54: L-65 Digitizing the Historical Record

18-22 July 2011


1)    How useful were the pre-course readings? (Leave blank if you applied and were accepted late for the course, and thus did not get the list in time.)

1: Somewhat. A few were too technical for me to follow. 2: Very useful in familiarizing myself with the language and concerns around digitization. 3: Not terribly helpful. We did not address a number of the issues/topics in the required readings and some materials were relatively old. Fewer articles and more current overviews are available on topics. 4: Somewhat. 5: Some were useful. 6: Not particularly useful because it was not that recent and most concepts were already known to me. 7: They were helpful in preparing for the week. 8: Some were very tedious and too detailed for the general nature of the course. I confess I skimmed several articles. 9: Very useful; much of the discussion would have been lost on me without it. 10: Fine. Generally on point and relevant. 12: Yes. I especially enjoyed the theoretically based readings. 13: I found them very useful, although we never addressed them directly in the class.

2)    Were the course workbook and other materials distributed in class appropriate and useful (or will they be so in the future, after you return home)?

1: N/A. There weren't really any materials handed out. 2: Yes, improve course materials by including a list of recommended links. Further reading provided. 3: There wasn't a workbook but some information from guest speakers has been placed online and I will review it. 5: Yes, very useful. I will be using them in the future. 6: Somewhat useful. 7: Yes. 8: Didn't get much in the way of handouts. 9: We didn't have a traditional workbook, just access to links and further reading. 10: Some—the UX presentation was particularly nice, linked open data too. 11: I have found many new websites and tools that are sure to be of interest. 12: Yes. I will definitely refer to all the material we explored and discussed, and will bookmark the Scholars' Lab for future information. 13: Yes. It would have been helpful to have a list of all the websites that were discussed during the course presentations.

3)    What aspects of the course content were of the greatest interest or relevance for your purposes? Was the intellectual level of the course appropriate?

1: The guest lecture on geo-referencing was excellent. Some of the other content was a bit too theoretical. 2: The more concrete exercises and time spent on our individual projects are very relevant to my work. Discussing the theory of digitization was at times interesting, but sometimes too removed. 3: I appreciated the more practical sections—what might be done with GIS data, what digital curation services deals with, user experience interface design, &c. 4: I liked approaching the subject from a general conceptual level. Sometimes some background discussion could have helped clarify concepts that were ambiguous. 5: The discussions and exercises dialogue with largest issues of what is at stake in digitizing—both on item level and for various ways of structuring and connecting knowledge. 6: It was helpful for me to hear and experience the academic side and point of view to digitization, though it was or will not be particularly appropriate for the work I do. 8: I'm most interested in the details of starting a unit, so the invited lecturers from UVA Special Collections Digital Unit and Scholars' Lab were very useful. Some of the theory will be helpful as well. 9: It was similar to a graduate level seminar. Always important to see what others struggle with in common and having a chance to discuss big picture concerns and ideas. 10: The class regularly, even mostly, was presented as a panel conversation between the instructors. It was intensely self-referential and self-satisfied in a way that put a damper on the experience as for me. Students were sometimes acknowledged as the center of the course (as, I think, it should be for professional development classes like this) only to be reframed and talked over when ideas where presented. A general classroom sense of one another and our concerns, thoughts, &c. was never really realized because no student comment went by without an instructor speaking after it and so on. Student projects were rushed and harried—that acting should have been a centerpiece of the class. 11: I found all of the information to be useful and relevant. 12: All aspects were helpful info considering theoretical questions and frameworks to specific examples such as mark-up options. 13: I was most interested in digitizing text, tagging images and copyright issues. The intellectual content was appropriate.

4)    What did you like best about the course?

1: Probably the geo-referencing and demonstrations with Google Earth. 2: Guest lectures about specific projects or technologies. 3: Guest speakers and topics and the other students in the class. 4: Guest lectures. 5: The discussions and exercises described above. 6: The freeform discussions about what others are doing and/or issues that they face at their respective institutions. I found these more stimulating than many of the academic, or at least what I consider academic, discussions. 7: Information and comparisons shared by other classmates from other institutions. All the material presented by the instructors was good to know about. 8: Visiting the Digital Lab and discussing treatments of our sample books. 9: Excellent mix of scholars and librarians. 11: I liked BN's command of current issues in Digital Humanities and the variety of perspectives from all of the students. 12: The tremendous exposure to so many issues relating to digital environments. 13: I particularly liked discussing the philosophy of digitizing at different institutions.

5)    Did the instructor(s) successfully help you to acquire the information and skills that the course was intended to convey?

1: I'm not sure yet. I think I need to have time to go home and chew on it and let the ideas get a bit more. 2: Yes. 3: I suppose—my expectations differed from what the course's primary focus ended up being. 4: Yes, though I thought we would do more to explore principles and considerations for collection building (how to select materials for digitization). 5: Yes. I'd like more information of ways to talk with upper administration about the importance of DH. 6: Both instructors displayed a thorough knowledge of their field and interests. 7: Yes, though application may not be as practical at my workplace. 8: Yes. 9: Yes. This is a quickly evolving field but many concerns, issues, ideas, and suggestions will be relevant for years. 10: Broadly, this was accomplished. But with disappointments. 11: Yes, I learned a great deal that will be of use to my project and future work. 12: The instructors were wonderful. They were experts who could share their extensive knowledge with clarity and responded with flexibility to the dynamics of the course while covering all the material. 13:Yes. With two instructors, a lot of the time during the first couple of days was used for lectures and it was not always easy for all students to participate.

6)    Did you learn what the course description/advertisements indicated you would learn? Y/ N


1: Yes. I think so. We did cover a lot of over-arching themes related to digitization issues. 2: Yes. 3: Not sure. The focus was predominantly on digital scholarly texts and authoritative editions. I would not have come had I recognized this beforehand. This is different from general digitization programs. 4: Yes, but see answer to question five above. 5: Yes. 6: Not quite sure. Once again, it seemed more about thinking about problems that might exist as opposed to those that do exist. 7-9: Yes. 10: Unsure. 11: Yes. Generally yes, but the course became more directed to librarianship issues as this was the main audience. 12: Yes. 13: Yes. It would have been helpful to know in advance that we would need to have a website project in mind to storyboard.

7)    Did you learn what you wanted to learn in the course? Y/N
Additional comments (optional):

1: No. I was hoping for a bit more suggestions/recommendations. 2: Yes, though I was hoping for more concrete steps towards better organization and presentation of digital files. Still a very good framework for discussions at home. 3: No, but I did learn other things that will apply to my job. 4: Yes, but see answer to question five above. 5: Yes. 6: Yes, I suppose I did get the intellectual stimulation I wanted—but possibly not the outcomes I wanted. 7: Yes. 8: Yes, but I would have appreciated a bit more discussion of standards and organization. 9: Yes. 10: Not particularly. 11: Yes! And much more. 12: Yes. I learned more than I had expected because my classmates brought different perspectives and the instructors introduced new examples and resources throughout the week in response to directions that came up during the week. 13: Yes.

8)    How do you intend to use or apply the knowledge or skills learned in this course?

1: I think I'll be able to approach my administration with ideas for digitizing projects, especially maps with geo-referencing techniques. 2: Not sure what is technically feasible for my department but I have many ideas! 3: 1) To back some of the things my institution already does. 2) To explore more ways to improve our user experience and GIS. 4: As a basis for further research. 5: To inform my work on a digital site and to discuss digital media in courses I teach. 6: We will see if they are applicable in the future. 7: I think it gives me more ideas on how to think about digitizing materials and how to make them available to more audiences. 8: I'll be able to design digital projects with greater attention to potential users and possible collaboration with other institutions. 9: When thinking about what digital projects and partnerships we should be considering. This class also helped to create a framework to begin talking to library administrators. 11: Directly in my editorial work and more generally as I think theoretically about the digital humanities. 12: I hope to mindfully begin plans to digitize portions of our collection. 13: The theoretical information that I have gained will be particularly helpful in larger organizational meetings.

9)    How could the course have been improved? If you have a suggestion for a new course (and—equally important—a person who could teach it), please contact the RBS Program Director.

1: More focus on Special Collections side of things, less from a scholar/humanities perspective. 3: Yes. 4: The teachers should avoid allowing the discussion to become a dialogue between themselves. 5: No suggestions for improvement. An additional course on the digital humanities and literature would interest me, especially one focusing on paradigm shifts related to digital media and literary form. 6: More about partial applications in digitization. 8: A little less theory and more practical information. 9: Offer a follow up class with same instructors on really building a digital project to learn practical skills. Or request students to sketch out a website before the class and compare new website at end. 10: Definitely provide more opportunities for students to converse and explore without such moderation. Give some primacy to these ideas of projects and center the course around that—it would offer people ways to explore and develop throughout the course. I felt these were particularly devalued and that the justification of their short shrift was totally off base. 11: The mini-lectures were great, but I think there could be more discussion immediately following them on how people could use tools and ideas in their particular projects. 12: Could BN teach a course on geospace? 13: Is there a certificate offered at RBS for digitizing?

10)    If your course left its classroom to visit Special Collections (SC) or to make other field trips away from your classroom, was the time devoted to this purpose well spent?

1: Not really. Given the rest of the course content, it just seemed forced and out of place. 2: Yes, the visit to the digitization lab was informative. 4: Visit to SC was interesting. 5-6: Yes. 7: Yes! 8: Yes. 9: Yes, we saw the Digital Lab in SC and Scholars' Lab. 10: No—our time in SC was again dominated by instructors' commentary. We weren't engaged with the objects or staff there. 11: Yes. It was great to see the digitization lab. 12: Yes! 13: I did not find the discussion with the SC outreach coordinator particularly useful.

11)    We are always concerned about the physical well-being both of the RBS teaching collections and of materials owned by UVa's Special Collections. If relevant, what suggestions do you have for the improved classroom handling of such materials used in your course this week?

1: I think it was fine. 2: Very careful classroom handling. 4: A clear demonstration of how to handle books. 5: No suggestions. 6: No. 9: I think the level of handling was appropriate. 10: N/A. 11: Materials were appropriately handled. 12-13: None.

12)    If you attended the optional evening events (e.g. RBS Lecture, Video Night, RBS Forum, Booksellers' Night) were they worth attending?

1: Both lectures were excellent, and I really enjoyed movie night. 3-4: Yes. 5: Google books lecture was outstanding. 6: N/A. 7: Yes. 8: Yes, especially enjoyed Monday and Wednesday lectures. 9: Yes. Always. 10: Binding talk was not well done—though content may have been interesting. The Googlization of Everything was very useful and well presented. 11: Definitely. The lecture and forum were perhaps most useful. All were a great chance to socialize outside the classroom. 12: Yes! I wish one lecture each week could occur in the Rotunda. 13: I really enjoyed the lectures and Video Night. An optional trip to a local vineyard would have been fun! Sign up sheets for dinner together on nights other than Sunday would also have been nice.

13)    Did you get your (or your institutions) money's worth? Any final or summary thoughts, or advice for other persons considering taking this course in a future year?

1: I think I did. I still need some time to organize my thoughts. 2: Completely worth taking. 3-7: Yes. 8: Yes, I got my money's worth and I would recommend to others. 9: I think so. This class will help in both planning a digitization project and promoting the idea to stakeholders. 11: Definitely. 12: Yes! 13: Yes. The breakfast/break options were perfect, although the room is very small. Could we have breaks elsewhere?

14)    Would you recommend this course to others?

1: Maybe, depending on their needs and expectations. 2: Yes. 3: To scholars: yes. To digital librarians: no. 4-5: Yes. 6: Yes. With caveats. 7-8: Yes. 9: Definitely. 10: Probably not, unless to a Digital Humanities person. 11: Yes. It's a course all humanities scholars should take. 12: Yes, even to someone not directly involved in digitization projects because these issues affect us all in all out different institutions. 13: Yes.

Number of respondents: 13





Institution gave me leave




I took vacation time




N/A: self-employed, retired or had the summers off




I am self-employed

Work has nothing to do with RBS course






Institution paid tuition




Institution paid tuition ___%




I paid tuition myself




Exchange or barter




N/A: Self-employed, retired or scholarship





Institution paid housing




Institution paid for ___% of housing




I paid for my own housing




N/A: stayed with friends or lived at home







Institution paid travel




Institution paid ___% of my travel




I paid my own travel




N/A: lived nearby









There were 3 rare book librarians (24%), 2 general librarians with no rare book duties (16%), 1 professor of Restoration and c18 literature (7%), 2 general librarian with some rare book duties (16%), 1 digital librarian (7%), 2 archivist/manuscript librarians (16%), 1 professor of English literature (7%), 1 editor of a documentary edition (7%).

Where did you stay?

Brown College—1

The Lawn—5

Hampton Inn & Suites—3

Red Roof Inn—3