction Librarian Sarah Morris, who is also the leader of the Digital Humanities Summer Scholar Program at Lafayette College, drove us to the Bucknell University Digital Scholarship Conference (#BUDSC16). Tawfiq Alhamedi ‘17, Caroline Nawrocki ‘18, Mila Temnyalova ‘18, Johnny Gossick ‘18, and I were all part of the summer program, in which we each designed, researched, and realized our projects.

Now it was time to present our projects to a crowd of undergraduates, graduate students and academics through a panel session and electronic posters. Dinner and the keynote speech from Assistant Professor of Sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University Tressie McMillan Cottom filled the first night. We learned about incorporating the digital humanities into a sociology graduate program, and saw ways to pursue these interests after graduating from Lafayette.

It was our turn to present the next day. Tawfiq, Caroline, Mila, and Sarah partnered up with members of Gettysburg College for a panel session on how to design a successful undergraduate digital humanities research program. Other attendees at the conference tweeted and commented on how impressed they were with Gettysburg’s and Lafayette’s programs.

DH Summer Scholar Mila Temnyalova presents

Afterward, Saturday’s keynote speaker, UCLA professor Safiya Noble, spoke about biases in search engine algorithms at lunch and their effects on the way people perceive race and gender. Her talk illustrated the power of algorithms and information bias in society, and proved the importance of doing good digital scholarship.

As the day came to an end, Tawfiq, Caroline, Johnny and I took part in an electronic poster session while academics and other attendees drank wine, ate hors d’oeuvre, and wandered the room to listen to our presentations and others.

After packing up our things and going to a panel session Sunday morning, we began the journey back to Lafayette. Although, at times, scholarship can be a strange endeavor, we were excited about the opportunity to present our undergraduate research projects, and the positive feedback we received.

 

DSS Supports Original Undergraduate Research Using GIS

Tue, 10/25/2016 - 11:23

Which road systems were built along Native American trail ways, and why?  This research question, formulated by Molly Leech ’17 for her senior thesis in Anthropology and Sociology under the supervision of Professor Andrea Smith, represents the sort of historic geographic scholarly inquiry that John Clark, Data Visualization GIS Librarian, loves to support in his role at Skillman Library Digital Scholarship Services (DSS).  John offers a “Making Maps” workshop series at the Skillman Library that introduces students, faculty, and librarians to such tools as Google Maps, Social Explorer, and ArcGIS, a popular desktop GIS (Geographic Information Systems) application available to the Lafayette community at Skillman.  He also supports faculty and student research projects such as Molly’s.  While attending John’s “Making Maps” workshops to learn about digital tools she might use to explore her thesis topic geographically, Molly had the opportunity to share her research question with John, and she now works closely with him on a substantive GIS component for her thesis.

According to John, “maps and geographic understanding are relevant to nearly every major at the college–from Environmental Science to History to Civil Engineering and all points in between. Furthermore, mapping software has become simpler to use so that students can create their own geospatial data from spreadsheets or by extracting information from historic maps. This data can then used to make their own custom maps. I can assist students, whether it’s finding the right map online for a class assignment or assisting them with mapping software so that they can create maps from their own research.”

GIS Librarian John Clark (left) works with Molly Leech ’17 (right)

Molly explains that a geographic lens has been central to the development of her research. “My thesis retraces the history of two former Indian trails that intersect at the historic ‘Four Corners’ of Shrewsbury, New Jersey. By contextualizing maps from the late seventeenth century to present day with archival source material such as town histories and newspaper articles, I hope to reveal how these Indian trails transitioned to early colonial and present-day roads. This research allows me to explore the processes involved in the creation of a settler sense of belonging as well as the politics of street-naming and place-making.”

Molly emphasizes that the GIS component of her thesis is crucial to understanding her topic. “It’s not an easy job to try to locate these former Indian trails on the landscape–archival sources often use long-gone farms and homesteads as geographic points of reference.  Luckily, with the help of John Clark, I’ve been able to use archival maps from the same time period as my sources to retrace the Indian trails and then overlay present-day road maps onto this data. When I began my thesis research, I didn’t expect to be using GIS, but now, these compiled maps will be presented as part of my thesis to help re-conceptualize our surroundings and challenge the dominant narrative of Northeastern American colonial history.”

For Molly, her GIS exploration is thus central to her critical examination of settler colonial narratives in American history.  “There’s something to be said about the fact that we don’t tend to talk about the fact that many of the roads we drive on are former Indian trails. When we think of pre-colonial America, the dominant narrative is that settlers encountered an untamed wilderness; the idea of the intrepid pioneer is glorified. However, it makes complete sense that a settler nation would make use of the indigenous populations’ trails, and indeed start to settle along them. When we are conscious that we are driving on former Indian trails, we are reminded of our colonial history and we become more conscious of the longtime presence of Native Americans on the land.”

Are you interested in incorporating a mapping component in your research or teaching?  Contact John Clark at clarkjh@lafayette.edu.

DSS Attends Hydra Connect 2016 as New Hydra Project Partner

Wed, 10/19/2016 - 09:27

Skillman Library Digital Scholarship Services team members James Griffin, Digital Library Developer, and Adam Malantonio, UI/Web Developer, represented Lafayette College at the recent Hydra Connect meeting October 3-6 in Boston, MA.  Collaboratively hosted by the Boston Public Library, Northeastern University, WGBH, the Digital Public Library of America, and Tufts University, Hydra Connect brought together diverse stakeholders in Project Hydra.  Hydra is a multi-institutional collaborative community that develops open source software solutions for digital asset management in academic libraries and cultural heritage institutions.

The first small liberal arts college in Hydra, Lafayette College was designated a Hydra Partner in June 2016, thus joining the ranks of large research universities and museums that have hitherto constituted the Hydra community.  Nominated by Princeton University as a result of its innovative digital repository development work, DSS at Lafayette will bring a fresh liberal arts perspective to the national Hydra conversation about what values and priorities should inform developments in digital asset management.

As a Hydra Partner, DSS commits to make substantive development contributions to the Hydra community.  In addition to pioneering the use of Hydra in a liberal arts college library and representing Hydra to peer liberal arts institutions, DSS plans to migrate the MetaDB feature set into a Hydra application.  This will enable other Hydra institutions to use the DSS-developed MetaDB distributed metadata collection tool, the first and only web-based application to split digital collection building tasks among several people.  Originally developed by Eric Luhrs, MetaDB allows librarians to create new projects, define metadata requirements, and import high-resolution master TIF images into the system.  Then, faculty collaborators who are subject specialists, as well as students completing digital archiving tasks as part of their coursework or internships, can access the system remotely and enter descriptive data about each item.  This collaborative approach to digital collection building integrates library preservation, faculty expertise, and undergraduate learning.  In this way, MetaDB is paradigmatic of the liberal arts values DSS brings to Hydra digital repository development.

Thanks to James and Adam for representing DSS and Lafayette College at large at Hydra Connect 2016!

 

 

 

 

Digital Library Developer James Griffin Presents at Digital Scholarly Editions Conference in Graz, Austria

Tue, 10/11/2016 - 12:35

Digital Library Developer James Griffin. Photo credit: Kylie Bailin

Digital Library Developer James Griffin of Skillman Library Digital Scholarship Services recently presented at the Digital Scholarly Editions as Interfaces Conference hosted September 23-24 by the Centre for Information Modelling at Graz University in Austria.  At a panel on “user-oriented approaches,” James reported on his encoding and design work for the Swift Poems Project.  With faculty collaborators James Woolley, Frank Lee and Edna M. Smith Professor of English at Lafayette College, and Stephen Karian, faculty at the University of Missouri, James develops web service infrastructure supporting an ambitious digital humanities initiative to transcribe, collate, and encode a publicly accessible digital archive of the verse canon of Jonathan Swift (1667-1745).  Paul Miller, Visual Resources Curator jointly appointed in Digital Scholarship Services and Fine Arts, has also significantly contributed to the project with metadata and database expertise.  The Swift Poems Project has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and will serve as a digital companion piece to the forthcoming print edition of the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jonathan Swift.

In collaboration with Dr. Woolley, James Griffin is currently developing an API (application programming interface) to collate and automate the encoding of variant poem texts according to the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) guidelines.  Text encoding is a process of structured editorial mark-up that allows scholars to create machine-readable digital editions of texts. Digital editions can be searched, queried, and interpreted based on the information the encoding scholar has embedded in the text.  In addition to his efforts developing a responsive UI (user interface) for the Swift Poems Project, James’s work connecting the project to the TEI community raises the profile and enhances the utility of the project for literary scholars and digital humanities practitioners.

To learn more about what was covered at the Digital Scholarly Editions as Interfaces Conferences, check out the conference Twitter hashtag: #DSEasInterfaces.

Postdoc Michaela Kelly Attends the European Association of Japanese Resource Specialists (EAJRS) Conference in Bucharest

Thu, 09/29/2016 - 11:50

Michaela Kelly, the 2016-2017 Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities at the Skillman Library, was in Bucharest, Romania from September 14-17, 2016, to present the EAIC at the European Association of Japanese Resource Specialists (EAJRS). Drawing together librarians and scholars from Europe, Japan and North America, the EAJRS conference hosted 34 presentations and one resource provider workshop. The four day conference was held in the beautiful Carol I Central University Library at the University of Bucharest.

The exterior of the Carol I Central University Library, Bucharest, Romania

Michaela’s presentation, ‘Building an archive of Japanese images at Lafayette College and creating international partnerships with others,’ offered an introduction to the physical collection held at Lafayette College Special Collections, and the digital East Asia Images Collection (EAIC), supported by Lafayette College Digital Scholarship Services (DSS), that corresponds to it.  Michaela discussed the digitization process, the metadata schema used for images, and the benefits of collaboration with the Kyoto University (CIAS and Dr. Toshihiko Kishi) postcard collection and others. Audience interest centered on the OCM metadata tags and image formats. Michaela received a comment by an audience member who regularly uses the East Asia Images Collection for scholarly projects and wanted to echo its importance to the rest of the audience.

Presentations underway at the Carol I Central University Library at the University of Bucharest

Other topics covered at the conference included the international exchange of librarians between institutions, virtual archives used by scholars, and specific resource introductions: HathiTrust, the National Diet Library Digital Collections, JACAR, Rekihaku’s Metaresource, and a host of others. There was also a roundtable presentation led by Akio Yasue on the conservation and preservation of Japanese library materials in Europe.

One of the many beautiful kuchie prints on display

The EAJRS and University of Bucharest hosts began the conference by spotlighting their University of Bucharest undergraduate Japanese singing group and offered the opportunity to visit a kuchie print exhibit, curated by Ioan Colta of the Romanian Complexul Muzeal Arad, and a showing of ukiyoe prints at the Romanian Academy Library. The 80+ conference participants also attended at dinner gathering at a traditional Romanian restaurant where regional dance and music was on display.

DH Summer Scholars Present to a Full House

Fri, 09/23/2016 - 10:59

Under the leadership of Sarah Morris, Research and Instruction Librarian at the Skillman Library, the 2016 Lafayette College Digital Humanities Summer Scholars undertook independent research projects on such topics as Iranian statecraft, Soviet monument culture in Bulgaria, the misunderstood Moog synthesizer, and histories of Indian Ocean trade and migration.

From left to right: Will Gordon, Johnny Gossick, Tawfiq Alhamedi, Caroline Nawrocki, and Mila Temnyalova.

On Wednesday, five Summer Scholars presented their projects to a packed audience in the Gendebien Room.  In order to pursue their interdisciplinary research questions, students in the program used a variety of tools, platforms, and methods.  In most cases, students combined digital approaches so as to take advantage of unique capabilities.  For instance, Tawfiq Alhamedi used Omeka’s Neatline plug-in along with ArcGIS to reproduce the orientation of medieval Indian Ocean cartography in his project’s interactive map.  Other projects incorporated Scalar, Cytoscape, and TimelineJS, among other tools and platforms.

Mila Temnyalova presents her digital project “Soviet Mo(nu)ments in Bulgaria.”

Tawfiq reflects, “the Digital Humanities Summer Scholarship was a unique and valuable experience for me to explore new methodologies that truly brought my research to life. Working in a creative and supportive environment helped nourish my project from being an abstract idea to becoming a useful digital resource open to anyone interested in my topic.”  DH Summer Scholar Caroline Nawrocki agrees about the distinctive value of the program: “it was an incredibly unique learning experience. It was a constant process of developing knowledge on digital tools, my specific topic, and what it means to be a researcher without being concerned about a grade or with failure.”

Dr. Paul Barclay, who was in attendance at Wednesday’s event, also points out the value of the program in terms of its emphasis on experimentation in undergraduate research: “the program shows the value of letting students explore data, its visualization, and computational methods for humanities research in an independent research setting.”

Check out all of the DH Summer Scholar Projects at the project website!  To learn about Lafayette’s brand new Digital Humanities Club, please contact President Tawfiq Alhamedi (alhamedt@lafayette.edu) or Vice-President John Gossick (gossickj@lafayette.edu).

DSS announces the launch of the Easton Library Company Database

Thu, 12/17/2015 - 13:57

The Easton Library Company project began as an archival project with Associate Professor of English Chris Phillips’ discovery of a set of 18th century library ledgers at the Easton Area Public Library. The ledgers held the detailed records of the patrons of the Easton Library Company, the town’s original subscription library, and presented a bevvy of data regarding the reading habits, community relationships, and family structures of Easton society. Yet this information was contained in fragile, aging ledger books accessible only to local residents.

Phillips, in collaboration with Digital Scholarship Services, began the enormous task of digitizing and transcribing these records with the help of a team of Excel Scholars: Gavin Jones ’14, Elena Principato ’15, Julia Campbell ’15, Cat Miller ’16, Eric Bockol ’16, Venita O’Hanlon ’16, and Sean Cavanagh ’16. Their hard work in deciphering 18th century librarian short hand and in researching local history forms the backbone of this project.

 

The long hours of work and analysis has now culminated in the launch of the Easton Library Company Database. Users can now browse through the ledgers digitized in high-resolution images and explore the reading habits of some of Easton’s most influential residents. The page images are linked to transcriptions that users can read alongside of the original page views.

The information collected from these transcriptions forms the basis for the database. Visitors can also sort the contents of the database through a number of facets including book title, author name, and borrower name allowing a user to see who see who read a particular book, or all the books a particular person read. These same facets can be used to create visualizations of the data that reveal the patterns of reading and lending, and eventually the connections between community members. As more information is added to the database these visualizations will give users a glimpse into the social fabric of early Easton.

To create these tools and visualizations, DSS has made major improvements to the methods for entering new information into the database. Streamlining and refining the entry forms allows for easier data collection, and most importantly, they help to ensure the accuracy and standardization of new information, which then provides for better search results for the user.

The Easton Library Company Database is continually evolving and new data and new features will continue to be added to site alongside of new research and information about the collection as it becomes available.

Explore the project at elc.lafayette.edu.

For more information on starting a digital project with DSS or applying for an internship opportunity contact us at digital@lafayette.edu , or call (610) 330-5796.

Announcing the Memories of Madagascar and Slavery in the Black Atlantic digital project

Wed, 12/16/2015 - 12:18

Associate Professor and Chair of Africana Studies, Wendy Wilson-Fall’s latest book Memories of Madagascar and Slavery in the Black Atlantic has just been released from the University of Ohio Press.
The book takes an interdisciplinary approach in examining family narratives in which descendants describe their Malagasy lineage as part of their identity. The focus is not only on the narrative itself as text, but on the ways that Malagasy ancestry is remembered in contrast to other forgotten or less visible stories of African descent. Narratives are also contrasted with archival materials, providing historical context and at times, historical evidence. For descendants of slaves, given the fracturing of family networks under the conditions of slavery and the erasure of nation, language, and culture that occurred during enslavement, these stories often only remain in fragments, whispers of an ancestor from Madagascar, or a brief mention of heritage or descent in a document. The research also explores the stories of non-slave Malagasy immigrants of the early to mid-nineteenth century, especially sailors and merchants.

In conjunction with the release of this new title, DSS is proud to announce the Mapping Memories of Madagascar digital project. Through this crowd-sourcing project, visitors can use the interactive map to explore the stories told in the book and trace the history of Malagasy presence in the United States in the slavery era.

We invite users to submit their own story for future inclusion on the interactive map. Participants may be descendants of slaves, slave owners, merchants or others such as members of former Yankee sailor families who have ties to the western Indian Ocean. All of these contributors are welcome as the goal of the project is to identify the potential connections between these communities and retrace the steps of an often forgotten history. Even these small fragments can add up to new information and insight.

Professor Wilson Fall’s work in this area of study is ongoing. Her most recent developments have come from her work with Excel student Clara Randimbiarimanana, ’18 that follows the copal trade, a commodity closely linked to Madagascar, and the pepper trade. Investigating these trade routes has led to new information connections that adds new family connections to a growing network. We look forward to watching this project grow organically through user contributions that will, in turn, open new research questions and uncover new histories.

Explore the project at http://digital.lafayette.edu/collections/madagascar

Barclay and Luhrs speak at Harvard’s Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies

Thu, 11/12/2015 - 09:40

Eric Luhrs presenting on the East Asia Image Collection

History Professor Paul Barclay and Director of Digital Scholarship Services Eric Luhrs were invited to participate in a workshop on “Advancing Digital Scholarship in Japanese Studies” at the prestigious Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard University. Their flagship digital project, the East Asia Image Collectionserved as a catalyst for discussion and as an inspiration for new digital scholarship in the field.

The impetus for the invitation was Harvard Yenching Library’s newly acquired collection of ephemera, books, and manuscripts for Japanese-governed Manchukuo (“Manchuria”). Manchukuo, a region that consisted of China’s three northeastern provinces, existed as a state from 1932-1945 and was considered the jewel in the crown of Japanese empire. The new collection includes over 2000 items, including hundreds of postcards, board games, propaganda posters, scrapbooks, and hundreds of rare books. Barclay and Luhrs were asked to help survey the materials due to their expertise with similar materials in the EAIC.

Paul Barclay examining new archival material

Their ten years of experience in collecting, cataloging, and building the East Asia Image Collection, an open access archive of almost 6000 postcards and historical ephemera from the Japanese Empire, have made Luhrs and Barclay a valuable resource in this scholarly arena. In the course of the project they have encountered and overcome numerous complexities in terms of digitization, representation, and managing long-term access and preservation of the digital surrogates. They are well positioned to help others negotiate these hurdles and, more importantly, create the foundations not only to build new archives and collections, but also to connect these collections across institutions.

Over the course of two days, Barclay and Luhrs met both with scholars of Japanese Studies and experts in digital scholarship to discuss best practices and strategies in creating digital scholarship projects.

Paul Barclay presenting his work

During their presentation, “Growing the East Asia Image Collection over a Decade,” Director Luhrs presented on the technical, conceptual, institutional, and administrative aspects of building a world-class digital archive. Barclay explained how the EAIC has drawn volunteers, students, collaborators, and donors into the project over the years.  Barclay focused on three ongoing projects in international collaboration: the Lafayette-Showa Memorial Museum (Tokyo) project to digitize, transcribe, translate, and publish postcard-letters from Japanese families to soldiers in the Philippine Islands in 1945 and 1945; a joint venture between Lafayette and the Puli Municipal Museum in Taiwan to build a digital archive for the Taroko-Japanese War of 1914, and a partnership between Kyoto University and Lafayette College to link digital archives across the Pacific Ocean.

Kuniko McVey, Ted Bestor, and Eric Lurhs

Their second session, “From Shoebox to Online Showcase: How to build a Digital Image Collection” included fellow researchers Ted Bestor, Professor of Anthropology and Director of Harvard’s Reischauer Institute, and Kuniko McVey, Librarian of Japanese Language Materials at Yenching. Using Harvard’s new Manchukuo collection as a focus, this session was a round-table discussion of how scholars should (and shouldn’t) build digital research collections.

Finally, for the conference’s round-up session, Barclay and Luhrs moderated a discussion among thirty scholars, librarians, and technologists about the future of digital scholarship, copyright issues, and best teaching practices.

The focused nature of the conference provided the opportunity for like-minded scholars from a number of prestigious universities and institutions to share resources and solutions. Having the best and brightest of the field assembled in the same location created a unique space for a rich and productive exchange of ideas.

Barclay and Luhrs will return to Harvard in May to continue the conversation. The spring session will have a more specific focus on Harvard’s new Manchuria materials and will work to bring together the strengths of scholars and library scientists from multiple institutions in the development of a new research collection.

DHLaf students present their work at Bucknell Digital Initiatives Conference

Wed, 11/11/2015 - 15:01

Jethro Israel, Ian Morse, Ben Draves, Vincent DeMarco and Feevan Megersa at the Bucknell Digital Scholarship Conference.

This weekend five Lafayette students presented their work at Bucknell University’s Digital Scholarship Conference, “Collaborating Digitally: Engaging Students in Public Scholarship.” The main focus of the conference was on building new ways to connect Digital Humanities and Digital Scholarship with the student experience and on developing new frameworks for including students as meaningful collaborators on digital projects. While many of the presenters focused on students as researchers or contributors to larger projects, our students presented work of their own design.

Feevan Megersa discusses her project on Ethiopian Folktales on a panel presentation.

Feevan Megersa ’17, Ian Morse ’17, and Jethro Israel ’16 presented their work on a panel “Models of Student Engagement in DH” alongside of the Library’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities Emily McGinn. Feevan presented her project “Got Folktales?” an interactive project that maps the themes and morals of a collection of Ethiopian folktales, and Ian presented work from his Solution Based Press Freedom Project. Both projects were developed as part of the Digital Humanities Summer Scholars program. The internship was sponsored by Skillman Library and supported with funding from the Library’s Andrew W. Mellon Grant for Digital Initiatives.

Jethro discussed his history with the McDonogh Project, a digital project that tells the story of Washington Watts McDonogh and David Kinney McDonogh, two emancipated slaves who were educated at Lafayette in the 1830s. Jethro described his trajectory as he moved from a student working on a class project, to an EXCEL scholar creating and managing the data behind the digital exhibit, to developing his own research interests in relation to the larger project.

Vincent DeMarco and Ben Draves during the poster session

Vincent DeMarco ’18 and Ben Draves ’17 were a part of their own separate panel where they  presented their project Tempo of the Times, a data analysis project also developed in the Summer Scholars program that examines key features of popular music including polarity, “hotness” and danceability against economic data over time. They were also asked to present their work during the poster session during which they were able to do live demos of their interactive graphs and predictive models that anticipate future trends in music.

Ian Morse (center) answering questions at the NextGen Plenary session

Ian Morse was also given a second opportunity to present his work at the conference. He was selected as part of the NextGen Plenary session in which a panel of five early career scholars presented their work to the entire body of conference goers. Ian presented his project that used large scale text analysis to investigate press freedom violations surrounding Turkey’s Gezi Park protests. His work dovetailed perfectly with keynote speaker Micki Kaufman’s methods on text analysis on Henry Kissinger’s correspondence.

Lafayette College was well represented with one of the largest contingents of students, all of whom had produced exceptional work that set the standard for undergraduate research in the digital humanities. They showed a professionalism and dedication to their work that stands as a testament to the culture of research and intellectual curiosity at Lafayette. During the course of the conference, all of our students became valuable resources for their peers as well as to faculty and administrators hoping to replicate their same success at other institutions.

To continue to build a community of practitioners and collaborators here at Lafayette, we will be holding a general interest session Wednesday December 2 in the tech lounge (Pardee 28) from 3-5. Our students will be available to talk more about their projects and are hoping to find students interested in starting their own digital projects and collaborating with them in the future. Drop in anytime between three and five.

For more information contact Sarah Morris, Research and Instruction Librarian at morrisse@lafayette.edu.

 

UI/Web Programmer Position

Mon, 10/26/2015 - 22:34

Lafayette College seeks a talented and engaged web programmer to join the Library’s Digital Scholarship Services department. Do you love libraries? Are you passionate about software development? Are you excited by the prospect of designing innovative, elegant interfaces?

The person selected for this position will lead design and web programming efforts for Lafayette Library’s digital repository ecosystem.  We value and support involvement with digital library development communities and encourage close collaboration locally and across institutions. We seek someone who enjoys autonomy and also thrives as an integral part of a dynamic team that is committed to furthering digital research and scholarship. We invite applications from those who share our perspective, particularly women and people from other under-represented groups.

Required Qualifications:

  • Relevant programming experience using modern technologies such as AngularJS, Ruby on Rails, JavaScript, CSS, Sass/Haml or LESS
  • Experience (or strong interest) in agile software development using modern tools for issue tracking, project management, and source control

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Computer Science degree
  • Experience with UX design
  • Familiarity with digital repository frameworks such as Fedora, Hydra, or Islandora
  • Experience with library-specific technologies such as Omeka and Neatline.

If this ad describes you, please send a resume and cover letter explaining your interest and what you can offer our growing development team to: Neil McElroy, Dean of Libraries, Lafayette College, Easton, PA 18042 or via email to: castells@lafayette.edu.

 

New DHLaf Call for Proposals

Tue, 10/20/2015 - 16:53

The Digital Humanities Steering Committee is pleased to announce its latest call for proposals.

View Full Call for Proposals.

 

This semester we’re offering three options. First, we will support professional development related to digital humanities. This support includes travel to conferences or workshops, as well as trips to archives or digital centers in support of digital research projects. We are also happy to support those looking to acquire new skills in the digital humanities and will fund trips to intensive workshops like DHSi and HILT or fees for online courses. Open Call

Second we are continuing our DH in the Classroom program this term. We are offering a $2000 stipend to any instructor who would like to add a digital assignment or project to their class. Digital Scholarship Services (DSS) will help you structure the assignment, identify the most useful methods or tools for achieving your objectives and provide any in class training or workshops you may need for your students. Previous projects have included online exhibits of religious iconography, digital publishing, statistical analysis of text, and the creation of interactive timelines and maps from archival material. Read more about some of these projects in our previous postDue Nov. 20

Finally we’re offering a new option DH Collaboration Across the Curriculum. Similar to the DH in the Classroom grant, this version seeks instructors who are willing to pair their classes across disciplines. This collaboration could mean using a large set of data that one class visualizes in graphs and tables while the other class provides historical or analytical context. It could also mean identifying a large research question that two classes can approach from different angles. Using a client based approach, both classes could identify a need for a particular product, service, or solution. One class could work on developing a prototype while the other works on market research or  historical analysis of the need for this new service or product. We are looking for collaboration broadly defined but one in which both classes benefit from the insights, knowledge, and perspective of the other. Grants of $2000 per instructor will be awarded and DSS will provide guidance and support in the creation of this collaboration. Due Nov. 20

View Full Call for Proposals.

Please contact Emily McGinn, Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities (mcginne@lafayette.edu) for consultation before submitting a proposal. To apply for any of these grants, please fill out our online form.

 

DSS contributes to developer community at HydraConnect 2015

Wed, 10/14/2015 - 11:55

Lafayette’s Digital Scholarship Services is once again in the forefront of library repository development. At this year’s HydraConnect Conference, DSS developer James Griffin shared his work with the burgeoning community of Hydra developers.

Hydra is an Open Source software that, together with the repository system Fedora, forms the basis of many institutional repositories and is the foundation for preservation and discovery for many digital archives. Griffin is part of a working group looking to expand the uses of Hydra to include the preservation and display of GIS data within library repository systems. While this kind of work is largely invisible to the casual user, it can make a lasting impact on future development.

DSS Developer James Griffin presenting on Geospatial Data in Hydra

In designing the architecture of this new functionality, Griffin finds himself in excellent company working with a handful of other like-minded developers from Stanford, Princeton, and the University of Alberta, who form the GIS Data Modeling Working Group. The conference provided the occasion for the group to present their initial data models. In these initial stages, the group has begun to break down the complex data components of GIS files into a structure compatible with the repository’s internal organization and consistent with existing data models for other types of information.

The group participated in a poster session and also sponsored an “unconference” session, a free form discussion whose topics are determined by the conference goers. In addition, Griffin presented a lightning talk on their data model. “Our presentations have generated a lot of interest in how we have addressed our use cases using linked open data in the Resource Description Framework,” explains Griffin. “While few are working on GIS related projects our project gives weight to the idea that Hydra is flexible and versatile. It’s more than just a repository solution.” This work, now cutting edge, will help to guide future development in Hydra and expand its potential applications in digital library infrastructure.

Through Griffin’s work, Lafayette is an increasingly important player in this arena and the working group will present their latest developments next month at the Digital Library Federation conference in Vancouver, and at the Geo4LibCamp at Stanford University in January.

 

Putting the Teacher-Scholar Ideal into Practice: A Liberal Arts College Model for Digital Humanities

Fri, 10/09/2015 - 09:42

Neil Fraistat, Alison Byerly and Paul Barclay

On October 1, President Byerly joined Professor Neil Fraistat, Director of the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, and Professor Paul Barclay (History, Asian Studies) for a public conversation about Digital Humanities, and more specifically, how DH fits into the liberal arts. The event was sponsored by Skillman Library and the Digital Humanities Steering Committee and is part of an ongoing initiative to enrich digital scholarship on campus.

With the benefit of a $700,000, four-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Steering Committee has launched a number of new initiatives on campus, including the DH Summer Scholars internship and DH in the Classroom program. These initiatives are in addition to their continued support of large-scale faculty research projects. The broad spectrum of these programs reveals the Committee’s goals of creating a holistic approach to Digital Scholarship that fosters collaboration across disciplines through project-based learning. In addition, these programs work to build a reciprocal relationship between teaching and research in which digital methods open new research questions while transforming the nature of engagement with humanistic objects of study for both students and faculty.

Alison Byerly and Neil Fraistat

Professor Fraistat joined us to discuss the future of these initiatives as we work to strengthen digital engagement with research and the curriculum. The event prompted an energizing conversation that elucidated the shared goals of the college, the steering committee, and the field of Digital Humanities.

We have included here the full transcript of Professor Barclay’s opening remarks and we look forward to continuing this conversation with the Lafayette community.

 

Opening Remarks by Paul D. Barclay

Good afternoon. Thank you everybody for taking time out of your busy Thursdays to attend this forum. My name is Paul Barclay—I’m a member of the history department–and I’m here today as the chair of the Steering Committee for the Andrew Carnegie Mellon Foundation Digital Humanities grant. This four-year $700,000 grant was awarded to Lafayette College to promote and develop methods for Digital Humanities Teaching and Research. We are currently beginning year three of the grant-period. I’d like to thank Dean of Libraries and Director of the Mellon grant Neil McElroy for orchestrating this event. It also gives me great pleasure to introduce President Alison Byerly, who joins us this afternoon in her capacity as a Professor of English, and noted participant in the national conversation about the place of Digital Humanities in higher education.[1] Last, but of course not least, we are joined by our keynote participant Professor Neil Fraistat, from the University of Maryland. Professor Fraistat is an organizer, advocate, and leading figure in the digital humanities movement. He is currently director of the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, and has served as Chair of the international Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations. Professor Fraistat is a founder and Co-Chair of centerNet, an international network of digital humanities centers as well. I should also mention that Neil Fraistat is prolific scholar in his own right, in addition to his multiple national leadership roles.

A full account of Professor Fraistat’s publications and projects would exhaust our 90-minute program, but I’ll give you a few highlights to indicate his range of interests and accomplishments. He has published widely on the subjects of Romanticism, Textual Studies, and Digital Humanities in such journals as PMLA, Studies in Romanticism, Digital Humanities Quarterly, and Literary and Linguistic Computing. He is also author of the books The Poem and the Book, Poems in Their Place, and The “Prometheus Unbound” Notebooks, and he is the coeditor of Reimagining Textuality: Textual Studies in the Late Age of Print; The Complete Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley (3 vols. to date, and counting); and the Norton Critical Edition of Shelley’s Poetry and Prose.

The Steering Committee thanks you heartily for coming to Lafayette College to share your wisdom and experience with us, and to inspire a new generation of digital humanities scholarship.

Our goal this afternoon, as a panel, is to initiate a discussion with members of the audience about Digital Humanities in the four-year college setting. I’ll make a few prefatory remarks. Then Professors Byerly and Fraistat will each speak for about ten minutes, to provide a context and provoke questions and comments around the issue that brings us together today. Namely, What might a liberal-arts college model for the Digital Humanities look like?

So first off, what is digital humanities anyway? I would consider any approach to humanities scholarship that involves the use of digital tools to query, systematize, analyze, or visualize data, to be Digital Humanities scholarship. From my viewpoint, and we can argue about this in the discussion, digital humanities projects harness the power of computers to ask questions, discern patterns, discover relationships and solve problems that are otherwise nearly intractable. Although digital tools make new modes of inquiry possible, and this is important to emphasize from the outset, they do not necessarily save time—digital humanities research is not in its essence a way to use programming and machines to expedite research that would have taken longer using analog techniques. In fact, as pioneering digital humanities scholar, and previous keynote speaker in this series Willard McCarty has noted, DH projects complicate our approach to texts and data. They are by their nature labor-intensive.[2] Often, it is the collaborative and team-based labor that goes into making texts, images and other materials machine readable, for the purpose of humanistic inquiry that provides the biggest intellectual pay-offs. My own work with librarians, students, and other faculty on digital humanities projects has borne out Professor McCarty’s contention.

Before the Mellon Grant commenced in the fall of 2013, Lafayette College’s Digital Scholarship Services Division had already launched a number of long-term faculty projects. Director Eric Luhrs is here with us this afternoon, and will able to field questions or add more detailed accounts of various projects in the discussion portion of the program. But for now, I’ll just outline the core mission of Digital Scholarship Services at the college.

As a rule, faculty DH projects built in conjunction with Digital Scholarship Services are generative, to borrow a term from Edward Ayers. “Generative,”[3] in this instance, means that DSS projects are made public so that they can be used by anyone with an Internet connection to discover their own patterns and relationships, or draw new inferences, from the texts, images, and other materials that form the core of a faculty DH project. Academic integrity and persistence are other important concerns of the division. The Digital Scholarship Services division launches and maintains DH projects that other scholars can reliably cite with confidence, in the knowledge that this information will be accessible for the foreseeable future. Thus, faculty DH projects require a long-term commitment to digital preservation, which of course involves resources and labor.

In the course of implementing these long-term faculty DH projects, dozens of Lafayette students have been brought on board as researchers, coders, programmers, and translators. These projects are also used in classrooms. So, while the projects are faculty-led and inspired, they do end up having a large impact on students. For the purposes of these prefatory remarks, I call this the “generative scholarship” model for Digital Humanities in a Liberal Arts College.

A more student-centered model, which has demonstrated a number of synergies with the longer-term faculty-led projects, has gained quite a bit of traction in the past year. In large part thanks to the Mellon foundation grant and our DH Post Doc Emily McGinn, a thriving student-led Digital Humanities scene can be said to exist at Lafayette College as we head into year three of our grant period. These are projects designed from the start for classroom use, or as student research projects. “Student-centered” projects do not require the customized programming, or long-term digital preservation, and these projects have considerably widened the scope of DH scholarship at Lafayette College. As a result of this newer approach, we can now say that our classroom projects have reached 14 classes across 9 departments, and over 10% of the student body and 15% of the total faculty have worked on DH projects in some manner.

In my mind, each of these models—the “generative” and “student-centered”—has helped us put the teacher-scholar ideal into practice at Lafayette College. To date, they have complemented each other well, with personnel and projects from one side crossing over to the other as occasion dictates. One of the purposes of tonight’s forum is to maintain the momentum, and to garner support, so that our efforts to build a “liberal-arts college model for the Digital Humanities” at Lafayette College can thrive well beyond the life of this four-year grant-period.

[1] See Alison Byerly, “Digital Humanities, Digitizing Humanity,” Educause Review (May/June 2014), 8-9.

[2] Willard McCarty, “Getting there from here. Remembering the future of digital humanities Roberto Busa Award lecture 2013,” Literary and Linguistic Computing 29, No. 3 (2014), 289.

[3] Edward L. Ayers, “Does Digital Scholarship Have a Future?,” Educause Review (July/August 2013), 34.

GIS Workshop: Exploring Google Maps

Mon, 10/05/2015 - 12:12

There is a lot more to Google Maps than meets the eye. Join John Clark, DSS’ Data Visualization & GIS Librarian, for a glimpse of what goes on “under the hood” of this online mapping resource and how you can use it to make your own customized maps. Participants will learn how to contribute their own content to a Google Map as well as many other tips and tricks for creating useful and well designed maps with nothing more than a web browser. Windows laptops will be provided for all participants, but feel free to bring your own.

This workshop will be held twice, first on October 16 and then repeated on October 21.

Friday,  October 16 12:15 pm to 1:00pm Skillman 003 Wednesday, October 21 12:15 pm to 1:00pm Skillman 004

Lunch provided. Please RSVP John Clark (clarkjh@lafayette.edu), indicating the date you would like to attend.

DHLaf Lunch Series Kicks off with Student Presentations

Fri, 09/25/2015 - 11:41

Ian Morse describing his research

Fifteen students and six faculty and administration members of the DH Mellon Steering Committee gathered for presentations of digital humanities research projects on September 23, 2015, in Kirby 107 as the first of the monthly DH Lunch series of the year. The research grew out of the Digital Humanities Summer Scholars Program funded by the Steering Committee and launched in the summer of 2015. Mellon Foundation Fellow Emily McGinn coordinated the summer research program, and facilitated discussion at today’s event. First up were Vincent DeMarco and Benjamin Draves. Their project, Tempo of the Times, began with a family conversation about depression-era films and how popular arts reflect their historical contexts. To extend this inquiry into the realm of popular music, DeMarco and Draves searched for existing databases of music and ways to break songs down into measurable components. They located several massive datasets, adapted the variables and quantifiers to their own questions, and then went to work. Their current site, as they explained with interactive graphs, presents correlations of economic indicators such as GDP, political indicators such as levels of military spending, with musical variables such as “acousticness” or “loudness” to determine which types of music thrive under what types of epochs.

Ian Morse gave the second presentation. His project is the Solution Based Press Freedom Project. Ian recently studied abroad in Turkey, and his project is an attempt to use a corpus-based methodology to analyze the content of Turkish journalism. Morse mentioned that many global press-freedom indexes fail to control for such variables such as national development, and pay insufficient attention to the quality and tone of reporting as it is affected by political upheavals. Morse has been converting newspaper data to machine readable text, and then using a variety of digital humanities tools find patterns in the data. One of Morse’s next moves is to present his data and preliminary findings to experts on Turkish politics and journalism at a conference at the Bucknell Digital Scholarship Conference “Collaborating Digitally: Engaging Students in Public Scholarship” in November of this year. DeMarco and Draves will also be on the program, as well as other DH summer fellows Feevan Megersa and EXCEL student Jethro Israel.

Dean of Libraries Neil McElroy, Professors Wendy Wilson-Fall (Africana Studies), Tim Laquintano (English), Ben Cohen (Engineering Studies), Paul Barclay (History), and Jessica Carr (Religious Studies), as well as Research Librarian Sarah Morris, were also in attendance to ask questions and participate in the discussion.

The next DHLaf Lunch will be on October 29th in Skillman 003 from 12-1 and will feature a discussion of History Professor Paul Barclay’s recent work in connecting his East Asia Image Collection with a complementary collection at Kyoto University in Japan. 

GIS Workshop: A Very Brief Introduction to Geographical Information Systems (GIS)

Wed, 09/09/2015 - 15:11

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are a powerful, yet easily accessible technology, used for analyzing and mapping information about the world around us.

In this workshop participants will be given an introduction to basic geographic and information science concepts followed by a demonstration of ArcGIS, a popular desktop GIS application available to the Lafayette community at Skillman Library.

A second, optional workshop (Part 2), will be available the following week and will offer hands-on training using WorldMap, a simple, intuitive and free on-line GIS application. You may take the first workshop as a complete, albeit brief, introduction to GIS or you may sign up for the series of two.

Part I: Introduction Weds. Sept. 23 Part II: Workshop (optional) Weds. Sept. 30

Both workshops will take place in Skillman 003 from 12:15pm to 1:00pm. 18 seats available. Lunch provided.

Please RSVP John Clark clarkjh@lafayette.com and indicate if you would like to take one or both workshops and which dates you would like to attend.

 

Summer Scholars Program Introduces Students to DH

Fri, 09/04/2015 - 11:21

This summer Skillman Library launched Lafayette’s first undergraduate digital humanities internship program. The Digital Humanities Summer Scholars program, funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and supported by the Library’s Digital Scholarship Services, offered an internship opportunity for seven students to work on a digital research project of their own design.

The program offered students the space, the time, and the resources to become content creators in their own right. Our call for proposals tapped into the creative energy of the Lafayette student body and yielded proposals that demonstrated exactly the type of inquiry and ingenuity we were hoping for. These seven students were selected from a highly competitive pool of applicants, and represent disciplines from across Lafayette’s academic community:

Ahmed Malik Braxton – Government and Law
Vincent DeMarco – Mathematics
Benjamin Draves – Mathematics
Feevan Megersa – Liberal Arts
Ian Morse – History; Math
Peter Todaro – Government and Law
Miranda Wilcha – Environmental Studies; Anthropology

The six-week course was structured as a workshop during which the students would meet as a group under the instruction of Emily McGinn, Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities at Skillman Library. In the group setting each would present updates on their work, ask for feedback, and troubleshoot any obstacles they might have encountered. Together this group functioned as a microcosm of all digital projects, tackling questions of copyright, access, and authorship in addition to confronting the difficult task of data collection and cleaning.

Most important, the workshop served as a model for project management. Our summer interns deconstructed their proposals and sharpened them into accomplishable tasks and focused hypotheses. In taking the time to define a realistic scope for the project early on, they were able to identify the tools, the resources, and the technical skill they would need to accomplish their goals. Though many digital humanities projects are large scale, long-term projects that take years to build with teams of developers and researchers, our students were able to scope and build smaller scale, yet complex, well-structured projects in a few short weeks.

Each student had their own goals in mind for their project. For some, it will serve as the basis for a senior thesis, for others a sample for a grad school application, or publication. Feevan Megersa and Ian Morse will be joined by EXCEL scholar Jethro Israel to discuss their work as student researchers and project developers at Bucknell’s Digital Humanities Conference this fall. Ian will also present his work as a part of the NextGen Plenary session highlighting student projects and Vincent DeMarco and Ben Draves will be presenting their project during the poster session at the conference.

Lafayette’s is working to provide additional opportunities for undergraduate engagement both on campus and in the wider digital humanities community. As we continue to build the DH community at Lafayette, student engagement is and will continue to be a vital part of our initiative. We strive to cultivate the intellectual curiosity and autonomy our students showed us this summer and look forward to seeing where they go next.

For more information about this program visit sites.lafayette.edu/dhss.

Our Projects

Tempo of the Times
The aim of this project is to discover connections between music and society. Artists set out to create music that entertains, but also seek to create art that represents the times in which they live. This project examines the way in which societal changes shift musical composition. – Vincent DeMarco and Benjamin Draves

Got Folktales?
This project aims to capture Ethiopian folktales and to map reoccurring themes as well as highlight the moral behind each folktale. In order to accurately represent the diverse ethnicities found within the country we have selected five stories from each of the 13 regions within the country- Feevan Megersa

Solution Based Press Freedom Project
Current press freedom indices conflate myriad problems and measures into single values. When searching for solutions to press freedom violations, believing that all countries suffer from similar afflictions is counterproductive. The crux of this project has focused on establishing a method of measuring how we can use digital humanities to see how newspapers react to external events in answering the question “How does press freedom affect the ‘quality’ of journalism?” – Ian Morse

Gentrification and Barry Farms
This project analyzes the economic and social situations of many people experiencing gentrification specifically in Washington D.C. Gentrification will not only have a detrimental impact on the citizens of Barry Farms, but will also be deleterious to the entire city of Washington DC. – Ahmed Braxton

Garden of Easton
The Garden of Easton seeks to aggregate the relevant information to connect local residents to food, whether that be a community garden, a CSA pickup location, a homeless shelter, or a meal center. We do so by providing an all-encompassing Android App, a web-based map, and a plain text list of the food providers and producers in our community so that residents have an easily accessible site to find resources they need. – Miranda Wilcha and Peter Todaro