Scholars' Lab Blog //What has Scholars' Lab been up to? Or, a community of practice, communicating.
Blog //What has Scholars' Lab been up to? Or, a community of practice, communicating.

Like any active research/development/teaching/service team, the Scholars’ Lab faces a challenge keeping up with each others’ diverse collaborations, and communicating what we do.  Since January, I’ve learned about the Library’s systems of recording interactions with students and faculty, and I’ve encountered various applications that will somehow track our data, but I think we need more than CRM (customer relationship management).  We’ve grown our own self-recognition system, as simple as: monthly activity statements, in a template of categories, shared on Box.  (And Slack is working for us.)  Happily, it turns out that staff enjoy writing these very short notes (gee, I actually have done more than I remembered!) and reading each other’s (oh, I’m glad to know she’s doing that; or, oh, I talked to that faculty member separately, hmmm).  We have biweekly scrums, but there’s much more detail in the shared self-reflective accounts.

Alderman Library (not in July)

I post some excerpts of my “seasonal” compilation of activities in April and May, 2016, from the staff’s monthlies.  I don’t think this somehow scores points compared to other flourishing parts of this library, or other flourishing centers of digital humanities, but I think it profiles a community of practice centered in our practice of communicating.

I was genuinely surprised and excited by the depth and breadth of the “monthlies” by Ammon, Chris, Eric, Jeremy, Laura, Purdom, Ronda, and Scott.  Now, if I could only find the monthly time to add my own chronicles of collaboration! Thanks to Ron Hutchins, Worthy Martin, Judy Thomas, Martha Sites, David Germano, and Rennie Mapp for the regular meetings and exciting planning, this spring.

April and May, 2016:

Consultations/Collaborations, Faculty and Students, Library Colleagues—indicating people/projects, not hours or frequency of repeat sessions

  • Nineteen consultations and collaborations with faculty from 12 departments/programs: Women and Gender Studies, Carter G. Woodson Center for African-American and African Studies, History, English, Curry Education School, German, Kinesiology, Religious Studies, Biology, Sociology, Archeology/Art History, Slavic

  • At least twenty students from doctoral to undergraduate (in addition to Praxis), in such fields as Music and Anthropology: individual consultations, not including hands-on aid in Makerspace; from learning Python to project design to GIS

Scholars’ Lab as Starting Point, Incubator, Training Center, and Curator of Projects in DH

With a wealth of centers and nodes of digital expertise and activity at UVA, Scholars’ Lab has taken initiative to improve collaboration and communication, launching, a website, in May (in development).  Many faculty and student projects may be born and in due course put to rest/sustainable pasture through Scholars’ Lab, and we guide people to find the collaborators and resources they need in between.  We are a consultation hub and work closely with IATH, SHANTI, Research Data Services, Arts and Sciences and Provost’s Office administration, Library leadership, and ITS, among others.

Some of the Continuing Projects:

Neatline; Geoblacklight; Makerspace; Take Back the Archive (American Studies); Collective Biographies of Women (with IATH); For Better for Verse; Participatory Media; Salem Witch Trials; text analysis (18th-c. English); projects in NLP, GIS, 3D printing, augmented reality, data mining from social media, sonification

Speakers and Events Series.

In Spring, 2016, we held eight events open to the public and the Library, three of which focused on Praxis fellows (current or alum) or the Visiting Fellow presenting on their work.  In spring, 2016, we began planning a DH@UVA fall conference and a lecture series for 2016-2017 on diversity and access issues in DH.

Teaching Courses and Support of Course Projects

Members of the staff collaborate with the Teaching and Learning group in the Library and the subject liaisons, particularly Chris Ruotolo, to offer workshops on Neatline and GIS, or to offer short and for-credit courses.  One staff member taught an undergraduate course in American Studies.  SLab staff taught workshops for undergraduate and graduate courses in English, Architecture, German, and other fields.  Staff have collaborated on a course-based project on the archeology of Flowerdew Hundred.

Research, Presentations, Publications

Members of Scholars’ Lab are active in professional development; for instance, taking a course in Design Thinking; learning new methods of topic modeling; keeping up with the latest in bots and 3-D printers as well as drones and VR; presenting research that is informed by narrative theory, critical race studies, queer theory, or cultural geography; adapting research on user experience and information design.  Our work will be presented at DH2016 in Krakow, by six members of the staff, at a pre-conference workshop on biographical data and several other sessions.  SLab members presented at the British Library and at Yale University this spring.  A co-authored essay was proposed, accepted, and is now in process for publication in DH+Lib.

Cite this post: Alison Booth. “What has Scholars' Lab been up to? Or, a community of practice, communicating.”. Published July 03, 2016. Accessed on .