Romance Languages Discussion Group Minutes - 2011 Midwinter

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Romance Languages Discussion Group

ALA Midwinter Meeting, San Diego

Saturday, January 8, 10:30 - 12:00

Convenor: Heidi Madden (Duke University)

Minutes: Deb Raftus

Introductions and Announcements

This panel presentation follows up on the 2010 Annual discussion, providing practical applications and real-world examples of library involvement in Digital Humanities Lab.

Presentations: The Landscape of Digital Humanities in Romance Studies.

Panelist Mitch Fraas: Haiti Digital Humanities Laboratory at Duke. Mitch Fraas is a PhD Candidate in the Department of History at Duke, and an Advisor in the Haiti Humanities Laboratory Duke University.

  • The Haiti Lab at the Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke was created by Haitianists (across disciplines) after the 2010 earthquake, to build community and provide information about Haiti. The center is modeled after Science research Labs, and includes a physical space.
  • Group independent studies and courses are offered in conjunction with the center. Students participate in projects related to art, women's rights, global health, Creole language, and psychology (PTSD, with a cultural focus), Haitian Law.
  • The center has made creative use of social technologies: blogs related to Creole and Haitian Law, Facebook, Twitter.
  • The library is involved in many ways. Subject librarians have participated from the earliest stages. Special Collections have digitized relevant materials and provided tech support. The library has purchased scholarly materials to support the projects (which are difficult to acquire from Haiti).
  • Projects include the trilingual Digital Library of Haiti (Creole, French, English). This is a portal to online resources about Haiti, specifically historical materials relating to the country and writings by Haitian authors. In order to meet the needs of Haiti, they needed to find a way to deliver low resolution text files.
  • The Haiti Lab has caused the libraries to rethink their priorities (international, interdisciplinary, knowledge of service and society). Also, the great response from undergraduates will drive change.

Considerations for Collection Development:

  • UNC and Duke collaborate on collection development [1]. UNC has historically been focusing on Spanish and French-speaking Caribbean,but the Haiti Lab resides at Duke.
  • Languages: Faculty want more monographs from Europe (in German, French,Italian, etc.) about world areas.
  • Preservation: Microfilm and digitization
  • Budget: How do we write library needs into proposals for new initiatives?

Sarah Sussman, curator of French and Italian Collections at Stanford, stepped in for Zachary Chandler, to talk about the Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources (SULAIR). SULAIR consists of libraries, Academic Computing, the Humanities Digital Information Service (HDIS), including a digital archivist, and Social Science Data and Software (SSDS), academic technology specialists, digital library systems and services (DLSS).

Sample projects:

Sarah discussed the greatest challenge to Stanford's digital humanities projects, financial sustainability. One service she'd like to see added is a text-mining service, at the same level as the visual mapping services currently offered.

Sarah recommended the following NYT article, Digital Keys for Unlocking the Humanities’ Riches, and announced that the Digital Humanities 2011 conference will be at Stanford in June.

Question and Answer Session:

Q: What happens to Haiti Lab after 3 years?

Mitch: Currently working on this. They hope to preserve the project, working with librarians and the university archives.

Q: Will this work count towards tenure?

A: This is a concern for junior tenure-track faculty.

Q: What are some efforts to make projects discoverable, besides google?

A: Worldcat. Metadata. Perhaps libraries or digital humanities centers could offer a class for faculty on how to make their work discoverable.


What projects are happening at our institutions?

  • University of Washington: Mapping Scandinavian Americans across the country.
  • Brown: Humanities Center, there is a competitive process for submitting projects.
Example project: Paris in the 19th century
  • Students are hired to do metadata. One challenge is that scanning falls behind.

Powerpoints are available upon request:

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