An image-rich remembrance of the singer Jenny Lind, including a view of her celebrity as imagined experience in Gold Rush San Francisco. Presented at the 2023 Congress of the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives, and Documentation Centres (Cambridge, UK).
At this year’s ALA Annual Conference in Washington, DC, the ACRL European Studies Section, in collaboration with colleagues from Library of Congress and support from the Digital Scholarship Section, held a panel of digital humanities (DH) experts to discuss international trends, ongoing projects and initiatives in European Studies, as well as perspectives from researchers in the field. The goal of this program was to raise awareness and to encourage cooperation among scholars and librarians in DH and European Studies librarians.
LD4P3 (Linked data for production: closing the loop) team presenting on their integration of Wikidata information around musical works into a Cornell library catalog prototype with a focus on the Wikidata aspects of work. This two-part presentation took place at calls of the LD4 Discovery Affinity Group (2023-03-14) and the LD4 Wikidata Affinity Group (2023-03-21).
February 16, 2023; January 26, 2023; January 26, 2023
What is the role of a marine science librarian in supporting marine science research? In this presentation I share how we've adopted the 'Collections as Data' approach to curating our unique collections, as well as some of the tools and workflows we used. I offer examples from some of our projects over the years. The goal for the talk is to share a bit about what we're up to at Miller Library, hopefully generate some conversation around historical biodiversity data and collections, and work toward building a community of practice around these things.
March 15, 2023; January 27, 2023; January 27, 2023
The "Uncertainty and the Handmade" Collegium (hosted by Stanford Text Technologies) investigated the handmade book through discussion of manuscripts, artists’ books, and digital aspects of—and data about—the handmade. This is a practice recording of my talk, which was not recorded.
Digital objects are handmade. Does that surprise you? Screens can create an impression of authority, exactitude, and accuracy, but we must always bear in mind that what we are seeing is being mediated. Like the subtle (or not so subtle) ways that a translator can influence our impressions of a text, the hands and thoughts of the digitizer suffuse a layer of meaning upon physical materials.
As a rare book digitization specialist and coordinator, I am acutely aware of my presence, and that of my colleagues, in the digital resources created from objects that I digitize or oversee through our workflow. In addition to my digitization work, I am an artist. As an exercise to explore both the handmade book and the ways that they are digitally depicted, I came up with a sneaky exercise: I digitized a unique book that I created, and I also asked our lead photographer, and a number of other lab staff, to digitize the same book. Comparing the resulting digital objects may prove to offer insight into the ways we each evaluated and executed the same task, from the standpoints of technician and maker.
The Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation (IPLC) Digital Scholarship Affinity Group assembled the Text Data Mining Education for Advocacy (TEA) Task Force to develop shared, open, and accessible educational materials to improve researchers’ literacy on the current influx of third party vendor Text Data Mining (TDM) platforms. This task force was specifically entrusted to examine use and limitations related to the “closedness” of each platform and the direct and collateral effects of the monetization of data on these systems for transparency, collaboration, cross-platforming, and publishing. This report offers constructive criticism of the opaque box, all-or-nothing approach that vendors are taking in order to offer information to support researchers, openness, and equity. Over the course of six months, this task force produced a literature review to examine the current discourse on these emerging platforms, as well as prototype user profiles to clarify researcher needs and evaluate whether the platforms actually meet those needs. This report reflects the results of those efforts to identify exciting new opportunities for assessing emerging TDM platforms.
The Know Systemic Racism team has been working on data-driven projects intended to make systemic racism evident. This public humanities work is guided by the intention of "humanizing the harm" of systemic racism. The team will share three works in progress: an interactive data story of Oscar Grant's life and death within a historical context of discriminatory policies and societal prejudice; a web-based application that makes visible the militarization of California law enforcement; and a project that encourages Stanford Students today to engage with the experience and activism of Black students at Stanford from the past. Know Systemic Racism is a project of Stanford Libraries led by the inaugural Racial Justice and Social Equity Librarian, Felicia Smith. The projects presented are the work of CESTA interns and Stanford Libraries interns led by digital research architect, Nicole Coleman. KSR and the students work in partnership with the Center for Racial Justice, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Friends Service Committee, and investigative journalists.
From documenting human rights abuses to studying online advertising, web archives are increasingly positioned as critical resources for a broad range of scholarly Internet research agendas. In this article, we reflect on the motivations and methodological challenges of investigating the world’s largest web archive, the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine (IAWM). Using a mixed methods approach, we report on a pilot project centred around documenting the inner workings of ‘Save Page Now’ (SPN) – an Internet Archive tool that allows users to initiate the creation and storage of ‘snapshots’ of web resources. By improving our understanding of SPN and its role in shaping the IAWM, this work examines how the public tool is being used to ‘save the Web’ and highlights the challenges of operationalising a study of the dynamic sociotechnical processes supporting this knowledge infrastructure. Inspired by existing Science and Technology Studies (STS) approaches, the paper charts our development of methodological interventions to support an interdisciplinary investigation of SPN, including: ethnographic methods, ‘experimental blackbox tactics’, data tracing, modelling and documentary research. We discuss the opportunities and limitations of our methodology when interfacing with issues associated with temporality, scale and visibility, as well as critically engage with our own positionality in the research process (in terms of expertise and access). We conclude with reflections on the implications of digital STS approaches for ‘knowing infrastructure’, where the use of these infrastructures is unavoidably intertwined with our ability to study the situated and material arrangements of their creation.
On March 20-22, 2020, the German federal government sponsored a hackathon called #WirVsVirus (#WeVsVirus) that centered on finding solutions to social challenges related to the Covid-19 crisis. There was an enthusiastic response and over 42,000 people registered to take part. I was part of a small team from Stanford that had gathered (virtually) to work on this hackathon. We chose to work on the challenge of mass emergency notification systems for citizens living abroad. This article describes my experience with the hackathon, our team’s work and our outcomes, and our next steps. It also provides an overview of the organizational structure of the hackathon from the perspective of a participant.
Felicia Smith was featured as the speaker at a Fireside Chat at the Black Community Services Center to celebrate Black History Month. This event was hosted by Stanford's Black Panther Party Reading Group and included discussions about Felicia's event as part of Stanford Libraries' Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) Fair in October 2022, that was a book signing event with three women of the Black Panther Party Ericka Huggins, Rosita Thomas and M. Gayle Asali Dickson.
Presentation of data is a major component to academic research. However, programming languages, computational tools, and methods for exploring and analyzing data can be time consuming and frustrating to learn and finding help with these stages of the broader research process can be daunting. In this work, we highlight the impacts that computational research support programs housed in library contexts can have for fulfilling gaps in student, staff, and faculty research needs. The archival history of one such organization, Software and Services for Data Science (SSDS) in the Stanford University Cecil H. Green Library, is used to outline challenges faced by social sciences and humanities researchers from the 1980s to the present day. To compliment this history, participation metrics from consulting services (1999–2021) and workshops (2000–2021) are presented along with updated workshop participant feedback forms (n = 99) and further illustrate the profound impacts that these services can have for helping researchers succeed. Consulting and workshop metrics indicate that SSDS has supported at least 27,031 researchers between 1999 and 2021 (average of more than 1175 per year). A t-test on the feedback form data indicates that participant knowledge in workshops statistically significantly increased more than one scale point from workshop start to completion. Results also indicate that despite our successes, many past challenges continue to present barriers regardless of exponential advances in computing, teaching, and learning—specifically around learning to access data and learning the software and tools to use it. We hope that our story helps other institutions understand how indispensable computational research support is within the library.
October 18, 2022; October 18, 2022; October 18, 2022
The central theme weaving through several topics in this presentation will be connection. As the international community works toward creating better frameworks for connecting ocean science with the needs of society, there is a role for information professionals in democratizing the creation of, and access to, ocean knowledge. Since the advent of print as an information sharing medium, the creation of content and access to it have been mediated and inequitable. The arrival of the Internet has radically shifted the dynamics of information transfer by creating opportunities for anyone with access to share and receive content. In this presentation, I’ll discuss why and how I’ve moved towards a curatorial approach that reframes library collections as data. I’ll also draw connections between computationally accessible library collections, open knowledge bases like WikiData and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, and the broader open biodiversity knowledge graph. There is a wide range of actions librarians can be engaged in to make our collections more connected, discoverable and useful. The goals of my presentation are to share examples of how one marine science library is creating collections that are open and computationally ready, and to continue to build a community of practice within the IAMSLIC community that is centered on equitable access to aquatic knowledge.
Conservation documentation plays a crucial role in preventing misrepresentations about cultural property. Yet conservation records often remain undigitized and unsearchable. As part of efforts to improve access to conservation documentation, members of the Linked Conservation Data Consortium recently embarked on a project to transform paper and born-digital conservation records spanning forty years into linked data. Project team members reviewed existing models for preservation data and found that only the CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model would accommodate documentation of materiality, object structure, and conservation treatment events as prescribed by professional guidelines. Project outcomes revealed meaningful patterns in conservation data that may be useful in future model development as well as shortcomings in the XML technologies employed for transforming the data.
An overview of a project to digitize Stanford's holdings of music score manuscripts, fragments, sketches, autograph musical quotations, and musicians' letters. Presented at the 2022 Congress of the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives, and Documentation Centres (Prague, Czech Republic).
Chapter 13 in "The Bloomsbury Handbook to the Digital Humanities", this piece argues that learning to code plays an outsized role in digital humanities scholars' preoccupations, relative to its utility in developing digital humanities projects. Instead, it argues that scholars should instead focus on understanding the workflows of their projects in their entirety -- including their project management and collaboration aspects.
In this keynote, Felicia Smith will share examples of outreach efforts she conducted for libraries, that included the Office of Accessibility, First-Generation and/or Low-Income (FLI) students, incarcerated juveniles, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and underrepresented minority students. Inclusive outreach and engagement with diverse communities is important and can easily be incorporated into everyday librarianship with just a little imagination and a minimal amount of effort. It is helpful to start by conducting an environmental scan of campus and identifying opportunities for outreach. It is vital to compose a measurable set of objectives, and clearly articulate what will be achieved, including a way to assess outcomes. It is also important to understand the differences between inclusion and diversity, which are misused interchangeably. Felicia Smith’s mission as the only Racial Justice & Social Equity Librarian is to highlight communities that have been systematically devalued resulting in underrepresentation in scholarly settings and publications. This is problematic because important communities are being “disappeared” from the historical narrative, leading to a distorted interpretation of the past that then leads to dangerous implications for the present. Simply put, lack of inclusion matters. The goal of this keynote is to encourage attendees to amplify notable voices that have been intentionally silenced – so that those voices can be heard; and to make the excluded or unseen – seen.
November 30, 2022, marked the return of (in)VISIBLE Designers podcast at Stanford's d.School. This podcast returns with Season 2/Episode One featuring a conversation with Natalie Wilson & Derrica Wilson, founders of the Black and Missing Foundation (BAMFI) and co-hosted by Felicia A. Smith, Racial Justice & Social Equity Librarian along with Milan Drake, d.school Community Design Lead and Aleta Hayes, Lecturer in the Stanford University Department of Theater and Performance Studies. BAMFI was featured in a four-part documentary series, by multiple Emmy® winner Geeta Gandbhir and award-winning documentarian, journalist, author and activist Soledad O’Brien. The HBO Max series follows Derrica and Natalie Wilson as they fight an uphill battle to bring awareness to the Black missing persons cases that are marginalized by law enforcement and national media. This community partnership brings different campus groups together, in-person, at the d.school.
Conservation documentation plays an essential role in the long-term
preservation of cultural property, and conservators are ethically responsible for keeping
permanent and accessible records. While the conservation profession has been slow to
digitise legacy documentation, Stanford Libraries Conservation Services began a process
of regularly accessioning its conservation records to the university’s digital repository in
2018. To determine strategies for the effective cataloguing of accessioned conservation
records, internal search needs were assessed to develop a metadata profile based on the
MODS standard. This paper describes mappings from Stanford Libraries conservation
data to MODS and Dublin Core elements, enumerates useful controlled vocabularies for
describing conservation documentation in repository metadata and examines the potential
benefits of descriptive metadata profiles to the conservation profession.
Conservation documentation serves an invaluable role in the history of cultural property, and conservators are bound by professional ethics to maintain accurate, clear, and permanent documentation about their work. Though many well-documented schemata exist for describing the holdings of memory organizations, none are designed to capture conservation documentation data in a semantically meaningful way. Conservation data often includes deeply detailed observations about the physical structure, materiality, and condition state of an object and how these characteristics change over time. When included with descriptive catalog metadata, these conservation data points typically manifest in seldom-used fields as free-text notes written with inconsistently applied standards and uncontrolled vocabularies. Beyond the traditional scope of descriptive metadata, conservation treatment documentation includes event-oriented data that captures a sequence of steps taken by the conservator, the addition and removal of material, and cause-and-effect relationships between observed conditions and treatment decisions made by a conservator. In 2020, the Linked Conservation Data Consortium conducted a pilot project to transform unstructured conservation data into linked data. Participants examined potential models in the library field and ultimately chose to conform to the Comité International pour la Documentation (CIDOC) Conceptual Reference Model (CRM) for its accommodation of event-oriented data and detailed descriptive attribution. Project technologists worked with real report data from four institutions to create XML data models and map newly structured data to the CRM. The pilot group then imported CRM-modelled datasets into a discovery environment, developed queries to reconcile the divergent datasets, and created knowledge maps and charts in response to a small set of predetermined research questions. Feedback from conservators attending workshop activities revealed a shared need for conservation data standards and guidelines for those developing documentation templates and databases. Project outcomes signalled the necessity of further developing conservation vocabularies and ontologies to link datasets between institutions and from adjacent domains.
This slide presentation was given at the American Institute for Conservation's Annual Conference on May 16, 2022.
Conservators’ records provide crucial updates to the physical descriptions of tangible heritage after modification by conservation treatment, providing detailed accounts of materials and structures not otherwise described by registrars and catalogers. The 2016 FAIC project report Charting the Digital Landscape of the Conservation Profession summarized how heavy reliance on unstructured narrative reporting and the conservation field’s failure to migrate data to the digital landscape have siloed the cumulative object histories that conservation documentation offers. Five years after the Digital Landscape report; twelve years after publication of the previous Mellon survey project report, David Green and Rachel Mustalish’s Digital Technologies and the Management of Conservation Documentation; and after several calls to share and compare documentation form templates, the profession is no closer to the normalization and standardization necessary for findable and usable data in the digital era. Structured conservation data is essential for the construction of reliable object histories, viability analysis of treatment materials and techniques over time, and trustworthy records retrieval.
After evaluating existing preservation data models against the AIC guidelines for conservation documentation, the author conducted an internal survey in the Stanford Libraries Conservation Services unit to gather the staff’s reasons for consulting past treatment records and their documentation search criteria. The author then developed a database for conservation and assessment that employs a new conservation data model with the AIC guidelines as a broad framework complemented by findings from the internal staff survey. The new database application creates searchable, structured conservation data that is suited to analysis and advanced computing, while the front end leverages common contemporary web browser technologies to create modular and responsive forms that adjust to the reporting conservator’s needs. The project utilized technology that is standard and accessible, but developing the extensible data model required much discussion between conservators and metadata specialists.
To make any headway in modernizing conservation documentation, the field must pick up on Diane Zorich's Charting the Digital Landscape recommendations from 2016. Conservators should establish partnerships with archivists, librarians, registrars, and other adjacent allies already working with structured data and form working groups to update practices and create standards. Working groups should examine how conservators and colleagues access and use conservation data and reconsider the broad and vague definitions of treatment documentation in existing guidelines and literature. To further the development of standards, participants across the field could compare existing database back end structures similar to how past efforts have gathered treatment and assessment form templates for comparison. The profession might also benefit from a new technology forum where practitioners could share resources and discuss evolving needs at all levels of specialization. In efforts regarding data and computing where change is constant and always gaining momentum, the conservation field must keep pace through open community dialogue to supplement the periodic grant-funded projects and recommendations for change or risk being further excluded from technology discussions and left behind as colleagues move on and beyond the Information Age.