Library Services are continually changing and evolving as the research needs at an institution also grow and require new or innovative support. Research continues to morph into cross-disciplinary arenas as well as move more electronically. As more and more data is available and can be processed in a shorter amount of time, new links can be discovered and mined at a deeper level than was possible in the past. The availability of quick access to information has shortened the peer review process and the move toward more open access and open data has also sped up the citation trail. While some of these changes have allowed researchers to dive deeper into their own disciplines, it has also allowed them to blur the lines between areas and use information in new and exciting ways. Libraries are excited and challenged to provide services for these ever evolving research projects both in terms of research support as well as preservation and access to this research in the future.
The libraries at OSU continue to grapple with how to best support digital scholarship programmatically through services offered by the library. The Libraries are starting to discuss what steps would need to be in place to support a programmatic approach to supporting research services. While this will not be a regular series of blog posts, there are certainly a number of areas that we will continue to explore. Some of these include: changes to citation models, changing methods of discovery impact the research cycle, alternate definitions of scholarship and how to measure scholarly output, and building a library program to support research when and where it occurs.
The platform we chose to use for the King James Bible Virtual Exhibit is Omeka, which is “a free, flexible, and open source web-publishing platform for the display of library, museum, archives, and scholarly collections and exhibitions.” It’s well known to have a nice set of features that are typically found separately in content management systems, collections management systems, and archival digital collections systems. As a developer it was helpful to have such diverse functionality available to us upon installation. We were able to leverage the strengths of the platform instead of building features from the ground-up.
If you read to the bottom of the home page of our new digital exhibit on the King James Bible, you may have wondered at the presence of the following statement:
This is a temporary digital exhibit. It will be available January 7 through May 5, 2013.
Physical exhibits are usually taken down at some point to make room for others; digital exhibits are more likely to be available indefinitely. That this one is not is due to its status as a pilot project for an ongoing, centralized digital exhibits program and its use of a new software platform.
The OSU Libraries is no stranger to interesting digital exhibits. They are generally created by the faculty and staff who work with the content, and are usually built as static HTML pages or added as pages on the Libraries’ website content management system.
To explore a different method of creating digital exhibits, a group of faculty and staff launched a pilot project in early 2012. Supported by the Libraries’ innovation fund, the project team had two goals: 1. Create a digital version of a physical exhibit using the Omeka software platform, and 2. Investigate the feasibility of a centralized digital exhibits program drawing on the wide range of expertise – from development to metadata to project management – available in the Libraries. We have achieved the first goal, but the second is still underway.
To ensure that a pilot project does not become an ongoing program without proper review, we are putting a time limit on our exhibit. It will remain public through the end of spring semester of 2013. In the meantime, we will be finishing our investigation and drafting recommendations. We welcome feedback from colleagues and exhibit visitors – please leave a comment or contact Eric J. Johnson.
Today marks the public launch of the digital version of a traditional (read: physical, or analog) exhibition I curated from May-August 2011. “‘Translation… openeth the window to let in the light’: The Pre-History and Abiding Impact of the King James Bible” celebrated the 400th anniversary of the publication of the first edition of the King James Bible in 1611, tracing in broad lines the history of biblical translation and textual packaging from the Middle Ages through the “golden age” of English Bibles in the sixteenth century and on through to the early-twenty first century. Among the many items included in the exhibition were medieval manuscripts, early printed books, fine-press publications, modern Bibles, steel engravings, comic books and strips, and original artwork. From a curatorial standpoint, the diversity of materials on display afforded me a great deal of flexibility and creativity in terms of what types of items I chose to use in order to tell the story of the King James Bible and its centuries-long impact on religious practice, language, literature, art, and culture. This is not to say, however, that this diversity did not come with its own set of frustrations.