Digital Humanities at SAA 2014

In a week, I’ll be attending my first Society of American Archivists annual meeting – this year’s theme is “ARCHIVES * RECORDS: Ensuring Access.” In order to help sort out which sessions I want to attend, I thought I’d crib from my colleague Mark Sample’s Digital Humanities at MLA 2014, and compile a list of digital humanities-related sessions and events.

Obviously, this list will be biased as to what I consider “digitally-inflected” – for instance, I’m not including any of the pre-conference workshops, although these definitely include options that have a strong digital component, nor am I including sessions/ events that appear to be standards-based (if I did, the list would be almost entirely standards!). This list includes five of the 70 sessions, which means that 7.14% of this year’s sessions are DH-inflected; however, that does not account for day-long events (like the Research Forum or THATCamp SAA), posters, roundtables, or committee meetings, some of which I did include on this list.

Please do let me know if you think I’ve missed a session/ event, or included one that shouldn’t be on the list. As someone whose professional personal interests certainly cross the (perhaps occasionally siloed) archivist-librarian-digital humanist borders, I’m looking forward to discussing DH and plenty of other topics with the crowd at SAA’s largest meeting yet!

These descriptions are copied-and-pasted from the SAA’s online schedule.

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DH 2014 Thoughts & Wrap-Up

Note: Some great DH 2014 resources – dh+lib put up two great wrap-up posts (part one and part two), James Baker posted his (great) notes from DH 2014 on GitHub, and ADHO posted several Storify’s on their account.

Earlier this month, I attended DH 2014 in Lausanne, Switzerland. I got back to the states about a week ago after taking a bit of vacation, so now I have time to write about my experience!

This was my first time attending DH, and it was definitely one of the best/ most productive conferences I’ve been to in the last few years. So, here are some of my highlights from nearly a week in Lausanne:

“Methods for Library Staff Professional Development of Digital Humanities Skills” Workshop.

I found this full-day workshop really interesting – the facilitators (James Baker from The British Library, Chris Bourg and Jacque Hettel from Stanford, Alex Gil from Columbia, Purdom Lindblad and Laura Miller from University of Virginia’s Scholars’ Lab, and Padraic Stack from NIU Maynooth) all gave presentations on DH training initiatives at their organizations, followed by discussion and exercises aimed at helping participants draft their own plans for DH trainings. I loved hearing about the five ongoing initiatives, and I thought the exercises were really helpful in generating new ideas – I’ve never done a design-think before, and my interview partner (shoutout to James Baker!) gave a valuable outsiders perspective. A few patterns emerged as the workshop went on: subject librarians are the point people in the library/ archives world who seem to be engaging with DH, on a wide scale; and many of the facilitators and participants approached DH training through working on projects. Basically, I left the workshop with a bunch of new ideas and new acquaintances to ask for advice from. A+, would workshop again!

c/o Jacque Hettel - some of the post-its I was using to make point of view statements
Photo c/o Jacque Hettel – some of the post-its I was using to make point of view statements.
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Takeaways from Data Driven – Digital Humanities in the Library Conference

Note: this post was originally posted on Davidson College’s Archives & Special Collections blog, and then featured in dh+lib Review‘s “Data Driven Conference Wrap-Up” post, which you can read here.

This past weekend, Jan, Craig, and I attended (and presented at) Data Driven: Digital Humanities in the Library in Charleston, South Carolina. Similarly to when several team members attended the Society of North Carolina Archivists annual conference a few months ago, I thought it would be interesting to compare what the three of us thought of the conference. We each attended a different workshop, although we ended up in many of the same sessions over the course of the weekend.

We each attended a different workshop, although we ended up in many of the same sessions over the course of the weekend.

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Takeaways from SNCA

Note: this post was originally posted on Davidson College’s Archives & Special Collections blog. I also wrote about my experience at SNCA 2014 in my Day of DH 2014 blog.

Professional development is integral to all of the library staff here at Davidson College, so with that in mind, the Discovery Systems team sent three of its members to the Society of North Carolina Archivists (SNCA) annual conference last week – myself, Jan Blodgett, and Susan Kerr. While we all often attend meetings, conferences, and other trainings, we usually reserve our discussion of takeways, thoughts, and interesting ideas to in-person weekly departmental meetings. We thought that my first SNCA meeting would be a great opportunity to compare and contrast what the Davidson attendees got out of the meeting. So, first up: my takeaways!

To start off the morning, Jan moderated the “Publishing and Managing Digital Collections without CONTENTdm” session, which I presented at. The session was a great opportunity to talk about our ongoing development and roll-out of our institutional repository, as well as to hear about how two other institutions are dealing with increasingly larger and larger digital collections.

Moderator and presenters at the “Publishing and Managing Digital Collections without CONTENTdm” session. From left to right: Jan Blodgett, Caitlin Christian-Lamb, Chelcie Rowell (Wake Forest University), and Molly Bragg (Duke University). Photo via Craig Fansler (Wake Forest University); see his post on SNCA here. Molly Bragg also wrote a post about this session – read that here.
Moderator and presenters at the “Publishing and Managing Digital Collections without CONTENTdm” session. From left to right: Jan Blodgett, Caitlin Christian-Lamb, Chelcie Rowell (Wake Forest University), and Molly Bragg (Duke University). Photo via Craig Fansler (Wake Forest University); see his post on SNCA here. Molly Bragg also wrote a post about this session – read that here.

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Day of DH & SNCA 2014

Yesterday was both my first time participating in a Day in the Life of Digital Humanities (Day of DH) and in an annual meeting of the Society of North Carolina Archivists (SNCA).

Day of DH seeks to help define what digital humanists DO, since that’s an oft-asked question, by having people who work in DH document one day of their work-lives. I had meant to participate in the 2013 iteration of Day of DH, but last April 8th I was stuck deep into a full thesis draft hole (plus working on a deadline for my digital libraries class, and ended up feeling sick that day to boot), so the thought of blogging about how stressed I was didn’t appeal to me at all.

One year later, I realized that Day of DH would fall on the same day as the SNCA meeting, which was definitely a day I anticipated being very busy – attending a conference takes up a good deal of attention, plus I knew I was presenting on a panel first thing in the morning and was up for election to SNCA’s exceutive board (as member at large), which would be voted on during the lunch-time business meeting. Add driving across the state and back to all that, and I thought I had a pretty full plate – but that’s exactly what made it an interesting day to document, in my opinion. DH-ers do a lot of different things, and some us happen to be conference-ing while liveblogging, as it turns out!

Read my Day of DH blog here, complete with SNCA takeaways and pictures!

Year’s End

This is going to sound odd, but I just realized it’s a new year. As in, now that it’s 2014, I guess I can accurately reflect on what happened in 2013, which as it turns out, was quite a lot…

GRADUATION. I completed my MSLIS and MA in May of 2013, after three years of study at Simmons College. Grad school was one of the most simultaneously difficult and rewarding things I’ve ever done, and graduation was definitely bittersweet. My last semester was the only one that took place during 2013, and it was also without a doubt one of the hardest for me – I was working on my thesis, taking a demanding digital libraries class, and working at two amazing-but-time-consuming jobs (Adams Papers & metaLAB). I constantly miss taking classes with amazing professors, writing papers, seeing my old grad pals, and getting student discounts on everything. Of course, finishing my degrees means I also finished my…

THESIS. Completing MA History thesis was similarly a challenging and rewarding experience. “Going Down in History: The Collective Memory of the Titanic” ended up netting me a travel grant and a departmental award, and allowed me to (almost) fully explore a topic I’d casually thought about for years. I wouldn’t trade all those tortuously long reading and editing hours for anything (except perhaps for more reading/writing/editing hours – I’m still playing around with ideas of how I can delve further into Titanica…).

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WORK. Perhaps the biggest change of my year was accepting a position at Davidson College and moving in North Carolina in October. It’s my first salaried, full-time gig and changing jobs and moving to an entirely new region has been a bit of a challenge, but overall, I’m very happy with my professional home and the things I get to work on there.

welcome

TRAVEL. I went to the UK (London, Southampton, Belfast), Ireland (Dublin, Cork, Cobh), and Canada (Halifax, Vancouver, Victoria). Stateside, I made lots of trips to Providence, NYC, DC, and Philly. I spent a weekend hiking in the Catskills, and a weekend work-ish trip on Cape Cod (Provincetown & Truro). Since moving to North Carolina, I’ve made weekends trips to Asheville, NC; Atlanta & Athens, GA; and Richmond, VA. I went to conferences/ workshops in: College Park, MD; Victoria, BC; Atlantic City, NJ; Cambridge, MA; and Durham, NC. I feel like I’ve gotten to travel plenty throughout 2013, and I’m hoping for similar/ new travels in 2014.

SNAP Student Experience Series

The Society of American Archivists (SAA)‘s Students and New Professionals (SNAP) Roundtable is a very active group that seeks to fill a void in SAA – namely, to provide a forum for those newly entering the field. One of the ways SNAP does that is by running a blog, including their Year in the Life, SAA 2014 Election Candidate Interviews, and Student Experience blogseries. As a new professional, I definitely appreciate both the SNAP blog and having an official group within SAA to advocate for my needs.

My reflections on the grad school experience was actually the first post in their Student Experience series (and the second was an old colleague of mine from my intern days at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Sami Norling) – check it out here!

A Week in the Life of an Archivist

Note: this post originally appeared in Davidson College’s Archives & Special Collections blog.

Astute readers may have noticed a new name join Jan (the College Archivist and Records Management Coordinator) and Sharon (the Special Collections Outreach Librarian) here on Around the D – mine, as a matter of fact! I joined the staff of E.H. Little Library as the Associate Archivist back in October, and inspired by my old graduate school colleague Stephanie Bennett‘s recent post on what archival processing is all about, I decided to write about what I do on a day-to-day basis. So, notes and highlights on what each day of the first week of classes for the Spring 2014 semester held for the Associate Archivist of Davidson College:

MONDAY (January 13)

Generally, the first thing I do when I get into the office each morning is make a cup of tea and catch up with my inbox. On Monday mornings, there’s usually several dozen unread emails – in part because I subscribe to an assortment of professional listservs.

Post-email-checking, I updated the Archives & Special Collections Twitter, and then went to a Discovery Systems departmental meeting on student workers (possible projects, how many summer students, etc.). I spent the rest of the morning preparing for a class visit to the archives later in the day (including selecting documents and setting up their display with Jan), and working on the Around the D entry to post on Wednesday morning. Sharon and I nailed down a few details related the illumination live demonstration event (set for January 28th, from 11 AM to 12 PM).

After taking a late lunch (1:30 PM to 2:30 PM is my standard), I drafted a short news blurb related to the blog topic for the library’s homepage and updated the Archives & Special Collections Facebook. Then Jan and I hosted the first archives class visit of the semester, Dr. Anelise Shrout‘s HIS 458: American Environments to 1893.

HIS 548 students checking out campus maps.
HIS 548 students checking out campus maps.

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Goodbye to All This

When I moved to Boston three years ago, I instantly hated it – every bad day or negative emotion I had, I blamed squarely on the Hub of the Universe. It didn’t help matters that I had just spent the summer in Austin, TX (a city I was madly in love with), or that I had recently been on two amazing cross-country road trips, or that I had grown up in the shadow of NYC (Boston’s natural enemy, as I was repeatedly reminded), or that I was about to suffer through one of the worst/ snowiest winters Boston had had in years. Boston was cold, foreign, and unfriendly, and I spent the little free time that grad school and work allowed making trips down to see my Providence friends.

The Fenway Victory Gardens in winter.

Over time though, I grew to love Boston. The shift was gradual – from outright hatred to ambivalence, and then slowly to a weird sort of love. I knew I had officially crossed over when a friend of a friend asked me where I was from, and I responded “Boston” rather than “New York” (our mutual friend overheard this, and immediately shouted, “NO SHE’S NOT! She’s a New Yorker!” But then so was he).

Front steps of Harvard’s Widener Library.

Two months ago, I left Boston, but I didn’t really leave it – I moved home to NY but split my week between the two cities, usually taking the train east early in the morning on Tuesdays and then the bus or train back to NY on Thursday or Friday evenings. The commute was designed to save me money, not time or convenience – I could crash at my mom’s in NY, and with friends in Boston during my abbreviated work week. The commute was tiring and being technically “homeless” was an annoyance, but I didn’t mind – I love riding the train, and I liked feeling like I was traveling, even when it was only between two cities that I am intimately familiar with. I was able to hang out with my friends from college and eat delicious pizza, bagels, and potato cones, while still keeping my amazing job and getting to see all my Boston friends. I began taking long walks around Cambridge, trekking from Harvard Square to Central nearly every day, hoarding Mike’s Donuts from Roxbury in my bag while I hunted down the best lattes within a two mile radius of Widener Library (FYI, I’m pretty sure Simon’s Too is God’s Gift to Central). I wandered through the North End for no reason other than that I could. I stayed late at my office every night, met new people, read YA novels on the train, and had more fun than I’d had in months, maybe years. I was finished with graduate school, but occupying that post-grad liminal space where you’re not entirely sure what your future is going to be.

View of the Charles River (and Boston and Cambridge) from the Mass Ave Bridge.

It turns out that my future includes leaving both of these cities that I have a complicated love-hate relationship with – after a lot of thought, I accepted a job in North Carolina. I’m moving to a whole new region in a little over a week, and it feels both exciting and incredibly sad to be leaving behind both the place that I’m from and the place that I’ve grown to love over these last three years.

Pilgrim Beach in Truro, MA.Pilgrim Beach in Truro, MA.

Every College Campus Needs a Henry Moore

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Two Henry Moore sculptures spotted in two days –  on the left, “Four Piece Reclining Figure” (1972-73) at Harvard, my current place of employment; and on the right, “Two Large Forms” (1966-69) at SUNY Purchase, my dearly loved alma mater. On Monday, I decided to swing by the ol’ college while I was in Westchester county so that I could finally touch the sculpture – frankly, it’s surprising I didn’t do it when I was at school there since everyone seemed to have climbed all over it, but I was always a white-gloves-while-touching-art kind of person (probably comes with the whole archivist/ librarian thing). In fact, our student ID’s featured a background of the Henry Moore being clambered on by several students: