Welcoming the Newest Member of the Viewshare Team to the Library

The following is a guest post by Patrick Rourke, an Information Technology Specialist and the newest member of the Library’s Viewshare team.

patrick-rourke2I made my first forays into computing on days when it was too cold, wet or snowy to walk in the woods behind our house, in a room filled with novels, atlases and other books.  Usually those first programming projects had something to do with books, or writing, or language – trying to generate sentences from word lists, or altering the glyphs the computer used for text to represent different alphabets.

After a traumatic high school exposure to the COBOL programming language (Edsger Dijkstra once wrote that “its teaching should be regarded as a criminal offense” (pdf)), in college I became fascinated with the study of classical Greek and Roman history and literature. I was particularly drawn to the surviving fragments of lost books from antiquity – works that were not preserved, but of which traces remain in small pieces of papyrus, in palimpsests, and through quotations in other works. I spent a lot of my free time in the computer room, using GML, BASIC and ftp on the university’s time sharing system.

My first job after graduation was on the staff of a classics journal, researching potential contributors, proofreading, checking references. At that time, online academic journals and electronic texts were being distributed via email and the now almost-forgotten medium of Gopher. It was an exciting time, as people experimented with ways to leverage these new tools to work with books, then images, then the whole panoply of cultural content.

This editorial experience led to a job in the technical publications department of a research company, and my interest in computing to a role as the company webmaster, and then as an IT specialist, working with applications, servers and networking. In my spare time, I stayed engaged with the humanities, doing testing, web design and social media engagement for the Suda On Line project, who publish a collaborative translation and annotation of the 10th century Byzantine lexicon in which many of those fragments of lost books are found.

My work on corporate intranets and my engagement with SOL motivated me to work harder on extending my programming skills, so before long I was developing web applications to visualize project management data and pursuing a master’s degree in computer science.  In the ten years I’ve been working as a developer, I’ve learned a lot about software development in multiple languages, frameworks and platforms, worked with some great teams and been inspired by great mentors.

I join the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program as an Information Technology Specialist, uniting my interests in culture and computing. My primary project is Viewshare, a platform the Library makes available to cultural institutions for generating customized visualizations – including timelines, maps, and charts – of digital collections data. We will be rolling out a new version of Viewshare in the near future, and then I will be working with the NDIIPP team and the Viewshare user community on enhancing the platform by developing new features and new ways to view and share digital collections data. I’m looking forward to learning from and working with my new colleagues at the Library of Congress and everyone in the digital preservation community.

Hybrid Born-Digital and Analog Special Collecting: Megan Halsband on the SPX Comics Collection

Every year, The Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Md brings together a community of alternative comic creators and independent publishers. With a significant history of collecting comics, it made sense for the Library of Congress’ Serial and Government Publications Division and the Prints & Photographs Division to partner with SPX to build a collection documenting […]

Upgrading Image Thumbnails… Or How to Fill a Large Display Without Your Content Team Quitting

The following is a guest post by Chris Adams from the Repository Development Center at the Library of Congress, the technical lead for the World Digital Library. Preservation is usually about maintaining as much information as possible for the future but access requires us to balance factors like image quality against file size and design […]

Duke’s Legacy: Video Game Source Disc Preservation at the Library of Congress

The following is a guest post from David Gibson, a moving image technician in the Library of Congress. He was previously interviewed about the Library of Congress video games collection. The discovery of that which has been lost or previously unattainable is one of the driving forces behind the archival profession and one of the […]

Making Scanned Content Accessible Using Full-text Search and OCR

The following is a guest post by Chris Adams from the Repository Development Center at the Library of Congress, the technical lead for the World Digital Library. We live in an age of cheap bits: scanning objects en masse has never been easier, storage has never been cheaper and large-scale digitization has become routine for […]

Web Archiving and Preserving the Performing Arts in the Digital Age

The following is a guest post from Gavin Frome, an intern for the Web Archiving Team at the Library of Congress. Performing artists are by necessity a traveling people. They journey far and wide in the pursuit of their respective crafts, working, learning and weaving a fabric of loose cultural connections that help bind people […]

Recommended Format Specifications from the Library of Congress: An Interview with Ted Westervelt

Continuing the NDSA Insights interview series, I am thrilled to talk about the new Library of Congress Recommended Format Specifications with Ted Westervelt, head of acquisitions and cataloging for U.S. Serials – Arts, Humanities & Sciences at the Library of Congress. Ted has been overseeing the development of the Recommended Format Specifications. While the specifications […]

National Digital Stewardship Residents Conclude Program with Capstone Meeting

The following is a guest post by Kris Nelson, Program Management Specialist at the Library of Congress and Program Coordinator of the National Digital Stewardship Residency. A version of this article was originally published in the Library of Congress weekly staff newspaper The Gazette. The National Digital Stewardship Residency concluded the inaugural year of the […]

Saving the Date: Exploring Calendar and Scheduling Formats

Each January, my family picks out a new wall calendar to hang in our kitchen. Its main appeal these days is nostalgic decoration since we no longer use it to write down our appointments or important dates. Like many people, we now rely on electronic calendar and scheduling tools built into personal information manager software […]