Creating the Future of Digital Scholarship Together: Collaboration from Within Your Library

More than 100 people filled the room for the program “Creating the Future of Digital Scholarship Together: Collaboration from Within Your Library” held on Saturday, June 24, 2017 at McCormick Place in Chicago. The program was co-sponsored by the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA), the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) Digital Humanities Interest Group, and the ALCTS Cataloging and Metadata Management Section (CaMMS)—units within ALA where many library collaborators who provide digital scholarship services find their home. From their perspectives as both digital scholarship specialists and metadata specialists, panelists described the collaborative infrastructure that underpins new forms of faculty and student scholarship.

Two conference slides juxtaposed

Matt Carruthers (University of Michigan) delivered a presentation titled “Connecting the Dots: Using Digital Scholarship Methods to Facilitate New Modes of Discovery in Special Collections.” Carruthers described project to create a proof of concept for creating an on-demand visualization of collections data customized to a specific research question. Archival materials are deeply inter-relational, but library discovery tools such as the catalog and the finding aid don’t always surface relationships among and within collections and entities. What would it take to create a research tool that would allow the inquirer—unmediated—to create visualizations tailored to their own inquiry? Two special collections librarians, one digital scholarship librarian, and one metadata specialist pooled their knowledge of collections, metadata structures, and digital methods in order to pursue just that question.

Laurie Allen (University of Pennsylvania) delivered a presentation titled “New Kinds of Collections: New Kinds of Collaborations.” Allen showcased two projects, Data Refuge and Collections as Data, that expand the capacity of faculty and students to create scholarship in new forms. The Collections as Data effort (supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services) offers a framework for designing digital collections that support computationally-driven research and teaching. Data Refuge offers a robust repository for federal climate and environmental data. More importantly, however, Data Refuge bridges the “curious distance” between the library community and the open data community, modeling how coders, civic technology advocates, digital librarians, digital preservation experts, catalogers, archivists, and “metadata-ists” of all stripes can work together to save at-risk data.

Amy Hunsaker and Dana Miller (University of Nevada, Reno) delivered a presentation titled “Once Upon a Name in the West: Name Authority Work as a Collaborative Experiment.” They and colleagues across their organization developed a collaborative process for creating name authority records. Digital Initiatives, Cataloging and Metadata, and Special Collections and Archives (SCUA) had been three islands when it came to creating access points. Now, as library staff encounter names of individuals who do not appear in the Library of Congress Name Authority File (LCNAF) while processing or digitizing archival collections, Digital Initiatives and SCUA submit information about these individuals to an Airtable form, which corresponds to required and recommended fields in name authority records. This queue is reviewed once a month by a cataloger or metadata specialist. This form bridges the three organizational islands, making use of each contributor’s particular deep knowledge in order to connect researchers with collections.

For those who weren’t able to be there in person, fear not! The program was recorded. Conference attendees can access presentation slides and audio by logging into the conference scheduler and viewing the program description. All other ALA members can purchase all available recordings for $99.

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