The staff of the Northeastern University Library Digital Scholarship Group have had a busy summer so far! We asked Digital Repository Manager Sarah Sweeney and DSG Coordinator Jim McGrath to write brief reports on recent poster sessions and travels.

Sarah Sweeney, DSG Repository Manager

I attended the tenth annual Open Repositories conference, held June 8-11 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Open Repositories brings together digital repository managers and developers to discuss technology, workflow, management, and new methods for improving repositories. The theme of this year’s conference was “Building the Perfect Repository” (something many cultural heritage institutions are working to achieve) and many sessions focused on improving user experience and streamlining repository development. Both keynote speakers, Kaitlin Thaney  from the Mozilla Science Lab and Anurag Acharya from Google Scholar, emphasized the importance of making research materials both openly available and easily discoverable in repositories and the open web.

I was pleased to represent Northeastern University Library and the DSG at Open Repositories during a poster session at this year’s conference. My poster addressed the conference theme by discussing the innovative way Northeastern University Library’s Digital Repository Service uses the repository architecture to automatically highlight the research publications and other scholarly materials it stores.

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Open Repositories brings together repository representatives from libraries, museums, public media, and research institutions. There are many different approaches to building and supporting digital repositories, and the annual Open Repositories conference is an excellent opportunity to learn and collaborate with other members of the repository community.

Jim McGrath, DSG Coordinator

A few weeks ago I went to Week Two of this summer’s mammoth, three-week (!) incarnation of the Digital Humanities Summer Institute, an intensive and fun summer camp for digital humanists hosted by the University of Victoria’s Electronic Textual Cultures Lab. I was there (thanks in large part to an ACH Travel Bursary and additional funds from Northeastern’s NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks) to present a poster on The DRS Project Toolkit at the DHSI Colloquium and to take a course called “Understanding The Pre-Digital Book.”

The poster session component of the DHSI Colloquium (there were also brief presentations throughout the week) was held at the end of the first full day of classes. The DHSI poster session is given a prime spot on the event’s lineup (opening night!), with zero competition on the schedule, and a nice, spacious outdoor location. Also, there are actually places to hang your posters and material enabling participants to actually hang them on said places (we even got info on what size our posters should be before the conference!). Also, there’s an open bar and appetizers. Basically, it’s everything a poster session should be and more. Thanks again to DHSI and specifically to Colloquium organizers Mary Galvin and James O’Sullivan for putting together a great program this year and for supporting scholars in this particular forum. Other conferences, please take note of these arrangements! 🙂

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My poster provided an overview of our DRS Project Toolkit and some context detailing why the DSG is taking this particular approach to supporting digital initiatives at Northeastern. People came by and said nice things, and I was able to pull up the DRS on my smart phone like a hip DH person (I also learned that I had spelled “Audubon” wrong on my poster after running a search on my phone! That was not embarrassing at all!). You can see a digital copy of the poster (now free of spelling errors!) above, and here in the DRS.

When I wasn’t hiding from the sight of my own poor proofreading skills, I had some time to survey other posters in the area. I was particularly impressed with the posters created by undergraduates that highlighted their work with the TEI. It’s great to see (and hear!) undergraduates talking excitedly about text encoding and schema development! When I was an undergrad, I was calling in “sick” to my early morning Shakespeare classes and watching The Big Lebowski.

My class set up shop in UVic’s Special Collections for the week, and it was a ton of fun. Most of my social media from the week was devoted to photographing the items we got to examine: cuneiform tablets, scrolls documenting royal lineages in unbroken lines, various nineteenth-century editions of Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market, journals written by British soldiers in the trenches of World War I, American comic books from the 1950s, and more! You can check out some of the great stuff in their collections on Flickr. We were treated to excellent presentations on Victorian publishing (via UVic’s Mary Elizabeth Leighton and Lisa Surridge) and the challenges of archiving born digital media (via UVic’s Heather Dean!), among other topics. The whole thing was curated and managed smoothly by the mighty Matt Huculak.

At some point mid-week I got roped into giving an “unconference” session on Omeka, and to prep for that session I checked out a session on Scalar as well. Omeka (via my work on Our Marathon) was basically my introduction to the worlds of metadata and digital preservation, and the conversations I had with people at Northeastern’s Library (like Sarah Sweeney!) about these topics eventually led to me working here at the DSG. You can see evidence of my attempt to cover all things Omeka in just under an hour here. I think there are a lot of questions educators should think about before they roll out Omeka in the classroom, but there’s also a lot of potential for great collaborations with students and projects that might eventually scale up across semesters (and beyond).

That was a crazy long post. Sorry, Sarah! I also went to a dh+lib meetup during the week, and that was a lot of fun. I’m much more concise on Twitter: feel free to scroll back and find the 8,000 or so inane things I tweeted during #dhsi2015. Also, if you missed DHSI and you’re looking for a DH workshop / summer camp session to check out this year, you should really think about going to HILT!