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Panel: Collaboration and Digital Projects
Digital Initiatives Symposium
  • Matthew Gilchrist, University of Iowa
  • Tom Keegan, University of Iowa
  • Paul Soderdahl, University of Iowa
  • Shannon Davis, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Joel Minor, Washington University in St. Louis
KIPJ Theatre
Start Date
29-4-2015 10:15 AM
End Date
29-4-2015 11:45 AM
In 2011 the University of Iowa Libraries began crowdsourcing the digital transcription of its manuscript archives. Four years and over 50,000 transcribed pages later, that project, known as DIY History, has garnered considerable internet attention via Buzzfeed, Twitter, Tumblr, and the NBC News blog. At the same time, it has been threaded into undergraduate classrooms at Iowa as a means of introducing students to primary source research, information literacy, and multimodal design. Matt Gilchrist and Tom Keegan will discuss how faculty members and librarians collaborated on an assignment that emphasizes course objectives while strengthening student connections to the UI Libraries. That assignment, Archives Alive!, resulted from a partnership between DIY History and Iowa Digital Engagement and Learning (IDEAL). Students are asked to transcribe a document, compose a brief rhetorical analysis and historical contextualization of it, and create screencasts of their work. By making use of narrative primary source material like letters and diary entries, Archives Alive! helps students see themselves in research material. Building an assignment around the crowdsourcing model provides students with two attitudes important to project success: a sense of ownership (through crowdsourced participation) and a sense of purpose (through a dynamic assignment with a real audience). The success of the project rests upon a flexible, design-centered approach to program structure that fosters an audience for library collections while asking students to create work with the public in mind. Paul Soderdahl will discuss the administrative considerations and costs in moving digital library operations from project to program. The UI Libraries have made deliberate efforts over the past several years to achieve this transition – in particular a reorganization of Digital Library Services into Digital Research and Publishing. He will also discuss the relative leap of faith and return on investment associated with large-scale digitization projects and audience engagement. The James Merrill Digital Archive (JMDA) is comprised of digitized Ouija board session transcripts, poem drafts, and other materials toward Merrill’s epic narrative poem, “The Book of Ephraim,” part of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Divine Comedies. The JMDA is the result of expertise and input of many collaborators across the Washington University campus. Shannon Davis and Joel Minor will speak on various aspects of the ongoing project, including successful cross-campus collaboration, employing student workers to perform high-level encoding and exhibit curation, and how Omeka was used to develop the digital archive.
Citation Information
Matthew Gilchrist, Tom Keegan, Paul Soderdahl, Shannon Davis, et al.. "Panel: Collaboration and Digital Projects" (2015)
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