Archive for the ‘Conference’ Category

SHARP 2013 Digital Projects and Tools Showcase

July 29, 2013

In mid-July the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading & Publishing (SHARP) met for its twenty-first annual conference, “Geographies of the Book,” in Philadelphia. Hosted by University of Pennsylvania, the conference included a three-hour, stand-alone digital showcase on Saturday, July 20th. Before I turn to the sixteen projects featured in the showcase, a few words about the history of digital sessions at SHARP are in order.

The tradition of showcasing digital projects at SHARP conferences was begun by Dr. Katherine Harris (San Jose University) for the 2008 conference held in Oxford, England. Currently serving as the E-Resources Review Editor for SHARP News, Dr. Harris continued to organize showcases for subsequent conferences. These highly popular sessions ran concurrently with other sessions. Although the 2011 Washington, DC organizers had attempted to find space to hold a stand-alone session that would not compete with other panels, space limitations prevented this desire from becoming a reality. A successful digital project session for the DC conference, however, was organized once again by Kathy Harris. Yet, the 2013 Digital Showcase at Penn marked the first time that the demonstrations of new digital projects and tools at SHARP had a dedicated time slot of its own as well as a setting well-suited to such an exhibition.

With a dedicated three-hour running time, the digital showcase ran from 12:30 to 3:30 pm; it competed for attention with parallel programming only during its final hour. The showcase’s location in Penn’s Houston Hall’s Hall of Flags easily accommodated 16 six-foot tables, each with its own monitor, and afforded the room for numerous attendees to navigate the various stations with ease.

Mitch Fraas (UPenn) demonstrates his project.
Photo credit: Alex Franklin (Univ. of Oxford)

Alan Galey (UToronto) demonstrates his project.
Photo credit: Alex Franklin (Univ. of Oxford)

The following is a list of the sixteen projects:

Eight of the sixteen projects deal directly with the early modern period, and at least two–Mark Algee-Hewitt and Tom Mole’s Bibliograph and Tim Stinson’s ARC and Collex–extend beyond the historical confines of the early modern but possess specific relevance to the period. I have counted Alan Galey’s The Borders of the Book: Visualizing Paratexts and Marginalia in Multiple Copies and Editions among the early modern projects because his work relies on texts from this period. Yet, his work on digital visualizations of differences in paratextual features and different readers’ marginalia found in multiple copies of the same books has larger application, too. All of the projects, no matter what the period, embody approaches and strategies afforded by the digital that can help advance work in book history and related fields. The projects are also at various stages–and you will notice that some have links, and some don’t because they are either in very early stages or simply not ready for widespread release. Bibliograph, for instance, is currently a prototype, with a beta version in the works for testing; the project launch date is aimed for 2014 or 2015.

END: Early Novels Database is a collaborative project involving several Philadelphia academic institutions but still in the midst of digitization and construction. In contrast, the Eighteenth-Century English Grammars Database is, in one sense, “complete, but as Professor Yáñez-Bouza noted, it is also “an open-end project because one can always add more grammars and some of the fields could be completed with more information had we the resources to look into contemporary book reviews and sales catalogues (e.g. the fields Price and Target Audience).”

Several of the projects have made previous appearances in EMOB posts. A post last June mentioned ARC (Advanced Research Consortium), and it is very good to see the progress since then. The Mellon grant that the Early Modern OCR Project (see the entry for Jacob Heil) received was announced in a post last fall. More recently, EMOB devoted a post to the image-matching software developed at the Bodleian that Alex Franklin presented at SHARP. Finally, the Mapping the Republic of Letters project the EMOB discussed in a post several years ago, served as the inspiration for Mitch Fraas’s Expanding the Republic of Letters: India and the Circulation of Ideas in the Late Eighteenth Century.

Explore and comment!

Preserving Digital Archives

April 28, 2013

Most attendees at the Beinecke Library’s recent conference on digital archiving–Beyond the Text: Literary Archives in the 21st Century“–arrived equipped with the idea that there is no preservation without loss.

What may have given some attendees pause, particularly those who work primarily on the first two centuries following the Reformation, is how much 21st-century digital stuff is being preserved–and how idiosyncratic the process of selection can be.

Faced with the data deluge of a contemporary literary figure’s electronic correspondence, for example, how do archivists determine what gets archived and what gets tossed?  Now that archiving can begin during a writer’s or publisher’s lifetime, without a family member’s interference (think Cassandra Austen), who shapes the archive?  And if digital archivists shape the archive, what principles of retention do they use?  Where do their loyalties lie? With the author?  Or with the data-hungry and feverishly scandal-mongering scholars of posterity?

The two-day conference raised unresolved and provocative questions, many of which focused on the problem of selection.  Fran Baker, the Assistant Archivist for John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester, discussed the complexity of archiving the Carcanet editorial papers, including email.  Hearing about the decision-making process determining what stays and what gets tossed may not seem new to librarians familiar with the problem of sorting and discarding, but in the context of shaping an archive, that decision-making process and its likelihood of error takes on urgency.

There were stories of forensic success, the most notable of which is Matthew Kirschenbaum’s narrative of the extensive and collective effort tracking down William Gibson’s electronic poem, “Agrippa,” which was designed to encrypt itself after a single reading.  That a text programmed to go away can be recovered suggests both the value of collaborating on large digital projects like The Agrippa Files and the perils of assuming that an author has control over her or his electronic archives.  Similarly, Beth Luey’s account of the rich storehouse of data contained in publishers’ records–sales data, copies printed, copies sold, print runs, design decisions, contracts, marketing files, legal disputes, reviews, book jacket design, subsidiary rights, and so forth–both encouraged work on publishers’ records and raised ethical and legal issues.  In the discussion that followed, for example, it became clear that though some publishers did not retain rejected manuscripts, others did, including pertinent correspondence and readers’ reports.

The Keynote talk by David Sutton noted that literary manuscripts are like no other manuscripts in that they offer insights into the act of creation.  He showcased ongoing projects that promote an awareness of digital literary archives:

Hazel Carby’s eloquent, harrowing, and culturally resonant account of tracing her family genealogy back to a slave owner’s carefully archived records, reminded everyone that archives preserve both the beautiful and the monstrous.

Diane Ducharme drew on her experience at the Beinecke to warn that however much we may desire an unmediated past and a pristine archival order free from editing and explicating, all archives arrive shaped and selected.  Her discussion underscored the importance of searching for the traces of a previous archivist’s work.

Micki McGee described her experience with the Yaddo Archive Project, which aims at providing visualizations of the social network of writers who worked at Yaddo.  She described the process of seeking a relational database with social network mapping and a visualization widget.  Though the project, Yaddo Circles, requires authentication and is not yet available for public view, this vimeo provides an overview.  Clicking here reveals the kind of relational visualization this project might produce.

McGee also recommended looking at the following projects:

These projects have potential for helping us recover the intensely sociable and highly competitive literary worlds of the long eighteenth century.   Like the many other provocative and interesting papers and introductions to sessions, they point a way forward even as they raise methodological, logistical, and even ethical questions.

This conference made clear the value of a longer conference, with sessions focusing on specific problems posed by digital archives of material both old and new.  I welcome contributions by others who attended the conference to help complete this cursory overview.

CFP: EEBO, ECCO, and Burney as Tools for Bibliography and Book History

August 26, 2012

American Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies (ASECS) 2013 conference, Cleveland, Ohio, April 4 -7.

EEBO, ECCO, and Burney as Tools for Bibliography and Book History (Roundtable)
(Society for the History of Authorship, Reading & Publishing (SHARP) and the Bibliography Society of America (BSA) Organizers: Eleanor F. Shevlin and Anna Battigelli

ProQuest‘s Early English Books Online (EEBO) and Gale‘s Eighteenth-Century Collections Online (ECCO) and its Burney 17th- and 18th-Century Newspaper Collection are transforming the landscape of eighteenth-century scholarship and teaching. While these commercial databases are well known for affording unprecedented access to early modern works, their full potential has yet to be realized. Aimed at advancing these tools’ usefulness, this roundtable seeks four to five ten-minute presentations that demonstrate ways in which these textabases can further work in book history and bibliography. Possible topics include using EEBO, ECCO, and/or Burney textbases to uncover, amend, or enhance information about the creation, production, circulation, or consumption of texts in the long eighteenth century; employing these tools to illustrate the importance of bibliographical knowledge and practices; applying their search capabilities to trace details about authors, printers, booksellers, paratextual elements, distribution networks, illustrations, translators (and translations), readers, pricing, and more; exploring the ways these digital tools are affecting or even reconfiguring the methodologies and research practices of book historians and bibliographers. Presentations that focus on EEBO Interactions (EI), a scholarly networking forum available to both EEBO subscribers and nonsubscribers, are especially welcomed. So too are examples of classroom exercises, course assignments, or advanced undergraduate or graduate seminars designed around one or more of these databases.

Abstracts of 250-words should be emailed to Eleanor Shevlin (eshevlin “AT” wcupa.edu) and Anna Battigelli (a.battigelli “AT” att.net). Proposers need not be members of SHARP or BSA to submit, but panelists must be members of both ASECS and either BSA or SHARP in order to present. For questions about SHARP membership, please direct inquiries to Eleanor Shevlin at eshevlin “AT” wcupa.edu. For questions about BSA membership,please direct inquiries to Catherine Parisian at catherine.parisian “AT” uncp.edu.

ASECS 2011 Sessions on Electronic Resources and Related Topics

February 16, 2011

Below are sessions related to the digital humanities, electronic resources, or book history at the upcoming annual meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies in Vancouver.  If you would like a session included in the list below, please let me know.

8-9:30 Thursday, March 17

9. “Media Technologies and Mediation in Intercultural Contact”

(Roundtable) Pavilion Ballroom D

Chair: Scarlet BOWEN, University of Colorado, Boulder

1. Mary Helen MCMURRAN, University of Western Ontario

2. Neil CHUDGAR, Macalester College

3. Jordan STEIN, University of Colorado, Boulder

9:45-11:15 Thursday, March 17

19. “Scholarship and Digital Humanities, Part I: Editing and

Publishing” (Roundtable) Grand Ballroom BC

Chair: Lorna CLYMER, California State University, Bakersfield

1. Timothy ERWIN, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

2. Christopher MOUNSEY, University of Winchester

3. Eleanor SHEVLIN, West Chester University

4. Christopher VILMAR, Salisbury University

23. “Britain 2.0: The New New British Studies?” (Roundtable)

Chair: Leith DAVIS, Simon Fraser University Cracked Ice Lounge

1. James MULHOLLAND, Wheaton College

2. Michael BROWN, Aberdeen University

3. Eoin MAGENNIS, Eighteenth-Century Ireland Society

26. “Eighteenth-Century Reception Studies” – I Port Hardy

Chair: Marta KVANDE, Texas Tech University

1. Alise JAMESON, Ghent University, “The Influence of Gerard

Langbaine’s Seventeeth-Century Play Catalogues on Eighteenth-

Century Criticism and Authorship Ideals”

2. Diana SOLOMON, Simon Fraser University, “Sex and Solidarity:

Restoration Actresses and Female Audiences”

3. Jennifer BATT, University of Oxford, “The Digital Miscellanies Index

and the Reception of Eighteenth-Century Poetry”

4. Michael EDSON, University of Delaware, “From Rural Retreat to Grub

Street: The Audiences of Retirement Poetry”

29. “Bodies, Affect, Reading” Parksville

Chair: David A. BREWER, The Ohio State University

1. Amelia WORSLEY, Princeton University, “Lonely Readers in the Long

Eighteenth Century”

2. Amit YAHAV, University of Haifa, “Rhythm, Sympathy, and Reading

Out Loud”

3. Wendy LEE, Yale University, “A Case for Impassivity”

11:30-1pm, Thursday, March 17

38. “Scholarship and Digital Humanities, Part II: Authoritative

Sources” (Roundtable) Grand Ballroom BC

Chair: Christopher VILMAR, Salisbury State University

1. Katherine ELLISON, Illinois State University

2. Ben PAULEY, Eastern Connecticut State University

3. Adam ROUNCE, Manchester Metropolitan University

4. Brian GEIGER, University of California, Riverside

5. Lorna CLYMER, California State University, Bakersfield

2:30-4 Thursday, March 17

56. “Scholarship and Digital Humanities, Part III: Materials for

Research and Teaching” (Roundtable) Grand Ballroom BC

Chair: Bridget KEEGAN, Creighton University

1. Mark ALGEE-HEWITT, McGill University

2. Anna BATTIGELLI, State University of New York, Plattsburgh

3. Ingrid HORROCKS, Massey University

4. John O’BRIEN AND Brad PASANEK, University of Virginia

59. “The Private Library” Pavilion Ballroom D

Chair: Stephen H. GREGG, Bath Spa University

1. Laura AURICCHIO, Parsons the New School for Design, “Lafayette’s

Library and Masculine Self-Fashioning”

2. Nancy B. DUPREE, University of Alabama, “The Life and Death of a

Library: The Collection of John Joachim Zubly”

2. Meghan PARKER, Texas A&M University, “Private Library, Public

Memory”

3. Mark TOWSEY, University of Liverpool, “‘The Talent Hid in a

Napkin’: Borrowing Private Books in Eighteenth-Century Scotland”

66. “Editing the Eighteenth Century for the Twenty-First Century

Classroom” (Roundtable) Junior Ballroom B

Chair: Evan DAVIS, Hampden-Sydney College

1. Joseph BARTOLOMEO, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

2. Linda BREE, Cambridge University Press

3. Anna LOTT, University of North Alabama

4. Marjorie MATHER, Broadview Press

5. Laura RUNGE, University of South Florida

9:45-11:15 a.m, Friday, March 18

102. “The Eighteenth Century in the Twenty-First: The Impact of the Digital Humanities” (Digital Humanities Caucus) (Roundtable)

Grand Ballroom BC

Chair: George H. WILLIAMS, University of South Carolina, Upstate

1. Katherine ELLISON, Illinois State University

2. Michael SIMEONE, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

3. Elizabeth Franklin LEWIS, University of Mary Washington

4. Kelley ROWLEY, Cayuga Community College

11:30-1 p.m. Friday, March 18

130. “Writing and Print: Uses, Interactions, Cohabitation” – II

(Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing,

SHARP) Junior Ballroom D

Chair: Eleanor SHEVLIN, West Chester University

1. Shannon L. REED, Cornell College, “The Enactment of Theory:

Literary Commonplace Books in the Eighteenth Century”

2. Miranda YAGGI, Indiana University, “‘A Method So Entirely New’:

Female Literati and Hybrid Forms of Eighteenth-Century Novel

Criticism”

3. Shirley TUNG, University of California, Los Angeles, “Manuscripts

‘Mangled and Falsify’d’: Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s ‘1736.

Address’d T –‘ and The London Magazine”

4. A. Franklin PARKS, Frostburg State University, “Colonial

American Printers and the Transformation from Oral-Scribal to Print

Culture”

132. The Eighteenth Century on Film Orca

(Northeast American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies)

Chair: John H. O’NEILL, Hamilton College

1. Elizabeth KRAFT, University of Georgia, “The King on the Screen”

2. Natania MEEKER, University of Southern California, “Le Bonheur au

féminin: Passion and Illusion in Du Châtelet and Varda”

3. David RICHTER, Graduate Center, City University of New York,

“Writing Lives and Telling Stories: The Narrative Ethics of the

Jane Austen Biopics”

2:30-4 p.m., Friday, March 18

146. “New Media In the Eighteenth Century” (New Lights Forum:

Contemporary Perspectives on the Enlightenment) Port Alberni

Chair: Jennifer VANDERHEYDEN, Marquette University

1. Lisa MARUCA, Wayne State University, “From Body to Book: Media

Representations in Eighteenth-Century Education”

2. Caroline STONE, University of Florida, “Publick Occurences and the

Digital Divide: The Influence of Technological Borders on Emergent

Forms of Media”

3. George H. WILLAMS, University of South Carolina, Upstate,

“Creating Our Own Tools? Leadership and Independence in

Eighteenth-Century Digital Scholarship”

8-9:30 a.m., Saturday, March 19

156. “The Circulating Library and the Novel in the Long Eighteenth

Century” Orca

Chair: Hannah DOHERTY, Stanford University

1. Lesley GOODMAN, Harvard University, “Under the Sign of the

Minerva: A Case of Literary Branding”

2. Natalie PHILLIPS, Stanford University, “Richardson’s Clarissa and the

Circulating Library”

3. Elizabeth NEIMAN, University of Maine, “Novels Begetting Novels—

and Novelists: Reading authority in (and into) Minerva Press Formulas

9:45-11:15, Saturday, March 19

170. “Will Tomorrow’s University Be Able to Afford the Eighteenth

Century? If So, How and Why? (Roundtable) (New Lights Forum:

Contemporary Perspectives on the Enlightenment) Parksville

Chair: Julie Candler HAYES, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

1. Downing A. THOMAS, University of Iowa

2. Daniel BREWER, University of Minnesota

3. Melissa MOWRY, St. John’s University

4. Albert J. RIVERO, Marquette University

173. “Colloquy with Matt Cohen on The Networked Wilderness” (Roundtable) Port Alberni

Chair: Dennis MOORE, Florida State University

1. Birgit Brander RASMUSSEN, Yale University

2. Bryce TRAISTER, University of Western Ontario

3. Cristobal SILVA, Columbia University

4. Jeffrey GLOVER, Loyola University, Chicago

5. Matt COHEN, University of Texas at Austin

6. Sarah RIVETT, Princeton University

177. “Crowding-sourcing and Collaboration: Community-Based

Projects in Eighteenth-Century Studies” Grand Ballroom D

Chair: Bridget DRAXLER, University of Iowa

1. Margaret WYE, Rockhurst University, “The Challenge and

Exhilaration of Collaboration: From Post Grad to Undergrad, It’s All

Research, All the Time”

2. Victoria Marrs FLADUNG, Rockhurst University, “Undergraduate

Research: How I Learned to Love Irony in Jane Austen’s Mansfield

Park

3. Laura MANDELL, Miami University, “Crowd-sourcing the Archive:

18thConnect.org”

Respondent: Elizabeth GOODHUE, University of California, Los Angeles

2-3:30 p.m., Saturday, March 19

181. Evaluating Digital Work: Projects, Programs and Peer Review”

(Digital Humanities Caucus) (Roundtable) Grand Ballroom BC

Chair: Lisa MARUCA, Wayne State University

1. Holly Faith NELSON, Trinity Western University

2. Bill BLAKE, University of Wisconsin, Madison

3. Allison MURI, University of Saskatchewan

4. Laura MCGRANE, Haverford College

5. Gaye ASHFORD, Dublin City University

6. Anne Marie HERRON, Dublin City University

184. New Approaches to Teaching the Great (and not-so-great) Texts of

the Eighteenth Century” (Roundtable) (Graduate Student Caucus)

Chair: Jarrod HURLBERT, Marquette University Junior Ballroom B

1. Christian BEDNAR, North Shore Community College

2. Ann CAMPBELL, Boise State University

3. Christopher NAGLE, Western Michigan University

4. Peggy THOMPSON, Agnes Scott College

5. Deborah WEISS, University of Alabama

193. “Marketing and Selling Books in Eighteenth-Century France: People, Places and Practices” Orca

Chair: Reed BENHAMOU, Indiana University

1. Thierry RIGOGNE, Fordham University, “Marketing Literature and

Selling Books in the Parisian Café, 1680-1789”

2. Marie-Claude FELTON, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales,

Paris and Université du Québec à Montréal, “Cutting out the

Middlemen: Self-Publishing Authors and their Autonomous

Commercial Endeavors in the Parisian Literary Market, 1750-1791”

3. Paul BENHAMOU, Purdue University, “Le Commerce de la lecture à

Lyon dans la seconde moitié du 18ème siècle: Le cas du libraire-

imprimeur Reguilliat”

CFP: The Book in Art & Science

November 4, 2010

Call for Papers

Sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, the Library of Congress, the Corcoran College of Art + Design, and the Folger Shakespeare Library and Institute, the nineteenth annual conference  of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading & Publishing (SHARP), “The Book in Art & Science,” will be held in Washington, DC, Thursday, 14 July through Sunday, 17 July 2011.

Evoking Washington’s status as an artistic and scientific center, “The Book in Art & Science” is a theme open   to multiple interpretations. Besides prompting considerations of the book as a force in either art or science or  the two fields working in tandem, it also encourages examinations of the scientific text; the book as a work of  art; the art and science of manuscript, print, or digital textual production; the role of censorship and politics in the creation, production, distribution, or reception of particular scientific or artistic texts; the relationship between the verbal and the visual in works of art or science; art and science titles from the standpoint of publishing history or the histories of specific publishers; and much more. Such topics raise a host of possible questions:

  • What tensions exist between the book in art and the book in science?
  • What collaborations emerge? How do these tensions or collaborations differ according to time or place?
  • What roles have material forms—manuscript, print or digital embodiments or books,   periodicals, journals, editions—played in the histories of artistic and scientific works?
  • How does the lens of art or science inform histories of reading and readers?
  • What does this lens reveal about histories of authorship?
  • How have commercial factors or economics influenced the production or distribution of scientific or artistic works?
  • What roles have states or institutions played in the history of the book in art and science?

The conference hopes to welcome many longstanding SHARP members but also aims to attract new members. The conference’s address of art and science in its title invites those working on the illustrated book, book arts, the history of science, technology, knowledge production, or the scientific book, to join us. Similarly, it is hoped that the stellar holdings in Russian, Eastern European, Iberian, Latin American, Caribbean, Middle-Eastern and Asian written and visual texts held in Washington libraries and museums will encourage both scholars from these parts of the world and those who are working in the media histories of these cultures to attend. As always, proposals dealing with any aspect of book history are welcome.

Sessions will be 90 minutes in length, including three twenty-minute papers and a discussion period. In addition, the program committee will consider proposals for sessions using other formats—for example, roundtables or demonstrations of resources and methods. We encourage proposals for fully constituted panels but also welcome proposals for individual papers. While SHARP membership is not required to submit a proposal, all presenters must be members of SHARP before the registration deadline for the conference.

The deadline for both panels and individual proposals is 30 November 2010. Proposals for panels should list the session chair and names of participants along with abstracts for each talk. All abstracts should be no more than 400 words. The program committee will determine which proposals to accept and will notify proposers about its decision.

Click the appropriate link to access the appropriate electronic submission form.

Individual Proposals

Panel Proposals

If you want to propose a session with an alternative format, please email the program committee at the address above to obtain a special form for such submissions.

For proposal questions, please email 
SHARP2011proposal@gmail.com (program committee).
For all other questions, email SHARP2011conference@gmail.com.

SHARP has allotted $5,000 to fund 7 to 10 travel grants to help scholars with limited funds attend the conference. Grants typically will not exceed $500, although one or two awards may be slightly higher if circumstances warrant. Scholars interested in being considered for such grants should complete the appropriate section of the proposal form.


 

Collaboration, Costs, and Digital Resources

January 30, 2010

On February 19 and 20 Yale will host a graduate student symposium, The Past’s Digital Presence Conference: Database, Archive and Knowledge Work in the Humanities. A quick survey of the conference program and available abstracts indicate several topics that dovetail with issues or subjects that have engaged emob. Jessica Weare’s paper, “The Dark Tide: Digital Preservation, Interpretive Loss, and the Google Books Project”, for instance, examines the discarding of material evidence in the process of digitizing, Vera Brittain’s The Dark Tide. Similarly, Scott Spillman and Julia Mansfield’s presentation, “Mapping Eighteenth-Century Intellectual Networks”, discusses their work on Benjamin Franklin’s letters and their relationship within the Republic of Letters. The conference’s purpose also addresses many of the questions we have been posing on this blog:

■ How is digital technology changing methods of scholarly research with pre-digital sources in the humanities?
■ If the “medium is the message,” then how does the message change when primary sources are translated into digital media?
■ What kinds of new research opportunities do databases unlock and what do they make obsolete?
■ What is the future of the rare book and manuscript library and its use?
■ What biases are inherent in the widespread use of digitized material? How can we correct for them?
■ Amidst numerous benefits in accessibility, cost, and convenience, what concerns have been overlooked?

Peter Stallybrass is offering the keynote, and Jacqueline Goldsby will be the colloquium speaker, while Willard McCartney, Rolena Adorno, and others will appear on the closing roundtable. Such a lineup points to the range of perspectives represented. The conference is free to all affiliated with a university.

Among the places this conference has been announced is the JISC Digitisation News section of the UK Digitisation Programme website, and its announcement emphasizes the participation of students “from around the globe.”

Collaboration as it occurs across boundaries is the implicit topic of this posting, and I wish to use reports from the JISC website both as a springboard and as a contrast in the discussing the topic.

A 2008-2009 JISC report, Enriching Digital Resources 2008-2009, Enriching Digital Content program—a strand of the JISC Online Content Program—features a podcast with Ben Showers. Because of the national nature of JISC, the program described offers a unified, coherent approach to advancing digital resources for its higher institutions of education; it represents a collaborative agenda. In this podcast Showers explains the purpose of the program: Rather than fund the creation of new resources, the program invested £1.8 million to enhance and enrich existing digital content while also developing a system for universities and colleges to vet and recognize this work. He then turns to explaining the following four key benefits of this program:
• “unlocking the hidden—making things that are hard to access easy” to obtain and preserve. To illustrate, he uses CORRAL (UK Colonial Registers and Royal Navy Logbooks) project as an example of opening up primary data to make it not only much more available but also to preserve it.
• enhancing experiences of students. Here Showers exemplifies the Enlightening Science project at Sussex that offers students opportunities to watch video re-enactments of Newton’s experiments and read original texts by Newton and others.
• speeding up research—once a document has been digitized, there is no need to repeat the process. The document will now be available for all other researchers to use.
• widening participation—engaging broader audiences including not only faculty and students within Britain’s educational community but also participants globally.

Turning to the new goals for the 2009-2011 program cycle, Showers notes an emphasis on the “clustering” of content, that is bringing various projects together and establishing, when appropriate, links among them. Another focus is further building skills and strategies within institutions to deliver digital content effectively. Finally, he mentions the strengthening of transatlantic partnerships, and here the US National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is given as an example. Of course, there is a long history of scholarly collaboration between the NEH and British institutions—perhaps most notably the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC).

Indeed, through collaborative digital grants offered by JISC and NEH several transatlantic projects are underway or near completion, including the Shakespeare Quartos Archive, a collaborative effort involving Oxford University and the Folger Library, and the St Kitts-Nevis Digital Archaeology Initiative, undertaken by Southampton University and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, VA, to advance scholarship on slavery. There are several others as well.

Both the goals and benefits detailed by Showers are ones that would attract the support of diverse parties, and they do parallel many arguments being made on this side of the Atlantic for such work, including ones advanced by the NEH. Moreover, this and other JISC reports suggest that JISC has also helped broker mutually beneficial relationships between British universities and commercial vendors such as Cengage-Gale and ProQuest. Yet another JISC report, The Value of Money, offers arguments that we need to be making and also points the obstacles and divides affecting various types of collaboration in the United States.

After offering the following figures on the return of money invested in the JISC,

• For each £1 spent by JISC on the provision of e-resources, the return to the community in value of time saved in information gathering is at least £18.

• For every £1 of the JISC services budget, the education and research community receives £9 of demonstrable value.

• For every £1 JISC spent on securing national agreements for e-resources, the saving to the community was more than £26.

the report summary offers the following remarks:

These are the figures revealed by a recently-published Value for Money report on JISC services. Although many countries have centrally provided research and education networks, and some have provided supplementary services, no other country has a comparable single body providing an integrated range of network services, content services, advice, support and development programmes.

The cost-effectiveness of JISC is again highlighted in two sidebars:

These figures suggest that for every £1 JISC spent on securing national agreements for e-resources, the saving to the community was more than £26
and
The added value, equivalent to more than £156m per year, suggests the community is gaining 1.4 million person/days, by using e-resources rather than paper-based information.

The end of the summary further reinforces why investments in JISC benefit the UK as a whole:

The value of JISC activities extends beyond the benefits identified here. Education and research are high-value commodities that play an important role in the UK economy and underpin the UK’s global economic position.

The JISC’s “Value of Money” report contains the types of arguments and data that we in the US need to be making. While our system of higher education does not operate under the centralized system that characterizes that of the UK, the push for more transparent reporting on and assessment of what our various universities and colleges are delivering perhaps provides an opportunity for new forms of collaboration. Through national scholarly societies, the NEH, Mellon Foundation, ALA, and more, we need to supply some “noisy feedback” from a dollars-and-cents/sense perspective about what investing in digital resources means not just for our institutions of higher learning but also for our society.


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