Nov 10

Collaborative DIY digitization and virtual research environments

First of all, I think Clarissa, Carrie, Lincoln, and to some extent Cathleen have raised issues that I’m very interested in– all related to how researchers might build and use collections of digital sources, either individually or collaboratively. As a history researcher who’s worked in lots of different archives, I can do a brief show-and-tell of the materials I use for digitizing and organizing sources and talk about what’s worked well and not-so-well for me. (I’ve spoken about this before, but I figure there are always people who want to learn this stuff.) I’ve relied on command-line tools and basic automation with OS X tools rather than on Omeka, mostly because working with raw images is much faster for handling the number of sources I use.

More relevant to my own work, I’d like to discuss the specific case of government-held archival collections, like those at National Archives repositories, and the possibility that researchers can work together to collaboratively digitize the materials we use. I’ve been thinking about this specifically in relation to an important women’s history collection, and I’d love to brainstorm with people about what the next steps should be for such a project.

I’d also be very interested in talking with library/IT professionals who’ve installed Fedora Commons and/or Islandora for use as a research-data infrastructure. My sense is that both of those are designed for larger-scale applications than Omeka usually handles, but that they also require a correspondingly large investment of time and funding– which means that even if they’re better tools for what I need, they’re impractical to use at the dissertation level. Can we envision cross-institutional collaborations to solve this problem of virtual research environments for humanities scholars, and if so, what forms might those collaborations take?


  1. matienzo.org

    I’m definitely interested in this, and I’d certainly advocate for discussion of Hydra, which is a Ruby on Rails-based framework for building on top of Fedora. An informal list of use cases was created at a meeting back in March, and it would be worthwhile to see if we could flesh out potential requirements for any of them in this context. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I am working on a Mellon Foundation-funded project relying on Hydra.)

  2. matienzo.org

    Also, since you mentioned Islandora, it’s also worth mentioning that the Islandora developers are working closely with the Hydra project members to share ideas and recommendations.

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