Re:Thinking

A blog featuring perspectives from a variety of contributors on topics relating to the emerging digital environment, research, and higher education.
Blog posts published after January 1, 2018, are available at https://www.clir.org/category/rethinking/

Posts

For four packed days (and nights) from April 6th to 9th, close to 200 archivists, curators, scholars and artists gathered at the Library of Congress’ Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation in Culpepper, VA for the tenth iteration of the Orphan Film Symposium. Participants representing institutions throughout North America and more than 16 countries convenedat the LoC’s state-of-the-art facilities (and in-house art deco-style theater), in what is surely a place of pilgrimage for any film lover...
Looking at the titles of presentations and workshops at recent digital library- and curation-related conferences such as the DLF Forum, iPRES, IASSIST, and IDCC, it's hard to miss the popularity of topics related to research data management. Although describing, preserving, and sharing data has become increasingly common, the software tools, parameters, and workflows used to extract knowledge from that data aren't usually so well curated. This hinders the ability of others to extend or replicate...

How much does and should digitization cost?

How much does and should digitization cost? It’s a simple enough question. You take the cost per item, multiply it by the number of items, and you’re done: problem solved. What’s that? You ask what the cost per item is? Well, it depends. . . what type of collection is it? Where is the collection based? Who’s doing the labor? Are there any preservation activities that need to be incorporated into the digitization workflow? How...
First convened in 2013 to reinvigorate and rejuvenate higher education in the United States, the Committee on Coherence at Scale believes that the inherited norms, customs, traditions, and institutions that have structured academic research and teaching have contributed to an expensive, fragmented, and inefficient organization of higher education that now needs to be constructively challenged, redefined, and subsequently reassembled. As the Committee looks ahead, several founding tenets remain in play; we also expect to continue...

Getting the Public to Archive

I am a National Digital Stewardship Resident whose project will end in 49 days. The following post is a reconsideration of my work, an exercise in gazing unflinchingly at the decisions made to establish a personal archiving campaign at the DC Public Library and the implications of compromising in public. My National Digital Stewardship Residency (NDSR) project, “Digital Preservation Access and Education Through the Public Library,” aims to make digital preservation approachable to the general...

Publishing Digital Scholarship

Digital humanists are thinking hard about the shape of their discipline and ways to engage their student and faculty communities in digital research. I’m pleased to have the opportunity to add to the conversation from the perspective of an editor at an academic press. Stanford Press has recently begun to build a publishing program in the digital humanities and social sciences. Thanks to a generous grant from the Mellon Foundation, we are able to offer...

Alt-Ac Advocacy: Or, How to Search Beyond the Tenure Track

It started right after I’d finished my degree: my advisor asked me to participate in a panel about career possibilities for Jewish Studies graduate students to introduce and represent a non-traditional career path. I had just received my PhD from the UCLA History department and was about to start a CLIR Postdoctoral Fellowship at UC Santa Cruz, where I would work as the Digital Humanities Specialist. This position was the result of a yearlong job...

Excellence in Teaching

Often we hear the adage: “those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” Those who have never taught seem to think that teaching is easy. How wrong they are. Indeed, for anyone who has tried to teach it quickly becomes clear that teaching is very hard to do well. It is more likely that those who can “do” cannot teach! But what is to teach well, to be an excellent teacher? I was recently asked...

The Problem is in the Room

Upon returning from any gathering or conference, it often takes a while to process what you’ve learned. So many ideas, thoughts, and inspirations—as well as vast amounts of information—are absorbed in such a short amount of time. However, if the event is truly transformational, what you experienced will reverberate throughout your world for quite some time. I have a deep suspicion that this will be the case for me after attending the Openlab workshop. Described...

Engaging Students in Digital Scholarship

Earlier this month, scholars, technologists, librarians, graduate and undergraduate students met at Bucknell University to discuss challenges and successes in digital scholarship. At the conference, “Collaborating Digitally: Engaging Students in Public Scholarship,” a Twitter feed channeled a shared sentiment: “a common theme at #BUDSC15: how can data visualization generate stories about human history that otherwise could not be imagined?” I approached this question in the work I brought to Bucknell this year. As a Classics...

Hidden Collections for Everyone

Note: This post was published as the epilogue to Collaboration, Innovation, and Models: Proceedings of the CLIR Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives Symposium, released earlier this week. Years ago, when I was working in my studio as a young, starving artist, I heard a radio interview with the renowned violinist and conductor Itzhak Perlman. At one point, Perlman was asked if he thought the highest levels of creative genius were the result of innate...

Culture Under Threat and Digital Libraries

“Terrorists are afraid of history; history delegitimizes them,” Nasser Judeh, deputy prime minister and minister for foreign affairs of Jordan, said, quoting his son, a graduate student studying ancient Middle Eastern art. It was one of many memorable insights and observations at the well-attended symposium, “Culture under Threat: The Security, Economic, and Cultural Impact of Antiquities Trafficking and Terrorist Financing,” held in New York City. Adjunct to the United Nations General Assembly, the symposium was...

Building Operations Coordinator (1808)

Position Number: Building Operations Coordinator (1808) Department: University Library Salary Range: $23.60 - $25.32/hr Work Hours per Week: 35 Band: Coordinator/Analyst A Position Type: Full-time Staff The Building Operations Coordinator’s primary responsibility is to ensure that students, faculty, patrons, and Library staff of the American University will have buildings and spaces that are welcoming and conducive to learning and study. The incumbent helps keep a clean and orderly environment, maintain and enhance all facilities, keep...

All the Names

All the Names Saramago, José. All the Names. Translated by Margaret Jull Costa. San Diego: Harcourt, 2001 [1997]. I find no greater pleasure in academic life than reading a work of prose which captures the essence of an argument or topic I have researched empirically. José Saramago’s All the Names provided just such a pleasure, and has the added advantage of interrogating the place which will be at the center of most of our experiences...

We Are All "Rocket Cat"

In contemplating cover images for the recently published report marking the first decade of the CLIR Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, The Process of Discovery: The CLIR Postdoctoral Fellowship Program and the Future of the Academy, we (the co-editors) considered a variety of options for visualizing both the content of the volume and the experiences of those involved with the program. As we pored over stock photos, vector graphics, and manuscript illustrations, we asked ourselves: Could an...
As a student of library and information sciences, it’s easy to get caught up in the philosophy of librarianship. Between discussions on Foucault and Raganathan, it’s not difficult to find oneself in a universe that seems devoid of any practical application. And while these philosophies are an important foundation for every librarian, it’s amazing to see how so many librarians from around the world, with varying access to a library education, have centered around one...

My Scandalous Future in Libraries

In the last few years I've become mildly addicted to a certain genre of non-fiction that I think of as "Administrative Scandal." Years ago I read and, I admit, loved Nicholson Baker's Double Fold, which is a pretty scathing critique of libraries and librarians and the Library of Congress and the Council on Library and Information Resources for their role in microfilming and destroying physical newspapers and books. And I hoovered up Chasing Aphrodite: The...
It was an honor for me to have attended the Leading Change Institute the week before last, not only because of the august reputation of LCI (and the Frye Institute before that) but also because I was the first museum professional to have done so. I was not surprised to find, over the course of the week, just how many overlapping circles there are the on the imaginary Venn diagram that connects museums– libraries–IT. Nor...

Speak, Memory

Today, CLIR and the Association of Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) released the ARSC Guide to Audio Preservation, which was commissioned and sponsored by the National Recording Preservation Board at Library of Congress. The observations and  recommendations that flow across its pages are articulate and urgent. A national crisis of impending loss confronts us, and we must collaboratively address this challenge. The guide serves as a rigorously detailed handbook that documents the myriad, often intricate problems...
This blog was coauthored by Sara Mannheimer and Jason A. Clark. Metadata is a love note to the future…except when it’s not understood. While attending RDAP 2015 last month, we noted a recurring question from the field of research data management (RDM) when working with partners outside of the library. What we noticed was the term shift around the definition of metadata as people moved between disciplines. Depending on discipline, researchers might use the terms...