Immersive Collections Symposium: Diversifying Narratives through Embodied Learning

Date: 13 October 2023
Time: 10:00 am-3:00 pm ET
Location: Swarthmore College, McCabe Library (in person only, in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania)
Presented by: The Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography at Rare Book School

Join the Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography at Rare Book School (SoFCB), Swarthmore Libraries, and the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies for a free, in-person event. Four speakers from diverse backgrounds will describe how they use cutting-edge technology to create Virtual and Augmented Reality applications that showcase understudied collections at their academic institutions.

This event was held on 13 October 2023. See below for a link to the YouTube recording.

Synatra Smith is a Black eXpeRience researcher and sits at the intersection of researcher; gallery, library, archives, and museum (GLAM) professional; and digital humanities practitioner. In her postdoctoral fellowship, she is exploring ways to bring extended reality (XR) tools into cultural preservation spaces as a mechanism for enhanced engagement with both physical and digital/virtual exhibitions. Storytelling and narrative-building are central to that experience, and her goal is to identify ways to engage target user communities throughout the life of these projects through more inclusive means that integrate feedback loops and multiple intelligences. She is doing this work with the specific intention of documenting workflows that can be shared with students, cultural heritage workers, and scholars interested in building digital projects without relying on a large budget or team. Overall, she is eager to continue to advocate for the interest of institutions and individuals committed to the preservation of African-descended cultures and communities.

Jasmine Lelis Clark is the Digital Scholarship and Africology & African American Studies Librarian at Temple University. Her primary areas of research are accessibility and metadata in emerging technology and emerging technology centers. Currently, she is leading The Virtual Blockson, a project to recreate and gamify the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection in virtual reality to teach high school students primary literacy skills. She is also doing research in 3D metadata and accessibility guidelines for virtual reality experiences. She is the chair of the DLF Digital Accessibility Working Group. She has experience in a variety of functional areas and departments, including metadata, archives, digital scholarship, and communications and development. She is interested in the ways information organizations can integrate accessible, inclusive practices into their services, hiring, and management practices.

Cindy Nguyen is Assistant Professor in the Information Studies department and Digital Humanities program at University of California, Los Angeles. Her book manuscript, “Bibliotactics – Libraries and the Colonial Public in Vietnam, 1917–1958” reveals how the library reading room became a space of urban sociability, cultural imperialism, and self-directed education. Her digital humanities work bridges computation, critical data analysis, and histories of the book and information. She is also a public scholar and community artist exploring themes of memory, translation, and migration in the Asian diaspora. To learn more about her historical scholarship, teaching, and digital humanities work, see her website:

Ha To Tam was born in Northern Vietnam. She attended Thai Nguyen College of Education and became a Professor Assistant at Thai Nguyen College of Education after graduation. She took a master’s course in Library and Information Sciences at Simmons College and received a master’s degree in 2008. She successfully developed the curriculum to open the undergraduate program in Library and Information Science (LIS) at Thai Nguyen University–College of Sciences. She was invited by Vingroup, the biggest Vietnamese economic group to become the Library Manager of VinUniversity development project in Hanoi in 2017. She has successfully developed one of the most modern academic libraries in Vietnam from the ground up for a newly established VinUniversity (a strategic partner of Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania). She was selected for a Cunningham International Fellowship by the Medical Library Association in 2018. She has also shared her experiences developing a new academic library in Vietnam at international conferences, such as the Tools of the Trade conference at Harvard University in March 2023.

Amanda Licastro (moderator) is the Digital Scholarship Librarian at Swarthmore College, the pedagogical director of the Book Traces project, and an Andrew W. Mellon Junior Fellow in Critical Bibliography. She serves on the editorial collective of the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy and is the Chair of the Committee on Digital Humanities for the Modern Language Association. Her research explores the intersection of technology and writing, including book history, dystopian literature, and digital humanities. Composition and Big Data, her collection co-edited with Ben Miller, was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in September 2021, and her work can be found in journals such as Communication Design Quarterly, Hybrid Pedagogy, and Kairos, as well as collections such as Critical Digital Pedagogy and Digital Reading and Writing in Composition Studies.

Click here to learn more about the Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography at Rare Book School.

You are invited to watch the October 2023 recording of the event below via our RBS YouTube channel.