News

Spring 2020 Work-Study Position

Boston University Libraries are hiring a spring 2020 work-study Special Projects Assistant. While no special technical skills are needed, the student will need to be generally comfortable with a variety of office productivity tasks, including document preparation and data entry.

Hours (6-10/week) are negotiable, but will mostly need to be between 9am and 4pm on weekdays, in chunks of two or more hours.

The Special Projects Assistant will be expected to help with a variety of tasks, including but not limited to:

  • organizing and updating content in OpenBU;
  • adding and updating faculty publication data in My CV (BU’s Faculty research information system);
  • and similar projects as required.

General Qualifications: Great attention to detail and active engagement with the work will be required. We are looking for students who can demonstrate responsibility, initiative, timeliness, and the ability to work independently. This is an ideal job for someone who is genuinely interested in libraries and their role in making scholarship and research openly available to the world.

Applications Information: If interested, please contact Eleni Castro, OpenBU & ETD Program Librarian. Say a bit about yourself, your current major and/or other studies, your interests (relevant and otherwise), work experience, and a little about what interests you about this job. Please also include information about your Federal Work-Study award. Interviews will be held in person or by video chat on Zoom or Skype.

You’re invited: Data modeling book club

We all work with primary and secondary sources that can be usefully framed as data. BU Libraries’ Digital Scholarship Services invites you to join a group of BU faculty, staff, and librarians to begin a discussion of data modeling as an approach and a practical application. We will discuss Part I of The Shape of Data in Digital Humanities: Modeling Texts and Text-Based Resources by Julia Flanders and Fotis Jannidis (Routledge 2018), both generally and in light of specific projects brought to the meeting by participants. At the meeting we will identify sections of Part II of the book that hold particular interest to the group, aiming to hold an additional discussion in spring.

Our first meeting will take place on Friday 1 November at 1pm in Mugar Library's Estin Room (Rm 302). To get to the Estin Room, take the elevator or stairs nearest the circulation desk to the third floor. Turn left out of the elevator and follow the signs around the wall in front of you. Estin Room entrance is halfway down that wall.

Registration: Data Modeling Book Club

Date: Friday 1 November 2019
Time: 1-2pm
Location: Mugar Library, Estin Room (Rm 302)
    Click here to be added to the Digital Scholarship Services email list to receive news and information about upcoming events hosted by BU Libraries.

Now in OpenBU: Mandinka Ajami & Arabic Manuscripts from Casamance, Senegal

Boston University Libraries' Digital Scholarship Services are honored to announce the public release of over 18,000 pages of manuscripts from 58 different Mandinka scholars in Casamance, Senegal, which are now completely digitized and openly available in the African Ajami Library on OpenBU.

Manuscript owner, Souleymane Bayo with project member Ibrahima Yaffa.
Image of manuscript owner Souleymane Bayo in Kignini, Senegal, being interviewed by project member Ibrahima Yaffa.
Mandinka Ajami poem - Kalifa Faty Collection
Example of a page from a Mandinka Ajami poem. Kalifa Faty Collection M001. Photographed by Ibrahima Ngom.

The project initially focused on preserving endangered Mandinka Ajami manuscripts of the southern Casamance region of Senegal. However, our fieldwork team found on the ground, when the project began, that the manuscripts were richer than initially anticipated. They encompass four major types: (1) Arabic texts; (2) Arabic texts with glosses in Arabic; (3) Arabic texts with glosses in Arabic and local languages (Soninke and Mandinka); and (4) Mandinka Ajami texts. Because all the manuscripts are equally important and document the preoccupations and intellectual traditions of the Mandinka people of Senegambia and beyond, we expanded the project beyond its original focus on Mandinka Ajami texts to include Arabic and bilingual (Arabic and Mandinka or Soninke) manuscripts, which we were granted permission by manuscript owners to digitize.

Illustrated page from دلائل الخیرات Dalā’il al-Khayrāt: Waymarks of Benefits. El-hadji Kemo Drame Manuscript Collection M004. Photograph by Ibrahima Ngom.

This was a joint project between Boston University and the West African Research Center (WARC), funded by the British Library Endangered Archives Programme (EAP 1042)*. Support for this project was also being provided from the BU College of Arts & Sciences (Former Dean Ann E. Cudd and Former Associate Dean Nancy Ammerman), the BU Department of Anthropology, and Boston University Libraries. Fieldwork Team: Dr. Fallou Ngom (Pricipal Investigator; Director, African Studies Center), Ablaye Diakité (Local Project Manager), Mr. Ibrahima Yaffa (General Field Facilitator), and Ibrahima Ngom (photographer). Technical Team: Dr. Fallou Ngom (Principal Investigator; Director, African Studies Center), and Eleni Castro (Technical Lead, Boston University Libraries). This collection of Mandinka Ajami materials is copied as part of the Boston University African Studies Center’s African Ajami Library.

Page from Biniiboo: Celebrating Prophet Muḥammad
Arabic poem with extensive interlinear and marginal glosses. A few glosses are vocalized and are written in Soninke Ajami. Lamine Cisse Collection M005. Photograph by Ibrahima Ngom.

*The Endangered Archives Programme provided digitization/curation guidance and funded this digital preservation project (EAP 1042), which is supported by Arcadia, a charitable trust of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin and administered by the British Library.

For more details on this project:

 

Fall 2019 Work-Study Positions

The Boston University Libraries are hiring two Fall 2019 work-study Special Projects Assistant positions. While no special technical skills are needed to successfully complete this work, students will need to be generally comfortable with a variety of office productivity tasks, including document preparation and data entry.

Hours (6-10/week) are negotiable, but will mostly need to be between 9am and 5pm on weekdays, in chunks of two or more hours.

Special Projects Assistants will be expected to help with a variety of tasks, including but not limited to:
  • preparing materials from our collections for digitization, digitizing them, and post-processing digital images;
  • writing descriptive information (metadata) for materials in preparation for deposit into OpenBU;
  • reorganizing and updating information in OpenBU;
  • adding and updating bibliographic citation information in My CV (BU’s Faculty research information system);
  • and similar projects as required, with some possibility to tailor them to the student's interest.

General Qualifications: Great attention to detail and active engagement with the work will be required. We are looking for students that can demonstrate responsibility, initiative, timeliness, and the ability to work independently. This is an ideal job for someone who is genuinely interested in libraries and their role in  making scholarship and research openly available to the world.

Applications Information: If interested, please contact Eleni Castro, OpenBU & ETD Program Librarian. Say a bit about yourself, your current major and/or other studies, your interests (relevant and otherwise), work experience, and a little about what interests you about this job. Please also include information about your Federal Work-Study award. Interviews will be held in person or by video chat on Zoom or Skype.

Inaugural Northeast IR Day 2019

2019 Northeast Institutional Repository Day

BU Libraries Digital Scholarship Services, in collaboration with colleagues from UMass Amherst, UMass Medical School,  MIT, and Harvard, will be hosting the first ever Northeastern Institutional Repository Day conference on June 18, 2019 at Boston University. This event is free (registration required*) and open to everyone interested in the current and future state of institutional repositories, digital collections, and digital preservation.

When: Tuesday, June 18, 2019, 8:00am – 4:15pm

Where: GSU Conference Auditorium (2nd floor)
George Sherman Union at Boston University
775 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215

*Registration: Please follow this link to register.  Registration is free of charge, but advance registration is required.

Please see the NIRD website for more information on accommodations and our full agenda: https://escholarship.umassmed.edu/neirug/agenda.html

Can’t join us? Please follow along using our official hashtag: #NIRD19

Any questions? Please feel free to contact one of the organizers:

Erin Jerome: ewjerome@library.umass.edu
Lisa Palmer:
 lisa.palmer@umassmed.edu
Eleni Castro:
 elenic@bu.edu
Mikki Simon Macdonald:
 mssimon@mit.edu
Colin Lukens:
 colin_lukens@harvard.edu

Rights Reversion Workshop – POSTPONED

This workshop, originally scheduled for  April 23, 2019, is being postponed until Fall 2019.

Please check back with us or join our mailing list to receive news about digital scholarship and open access events.

Have you written a book that is now out of print? Would you like to open your book up to a wider audience, without relying on a publisher to do it for you?

Explore new ways to reach readers and scholars and gain added exposure for your work by recovering your rights from your publisher.

When you signed your publishing agreement, you likely transferred some or all of the rights in your work to your publisher. But, your agreement may contain a provision that allows you to take back your rights. This provision is known as a right to reversion.

Rights reversion allows you to make your own decisions about how to make your work available. Join us on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 in GSU 310for a workshop where you can work one-on-one with a BU Librarian to learn how you may be able to regain the rights to your work.

The workshop runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Faculty and staff may sign up for one 15-minute time slot if they have 1-3 publications that they wish to review and an additional time slot if they have more works and would like a longer consultation time. Bring copies of your publications and any author or publishing agreements that you may have signed.

Lunch will be provided courtesy of the BU Office of Research. This event is for BU faculty and staff only*. Registration is limited to 24 and an RSVP is required. Please visit this page on the library calendar to register.

Please contact Digital Scholarship Services at disc@bu.edu, if you have any questions.

*If you can't attend or are not a BU faculty or staff member but are still interested in this topic please take our survey and tell us what your interests are.

 

You’re Invited: Crowd Cafe, February 2019 Edition

This February's installment of Crowd Cafe, a project co-presented by Boston University and Boston College, is co-sponsored by BU's Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground. If you're local to us, please come in person if you can — we'd love to have you! If you're not local, please join us online.

Attending in person? Please register here and join us in Mugar Library's Estin Room, 771 Commonwealth Avenue, Rm 302.

Digital Preservation of Mandinka Ajami and Arabic Manuscripts of Senegal

Re-posted with permission from The British Library's "Endangered Archives Blog" (original post). The Endangered Archives Programme funded this digital preservation project (EAP 1042), and is supported by Arcadia, a charitable trust of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin and administered by the British Library.

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14 November 2018

Mandinka Ajami and Arabic Manuscripts of Casamance, Senegal

This a wonderful blog written by Eleni Castro, OpenBU & ETD Program Librarian at Boston University as well as Project Technical Lead for EAP1042.

This October we presented a poster entitled, “Digital Preservation of Mandinka Ajami Materials of Senegal” at FORCE2018 (Montreal, Canada), which is an annual conference on making research and scholarship more broadly and openly available. This poster provided a project overview and update on the work we have been doing for EAP 1042 - an international research collaboration between Boston University, the West African Research Center (WARA/WARC), and local experts in Senegal, which involves visiting manuscript owners in the Casamance region of Senegal to work with them to digitally preserve and make more broadly available manuscripts written in Arabic and Mandinka Ajami (Mandinka using Arabic script) from their personal libraries.

In January 2018, we gave a three day digital preservation workshop at the West African Research Center (WARC) in Dakar, and shortly thereafter went to Ziguinchor to begin our digitisation field work. Overall, the team is spending 15 months 1) interviewing manuscript owners and digitising rare manuscripts from Ziguinchor, Kolda, and Sédhiou, 2) curating and post-processing over 14,000 digital images, and 3) depositing three independent copies at: WARC in Dakar, the British Library, and Boston University’s African Ajami Library on OpenBU. At the time of writing, we have digitised over 10,000 Arabic and Mandinka Ajami manuscript pages (some bilingual).

Image 1 resizeDigitisation Workshop team at the West African Research Center in Dakar, Senegal (Jan. 2018)
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Project PI, Dr. Fallou Ngom, looking over manuscripts with manuscript owner, El-hadji Lamine Bayo
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Ibrahima Ngom (photographer) and Ablaye Diakité (local project manager) photographing manuscripts from the Abdou Khadre Cisse collection (Jan. 2018)
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Ibrahima Yaffa interviewing manuscript owner Abdou Khadre Cisse and his brother Cherif Cisse. Filmed by project photographer, Ibrahima Ngom

As we began our digitisation, we noticed that there was a large number of bilingual manuscripts written in both Arabic and Mandinka Ajami, which is very different from the mostly unilingual Wolof Ajami manuscripts digitised in EAP 334. The genres and subject matter found in these works varied widely, from religious to secular topics, such as: astrology, poetry, divination, Islamic education, jurisprudence, Sufism, code of ethics, translations & commentaries of the Quran and Islamic texts from Arabic into Mandinka, stories about Mandinka leaders and important historical figures (including women), records of important local events such as the founding of villages, ancestral traditions, and Mandinka social institutions.

Image 5 resize
Manuscript of a long form poem praising the Prophet Muhammad, written in Arabic with marginalia in Arabic and some Mandinka Ajami (Abdou Khadre Cisse Collection)
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Mandinka healing document (Abdou Karim Thiam Collection)

 

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19th Century watermark found in Biniiboo manuscript (Abdou Khadre Cisse Collection)

Since we are working in remote areas, with non-studio conditions, we encountered some technical issues early on. Finding the right lighting has been an ongoing challenge, since our time in the homes of manuscript owners is precious and limited, and so we have had to work with available light and the help of a macro ring flash. Our camera overheats after +1h of continuous use, but we found that by replacing an extra hot battery with a cooler one, helps us resume digitisation much faster. Since we have a geographically dispersed team, we have setup a communication channel via WhatsApp, and upload files on Google Drive for backup and review as soon as a new collection is being worked on. Internet speeds can be quite slow when sending these large raw image files, but a mobile hotspot modem has helped with internet access while working in the field.

While we will be wrapping up digitisation and curation of these manuscripts by April 2019, there is still more work to be done to help researchers more effectively study and explore these materials. We will be looking into using a IIIF image viewer for scholars to better be able to compare various manuscripts and annotate them. Transcription is a longer term goal, since more unicode work is needed to extend Arabic script characters for African Ajami manuscripts to be full-text searchable in their actual languages.

Open Access Week 2018: Adding More Parts to the Sum

Open Access Week 2018 Banner

Open access work can be exhausting. For one thing, it's a form of social justice work, which is always tiring. Also, though: open access work in higher education is the work of culture change. That takes a long time. Sometimes we go a long while without any explicit evidence of improvement.

Crowd Cafe graphic formatted for social mediaSo we keep ourselves going by doing projects that feel real in the moment. Crowd Cafe feels real. Once a month we come together, with our colleagues from Boston College and whoever else decides to join us, and each contribute to crowdsourced projects of our choosing. At the end of two hours, we leave feeling that we've thrown our tiny pail's worth into the sea.

It's satisfying work, taking a couple of hours to dig into primary resources and make them more computable somehow. Are you curious? Join us in person or online on the third Friday of every month; next time we'll meet is November 16th. No commitment implied by your showing up; we'll be happy to talk even if that's all you want to do. Wish you could jump in, but don't know where to start? We can help. Join us.

Open Access Week 2018: On Equitable Foundations

Open Access Week 2018 Banner

This year's Open Access Week theme, arrived at by a thoughtful advisory group with representatives from 17 countries, is "Designing Equitable Foundations for Open Knowledge." Clearly, it's a topic with worldwide resonance. This is also confirmed by our experience working at the intersection of digital humanities, scholarly publishing, and contemporary librarianship.

Today, we'd like to step back a bit and outline ways in which we at DiSc are engaging with this topic in all our work. Each of the points below is only glossed, and all of them are work in progress. We write about them here to be transparent about our principles, and in case any of you reading this and working on the same concerns would like to collaborate. By all means please contact us.

  • We build new digital collections — which involves digitization, description, addressing questions of audience, and at least attempting and planning to present them in interesting ways, as staffing and other resources allow. As we build them, we think about ownership. We are conscious of the GLAM sector's violent colonialist history, particularly in countries we refer to as "first-world" or "developed." We are about to begin grappling in a pragmatic way with what it means to co-own a digitized collection of historical materials with individuals and communities represented in it, how to not entirely take over control but share it. We're doing a lot of research on emerging best practices around how to do this with cultural and political sensitivity on one hand, and an eye to long-term access and preservation on the other. More importantly, how do we enable narratives that the communities represented by these materials think ought to be constructed?
  • We pay attention to labor and credit. To be honest, even though we are striving to do well here, we fail: our student employees and interns often do not get proper public credit for the work they do. We are aiming to create a Credits page for DiSc by the end of this calendar year.
  • We emphasize ethical openness in all our work with faculty on teaching, research, and collection building projects. Of course, we abide by copyright and student privacy laws and pay special attention to safety concerns where needed. But ultimately, we turn many conversations — even administrative ones, about policy compliance — back toward the reason most of us came to work in education and research: we want to participate in humanity's struggle to better understand itself and the world. In that context, sharing new knowledge is an essential element in making our collective lives better.

Onward.