Showing posts from September, 2012

What is Special Collections?

Special Collections, or Spec Coll., refers to a group of resources within a library which are ‘special.’ Special Collections frequently include Rare Books, archives, and manuscripts. They can be valuable, but most frequently are rare/unique and fragile. The purpose of special collections is to care for such materials while still keeping them accessible to researchers. Special Collections have slowly developed in Academic Libraries over the last hundred years but have only been viewed as significant research resources worthy of significant development within Universities for the last fifty years or so. ALA has a full list of competencies for Special Collections librarians which can be found here . Special Collections in general and archives in particular face a variety of issues. The first is how to describe their usefulness. They are important research centers. Special Collections may serve as repositories for manuscript and professional collections on a variety of personal and pub

How Should Scholars Publish in a Digital Age?

Last week I wrote about DH being a public service and the difficulty that humanities scholars have created for themselves by only viewing other scholars as their primary audience. This week’s readings for LBSC 751 follow right along that thread by examining humanities publication in this digital age. I heartily agree with Shawn Graham, Guy Massie, and Nadine Feuerherm’s chapter “ The HeritageCrowd Project: A case study in crowdsourcing public history ” in Writing history in the digital age: A born-digital, open-review volume , when they stated that “the need to reach out to the public has never been greater.” In these times of limited resources, humanities scholars need to stop talking to each other about how significant and relevant they are as interpreters of cultural heritage and prove it to the public through their actions! As Leslie Madsen-Brooks (2012) points out in “ ‘I nevertheless am a historian’: Digital historical practice and malpractice around black confederate sold

Perl Programming Assignment 1

I finally finished my Perl programming assignment! I thought that the first two problems for the assignment were really straightforward. They only took me a few hours each and I felt like I was really starting to better understand Perl as I worked on them. However, the last problem stymied me for the previous 4 days. Seriously, FOUR DAYS!!! I knew how I wanted to solve the problem but I was struggling to figure out how to write the final expression and crafting an expression that would work with the appropriate loop was giving me a headache. Eventually I talked to enough people that I was able to work through the problem and come up with a satisfactory solution. Unfortunately none of my other homework got done this weekend, and so I will spend the rest of the week playing catch up :( And I really need to get started on my field study applications for the spring. The first one is due October 1st. Yikes!!! In an effort to try to improve my understanding of programming I signed up for

Microsoft does Digital Humanities?

MITH Digital Dialogue Tin Cupping for Plutonium: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Mothership Donald Brinkman, Microsoft Research 2012 September 10, 12:30-1:45pm So a while ago there was this really interesting DH speaker, Donald Brinkman from Microsoft Research, who was presenting his work on this AIDS Quilt Project at a MITH Digital Dialogue. The first interesting topic that he brought up was the Ribbon Hero add-in / game for Microsoft Office products. It is intended to help individuals improve their Microsoft Office Skills. Sounds fun and kinda nerdy-cool. I’ve downloaded it to my work computer and am interested in seeing how it can help me improve my Office skills. (This was off topic from the main point of the discussion). Microsoft Research took on the AIDS Quilt project because they were asking themselves “What’s the big deal with big data?” Brinkman argued that big data doesn’t necessarily mean deep data. Big Data can’t define love, grief, disease, etc… He

DH is a Service!

Trevor Mu&ntildeoz was kind enough to come to our class last week to discuss Digital Humanities and the statements he made in his blog post. Listening to students ask questions and the answers Mu&ntildeoz provided I found myself having difficulty supporting DH as he articulated it. This was frustrating because I agreed with much of what he wrote on the blog post. When I hear DHers explain DH with an (over) emphasis on computational research, I find myself struggling with my desire to do DH. This might not seem significant to most of my classmates, but I came to library school to learn the skills necessary to participate in the DH community. As I was processing this, I started writing out the following questions in an effort to make sense of what I think DH is and should be: If DH is not a service, then how is it relevant? Is DH supposed to be useful to anyone other than the creators/researchers? If DH is only useful to its creators, then how can we justify the expenditure o

William Morris Exhibit

So last year I was hired to be the project manager for Special Collections @ University of Maryland Libraries 2012-2013 exhibit. I was very excited to get to work on the project because I would love to work on exhibits full time someday after completing my MLS. I also am strongly interested in creating digital exhibits / learning modules from primary source materials ( dream job ). I was thrilled to get to take part in the exhibit (I also really enjoyed the subject - William Morris). For me one of the best parts was learning that there would be a digital exhibit. The digital exhibit would be loaded into a template created by a previous graduate assistant, so I wouldn't need to design the whole thing from scratch, but I could modify as necessary. I was especially happy when the template creator got a full time job prior to the exhibit being completed which made authoring the digital exhibit my responsibility. I did have some help from student volunteers whose work I oversaw. Bu

Practicing with Perl

Another night of INFM 743 and more programming. Last week I was able to spend more time practicing Perl and I think I made strides with understanding the language. I am beginning to draw stronger correlations between Perl and other foreign languages I have studied. I think making flashcards of some of the basics of Perl might be helpful, especially in terms of preparing for the midterm. I was just about to start making flashcards when the first homework assignment arrived. ( I wasn't ready yet! ) Luckily it didn't look impossible. I was able to get the first problem done before class except for one little bug. It took me a while (and some help from friends) to figure out that my 'less than' and 'greater than' signs were backwards ( Am I too old to get an IEP for dyscalculia ? ). Anyways, I really enjoyed working on the homework. Unlike most of my other classes where the homework is pretty much just read (and occasionally write papers) writing a script/program

Digital Humanities + Librarians

For tonight's LBSC 751 I read Matt Kirschenbaum's " What is Digital Humanities and What's It Doing in English Departments ?" and two blog posts about the place of Digital Humanities in the (Academic) Library by Miriam Posner and Trevor Mu&ntildeoz. This is the second or third time I've been assigned the article by Kirschenbaum but the first time I've gotten around to reading all of it ( read it first this time ). The article was a pretty straightforward history and definition of Digital Humanities prior to a quick overview of the benefits of Digital Humanities for university English departments. I found the two blog posts and their accompanying comments incredibly engrossing. Posner's blog eliciting feedback on the challenges of doing Digital Humanities in libraries for an upcoming article listed several difficulties and I had issues with most of them. So I'll just go down the list addressing each: Insufficient Training Opportunities If

Introducing: Management History

So last night's LBSC 635 was much improved. I found out that I had been doing the required reading and all of the supplemental suggested readings (Ms. DTM struck again). So I have much less homework than I realized. Yipee! Also, I felt like I was starting to get a handle on the jargon used in the last class. And I really enjoyed the introduction to management theory that we had last night. Allow me to start by clearing up the jargon. The key terms for LBSC 635 this semester are: Planning, Organizing, Staffing, Leading, and Controlling. I'm still having a hard time differentiating these concepts in my mind. To me planning, organizing, leading, and controlling (to a lesser extent) really are all synonyms. But I guess over the course of this class I will learn how to differentiate between them. So we did a very brief overview of scientific management, human relations management, and systems management. Scientific management focuses on the work being done. The point of scienti

Confused by Digital Humanities?

So this post about the LBSC 751 readings is late because I wanted to take time to read the essay which I did not get to before class ( and turned out to be the most interesting one in class discussion ). The article is Christine Borgman's (2009) "The Digital Future is Now: A Call to Action for the Humanities." While the article is intended to be a kick in the pants to humanities scholars to get on the digital bandwagon, I found it comforting. I have been drawn to the digital humanities by a desire to see more special collection / cultural heritage materials digitized in a way that will increase their access and use for educational purposes. However over the last year much of the most current talk about DH that I encountered seemed to emphasize DH scholarship for the purpose of narrow areas of study within the humanities and internet applications that didn't appear readily applicable to other projects. It seemed to me that the field was focusing on spending hundreds of

Looping Perls

Another night of INFM 743 has come and gone. Class was still good and I felt like I understood as much as could be expected (whoever decided on 3 hour long classes in computer programming needs some instructional design lessons). My brain felt full about 2/3 of the way through class. Prior to hitting the computers with the meat of the course for the evening there was the presentation of this great website 20 Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web . Which is visually very attractive and accessibly informative ( think I just made up a phrase ). There was also a conversation about boss v. bossette to which my reply can be found on the right. I found the image on and before that it was on a tumblr blog which I didn't have access to so my citation will have to end here. Tonight's coursework was devoted to Perl loops and arrays. By the time we had finished going through the loops portion of the ppt I was feeling pretty comfortable with the basics of Perl syn

My First MOOC

So this summer, being a lifelong learner and all, I decided to jump on the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) bandwagon. In case you are unfamiliar with MOOCs they are online university level courses that are open to anyone with internet access. Leading MOOC organizations include Coursera , edX , and Udacity (among many others). Participants do the reading / exercises and either listen to or watch the lectures. They choose if they want to complete the assessments or not and at the end participants might receive a certificate of completion of some sort. My first MOOC was Google's Power Searching course in late July. It was only a three week course and a new unit with activities was posted everyday. After the first week there was a mid-term assessment which participants had several days to complete. The second half followed the same format. I honestly felt a little rushed. Every day I received a reminder email to access that day's lesson (considerate or nagging - depends

Management = Jargon :(

So last night was the first time LBSC 635: Management and Administration for the Information Professional met. The instructors seem expert and definitely have interesting professional backgrounds. (I much prefer a class taught by practitioners as opposed to theorists.) They had all the information for the course laid out (ad nauseum) but the reading list wasn't actually dated, so that was a little confusing. This was the only class where there was pre-work for the first night of class (which I was surprised to find really interesting) and so it was nice to show up to class and feel like were were going to dig right in. After the obligatory 1st day business (thanks for agreeing to partner with me Abby, Alana, and Kelly!) the instructor jumped into the lecture. Immediately my head started swimming and I felt completely lost. I don't understand what went wrong! I had done the reading prior to class (mostly) and had even gone through the powerpoint and created my own guided not