Category Archives: Digital Scholarship

Open Education Fellows Launch Cost-Free Italian Language Textbook

Exemplifying an embrace of affordable education, 2023 Open Education Fellows Dr. Amanda Bush and Silvia Luongo have successfully completed their fellowship project by creating Giornate Italiane, an Italian language textbook now available on Pressbooks. 

Authored entirely by Dr. Bush and Professor Luongo, this textbook carries a Creative Commons license, providing students with free access and eliminating the need to purchase a paid resource. Consequently, their course is now cost-free in terms of course materials, offering substantial financial relief to students.

The Open Education Fellows program, supported by the University of Texas Libraries, encourages faculty to develop open educational resources (OER) that enhance learning accessibility and affordability. 

The creation of OER textbooks ensures that all students, regardless of their financial situation, have equal access to essential learning materials. This initiative aligns with broader efforts to alleviate the financial burden of higher education and supports a more equitable academic environment.

A Visit to Eldorado: Archivists Attend the Annual Gathering of Quilombolas in Brazil’s Vale do Ribeira

LER EM PORTUGUÊS

Ryan Lynch, Head of Special Collections and Senior Archivist at the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, and Rachel E. Winston, Black Diaspora Archivist, attended the annual meeting of traditional Black communities in Eldorado, state of São Paulo, as guests of EAACONE, one of the Benson’s archival partners.

ONE OF THE PARTNERSHIPS that emerged from the LLILAS Benson Mellon-funded project “Cultivating a Latin American Post-Custodial Archival Community” involved extensive collaboration with EAACONE, Equipe de Articulação e Assessoria às Comunidades Negras do Vale do Ribeira, located in Eldorado, Vale do Ribeira, São Paulo, Brazil. (EAACONE’s name translates as Team for Articulation and Assessment of Black Communities of Vale do Ribeira).  

A circle of women of various ages holds hands. They are wearing white blouses and multicolored floral skirts. A few of them wear straw hats.
Women from Quilombo Sapatu perform “Nha Muruca” at the Encontrão .

Digitized materials and metadata from the EAACONE archive are available in three languages on the Latin American Digital Initiatives Repository. LLILAS Benson’s collaboration consisted, in part, of training of EAACONE staff in digitization and metadata, as well as funding the purchase of equipment and the salaries of archival employees from the quilombola* community. Additional funds covered the creation of a traveling exhibition for the purpose of introducing schoolchildren and other community members to the archive and to the history of EAACONE and MOAB, the anti-dam movement with which it is associated. 

Three people stand in front of a chain link fence hung with vinyl posters, part of the traveling exhibition describing the EAACONE archive. On the left is a man, who is talking, in the middle, a woman whose t-shirt reads "Fight Like a Black Woman" (in Portuguese) and on the far right, another woman holds a yellow folder and is looking toward the man.
From left: Attorneys Fernando Prioste (Instituto Socioambiental, ISA) and Rafaela Santos (EAACONE) speak with Letícia de França (EAACONE).

EAACONE’s archive, titled Quilombos do Vale do Ribeira (Quilombos of Vale do Ribeira), consists of materials compiled from 25 years of EAACONE history and 35 years of MOAB (Movimento dos Ameaçados por Barragens, or Movement of Peoples Threatened by Dams), a grassroots movement protesting the construction of hydroelectric dams with negative impacts on the communities and environment of Vale do Ribeira. The dates of materials range from 1955 to the late 1990s. 

Several members of the LLILAS Benson archival team have visited Eldorado during the years of the collaboration. Most recently, Ryan Lynch (Benson Head of Special Collections and Senior Archivist) and Rachel E. Winston (Black Diaspora Archivist) visited Eldorado to attend the XXVIII Encontro das Comunidades Negras do Vale do Ribeira (28th Meeting of Black Communities of Vale do Ribeira)—known as the Encontrão (Big Meetup)—on November 18, 2023. Documents from the EAACONE archives were on display on tables at the event, as were vinyl panels from a traveling exhibition about the archive and the history of the area’s Black communities. 

A table display shows old newspaper clippings, photo albums, notebooks, and papers. A Black woman reaches toward the table, placing items. Two other young Black people—a man and woman—stand near her. In the background, there is a counter labeled "Bar" where people in hair nets appear to be setting up food.
Tânia Moraes (foreground), Letícia de França, and Andrey Pupo set up a display table with EAACONE archival materials.

“Attending the Encontrão helped me contextualize the work that EAACONE does with quilombo communities,” said Lynch. “Watching residents of the different communities see themselves, or their friends and relatives, in the documents, was an invigorating reminder of the importance of our work as archivists and post-custodial partners. Many of the people in attendance had made history and continue to make history. Thanks to the Mellon grant, their story is available not only to themselves and their descendants but also to K–12 students, researchers, and activists in other independent Black communities in the Americas.” 

A large white vinyl sheet hangs from a chainlink fence. It is printed with information in Portuguese and photos from the EAACONE archive named Quilombos of Vale do Ribeira Collection. The photos and text are related to women's meetings. LLILAS Benson is cited at the bottom of the vinyl sheet as a sponsor.
EAACONE’s traveling exhibition, which draws on archival materials digitized in collaboration with LLILAS Benson, will be used in schools and at events. This panel describes women’s meetings and includes archival photographs.

The LLILAS Benson collaboration was included in the event via the use of the LLILAS Benson logo on exhibition materials, and Lynch noted that it was also mentioned multiple times by speakers. He and Winston were introduced as VIPs at the beginning of the proceedings, and Lynch was invited by organizers to deliver a few impromptu remarks.  

“I look forward to exploring future partnerships that will allow us to continue to play a role in this important documentation and exchange of knowledge and experience,” he said. 

In a large cinderblock room with high ceilings, rows of Black, white, and mixed-race people sit in white plastic chairs facing the front. At front, a white man with dark hair, beard, and glasses, wearing a white shirt and dark pants, holds a microphone and speaks. There are numerous large posters hanging on the wall that talk about EAACONE, MOAB, and quilombola communities.
Benson Head of Collections / Senior Archivist Ryan Lynch shared greetings from LLILAS Benson and discussed the collaboration with EAACONE.

In her role as Black Diaspora Archivist, Winston has visited more than one post-custodial partner in Latin America. Both she and Lynch had visited Eldorado previously. “Reconnecting with EAACONE colleagues in person, and meeting more community members (documented and represented in the EAACONE collection) was incredible,” Winston said.

Three middle-aged Black men stand in a circle singing. The man on the right is playing a guitar. In the background, a banner hanging on the wall talks about MOAB, the historic anti-dam movement that has been a source of activism among quilombola communities in Vale do Ribeira.
From left: Noel Castelo, Rodrigo Marinho Rodrigues da Silva, and José Rodrigues da Silva sing after the conclusion of the Encontrão. The banner hanging on the wall talks about MOAB, the historic anti-dam movement that has been a source of activism among quilombola communities in Vale do Ribeira.

“Being a part of this project and partnership with EAACONE from the beginning to the end has been a highlight of my career at the Benson,” Winston adds. “When there, the importance of the work becomes more salient. EAACONE has been and continues to be an important fixture in the Vale do Ribeira. The impact of their work is amplified by our collaboration and by the work we do to preserve their archive. To see the EAACONE materials in the place of creation, used and viewed by the community members represented in them, and to be in community with that community, is a remarkable experience, and a reminder of the power of post-custodial archival praxis.” 

Large yellow letters placed on a green lawn spell out I Love Eldorado (in Portuguese). There is a fanciful outline of a bright red heart in the design. These letters are on a green lawn. The sky is wide an gray and cloudy in the background and above.
“I Love Eldorado” sign at the bus station in Eldorado.

*Quilombolas are Afro-descendant Brazilians who live in rural Black communities known as quilombos, which were originally established by enslaved people who fled enslavement to establish autonomous communities. There are 88 such communities in Vale do Ribeira, an area in the Brazilian states of São Paulo and neighboring Paraná. To read more about quilombolas in Vale do Ribeira, see Edward Shore, Brazilian Roças: A Legacy in Peril (2017) and The Quilombo Activists’ Archive (2019). 

Visita a Eldorado: Arquivistas da UT marcaram presença no Encontro Anual das Comunidades Negras Tradicionais do Vale do Ribeira

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Uma das parcerias resultantes do projeto “Criando uma Comunidade Arquivística Pós-Custodial Latino-Americana”, financiado pela LLILAS Benson Mellon, incluiu uma colaboração intensa com a EAACONE, Equipe de Articulação e Assessoria às Comunidades Negras do Vale do Ribeira, entidade localizada no município de Eldorado, Estado de São Paulo, no Brasil.  

Um círculo de mulheres negras de várias idades dança num espaço com paredes de bloco de concreto. A maioria delas usa blusa branca. Algumas usam chapéu de palha, outras, saias coloridas.
Mulheres e jovens de Quilombo Sapatu dançam “Nha Muruca” no Encontrão

O Repositório Latino-Americano de Iniciativas Digitais contém uma coleção de trabalhos digitalizados e metadados do acervo da EAACON, disponíveis em três idiomas. A colaboração LLILAS-Benson consistiu, em parte, de um programa de capacitação em digitalização e metadados para a equipe da EAACONE, assim como recursos financeiros para comprar equipamentos e pagar os salários dos colaboradores arquivistas da comunidade quilombola. Foram ainda disponibilizados recursos para cobrir a criação de uma exposição itinerante com a finalidade de apresentar para jovens estudantes de escolas e outros membros da comunidade não só o acervo completo como também a história da EAACONE e do MOAB.  

Três pessoas conversam de pé na frente de uma cerca onde estão penduradas cartaz que falam sobre o acervo de EAACONE.
Advogados Fernando Prioste (Instituto Socioambiental, ISA) e Rafaela Santos (EAACONE) com Letícia de França (EAACONE

O acervo da EAACONE, intitulado Quilombos do Vale do Ribeira, consiste de trabalhos compilados durante os 25 anos de existência da EAACONE e os 35 anos de existência do MOAB (Movimento dos Ameaçados por Barragens). O MOAB é um movimento de base dedicado a protestar contra a construção de represas hidroelétricas com impactos negativos nas comunidades e no meio-ambiente do Vale do Ribeira. As peças do acervo são datadas de 1955 até o final da década de 1990.  

Diversos integrantes da equipe arquivística da LLILAS Benson visitaram Eldorado durante os anos dessa colaboração. As visitas mais recentes foram de Ryan Lynch (Chefe de Coleções Especiais e Arquivista Sênior) e Rachel E. Winston (Arquivista da Diáspora Negra) que participaram do XXVIII Encontro das Comunidades Negras do Vale do Ribeira, também chamado de Encontrão, em 18 de novembro de 2023. Esse evento contou com trabalhos dos acervos da EAACONE exibidos em mesas, assim como painéis em vinil que integraram a exposição itinerante sobre acervos e história das comunidades negras da região.  

Uma mulher negra coloca materiais como páginas de jornal, álbuns de fotos, papeis e pastas sobre uma mesa. Junto com ela, outra mulher negra e um homem negro.
Tânia Morais, Letícia de França e Andrey Pupo organizam uma exibição de materiais do acervo de EAACONE

“Participar do Encontrão me ajudou a contextualizar o trabalho que a EAACONE realiza com as comunidades quilombolas”, relatou Ryan. “Observar os residentes das diversas comunidades, como eles se percebem e percebem seus amigos e parentes, tudo refletido nos documentos, foi uma reflexão regeneradora que me fez revalorizar a importância do nosso trabalho como arquivistas e entidades pós-custodiais parceiras. Muitos dos participantes do evento já haviam feito história e continuam fazendo história. Graças a essa grant da Mellon, a história dessa gente se torna disponível não apenas para eles mesmos e seus descendentes mas também para os jovens estudantes de ensino fundamental e médio, pesquisadores e ativistas em outras comunidades negras das Américas”.  

Um cartaz de vinil pendurado numa cerca. O texto fala sobre Encontros de Mulheres no acervo da EAACONE e mostra fotos tomadas nesses encontros. Em baixo, menciona o apoio de LLILAS Benson.
A exposição de EAACONE será utilizada em escolas e eventos especiais. Os materiais foram digitalizados em colaboração com LLILAS Benson no projeto Mellon.

A colaboração da LLILAS Benson foi incluída no evento por meio da utilização do logotipo LLILAS Benson nos materiais expositivos e Ryan observou que ela também foi mencionada diversas vezes pelos palestrantes. Ele e Rachel foram apresentados como VIPs na abertura dos trabalhos e Ryan foi convidado pelos organizadores para dizer algumas palavras a todos reunidos, o que ele fez de improviso.   

“Tenho uma ótima expectativa para explorarmos parcerias futuras que nos permitam continuar a desempenhar um papel significativo nessa documentação tão importante e nesse intercâmbio de conhecimentos e experiências”, observou ele.  

Muitas pessoas estão sentadas em filas e em cadeiras de plástico brancas, num auditório com paredes de bloco de concreto e teto alto. Na frente, um homem com barba e cabelo escuro, camisa branca e calça preta segura o microfone e fala às pessoas reunidas. Na parede tem vários cartaz que falam sobre EAACONE, MOAB e as comunidades quilombolas.
Arquivista Ryan Lynch compartilha saudações de LLILAS Benson e fala sobre a colaboração com EAACONE.

Como Arquivista para a Diáspora Negra, Rachel tem um histórico de visitas a entidades pós-custodiais parceiras na América Latina. Tanto ela quanto Ryan já haviam visitado Eldorado antes. “Essa reconexão com os colegas EAACONE ao vivo e agora a oportunidade de conhecer outros membros da comunidade (encontros documentados e representados na coleção EAACONE) foi incrível”, disse ela.

Três homens negros cantam juntos num círculo. O homem do lado direita toca violão. Na parede dá pra ver um cartaz que fala sobre a MOAB, grupo histórico que defendeu o Vale do Ribeira contra projetos de barragens.
Da esquerda: Noel Castelo, Rodrigo Marinho Rodrigues da Silva e José Rodrigues da Silva cantam após o fechamento do Encontrão

“Fazer parte desse projeto e dessa parceria com a EAACONE do início até o fim tem sido um marco importante da minha carreira na Benson,” adicionou Winston. “O fato de estar fisicamente no local destaca a importância do trabalho e o valoriza mais ainda. A EAACONE tem sido desde o início e continua a ser parte importante do Vale do Ribeira.  O impacto do trabalho deles é amplificado pela nossa colaboração e pelo trabalho que nós fazemos para preservar seus acervos. Ver ao vivo as peças e trabalhos da EAACONE nos locais onde eles foram criados, utilizados e visualizados pelos membros da comunidade ali representados, e estar presente comunitariamente com eles e elas, é uma experiência marcante e nos faz re-avaliar o poder da práxis arquivística pós-custodial”. 

Grandes letras amarelas instaladas numa grama verde falam "Eu Amo Eldorado." Em vez da palavra "amo" tem um coração vermelho.
Fora da estação de ônibus, Eldorado.

Libraries Raises Nearly $50,000 from 40 for Forty Campaign

It was a great year for the Libraries’ 40 Hours for the Forty Acres giving campaign. This year’s efforts centered around sustaining the Map & Geospatial Collections Explorer Fellowship – a vital initiative aimed at fostering innovative scholarship and leveraging the rich resources housed within the UT Libraries’ map and geospatial collections – and an endowment for the Digital Scholarship Program administered by the Benson Latin American Collection and the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies.

The 40 Hours for the Forty Acres serves as a rallying point for the university community, bringing together alumni, students, faculty, staff, parents, and friends in a collective effort to bolster initiatives that resonate with their interests and goals for UT.

This year’s campaign resulted in nearly $30,000 raised in support of the Map & Geospatial Collections Explorer Fellowship, which has been instrumental in advancing research and facilitating academic exploration. These funds will play a pivotal role in sustaining and expanding the scope of the award, ensuring that it continues to serve as a catalyst for groundbreaking research and scholarly inquiry.

Since its inception, the Map & Geospatial Collections Explorer Fellowship has provided invaluable support to UT scholars, offering financial assistance and resources to support their explorations into diverse fields. Through the Fellowship, recipients have been empowered to delve into projects ranging from mapping rising sea levels on the Texas coast to creating artistic spatial visualizations of biodiversity in Hawaii. The impact of these projects extends far beyond the university campus, contributing to advancements in various disciplines and enriching our collective understanding of the world.

The second campaign raised just over $20,000 towards the creation of an endowment for the Digital Scholarship Program administered by the Benson Latin American Collection and the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies. The LLILAS Benson Digital Scholarship Program aims to advance Latin American Studies through the ethical application of digital tools in the realm of translation, accessibility, language preservation, and more. The funds raised during this campaign get LLILAS Benson one giant step closer to funding their Digital Scholarship Program in perpetuity, through the creation of an endowed fund.

The Libraries extends its sincerest thanks to all who contributed to the success of this year’s campaign. Your generosity has not only provided vital support for the Map & Geospatial Collections Explorer Fellowship and the Digital Scholarship Program, but has also reaffirmed the importance of investing in initiatives that advance knowledge and scholarship.

These annual campaigns continue to bring exciting, crowd-funded support to the UT Libraries and its various endeavors, collections, and programs. We look forward to sharing the successes of the programs supported during this year’s 40 Hours for the Forty Acres.


To make an additional contribution to either of the campaign efforts, visit:

MGCE Fellowship – https://give.utexas.edu?menu=OGPLCMP&solicit=TA1

LLILAS Benson Digital Scholarship – https://give.utexas.edu?menu=OGPLLBDS&solicit=TA1

Read, Hot & Digitized: Black Classicists in Texas

Read, hot & digitized: Librarians and the digital scholarship they love — In this new series, librarians from UTL’s Arts, Humanities and Global Studies Engagement Team briefly present, explore and critique existing examples of digital scholarship.  Our hope is that these monthly reviews will inspire critical reflection of and future creative contributions to the growing fields of digital scholarship.


For the past two years, I have been delighted to work on the Black Classicists in Texas exhibition project, a collaborative endeavor to tell the story of Central Texas’ early Black educators and their passion for the study of antiquity. This joint initiative, led by Dr. Pramit Chaudhuri, Dr. Ayelet Haimson Lushkov and myself, involves collaboration between the University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Classics, University of Texas Libraries, the Benson Latin American Collection, Huston-Tillotson University and the Carver Museum & Cultural Center. At its core, the project’s exhibitions underscore advocacy for classics, 20th century African American advancement and highlight a vibrant community of scholars, students and public intellectuals.

Although the physical exhibitions concluded in December 2023, their legacy endures through an online exhibition that emphasizes the relationship between education about the classics, historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and the historical trajectory of education in Austin. Leveraging digital platforms, the online exhibition employs multimodal approaches including story maps, virtual tours and digitized archival materials to provide users with a dynamic exploration of the individuals and institutions intertwined in this narrative.

The website, a cornerstone of the project, exemplifies the initiative’s collaborative efforts. Choosing the education-friendly Reclaim Hosting allowed for easy hosting, a custom domain and installation of web applications with the built-in installer, Installatron. Through Installatron, we were able to build a custom website with WordPress, assisted by the exceptional team at UT Austin’s Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services and beautifully designed by the creative studio, In-House International.

Screenshot of the Explore the Materials page, showing the three exhibition institutions
The landing page of the Explore the Materials section.

The “Explore the Materials” section of the website provides users with access to digitized versions of the physical exhibition materials, alleviating the need for researchers to physically visit archives to view the items. As someone intimately involved in the project’s archival research process, I am delighted to offer researchers an easy access point to these materials, each complete with detailed metadata and sourcing information, ensuring folks can find the original materials even now after the physical exhibition is over.

A screenshot of metadata and thumbnail for R.S. Lovinggood's 1900 pamphlet, "Why Hic, Haec Hoc for the Negro?"
A digitized item on the Huston-Tillotson University section of the Explore the Materials page.

Archival research often presents challenges, whether the archival finding aid is detailed, vague or non-existent. That’s why it’s particularly exciting to preserve items that might not be found through traditional methods. These include a photograph of Samuel Huston College President Matthew Simpson Davage, discovered in a box of unprocessed photographs brought to the research team by the former Huston-Tillotson University Archivist. Similarly, hard to track down documents like the 1976 report of UT’s affirmative action compliance from the Black Diaspora Archive and custom exhibition panels and maps are now digitally accessible.  

Beyond digitized materials, the website features technologically innovative elements, including 3D models of the physical exhibition spaces courtesy of our collaborators at In-House. Hosted on the freemium 3D platform, SketchFab, these interactive models preserve the essence of the physical exhibitions, offering users an immersive experience. They even allow users to see some of the materials in greater detail than possible in-person.

Screenshot of the SketchFab 3D model showing the physical exhibition
Screenshot of SketchFab 3D model of the physical exhibition in the Benson Latin American Collection Rare Books Reading Room, as it appeared in 2023.

Additionally, the ArcGIS StoryMap linked on the site, “This is My Native Land: Tracking the “Classical” Legacy Across Texan Historically Black Colleges and Universities”, adds another interactive element to the story of Black Classicists in Texas and their legacy. While many of the tools we used in the project came at a cost, we were fortunate to create an ArcGIS Story Map for free.

Landing page of the StoryMap, "This is My Native Land". Photographs from the exhibit are scattered in the background.
StoryMap created by project researcher, Elena Navarre.

Moreover, pages dedicated to resources on Black history and culture in Austin, alongside preserved interviews originally showcased at the Carver Museum, provide invaluable context and insight into the broader socio-cultural landscape surrounding the Black Classicists in Texas narrative.

By showcasing the contributions of Black Classicists in Texas, the website and associated tools shed light on underrepresented voices in the study of antiquity and Texas educational history. They serve as a testament to the diversity and resilience of these scholars, enriching our understanding of their invaluable contributions and histories.


Explore more in these UT Libraries resources:

Cook, William W., and James Tatum. African American Writers and Classical Tradition. University of Chicago Press, 2010.

Greenwood, Emily. Afro-Greeks Dialogues Between Anglophone Caribbean Literature and Classics in the Twentieth Century. Oxford University Press, 2010.

Hairston, Eric Ashley. The Ebony Column Classics, Civilization, and the African American Reclamation of the West. University of Tennessee Press, 2013.

Cásarez, Adriana. “Diverse Adaptations of Classical Literature.” University of Texas Libraries Exhibits, 2020. https://exhibits.lib.utexas.edu/spotlight/diversity-classics.

Scholars Lab Newsletter – March 2024

Digital Humanities Workshop

 Introduction to Recogito

When: 3/8/24, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Where: Zoom

Presenters: Miriam Santana and Willem Borkgren

Recogito is an open-source semantic annotation tool that allows you to tag key terms and reveal the relationships between key names, places, and events between multiple documents. Attendees will learn how to create an account, upload documents, and start working on tags and annotations. They will also learn the deeper capabilities of Recogito, such as mapping relationships, working collaboratively on a corpora of documents, and exporting data for use in other DH tools.

Zoom Registration

Introduction to Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

When: 3/22/24, 12:00 pm – 1:15 pm

Where: Hybrid – Zoom and Scholars Lab Data Lab, Perry-Castañeda Library

Presenters: Dale J. Correa, Mercedes Morris, & Natalya Stanke

This workshop introduces the basics of optical character recognition (OCR), which allows for full-text searching and other types of text manipulation of a digitized document. Attendees will learn how to use Google Docs to create a basic machine-readable text from an image file and be introduced to Tesseract for OCR through exercises in Google Colab.

This workshop is open to researchers interested in OCR for any language. It is strongly recommended that attendees:

1) prepare a digitized, highly legible sample image file for trying out the tools

2) have a Google account to do the exercises fully and save their work.

Register for Zoom or PCL Scholars Lab Data Lab


Open Education Week Virtual Panel

When: 3/8/24, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Where: Zoom

UT Austin’s OER Working Group invites you to celebrate Open Education Week (March 4-8) by joining our faculty/student panel for a virtual discussion on open education practices. Join us for a special Open Education Week discussion on applying open education practices in your teaching. Our student/faculty panel will discuss their experiences finding, adopting, and even creating open educational resources (OER) and other no-cost course materials.

In addition to this faculty perspective, our panel will also include a student voice. Our student panelist is currently collaborating on an original OER project, bringing valuable and unique insight into how open pedagogy can transform student learning experiences.

Zoom Registration


Digital Scholarship in Practice

When: 3/8/24, 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

Where: Scholars Lab Data Lab, Perry-Castañeda Library

Want to get started with Digital Humanities in the classroom, but you don’t know where to start? This introductory workshop will provide advice and practical ideas to incorporate digital humanities methodologies at all levels of teaching — from syllabus design to assignments and classroom activities. Learn about platforms, strategies, and resources to fit your classroom, your teaching style, and your comfort level with technology. While the advice given will apply to a wide variety of classrooms, the workshop will highlight resources specific to Japanese and East Asian Studies.

Unraveling Trauma Through Maps: Rethinking Historical GIS

In a recent event hosted at the Scholars Lab in the Perry-Castañeda Library, the Institute for Historical Studies (IHS) in the Department of History at the University of Texas at Austin delved into the complexities of mapping trauma in a workshop titled “Mapping Trauma: A Workshop on Space and Memory.”

This event, part of IHS’s exploration of the theme “Experiencing Place: Interrogating Spatial Dimensions of the Human Past,” brought together scholars and practitioners to discuss the limitations of traditional Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in capturing the nuances of human experiences, particularly in contexts of trauma such as the Holocaust.

The keynote speakers, Dr. Anne Kelly Knowles and Levi Westerveld, presented insights gleaned from their extensive research collaboration spanning a decade. Knowles, a McBride Professor of History at the University of Maine and co-founder of the Holocaust Geographies Collaborative, along with Westerveld, a Senior Engineer & Geographer at the Norwegian Coastal Authority, offered innovative perspectives on mapping trauma, drawing from their work with Holocaust survivor testimonies.

Traditional GIS methodologies, while effective for certain types of mapping, often struggle to represent the complexities of human experiences. Knowles and Westerveld’s research challenges the default Cartesian grid approach of GIS, advocating for alternative mapping techniques that accommodate the fragmented and subjective nature of traumatic memories. They emphasized the importance of incorporating qualitative data and subjective narratives into geospatial practices, moving beyond mere coordinates to capture the emotional and psychological dimensions of historical events.

The workshop explored various strategies for mapping traumatic memory, including the concept of “mental maps” and inductive visualization techniques. Participants engaged in hands-on exercises, analyzing survivor testimonies and experimenting with visualization tools to uncover hidden spatial narratives. Through these activities, attendees gained a deeper understanding of the challenges inherent in representing trauma spatially and the creative possibilities for addressing them.

The event offered a thought-provoking exploration of the intersection between geography, memory, and trauma. By challenging traditional GIS approaches and embracing alternative mapping techniques, scholars are in a better position to uncover deeper insights into historical experiences and enrich understanding of the human past.

Learn more about IHS programs, including those under the “Experiencing Place” research theme this year, by following @utaustinihs and joining the mailing list here.

Watch video of the event.

Read, Hot and Digitized: Italian Poetry, Translated and Sonorized

Read, hot & digitized: Librarians and the digital scholarship they love — In this new series, librarians from UTL’s Arts, Humanities and Global Studies Engagement Team briefly present, explore and critique existing examples of digital scholarship.  Our hope is that these monthly reviews will inspire critical reflection of and future creative contributions to the growing fields of digital scholarship.


For most of human history, poetry has been an oral tradition, with poets singing their verses to an audience rather than writing them down and disseminating them in print. Italianpoetry.it, an independent digital humanities project without academic affiliation, aims to share the beauty and lyricism of recited Italian poetry with a wider audience, offering recordings of Italian poems alongside the original text and English translations.

The site, which is frequently updated with new poems, focuses on a simple but very effective content model. Poems are published in their entirety in the original Italian, with the English translation of the text beneath each line. An audio file containing the recording of the poem is embedded at the top of each page. When the audio file is played, the word being read is highlighted in both the Italian and the English translation, allowing users to follow along with the recording and to see how the word order and phrasing in the translation compares to the original text. This allows for a streamlined, user-friendly experience that facilitates appreciation and enjoyment of the original text—both for its sonority and its meaning—regardless of the user’s knowledge of Italian. Each poem also has a brief write-up by the site’s creator at the bottom of the page, providing additional context for the work. A guide to navigating the site is also provided to make it easy for new users to interact with its content.

Screenshot of a poem from the site.
The page for the poem “A una zanzara.”

The site is intentionally simple and, per the author, “unapologetically retro-looking” in its appearance, allowing users to focus on the site content without interference from unnecessary or distracting web elements. Focusing on simplicity is not only an aesthetic choice, though, as it helps make the site more accessible for users with slower or unstable internet connections who may have trouble browsing more complex webpages. The site uses the BAS Web Services set of tools to synchronize the poems’ texts with the audio recordings. The BAS Web Services are provided by the Bavarian Archive for Speech Signals, and provide a broad and valuable set of tools for speech sciences and technology.

Screenshot of a list of poem titles available on the site.
The selection of all poems available on the site, including options to sort by composition date, date added to the site, author, and title.

In addition to the main pages created for each poem, there is also an audio-only podcast version of the poems for those who would like to listen to the audio without the interactive elements of the main site. The site’s creator makes clear that the poems selected are in no way representative of Italian poetry as a whole, and that they were chosen at the author’s discretion. This adds a personal touch to the site sometimes absent from more comprehensive digital projects.

Screenshot of the site's podcast offerings.
The podcast audio files included on the site.

Italianpoetry.it is a valuable resource for those wishing to explore Italian poetry, regardless of their experience with the Italian language or knowledge of its history. While intentionally a personal selection rather than a wide-ranging survey of the Italian poetic tradition, its content offers a great introduction to that tradition that can spur further interest and exploration. It also provides a very interesting and accessible way to explore the relationships between written and spoken text, sonority and textual structure, and translation and original texts.


For more information, please consult the UTL resources below:

Picchione, John, Lawrence R. Smith, John Picchione, and Lawrence R. Smith. Twentieth-Century Italian Poetry : An Anthology. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019.

Lind, L. R. (Levi Robert). Lyric Poetry of the Italian Renaissance; an Anthology with Verse Translations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1954.

Lucchi, Lorna de’. An Anthology of Italian Poems, 13th-19th Century. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1922.

Bonaffini, Luigi, and Joseph Perricone, eds. Poets of the Italian Diaspora : A Bilingual Anthology. New York: Fordham University Press, 2014.

Scholars Lab Newsletter – February 2024

Digital Humanities Workshop Series

Digitization, Digital Projects, and Copyright Issues

When: Feb. 2, 2024, 12 pm – 1 pm 

Where: Perry-Castañeda Library Scholars Lab Project Room 6 (2.218)

Join us in-person for a discussion about some of the common copyright issues that pop up when digitizing materials or creating digital projects. We’ll have some scenarios to talk through as a group, but feel free to also bring your questions and we’ll try to discuss some of those scenarios as well.

In-Person Registration

Interactive Writing in Twine

When: Feb. 9, 2024, 12 pm – 1 pm

Where: Zoom 

Twine is an open-source application used to write interactive narratives ranging from fictional adventures to practical decision trees. This workshop will introduce the basics of Twine story creation: creating your first passage of text, linking passages, incorporating HTML and variables, and publishing a Twine project. The session will include a variety of example Twines of different complexity and purpose, and by the end, participants will have their skeleton decision tree that they can expand into a larger text. 

Zoom Registration

Getting Started with Scalar

When: Feb. 23, 2024, 12 pm – 1 pm

Where: Zoom 

Scalar is a free, open-source publishing platform designed for long-form, born-digital, and media-rich digital scholarship. This workshop will give an overview of Scalar and discuss what differentiates it from other content management systems, before demonstrating how to build your Scalar site.

Zoom Registration


Data & Donuts Workshop Series

 Research Data Management Best Practices

When: Feb 16, 2024, 12 pm – 1:15 pm

Where: Perry-Castañeda Library Scholars Lab Data Lab (2.202) and Zoom

This workshop will go over helpful strategies and techniques for effective research data management in all stages of the research lifecycle, from the drafting of comprehensive data management plans to successful publication of research data. Join this session to learn how to overcome data management challenges and stay in compliance with research data management regulations.

Zoom Registration


The Institute for Historical Studies in the Department Workshop

“Mapping Trauma: A Workshop on Space and Memory”

When:  Feb 19, 2024, 12 pm – 1:30 pm 

Where:  Perry-Castañeda Library Scholars Lab Data Lab (2.202) and Zoom 

Anne Kelly Knowles has been a leading figure in the Digital and Spatial Humanities, particularly in the methodologies of Historical GIS, for more than twenty years. She has written or edited five books, including Placing History: How Maps, Spatial Data, and GIS Are Changing Historical Scholarship (2008); Mastering Iron: The Struggle to Modernize an American Industry, 1800-1868 (2013); and Geographies of the Holocaust (2014). Anne’s pioneering work with historical GIS has been recognized by many fellowships and awards, including the American Ingenuity Award for Historical Scholarship (Smithsonian magazine, 2012), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2015), and three successive Digital Humanities Advancement grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (2016-2022). She is a founding member of the Holocaust Geographies Collaborative, an international group of historians and geographers who explore the spatial aspects of the Holocaust through digital scholarship. She is currently developing a public website to share data on over 2,200 Holocaust camps and ghettos and nearly 1,000 survivor testimonies to enable students and scholars to map the historical geographies of named and unnamed Holocaust places.

Levi Westerveld is a geographer and award-winning cartographer with broad experience in spatial data gathering, analysis and visualization. He has 8 years of work experience in GIS and mapping for environmental modeling, impact assessments, community engagement and communication. Levi has international project management experience overseeing multidisciplinary teams with delivery in the Arctic and Pacific, and thematic knowledge in land and marine environmental issues, including climate change, waste and biodiversity. He is the lead editor of the forthcoming Arctic Permafrost Atlas. He is currently employed as senior engineer in the section for digitalization and innovation at the Norwegian Coastal Authority.

For In-person Registration email: cmeador@austin.utexas.edu

Zoom Registration


Digital Scholarship in Practice

Computational Approaches in the Study of History: The Case of People’s Daily

When: Feb 21, 2024, 12 pm to 1 pm 

Where: Perry-Castañeda Library Learning Lab 3

In this talk, we will explore what computational approach and methods may look like in historical studies. Alongside the potential advantages, the talk will also discuss the limitations and pitfalls in computational historical analysis. We will focus on a case study of the People’s Daily 人民日报, a prominent national newspaper of the PRC, to demonstrate the outcomes and limitations of applying computational methods in historical research.

Theory & Practice of Digitization Community Symposium: Projects & Reflections

Throughout fall semester 2023, a cohort of UT Austin graduate students worked overtime to examine the ethics of digitization and create frameworks for approaching their research in a digitizable environment. They took on the  “The Theory & Practice of Digitization Community Symposium” program (co-sponsored by the UT Libraries and the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship for Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Heritage at the Rare Book School) in addition to their regular coursework and thesis/dissertation research and writing commitments. This program aimed to expand the graduate students’ researcher skill-sets and build reflective approaches to their future professions. The cohort’s efforts culminated in a community symposium that was held on November 9, 2023, in the PCL Scholars Lab, where students, faculty, staff, researchers, and Austin community members came together to learn more about the digitization of cultural heritage.

Each of the students presented on their research, experience in the program, and reflections on digitization of cultural heritage. We have collected their insights to share with you here in the hope that their observations will enlighten the work of others, too.

Saghar Bozorgi (PhD student, Department of Middle Eastern Studies)

I started the Theory & Practice of Digitization program thinking about ethical considerations when in/using archives, but mainly looking to get myself familiar with digital methods and whether they can help my project. By the end of the workshop, I learnt how emphasizing a researchers’ project over the archives can reproduce power relationships and hierarchies between different communities and people, especially between the researchers usually located in the “Global North” and the archives that are assumed to be “waiting” for digitization in the “Global South.” As a result, I am now thinking about going beyond my own project and broadening my horizons and considerations when approaching an archive.

In my letter of interest to attend the workshop I wrote about my near-frustration with “the laborious nature” of data collection and its initial analysis, which for my project translates to an infinite period of data collection, leaving little time for writing. This problem “brought me to the idea of digitization and processing texts using digital methods to speed up the process and broaden opportunities for what can be done.” Using digital methods proved to be way more complicated for a Windows user working with primary sources in Farsi. I learnt that OCR programs work with images rather than pdf, so I changed my approach to using Google Docs, which I had tried before in unsuccessful attempts.

While digitizing parts of Ittila’at Mahiyaneh, I was able to recognize some aspects of archival processes and a tiny bit of “what gets to be archived” or “heard” in my own thought process and decision-making. When selecting samples to show during my presentation, I was conscious about the reason why each piece is important. I was hoping to give voice and power to the material that is less visible or invisible in today’s academic and public discourses. One of the pages that I wanted to show was a page in a 1948 issue dedicated to “Palestine” which was continued in several issues. Nevertheless, I persuaded myself to go with other material in order to protect myself and those around me from possible “trouble” and funding cuts, especially because of a recent scary border-crossing experience and the fact that I was not sure about the costs and benefits in a room with a relatively small (and probably sympathetic to Palestinian cause) audience. I remember a point raised in the very first session of the workshop regarding how the archival process has to be considerate of the communities it is serving today so as to not hurt them by using hurtful descriptions. Thus, I have learnt that digitization is not just about scanning material and making them available, but it is also about how archival material, now empowered with a digitized medium, can be talked about. The contrast between my own self-censorship to show the name of Palestine and the keynote speaker’s powerful discussion of the silencing of archives in Israel makes me wonder not only about “what gets digitized and how it gets digitized,” but also who can digitize.

Marcus Golding (PhD student, Department of History)

The Community Symposium on the Theory and Practice of Digitization has provided a valuable hands-on experience for graduate students in digitizing historical records while fostering critical reflection on these processes. Throughout the four sessions, we learned about the best practices in handling cultural heritage materials and digital tools to explore the materiality of these objects. Our interactions with archivists, librarians, and scholars also delved into the politics behind digitization, power imbalances, access to sources, and the significance of community involvement in such initiatives.

For me, the Symposium offered a chance to delve deeper into the issue of privacy within archival collections. Specifically, the complexities arising from balancing open access to materials from historically marginalized groups with the issues of consent regarding the publication of historical documents originating from these communities. Often, the resolution to this issue is complex. The potential to restore the voices of minority groups can sometimes clash with a community’s desire to shield certain aspects of its history from external viewers. Additionally, the Symposium broadened my understanding of digitization best practices and digital tools. I found the insights into setting up camera stands particularly relevant due to the ongoing digitization projects undertaken by my non-profit organization, the Venezuela History Network, in Venezuela.

During the Symposium, I worked with two annual reports (1973) from a Venezuelan oil company, Mito Juan Company, and an American firm, The Creole Petroleum Corporation, both of which operated in Venezuela during the twentieth century. I applied OCR to these texts to facilitate textual analysis, identifying silences and points of convergence between these enterprises in the context of the impending state-takeover of the national industry scheduled for 1976. Through this hands-on experience with digitization equipment, digital tool literacy, and critical reflection on historical documents, the Symposium underscored principles that I firmly uphold. These principles revolve around democratizing access to historical knowledge and community engagement in digitization projects. The end result is to help build collections that safeguard the cultural identity and historical memory of various groups or institutions for posterity.

These are the same guiding principles driving our initiatives with the Venezuela History Network. Our organization is currently involved in at least six ongoing or upcoming projects in collaboration with public institutions, private individuals, and NGOs. The Community Symposium on the Theory and Practice of Digitization has highlighted the importance, as well as the nuances, of making historical knowledge openly accessible. This experience will continue to shape my dedication to the preservation of cultural heritage in the years ahead.

Junika Hawker-Thompson (PhD student, Department of African and African Diaspora Studies)

This archival manuscript is from an 1822 court trial titled “Trail of a Slave in Berbice for the Crime of Obeah and Murder” from the Black Diaspora Archive here at the University of Texas at Austin. Broadly, my dissertation project explores how colonial violence shapes race and gender relations within the Demerara region—which is another river region not too far from the Berbice region where this incident takes place. So, when I came across this document, I was interested in thinking through how this colonial document––which is well preserved, clear in its text (meaning, it was instantly machine readable post-digitization), and was bound tightly before my digitization process––plays a role in how law, criminality, and blackness interact within colonial British Guyana.

This case is invested in convicting an indigenous, or Black man, Williem, of murder and “obeah.” The court documents oscillate between calling Willem, “negro” or “native.” For further context, obeah is understood as an African root working, herbal, and spell-casting practice that can impact physical illnesses and metaphysical situations that may require assistance. This practice can be traced back to maroon societies and enslaved people enacting care of each other, themselves, and their larger communities. Obeah can be understood as a practice of agency, liberation, resistance, or care. When considering this brief history, what does it mean for “obeah” to be in a relationship with murder—the worst offense based on Christian morals and law?

I focus on this document because I am interested in how the colonial gaze of this case constructed law and criminality in colonial British Guyana and post-colonial Guyana. I am also interested in what isn’t documented–the dance that allegedly led to the murder of another enslaved woman, the embodied routine of this obeah practice, and obeah being synonymous with murder. While I am not attempting to suggest that murder is correct or should be overlooked, I am more interested in this process of equating a spiritual practice established in maroon societies to murder. I am interested in a practice of witnessing—beyond the colonial gaze—that might highlight the depth of this practice and the presence of ritual.

The future implication of this project is a continued witnessing to honor the complexities of spiritual practice and criminality under colonial regimes.  I also wonder about the limits of digitization. Is it possible to make clear this witnessing of ritual and practice in this technological space? I plan to continue to work with this document with the hope and goal that this manuscript will assist in understanding the intimacies of race and gender formation in Guyana.

Raymond Hyser (PhD student, Department of History)

Pierre Joseph Laborie, a French coffee planter in colonial Haiti, fled the island during the throes of the Haitian Revolution and took up residence in nearby British Jamaica. As a thank you, Laborie used his expertise and experience as a coffee planter to write a book to benefit Jamaica’s British coffee planters. Published in 1798, Laborie’s The Coffee Planter of Saint Domingo provides an intimate look at the cultivation and manufacture of coffee in colonial Haiti prior to 1789. Although Laborie’s target audience was the British coffee planters of Jamaica, his work quickly went global. It found its way to Brazil, where its Portuguese translation significantly influenced Brazil’s coffee culture. Laborie’s book also reached Cuba, where a publisher there translated it into Spanish. As the nineteenth century progressed, Laborie’s book spread as far as the British colonies of Ceylon and India. Laborie had written the equivalent of an eighteenth-century New York Times Best Seller.

Because of its fame and widespread distribution, Laborie’s book is readily accessible online and at many libraries. A quick WorldCat search reveals dozens of libraries across the world have physical copies, and most of the editions are fully digitized. However, the 1845 edition, printed in Ceylon, does not share the accessibility of the other editions. There is no digitized version, and I have only been able to find two physical copies. One of them is, coincidentally, at the Perry-Castañeda Library. Boasting torn pages, damaged bindings, and held together with several pieces of Scotch tape, UT’s edition looked every bit like a 175-year-old book that had, quite literally, traveled around the world. After I first discovered the book in the fall of 2019, my form of preservation work was keeping it locked away in my desk drawer, where even I rarely consulted its contents. It was not until the Theory & Practice of Digitization Community Symposium that I gained the knowledge, and the courage, to take concrete steps for the book’s preservation through digitization.

Along with being exceedingly rare, this particular edition perfectly lends itself to digitization because it provides a fascinating window into a globalized network of knowledge circulation from the late eighteenth to the late nineteenth century. The number of editions and their geographical spread allow for a comparative study to trace how Laborie’s work changed, or did not, over time and in different geographical contexts. Using OCR (optical character recognition) and text mining methods on the newly digitized 1845 edition, I uncover the genealogy of knowledge contained within Laborie’s work. I highlight how little that knowledge changed in the approximately 50 years that separated the original from the Ceylon edition. Besides a new three-page preface, three short appendices, and different formatting, the Ceylon edition is identical to the original. Even Laborie’s footnotes from his 1798 edition persist within the 1848 edition. The digitization of the Ceylon edition of The Coffee Planter of Saint Domingo increases the accessibility for an otherwise nearly inaccessible work. It also provides a means for scholars to apply digital methods to uncover a global network of knowledge development and dissemination.

Mercedes Morris (Dual master’s degree student, iSchool & Center for Middle Eastern Studies)

 

I am a student in Middle Eastern Studies and Information Sciences, with a focus on paper preservation. During this symposium program, I worked on digitizing al-Waraq wa al-Waraqun fi al-Asr al-Abbasi, a book on paper in the Abbasid Era. The Abbasid Era is an important era in Middle Eastern history for the rapid increase in written works due to the new technology of paper. There are many myths attested to explain the transfer of papermaking technology from China to Iraq, but these are not verified, and papermakers of the Abbasid Era quickly made this technology their own and quickly built on it, with improvements from these papermakers making their way back to China.

While digitizing this book and reading through it about the history of paper and papermakers in the Abbasid Era, the parallels between the new technology of the Abbasid Era–paper, in this case—and the digitization technology of the present day became clear to me. Paper, like digitization, allowed for increased access and production. Paper, even as a new technology, was cheaper and less labor-intensive to produce than papyrus and parchment, allowing more works to be produced and disseminated. Digitization also allows for greater access for people around the world to physical, written materials today, including rare documents and documents too fragile to be handled.

While written history, recordkeeping, and literary works have been around for several millennia, paper offered both the lightweight quality of papyrus and parchment with the permanence of clay tablets, all of which had been used in the area between modern-day Iraq and Samarkand that became known for paper technology and manufacturing. Clay tablets, while more permanent and also less sensitive to humidity than papyrus and parchment, were cumbersome and heavy. Ink could be easily erased by scraping it from papyrus and parchment, allowing for contemporaneous and much later changes to be made to documents almost invisibly and allowing for the erasure of certain histories. 

Paper often has sizings applied, which are substances applied to paper to change the absorbency. Even with sizings applied to prevent too much ink being absorbed, paper would tear before the ink could be successfully removed, leaving evidence of attempted manipulation. This is because paper, even with sizings, absorbs ink; whereas ink sits on the surface of papyrus and parchment.

Now materials like papyrus, parchment, paper, and anything else that anyone would want digitized, can be subjected to sophisticated digital manipulations that cannot be discerned easily, bringing the issues of papyrus and parchment back to paper. On physical paper, even with the use of graphite, erasures and changes are still often visible. I suggest that perhaps the future of digitization lies in the metaphorical properties of paper that allow changes to be made visible to better track history.

Miriam Santana (PhD student, Department of English)

For this semester, my project has focused on recovering the presence of black people and characters in early Mexican American literature by placing them in critical conversation with colonial archival manuscripts. This was my attempt to imagine Black life as more than what these novels give us access to. Now that’s not to say that these colonial archives don’t come with their own silences and omissions, but my goal is to supplement these novels with other written texts. Where is black life in a Mexican colonial context? Voice? Body? Name? And location? 

I chose manuscripts from the Black Diaspora Miscellaneous folder for their content, but also because they make a reasonably-sized collection. The selected manuscripts are documents by the Spanish crown that required all free people of African descent in colonial Mexico to pay a tax based on their African ancestry. It was the first time I worked with archival material that had yet to be digitized. I wanted, in the span of the semester, to choose something that was feasible and that wasn’t overwhelming. My research process following the following steps:

  1. Digitize the selected manuscripts using a flatbed scanner. The scanner turned the manuscripts into PDF files.
  2. I used Transkribus to apply optical character recognition (OCR) to the PDF. I used a model, created by LLILAS Benson digital scholarship coordinator, Albert Palacios, to perform this OCR.
  3. I took the text and inserted it into a Word document. In that Word document, I removed numbers and corrected for dashes, so that I was only left with the bare text.
  4. I used NameTag. NameTag is an open-source tool for named entity recognition (NER). NameTag identifies proper names in text and classifies them into predefined categories, such as names of persons, locations, organizations, etc.
  5. I took that table of information and entered it into an Excel spreadsheet, which resulted in a dataset of names and locations of people rendered in the manuscripts.

In a future project, I aim to follow the same process, with all of the manuscripts in this collection. I hope that it will result in a large dataset of names and places spanning the 18th and 19th century. I plan to create metadata for this collection and use the dataset to create a StoryMap.  My hope is that this map represents the lasting and enduring presence of black life in these Mexican colonial archives. Below are some lingering questions that I will continue to think deeply and critically about:

  • What are the ethical ways of working with these colonial documents?
  • How do we then think about representation in a way that is ethical?
  • How do I make sense of my own bias and desire to represent?
  • How do I think about consent when the people who are in these collections are not alive to give consent?

Natalya Stanke (Dual master’s degree student, iSchool & Center for Middle Eastern Studies)

In our first symposium session as a cohort, we unpacked the term “digitization” to understand the various facets of the digitization process. Taking an iPhone snapshot or scanning a document in a flatbed scanner can be useful; however, it’s ultimately only one step in the entire process of digitization. It’s important to keep in mind the many layers of labor involved from physical examination, image capturing, file processing, metadata description, repository ingestion, and more. It’s also important to continually learn about how to approach workflows of digitization both thoughtfully and equitably.

For this symposium, I chose one book from UT’s library collections and imagined how I would approach this item in a professional setting for digitization. My book is titled Quitábuca or “Your Book” from the original Arabic. It was written by a Syrian priest living in an Arab diaspora community in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The book is written in Arabic and consists of a collection of personal essays, published articles, letter correspondence, and opinion pieces from a variety of publications around the world. It contains biting commentary on French colonialism in the Levant, personal stories about immediate family members, guest author pieces discussing politics, organizing documentation for civic diaspora groups, and more.

  • First, current American/English-language standards for describing diverse materials with global interconnectedness are insufficient at capturing the richness of the material reflected.
  • Second, multilingual metadata is the future! Multilingual English/Arabic description (or Arabic/English/Portuguese, in this case) for materials like this book need to be prioritized for institutions seeking to maximize equity of digital dissemination when publishing collections online. I understand this is massively labor-intensive, but limiting the vast majority of rich metadata to the English-speaking world limits the discoverability and accessibility of many relevant materials.

In particular, the interconnectedness of different geographic and cultural regions sparked my curiosity about how to describe this book with useful metadata. When contemplating the description portion of digitization, I ended up with two major (and related) takeaways:

There are organizations building digital collections that serve as great examples of how to approach incorporating multilingual metadata. Two examples that inspired me in particular are the Digitization Project of the Memory of Arab Immigration in Brazil from the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik and the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies at NC State.

Overall, this was a fun exploration for thinking through professional challenges in digitization and how labor-intensive, but important, it will be to include multilingual and multicultural approaches to my future work in librarianship.