November 14: DH in the Library–Ben Vershbow (NYPL) on “NYPL Labs: Hacking the Library”

November 8th, 2011 by Matthew K. Gold Leave a reply »

Please join us on Monday, November 14, 6:30-8:30pm at the CUNY Graduate Center (Room C201) for an exciting session on DH in the Library:

Ben Vershbow (New York Public Library)

“NYPL Labs: Hacking the Library”

The digital humanities and libraries have a deeply intertwined history. DH centers frequently are allied with or physically housed in library infrastructure, and many early digital humanities projects were in essence digital librarianship: organizing information online, building accessible digital archives, preparing and encoding texts for the world wide web. To this day, libraries look to digital humanists for new theories and methodologies in areas as diverse as digital preservation, linked open data, and geospatial information.

The New York Public Library is something of an outlier in this history. A public research institution, not beholden to a faculty or student body, its user base is an entire city, and also a vast array of thinking people around the world. It is an incubator for books, technologies, businesses and works of art. Thousands of scholars, writers, artists, students, workers and job seekers use its reading rooms and free internet access to pursue vectors of thought and creation. Its digital collections (still a tiny fraction of overall holdings) are accessed through web browsers around the world. Yet only recently has NYPL begun to actively engage with the digital humanities community and to adapt some of its ideas and methods to the immense task of redefining the public library for the information age.

Since 2007, the Library has been actively modernizing its digital infrastructure: embracing open source software and agile development processes, laying the foundations for a trusted digital repository, and working blogging and social media into its service models. NYPL Labs is a recently formed unit that is charged with building on these advances through bold experimentation with new technologies, development of advanced interfaces and research tools, and deep collaboration with curators and the public. This talk will cover current and future projects of the Labs, and through the lens of these first efforts, ponder what an urban public research library might look like a few decades down the road.

Ben Vershbow is a New York-based digital humanities geek and theater artist. For four years, he was editorial director at the Institute for the Future of the Book, working with Bob Stein. Currently, he is manager of NYPL Labs, a digital innovation unit at The New York Public Library, and runs a theater collective, Group Theory.

 

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