Digital Scholarship

Expanding services for faculty in a changing environment

Brenda L. Johnson

Brenda L. Johnson, Library Director and University Librarian (Photo by John Zich)

Today’s scholarly environment presents an increasing array of challenges and opportunities for faculty and graduate students. New funding agency requirements call on researchers to present advance plans for openly sharing and preserving their data.  Researchers are seeking ways to obtain data in new formats, to visualize information in new ways, and to rescue and share data for new purposes.  Across disciplines, researchers are constantly challenged to find and adopt new tools and techniques. The Library is meeting this challenge by launching new initiatives, developing cutting-edge skills among our librarians, and bringing on new staff members who can assist researchers in this changing scholarly environment.

Stacie Williams

Stacie Williams, Center for Digital Scholarship Director

The Library’s new Center for Digital Scholarship (CDS) will be an umbrella for many of these services, facilitating the analysis of complex data, the visualization of theoretical relationships, the preservation of core research, and the sharing of research results. Stacie Williams, who joined the Library in August as the inaugural CDS Director, brings experience working with researchers in her previous position managing the Freedman Center for Digital Scholarship at Case Western Reserve University. Williams is working with subject librarians and faculty to identify priorities for establishing new spaces, technical infrastructure, and services that meet research and teaching needs.  Following are some of the key areas in which initiatives are already underway.

Data preservation and sharing

Nora Mattern

Nora Mattern, Scholarly Communications Librarian

The Library is expanding Knowledge@UChicago, the University’s digital institutional research repository, to better support the needs of data preservation. Led by new Scholarly Communications Librarian Nora Mattern, the Library is migrating Knowledge@UChicago to a new platform that was initially developed at CERN to support high energy physics. The new Knowledge@UChicago will launch in January and will provide funder-compliant solutions for researchers to share and preserve their code, data, and research results.  Mattern also provides consultations on good data management practices, writing data management plans, and copyright.

The Library is also partnering with the Energy Policy Institute at Chicago (EPIC) to host a Council on Library and Information Resources Postdoctoral Fellow in Energy Economics Data Curation, Ana Trisovic. Trisovic is focusing on the particular challenges EPIC faculty face in collecting and preserving energy data, which is often available only from private industry or difficult-to-use government websites. She will be building a clearinghouse for EPIC’s data to facilitate discovery and reuse, as well as developing solutions for preserving and sharing the code that researchers use to analyze their data. Trisovic will use the skills she gained earning a PhD in Computer Science and her experience developing similar preservation solutions at CERN, applying them to the field of energy economics.

Data acquisition and use

Kristin Martin

Kristin Martin, Director of Technical Services

The challenge of acquiring data for research is shared by many disciplines. For example, the Library subscribes to thousands of electronic books and journals, but researchers interested in data mining these texts cannot easily do so using the vendor’s PDFs, which are intended for individual reading. Kristin Martin, the Library’s Director of Technical Services, excels at working with publishers to provide alternative access that is optimized for data mining.  The Library’s subject specialists can work with faculty across the disciplines and with Martin to seek such alternative access.

Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth Foster, Social Sciences Data Librarian

Elizabeth Foster, the Library’s new Social Sciences Data Librarian, can take this one step further, not only helping researchers find and acquire relevant data, but also helping them transform that data, for example, by formatting it to match the requirements of a particular tool.  Foster will offer workshops and will be developing data analysis consultation services, with a focus on using R and Stata.

Geospatial analysis

Cecilia Smith

Cecilia Smith, GIS and Maps Librarian

Faculty in many disciplines are exploring the ways spatial and temporal analysis and visualization can be used to gain new insights into their data. Cecilia Smith, the Library’s new GIS and Maps Librarian, can consult on the use of GIS information and geospatial tools to analyze and visualize trends in data from mapping the shifts in the border of the Roman Empire over time, to plotting the incidence of traffic accidents in relation to red light cameras, to mapping the impact of environmental factors on health outcomes, and more.  Read “Opening a GIS Hub at Crerar Library” for more information.

At-risk data and data rescue

Sarah G. Wenzel

Sarah G. Wenzel, Bibliographer for the Literatures of Europe and the Americas

Researchers interested in documenting historical trends are often stymied when early data are in analog formats not conducive to data analysis.  Heritage data–such as weather data and astronomical observations–are often the only evidence remaining of ephemeral or disappearing phenomena.  The Library is currently partnering with the Humanities Division to ensure that the UChicago Digital Media Archive’s linguistic and ethnomusicology recordings made by former faculty are converted from fragile magnetic tape to a digital form that can be used by researchers today. We are also working with the Ivy Plus Libraries on a web archiving project. Sarah G. Wenzel, Bibliographer for the Literatures of Europe and the Americas, co-developed a proposal with a colleague at Columbia University to create a digital archive of comics and artists’ websites.  Currently, more than 150 websites are being actively archived by this project and can be found at archive-it.org/collections/10181.

The expert and talented staff members of the Library are committed to expanding services that meet faculty needs in this changing environment. We look forward to working with you and encourage you to visit our Center for Digital Scholarship web page and to contact your subject specialist, Stacie Williams, or Elisabeth Long, Associate University Librarian for Information Technology and Digital Scholarship, to discuss your research needs.

Scientific reproducibility, data management, and inspiration

“Science moves forward by corroboration–when researchers verify others’ results,” the journal Nature states in its July special edition on Challenges in Irreproducible Research.  “There is a growing alarm about results that cannot be reproduced. . . . Journals, scientists, institutions and funders all have a part in tackling reproducibility.”

Stefano Allesina discusses a data management plan with Elisabeth Long, who points sto the plan on screen.

Librarian Elisabeth Long (left) discusses a data management plan with Professor Stefano Allesina. (Photo by Joel Wintermantle)

Science faculty across the disciplines are increasingly taking up the challenge to publish their research in ways that are more easily reproduced, and librarians are collaborating with these researchers to ensure that rigorously collected data, metadata, and algorithms are preserved and made accessible to the research community.

“Many of these efforts revolve around teaching, planning, and practicing excellent data management throughout the research life cycle, from grant writing to publication,” said Elisabeth Long, Associate University Librarian for Information Technology and Digital Scholarship.  “The University of Chicago Library is offering a growing set of data management research and teaching services that help UChicago scientists win grants and produce and publish reproducible results that will shape the future of their fields.”

Teaching good data management from the beginning

The UChicago Biological Sciences Division recently played a leading part in improving graduate education in its discipline by developing a National Science Foundation-funded course called Responsible, Rigorous, and Reproducible Conduct of Research: R3CR.  All UChicago first-year BSD graduate students are required to take the course, learning how to use current methods in computational biology in an ethical and reproducible way.  Elisabeth Long has partnered with the course’s creators, Professors Victoria Prince, Stefano Allesina, and Stephanie Palmer, to provide a class session that introduces students to the principles of data management in the lab setting.

“Biology produces a lot of data, and we have seen the kind of mistakes that people can make that are terrifying,” Professor Allesina said. “Elisabeth talked a lot about how you make sure that you’re keeping your data safe throughout your thesis research: how you should name your files, where you should save your files, how you make sure they are saved for posterity, and where there are institutional repositories or online repositories where you can publish your data.”

The Library is partnering with researchers across campus to develop practices and tools that can facilitate the kind of recordkeeping and data curation that is currently demanded of scientists.  Librarians are offering workshops and training sessions that prepare University of Chicago students to graduate with exceptional data management and preservation skills.

Electronic lab notebooks and data management plans

This Autumn Quarter, the Library’s new Center for Digital Scholarship begins offering drop-in consultation hours and customized one-on-one sessions to work with faculty on their data management plans, choosing between the University’s Knowledge@UChicago research repository and disciplinary archives for preserving and sharing research outputs.

The Center will also offer advice on selecting and using research management tools such as electronic lab notebooks and the Open Science Framework.  Research management tools provide platforms where faculty can centralize all their research activities, enabling easy file management, version control, protocol sharing, analysis activities, email, and other interactions between members of a lab. “One challenge confronting researchers is choosing from among the many existing systems,” Long said. “The Center for Digital Scholarship’s consultation services can pair librarians with individual faculty members, or bring sessions to your labs to explore the best solution for your particular research scenario.”

When the data don’t stand alone

Complex research workflows that present particular challenges for reproducibility often occur in fields where data are processed multiple times before final analysis. “In such cases, preserving the data alone is insufficient to support reproducibility,” Long explained. “The computational code for processing the data must also be preserved along with its relation to the data at various stages of processing.”

Marco Govoni, a researcher at the Institute of Molecular Engineering and Argonne National Laboratory, has been developing a tool for mapping and documenting these relationships.  Qresp: Curation and Exploration of Reproducible Scientific Papers (at qresp.org) guides the researchers through the process of documenting the relationship between the datasets, scripts, tools, and notebooks that were used in the creation of a scientific paper. Librarians are working with Govoni to explore ways in which the Library could support his work and potentially integrate it with the Library’s new institutional repository platform.

Data and inspiration

In consulting with librarians, faculty sometimes discover unexpected sources of data, inspiring new research projects.  When Long was talking to the R3CR class about data management and how they will submit their dissertations to ProQuest, a national dissertation repository, Professor Allesina began to consider the value its metadata could provide for the study of careers in science.  “There’s a lot of interest in trying to see if we can improve the situation in the sciences by increasing representations, for example, of women or minorities,” Allesina explained, “but one thing that we lack is some sort of longitudinal analysis, because once PhD students are out the door, it’s very difficult to find them again.”

Librarian Nora Mattern, Professor Stefano Allesina, and a sketch of a computational pipeline. (Photo by Joel Wintermantle)

At Allesina’s request, Long put him in touch with the Library’s Director of Technical Services, Kristin Martin, who worked with ProQuest to obtain the name, institution, and year of graduation for dissertation authors from the U.S. and Canada from 1993 to 2015.  He is now planning to combine that metadata with publication data from Scopus to track the length and locations of scientists’ careers in academia.

Such a study raises specific reproducibility challenges.  In working on a grant proposal to the National Science Foundation to support this research, Allesina turned to Nora Mattern, Scholarly Communications Librarian, and Debra Werner, Director of Library Research in Medical Education, for advice on how to integrate proprietary data owned by ProQuest and Scopus into the data management plan.  “How much can you share with other scientists?” Allesina asked.  “Can you share some summary statistics of the data?  Can you share de-identified data? If you imagine that someone wants to repeat my analysis of PhD students, will they have sufficient data?” Mattern and Werner helped him to structure the data management plan and to consider the legal implications.

When Allesina came to the United States from Italy, he was surprised at the role he found librarians taking in the digital age.  “Here librarians are thinking forward,” he said.  “Nowadays we have this mass of information. How do we navigate that? How do we organize it? How do we make it searchable? I am always amazed that people can be so helpful. I was dreaming of this data about PhDs, and I talked to Elisabeth, and she said ‘let me look into that.’ After a few weeks, I got gigabytes of data.”

His advice to colleagues: “Run it by a librarian before giving up.”

To consult with a librarian on data management and scientific reproducibility, talk to your Library subject specialist or email data-help@lib.uchicago.edu.

 

New Library Guide: Data Sources for Empirical Legal Research

Do you have a research hypothesis or question you’d like to test, but aren’t sure about which data to use or even where to begin looking? Thinking about including some empirical analysis in your substantial paper requirement or journal comment, but don’t know where to find the right dataset? Mastering linear regressions or the Monte Carlo method and need more sample data to crunch?

Consult the D’Angelo Law Library’s “Empirical Legal Research: Data Sources & Repositories” guide to help discover the right data for your next empirical project. This periodically-updated research guide compiles and describes a vast array of data sources (available through Library databases or on the open web) on a wide variety of legal and law-related topics, including U.S. and global economics, law enforcement and criminal justice, litigation, intellectual property, civil and criminal case filings/dispositions, bankruptcy, finance, securities filings and enforcement, and U.S. government agency data.

Check back soon for D’Angelo Law Library’s upcoming research guides, “Empirical Legal Research: Tools and Methodologies” and “Empirical Legal Research: Getting Started.

Library digitizes maps for study of kelp in a changing climate

“Kelp are habitat for hundreds—probably thousands of species: fishes, invertebrates, etcetera,” explained Cathy Pfister, Professor in University of Chicago’s Department of Ecology and Evolution. “They are a natural habitat, just like a coral reef, that is the only place where some animals survive.”

Concerns have been raised about downward trends in kelp’s abundance worldwide. Seeking more information about long-term changes in kelp abundance, Pfister discovered that the University of Chicago Library holds rare World War I-era maps showing the location of kelp forests in the Pacific Northwest. At her request, the Library’s Preservation staff digitized these maps, and Pfister and her collaborators compared the early 20th-century survey findings to aerial censuses of two canopy kelp species in Washington State waters from 1989 to 2015.

Surveying kelp beds in anticipation of World War I

The maps in the UChicago Library’s collection were made in anticipation of international conflict rather than global warming. In the early 1900s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recognized a problem. The United States relied heavily on fertilizer to grow crops and support its burgeoning economy, yet a crucial ingredient for fertilizer — potash, a mixture of potassium and salts — was mined almost exclusively in Germany. German mines supplied nearly the entire world’s supply of potash, and at the time the U.S. used about a fifth of its output.

Seeking ways to ease this dependency—and possibly aware that potash is also an ingredient in gunpowder—the USDA commissioned several surveys of an alternative source of potash: kelp beds in the Pacific Northwest. The large, hardy seaweeds are a natural source of potassium, nitrogen, and salts, and kelp worldwide have been used historically as fertilizer. If kelp could be harvested and processed in large enough quantities, it could be a viable source of potash to offset German imports.

So, the USDA sent surveyors — including George Rigg, an ecologist from the University of Washington — to map the kelp beds along the coast of California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. Rigg set out in a yacht with a 40-horsepower motor and mapped the Washington coastline in 1911-12.

One hundred and five years later, Pfister was made aware of the maps and was surprised to see a folio listed in the University of Chicago Library Catalog. With a few keystrokes, she had them retrieved by the robotic cranes in the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library’s automated storage and retrieval system. Delivered into her hands were large format maps bound inside 27 x 21-inch covers. Recognizing the value and fragility of the material, and wanting to use and archive digital copies of the maps for her analysis, Pfister contacted Preservation Librarian Sherry Byrne for help.

Conservation staff used Japanese paper to stabilize the brittle maps at the folds.

Conserving and digitizing the maps

The Library’s Preservation team was happy to digitize the extensive collection of maps from Alaska to California and had the expertise to do so without causing damage to the brittle, 100-year-old paper they were printed on. Especially large maps that had been folded to fit inside the book’s covers were starting to tear at the folds, so Library staff reinforced those sections of paper with Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste to keep the sections of the page from separating during handling. They then built a set-up to support the large volume while opening the folded maps for digitization. Photographer Michael Kenny and Head of Digitization Kathleen Arthur captured high-resolution images and posted PDFs that are now freely available to researchers worldwide through the Library Catalog.

“Library staff members with expertise in conservation and digitization are here to enable research that requires the digitization of print and other non-digital materials,” said Byrne. “We encourage faculty, students, and other researchers to contact us to discuss the possibility of digitizing materials in our collection.”

Professor Cathy Pfister points to a kelp map in the Library’s Digitization Laboratory. Image courtesy of The Forefront.

Research findings

With digitized copies of the Library’s 1911-12 maps in hand and aerial censuses from the last 26 years, Pfister and colleagues at the Washington Department of Natural Resources were able to determine the persistence of kelp cover over the past century and compared kelp dynamics with likely environmental drivers such as local environmental variables and ocean indices for the region.

What they found is a relatively rare positive story when it comes to ecological studies in a time of accelerating climate change. The abundance of most modern kelp beds along the Washington coast has remained constant over the last century despite a seawater temperature increase of 0.72 degrees Celsius. The few exceptions are kelp beds closest to Puget Sound, Seattle and Tacoma.

“Kelp are a robust and resilient structure. You can see that in the data, as long as they have access to good water quality and waves flush through them, then they persist,” Pfister said.

Pfister and her team also studied the competition among kelp species in the area. While the kelp beds were persistent over the decades, their populations could fluctuate greatly from year to year. There are two dominant species — the annual bull kelp and the perennial giant kelp — and they fluctuated similarly, meaning that if one was abundant in a given year, so was the other. And good years, it turns out, are associated with colder seawater temperatures, an unfortunate preference for kelp as ocean temperatures continue to rise.

The study by Pfister, Helen D. Berry, and Thomas Mumford, “The dynamics of Kelp Forests in the Northeast Pacific Ocean and the relationship with environmental drivers,” was published Dec. 18, 2017, in the Journal of Ecology.

The Library and research on climate change and ecological history

“As ecologists, we’re realizing that libraries and museums have incredible archival information about how our ecosystems used to look before we really were recording it very well,” said Pfister. “So instances like this where there was an expedition that really quantified how much kelp was there are incredibly important in helping us to understand where we’ve been in these ecosystems and potentially where we’re going as the climate changes.”

The Library has a wide variety of materials that may be useful to scientists exploring ecological history, including reports, maps, and data on ecological communities and environments that have changed or disappeared due to urbanization, climate change, and other forces. One particularly well-known collection of 4500 American Environmental Photographs was created between 1891 and 1936 by UChicago faculty members and students and is fully digitized and available online. The Library’s extraordinary Map Collection is well described and discoverable in the Library Catalog, and additional maps can be found in books and other materials.  For research assistance in this area, contact us at Ask a Science Librarian.

Launching a Center for Digital Scholarship at the Library

The Changing Nature of Scholarship

The advent of digital technology has opened up new horizons that have inspired scholars to transform the nature of their scholarship. From the rapid analysis of a human genome to the sharing of social science data sets to data mining vast quantities of text—scholars are continually developing new digital approaches to creating, analyzing, and sharing their research.

Brenda L. Johnson, Library Director and University Librarian (Photo by John Zich)

While digital scholarship activity among the University of Chicago faculty is growing, this new kind of scholarship comes with a challenge. Researchers must master a dizzying array of computational tools and techniques, they must think about how to manage their data in ways that can be used by other researchers, and they must find solutions for archiving and sharing their data that meet the increasingly stringent requirements of funding agencies. As faculty and students increasingly incorporate computational and algorithmic methods (e.g., text mining, network analysis, GIS and geo-spatial mapping, image analysis, data analysis) into their research process, they are looking for partners to provide the technical and human resources necessary to support their research activities, foster innovation, and facilitate cross-divisional collaboration.

Digital scholarship encompasses all parts of this new life cycle of digital research, from the changing ways in which scholars collect and analyze data to their increased interest in new techniques for preserving and sharing that data. The Library is a natural hub for the exchange of ideas and the home of a great deal of expertise on archiving and sharing information. Accordingly, we are preparing to enhance our offerings and collaborations with faculty in each segment of this life cycle.

Envisioning a Center for Digital Scholarship at the University of Chicago Library

Faculty tell us that “a substantial barrier to the adoption of computational and digital methods at the University of Chicago has been the isolation of faculty members from colleagues who are experimenting with similar techniques. . . . A physical space designated for such inquiry could help bridge this knowledge gap by providing an environment in which to explore the application of these techniques, receive hands-on training through tutorials or workshops, and benefit from informal collaboration with colleagues in other disciplines.”

To meet this need, I am pleased to announce that we are beginning the work of launching a Center for Digital Scholarship at the Library, which will become a new nexus for intellectual energy and growth, providing a space that will support state-of-the-art technologies and services that facilitate the exploration of new methodologies, the analysis of complex data, the visualization of theoretical relationships, and the sharing of research results.

Establishing such a transformative center at the Library will require identifying high priority needs and thinking creatively about how to resource those needs. Thanks to the generosity of Robert, AM’64, and Carolyn Nelson, AM’64, PhD’67, we will soon be able to hire a Director for the Center for Digital Scholarship (CDS) who will develop a strategic vision, begin to build services, and coordinate with existing library staff. Our new CDS Director will jumpstart the process and position us to pursue additional funding to support a full suite of services. I am grateful to the Nelsons for their early support of the Library’s digital scholarship initiatives.

We are now beginning a search for this Director and look forward to having this position filled in the coming months. As the Center develops over time, we expect that we will be able to facilitate a wide range of activities. Possibilities fall into three categories.

  • Scholarly Exploration and Collaboration. A combination of intellectual programming (symposia to host international scholars, tutorials, brown-bag presentations, workshops, faculty lectures), services (project consultation, data archiving), and technology (scanning equipment, workstations equipped with GIS and other specialized software) will make the Center a hub that brings faculty, students, and scholars together in ways that spark interactions and facilitate cross-divisional collaborations.­
  • Graduate and Undergraduate Training.  Faculty turn to the Library as a partner to supplement classroom instruction with workshops, targeted training, and onsite training by embedded librarians who can teach the skills necessary for students to succeed. In addition to supporting initiatives across campus to develop courses and programs that integrate new computational methods and theories into a wide range of disciplines, the Library has partnered with UChicagoGrad to provide fundamental digital scholarship skills needed by graduate students to become the next generation of leaders in academia, industry, nonprofits, and government.
  • OCHRE database screenshot

    The OCHRE database allows users to view photographs of artifacts (here, Ras Shamra tablets) alongside associated machine-readable data such as descriptions, epigraphs, interpretive information, transliterations, and translations.

    Project Incubation and Execution. The Center for Digital Scholarship will provide services, such as project consultations, data acquisition and conversion, workshops in tools and techniques, and core technical infrastructure.  Researchers would benefit from guidance on strategies for organizing and executing digital project work and from assistance by staff with the experience and networks that can facilitate project components that are new to the researcher. Examples of such projects are the Library’s collaboration with Chicago Booth’s Richard Hornbeck on the location and digitization of 19th-century manufacturing data and with the Oriental Institute’s David Schloen on the OCHRE database system.

I look forward to being joined by the new Director of the Center for Digital Scholarship, who will collaborate with colleagues within the Library and across campus to develop a vision for the Center and plan for the rollout of services critical to digital research and teaching projects of many kinds.

 

Librarians and faculty collaborate on digital scholarship

Social scientists, humanists, and business faculty work with Library experts

Professor Hornbeck points to digitized census page during discussion with Kathleen Arthur and Sherry Byrne

Professor Hornbeck (center) discusses the digitization process for the Census of Manufacturers with Head of Digitization Kathleen Arthur (right) and Preservation Librarian Sherry Byrne. (Photo by Eddie Quinones)

Social scientists, humanists, and business faculty across the University of Chicago campus are rapidly adopting and inventing new digital tools and techniques. Whether they seek to analyze 19th-century American manufacturing, the ruins of the ancient walled city of Sam’al, or the transmission history of Hamlet, UChicago scholars and students are employing new digital approaches to gathering, analyzing, preserving and sharing their data and scholarly findings. As they do so, Library staff members with expertise in everything from digitization to GIS to digital data curation and archiving are developing innovative ways to collaborate with faculty to advance digital scholarship.

Gathering and digitizing data from the Census of Manufacturers

The U.S. Census of Manufacturers has the potential to be an internationally recognized resource, Professor of Economics Richard Hornbeck explains—as important for academic research as the census data on individuals available currently through IPUMs and Ancestry.com. Conducted every decade from 1850 to 1900, the Census of Manufacturers gathered firm names, product types, production quantities, and values for every establishment producing more than $500 worth of manufactured goods. Census takers also collected input data on capital stock, raw materials, power source, wages, and employment. If combined into a machine-readable format in one accessible location, the complete census data would become a powerful tool for understanding 19th-century manufacturing across the United States and in specific regions.

And yet, up to this point, the establishment-level data has never been accessible to researchers in one location. The Census Bureau has compiled and published county-level and county-by-industry summaries, but the firm-level data has been scattered across the country in different archives, libraries, and historical societies, in formats ranging from original handwritten records to microfilmed copies. That will change for data from 1850 to 1880, thanks to a collaborative digitization effort now underway, led by Professor Hornbeck, who has enlisted a team of professional and student research assistants, as well as Sherry Byrne, Preservation Librarian; Kathleen Arthur, Head of Digitization; Emily Treptow, Business and Economics Librarian for Instruction and Outreach; and Elisabeth Long, Associate University Librarian for IT and Digital Scholarship.

The project began in 2016. Early on, Hornbeck approached Treptow, Byrne, and Arthur with questions about how to digitize microfilm, including more than 100 rolls that Vanderbilt Professor Emeritus Jeremy Atack had been storing in his basement and more than 90 rolls located at a dozen archives, libraries, and historical societies across the country from the New Hampshire State Archives to the University of Arkansas and the Center for Research Libraries.

Although Hornbeck and research professional Julius Luettge located most of the microfilm themselves, the trusted relationships that the University of Chicago Library has established with other research institutions enabled Byrne to borrow and oversee the digitization of items that would not have been released to an individual researcher.

The Library’s experts have also advised on numerous matters along the way, such as how to create high-quality scans of manuscript materials and good metadata. “A project of this nature could easily be overwhelming,” Hornbeck said. “It’s great to have library professionals watching over this.”

Other faculty members pursuing complex digitization projects like this one are invited to contact the Library to discuss the possibility of collaborating. “Researchers benefit from guidance from Library staff on strategies for organizing and executing digital project work,” explained Long. “We can facilitate project components that are new to researchers.” Such cooperation has left Professor Hornbeck with more time to focus on analyzing his data. He is currently working with Martin Rotemberg at NYU to examine the substantial growth in American manufacturing from 1850 to 1880 and to estimate how the expanding railroad network impacted manufacturing productivity.

UChicago faculty, students, and staff working on the digitization of the U.S. Census of Manufacturers include, from left, Preservation Librarian Sherry Byrne, undergraduate research assistants Anselm Jia and Guozhen (Gordon) Ji, research professional Andrea Cerrato, Professor of Economics and Neubauer Family Faculty Fellow Richard Hornbeck, research professional Will Cockriel, undergraduate research assistants Gyeom Kim and David Ardila, and Head of Digitization Kathleen Arthur. (Photo by Eddie Quinones)

Teaching GIS

Taylor Hixson describes her job as “helping anyone who is new to the field of GIS.” Brought on board as the Resident Librarian for Geographic Information Systems in Fall 2016, she helps faculty and students find data sources and advises faculty on how they can organize, preserve, and share their geographic data with others: for instance, by creating metadata, by depositing data in the University’s digital repository, Knowledge@UChicago; and by making data accessible through the Big Ten Academic Alliance Geoportal at geo.btaa.org.

Hixson maintains office hours in the Maps Collection in Regenstein Library, offers GIS workshops throughout the academic year, and assists individuals by appointment. She also provides customized training for students in particular classes upon faculty request.

Last year, Susan Burns, Associate Professor of Japanese History, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the College, contacted Hixson as she was planning the GIS components of a course on Edo/Tokyo: Society and the City in Japan. Burns’s class attracted everyone from first-year College students to second-year graduate students, who entered with diverse backgrounds in Arc-GIS and historical research methods. Hixson was able to provide training for students at all levels.

After each of four class periods devoted to introducing basic Arc skills, Hixson held review sessions for students who wanted more help. She also worked individually with students on using the Esri Story Map platform for their final projects, mapping everything from schools to bathhouses to public protests. “Many students expressed to me how grateful they were for Taylor’s help, and of course, I am as well,” Burns said.

Hixson’s first year at the Library has proven that there is demand for GIS Services from faculty and students across schools and divisions. The demonstration of this need has confirmed the Library’s decision to hire a GIS and Maps Librarian who will continue to develop the Library’s GIS program.

OCHRE and the Library’s infrastructure for description, discovery, and archiving services

When archaeologist David Schloen and database specialist Sandra Schloen began working to create OCHRE—the Online Cultural and Historical Research Environment at the Oriental Institute—they knew they wanted to design a customized user interface to record, integrate, analyze, publish, and preserve texts from the Ancient Near East, including some of the most difficult ancient languages to model in a database environment. To fulfill their vision, they needed a partner who could provide an infrastructure that would power their project.

Map view of OCHRE interface

The map view interface in OCHRE, showing Tell Keisan excavation locations. (Courtesy of Miller Prosser)

The Schloens turned to Charles Blair, Director of the Digital Library Development Center, and ever since he has led the Library team that hosts OCHRE’s high-performance database system as it has grown to support roughly 30 projects in fields from philology to archaeology to history. Each has its own framework for organizing data that is tailored to the needs of the project. One project currently underway, Critical Editions for Digital Analysis and Research (CEDAR), will provide a single software environment where scholars can trace textual variants and explore the transmission of major literary traditions. Initial test cases will be the first eleven chapters of the Book of Genesis, the Sumerian copies of the Gilgamesh Epic, and the various early printings of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Blair and a Library Unix systems administrator, Fred Seaton, maintain the OCHRE database server and advise on archival procedures for the curation of project data. “Deeply rooted in the library tradition, Charles has a watchful eye on the future and is committed to helping the OCHRE Data Service devise and implement strategies to ensure the long-term viability and accessibility of our data,” said David Schloen, Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology.

“Charles and the Library are natural partners for the Schloens on the OCHRE Data Service because we all share a commitment to providing services and features that satisfy the full cycle of data management,” explained Long. Blair had already led the Library team that built an infrastructure to support Library databases such as the University of Chicago Photographic Archive and the Special Collections Finding Aids, and other University projects such as the Project for American and French Research on the Treasury of the French Language (ARTFL) and a collection of digital images for teaching, LUNA.

“OCHRE was able to leverage our existing infrastructure for description, discovery, and archiving services, and we would be happy to provide the same type of service to other University of Chicago faculty and staff who have their own development teams but need an infrastructure for their interface,” explained Blair.

OCHRE database screenshot

The OCHRE database allows users to view photographs of artifacts (here, Ras Shamra tablets) alongside associated machine-readable data such as descriptions, epigraphs, interpretive information, transliterations, and translations.

New librarians exploring new frontiers

The Library is taking numerous steps to expand its staff expertise and its work in digital scholarship in the coming months and years. Library Director and University Librarian Brenda Johnson recently announced the imminent launch of a Center for Digital Scholarship at the Library. In addition to hiring a Director for this new Center and a GIS and Maps Librarian, the Library is preparing to hire a Social Sciences Data Librarian, a Scholarly Communication Librarian, and a Biomedical Data Librarian who will increase the Library’s capacity to provide innovative digital research and teaching services. The Library is also proposing with the Energy Policy Institute at UChicago to bring on board a two-year Council on Library and Information Resources Postdoctoral Fellow who would focus on building the understanding and infrastructure necessary for managing data critical to the study of energy, environmental science, and climate change.

One of the services open to UChicago faculty in every field is Knowledge@UChicago, a digital repository that preserves and shares the scholarly, creative, and administrative assets of the University. Faculty are encouraged to deposit their scholarly articles and small data sets at this time, and plans will soon be made to expand the repository’s capacity when the new Scholarly Communication Librarian joins the Library. Visit knowledge.uchicago.edu for more information.

Digitized campus publications open a century of University history and debate to researchers

The Daily Maroon, October 1, 1902 (page 1)

October 1, 1902, seemed an auspicious day to the staff of the new University of Chicago student newspaper, the Daily Maroon. Its writers took great pride in a number of historic events occurring that day: the launch of their paper; the opening of the new Law School; the start of autumn quarter, featuring the largest attendance in University history to date; and even the prospects for “a successful and satisfactory foot-ball season.”

But in addition to conveying school pride, page 1 also reports on the controversies associated with student life. The founding of the Daily Maroon as “a self-supporting student activity” rather than a university-funded entity is reported to have occurred only after extensive debates among faculty, administration, students, alumni, and the owner of a preexisting literary magazine. And an article on autumn quarter registration reports that a newly segregated registration process—with women in Cobb Hall and men in the Press Building—had become “the subject for conjectures among the students as to whether or not it was a forerunner of separate instruction.”

Sexual segregation cartoon

Sexual segregation cartoon, Cap and Gown, 1903 (page 17).

Digitized copies of the first 20 years of the Daily Maroon have recently been added to the University of Chicago Campus Publications website. Launched in April 2017, the Campus Publications site allows researchers to readily explore history from 1892 to 1995. Beginning at launch, the site provided digital access to four periodicals: Cap and Gown, the College yearbook; the University of Chicago Magazine, the official alumni publication; Quarterly Calendar, an early omnibus publication; and the University Record, its successor.

Other campus publications, such as the Maroon, are being added on an ongoing basis as digitization continues, and additional issues of the Maroon are expected to be added over the coming academic year. Because Maroon student reporters covered campus events of all kinds, even when other press did not, the Maroon’s accounts of lectures by visiting scholars, faculty academic debates, and arts performances are sometimes the only surviving historical record.

Outgoing dean hands "grand master" key to incoming dean

The cover illustration of outgoing Dean Gerhard Casper handing the “Grand Master” key to incoming Dean Geoffrey Stone was drawn by David Rothman, JD’62. The Law School Record, vol. 33, no. 1 (Spring 1987)

By visiting campub.lib.uchicago.edu, members of the UChicago community and researchers around the world can conduct a simultaneous keyword search of all of the publications on the site, using an interface built and maintained by the University of Chicago Library. As a result, researchers can sometimes rapidly access the distinct voices and perspectives of faculty, administrators, students, alumni, and guest lecturers as they engage with the vital issues of the day. One example can illustrate the point: “sex segregation”—as alluded to in the first issue of the Daily Maroon—was a vital subject in the early 20th century, and the University briefly experimented with separate instruction for first and second year male and female undergraduates. A search for the word “segregation” on the site turns up more than 100 citations for the decade 1900-09, often connected with sex segregation. Searches on other topics such as war or urban renewal uncover campus debates and involvement in topics of vital local, national, and international importance.

The Law School’s scholarship repository, Chicago Unbound at chicagounbound.uchicago.edu also serves as a home to many historical publications and other materials of interest to the campus community, alumni, and outside scholars. Developed by the D’Angelo Law Library and the Law School’s Communications Department and launched in 2014, Chicago Unbound includes PDFs of all issues of the school’s alumni magazine, The University of Chicago Law School Record, from its original publication in 1951 to 2017. The site also makes available all issues of the Law School’s Announcements back to 1903-1904. An essential resource on the Law School’s history, the Announcements includes course descriptions and information on the faculty and administration. Chicago Unbound also has video and audio recordings for three notable lecture series: the Maurice and Muriel Fulton Lectureship in Legal History, the Coase Lecture in Law and Economics, and Chicago’s Best Ideas. The D’Angelo Law Library will continue to build Chicago Unbound as a digital repository for researchers to uncover the Law School’s past.

The Law School Record, vol. 35, no. 1 (Spring 1989), cover

Chicago Unbound provides access to some of the innumerable debates that have been central to the life of the Law School throughout its history. In the Fall 1999 issue of the Law School Record, for example, Law School faculty, deans, and alumni are shown to take pride in representing opposing parties in important cases “that unsettle precedent, fire policy debate, and advance new lines of legal analysis” on subjects ranging from anti-gang loitering ordinances to bankruptcy law to the constitutionality of same-sex marriage (Fall 1999, page 8).

UChicago faculty, students, staff, and everyone interested in University of Chicago history are encouraged to visit Campus Publications and Chicago Unbound to explore other campus debates and historic moments.

Publishers require ORCID iDs for submitting authors

ORCID logoWiley, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the Publications Division of the American Chemical Society (ACS) have each signed ORCID’s Open Letter and announced their new requirement of an ORCID iD for all submitting authors as part of the manuscript submission process.

An ORCID id (Open Researcher and Contributor iD), is a persistent, unique, numeric identifier for individual researchers and creators. It distinguishes individual researchers with the same (or very similar) name and supports automated linkages between a researcher and their research activities. A researcher’s ORCID record, which includes their ORCiD identifier, holds non-sensitive information such as name, organization, and research activities.

Learn more about ORCID and how to create your
own ORCID iD at http://guides.lib.uchicago.edu/ORCID

Advancing digital scholarship

Researchers across the University of Chicago and their collaborators around the world are engaging in a rapidly expanding range of digital research and teaching projects.  The Library has already worked with faculty members on digital projects ranging from the management of archeological information from the site of ancient Ashkelon to the search for and discovery of the Higgs boson. We would like to invite additional faculty members to think of us as partners in digital scholarship and to contact us to discuss how we can collaborate to identify, obtain, disseminate, and preserve digital data.

Brenda L. Johnson, Library Director and University Librarian (Photo by John Zich)

Brenda L. Johnson, Library Director and University Librarian (Photo by John Zich)

Earlier this year, we released Library Strategic Directions, 2016-2019: Inquiry, Innovation, and Impact [PDF].  In it, we defined five directions that will guide the library’s efforts as we continue critical commitments and assume new roles that are vital to research, innovation, and learning at UChicago.  One of those directions focuses on advancing digital scholarship.  The Library is committed to increasing the scholarly impact of the University by building robust services and technology infrastructures to support emerging modes of research, innovation, and scholarship.

What does that mean for faculty and students at the University of Chicago?

A hub for digital scholarship

The Library will be a hub for digital scholarship by providing faculty and students with tools and services that strengthen the impact and visibility of their research and creative endeavors.

Today’s researchers and funders are increasingly interested in transparency, accessibility, and the reproducibility of data sources.  The Library can help you to save and publicly share data in ways that meet these growing demands.  Our new digital repository service for the campus community, Knowledge@UChicago (knowledge.uchicago.edu), is our first major step in that direction.  Built in partnership with IT Services and the Research Computing Center, Knowledge@UChicago can now accept finished research products and small data sets for archiving and sharing. We are currently developing Knowledge@UChicago into a more robust system and are eager to hear from researchers to ensure that we develop functionality that meets your needs.  I encourage you to read more about Knowledge@UChicago and to contact Amy Buckland (knowledge@lib.uchicago.edu) to discuss ways that this digital repository can serve you now and in the future.

Services for the life cycle of research data

The Library will develop an array of services to support the life cycle of research data from assistance with writing a data plan to managing, sharing, and preserving data.

ATLAS cavern at CERN Large Hadron Collider

View of the ATLAS cavern taken during technical stop. ATLAS is one of two general-purpose detectors at the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Librarians from UChicago and Notre Dame are collaborating with physicists to explore key issues that must be solved to preserve LHC data, software, and algorithms. (CERN-EX-1209198-02, courtesy of CERN).

The end of a digital project is not the only time librarians can assist you.  The Library is supporting faculty needs for research data management services through programs that include workshops on granting agency requirements and best practices for describing and managing research data.

The Library can be a particularly good partner for faculty involved in cross-disciplinary and inter-institutional projects. Librarians are skilled in determining how to make data interoperable, so that the data you have collected for one purpose can be reused by other researchers asking different questions or can be aggregated with colleagues’ data to reveal a larger picture.  The Library can also work with inter-institutional projects to determine sustainable long-term solutions for sharing and preserving their publications and data, engaging library partners as appropriate.

We are already working in this area.  For example, as part of the Data and Software for Open Science project, librarians from UChicago and Notre Dame are collaborating with physicists from around the world who are working with data produced by the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Together, we are exploring the key issues that must be solved to provide preservation solutions not just for the high energy physics data, but also the software and algorithms associated with that data.

Elisabeth Long and colleagues (digitalscholarship@lib.uchicago.edu) can consult with you as you begin to write a data management plan or at various stages of your research as you consider sustainable data management practices, inter-operability, and long-term access and preservation.

Advancing open scholarship

The Library will take a leadership role in advancing open scholarship at the University by supporting and promoting open access, open data, open educational resources, and other forms of openness in the scholarly and research environment.

In addition to developing Knowledge@UChicago to support sharing of UChicago research, the Library has long supported open scholarship by digitizing items in our collections and making them freely available online.  The recently completed Goodspeed Manuscript project is one of many examples.  We also collaborate with libraries around the world on open access projects such as the South Asia Materials Project’s Open Archives Initiative.

If you are interested in making your research or course materials openly available, starting an open access journal, or working with the Library to make resources openly available, please contact Amy Buckland (open@lib.uchicago.edu).

Looking to the future

In the coming years, the Library seeks to make its digital scholarship services increasingly robust, ensuring students and faculty have access to spaces, technologies, and consultation services that support their exploration of new methodologies, analysis of complex data, and sharing of their research and creative endeavors through new publishing models.

There are many ways we can pursue this goal.  I look forward to learning more about how we can collaborate with you on digital scholarship.

 

Knowledge@UChicago preserves and shares scholarly and creative works

The University of Chicago Library has launched a new service for the campus community that will preserve and share the digital scholarly, creative, and administrative assets of researchers, instructors, and staff at the University. Built in partnership with IT Services and the Research Computing Center, Knowledge@UChicago is available at knowledge.uchicago.edu.

Knowledge@UChicago logoThis new digital repository service addresses the pressing need for a place for sharing and preserving data sets, providing open access options for scholarly articles and dissertations, and meeting public access requirements for grant-funded research. In this initial phase, it can accept small data sets; by summer it will accept large ones. Faculty who are interested in making these scholarly resources available in Knowledge@UChicago, as well as alumni interested in sharing their dissertations, should email us at knowledge@lib.uchicago.edu.

Ultimately, Knowledge@UChicago will:

  • assist researchers with funding agency requirements for deposit of research output;
  • aggregate collections of teaching and learning resources for use in the classroom and online learning;
  • increase the global accessibility and visibility of the intellectual output of the community, including the work that has been hidden until now;
  • archive recordings, photographs, and other multimedia that document the University’s events and activities, and make them discoverable; and
  • harness the linked data capabilities of the ORCID (orcid.org) and DOI (doi.org) systems to ensure our researchers, and their work, are part of the semantic web.

Capital funding from the Provost’s IT Committee will support our longer-term goal to build an infrastructure that will integrate seamlessly with researchers’ workflows, handle large data sets, and provide a variety of publication options suited to different types of materials, from subject-based research collections to student publications to audio and video created at various events on campus.  This will allow Knowledge@UChicago to capture and share the scholarly, creative, and administrative output of the university.

The work deposited in Knowledge@UChicago will be publicly available to all: anyone with an internet connection will have access. This will increase the visibility of the work done on campus, and truly “let knowledge grow from more to more, and so be human life enriched.”

To begin sharing and preserving your work with Knowledge@UChicago, please visit  http://knowledge.uchicago.edu or email knowledge@lib.uchicago.edu.