Tuesday, 20 October 2015

St Andrews Digital Humanities Network launch event

The Library is delighted to be planning the launch on November 3 of the St Andrews Digital Humanities Network.  Following in the footsteps of similar initiatives at Oxford and Cambridge, the St Andrews network will aim to identify the Digital Humanities community here and to define that community’s needs.  Discussions within  this forum will enable us, we hope, to build Digital Humanities expertise and capacity, and to develop faculty-wide and inter-faculty links which could inspire collaboration and experimentation in future projects.  We look forward to considering, for example, whether we need an inter-faculty Digital Humanities Skills module and if so, how that could be arranged.  We might produce a regular online newsletter to disseminate Digital Humanities best practice and updates about training, and we might also think about how St Andrews’ many impressive Digital Humanities projects could be better showcased to a wider public. 

In launching the St Andrews Digital Humanities Network we look forward to working closely with the Critical Mass at Lunchtime initiative organised by Dr Konrad Lawson and Dr Uta Hinrichs, and with the School of Computer Science’s IDIR (Institute of Data-Intensive Research), both of which provide extremely welcome concurrent responses to the many challenges of the fast-developing digital research community here at St Andrews.

An interesting programme of presentations is planned for the day, with Professor Melissa Terras, Director of the Centre for Digital Humanities at UCL giving the keynote talk, “Joining the Dots: How Building a Digital Humanities Network can Benefit Individuals and Institutions.”  There will also be talks by academic staff from Classics, History and Modern Languages who are currently involved with Digital Humanities projects, and from Library staff who will explain the various ways in which they can provide support for projects of this kind.  

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Oxford Digital Humanities Summer School

Lou Burnard What is the Text Encoding Initiative cover image
I had a really excellent time at the Oxford Digital Humanities Summer School, July 20 - 24.  It was a huge event, with 163 delegates and 83 speakers enjoying 8 week-long parallel workshops on topics such as Crowdsourcing for Academic, Library and Museum Environments, Digital Musicology, and Linked Data for the Humanities.  Professor Jane Winters from the University of London’s Institute of Historical Research gave the opening keynote lecture on “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Digital,” and Professor James Loxley from the University of Edinburgh gave the closing talk on “Uneasy Dreams: the Becoming of Digital Scholarship.”

I followed the workshop on Leveraging the Text Encoding Initiative, and was pleased that much of the teaching on this was given by the inspirational Lou Burnard, one of the founding editors of the TEI.  I was even more pleased that we were all given a free copy of his recent book, What is the Text Encoding Initiative?  How to add intelligent markup to digital resources (Open Edition Press, 2014), and available at: http://books.openedition.org/oep/426 – a perfect summary of everything we were taught.  Many  PowerPoints and many practical exercises later, I now know a lot more than I used to about how to encode a digital text, and even more excitingly, how I might eventually display a marked-up text via an XML database such as existdb, and even run XQuery searches on it, should I feel the need!

It was a busy, stimulating week, with lots of interesting conversations with fellow TEI enthusiasts, a splendid closing dinner at Exeter College, and even some time left over to browse the Oxford bookshops!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Finzi Music Collection

Richard Mudge.  FIN M1012.M75M8
I’m pleased to report that our project to digitise the eighteenth-century music scores within our Finzi Music Collection is now complete. 140 items by composers such as William Boyce, William Felton, John Humphries, Richard Mudge, John Stanley and Charles Wesley were transcribed and arranged, usually in Gerald Finzi’s hand, in the early twentieth century and preserved in his collection. Digital copies of the scores can now be easily reached from the Special Collections website, where a new Digital Collections page has been opened. This has been a collaborative project involving both myself and Special Collections staff, who helped hugely at the scanning and web-page creation stages, and it’s satisfying to have played a small part in opening up our rather hidden music collections to a wider public.