Collections as Data: IMPACT

If you are in the Washington, DC area next week (or can be), please be our guest at a very special day-long event hosted by The Library of Congress National Digital Initiatives. “Collections as Data: Impact” will be held 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 25, in the Coolidge Auditorium on the first floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building.

The event is free, but tickets are required to attend in person.  The event also will be livestreamed on the Library’s Facebook page at and its YouTube site (with captions) at

We will be recording the talks and creating stand-alone videos that we hope are shared widely and help to explain what we mean when we talk about the transformational opportunities of using library collections as data.

“The Library of Congress and other libraries have been serving digital collections online for over a decade,” said NDI’s chief Kate Zwaard. “With modern computing power and the emergence of data-analysis tools, our collections can be explored more deeply and reveal more connections. By unleashing computation on the world’s biggest digital library, the knowledge and creativity contained in libraries become even more relevant. At this event we’re showcasing true leaders in the field of using digital collections and technology to advance collective understanding. We’re so excited to hear their stories and share them with our community.”

Ed Ayers

Ed Ayers

Among the symposium’s keynote speakers is Edward Ayers, the University of Richmond’s President Emeritus and Tucker-Boatwright Professor of the Humanities. President Barack Obama awarded him the National Humanities Medal in 2013 for his dedication to public history. He is a pioneer in digital scholarship and is currently co-host of the BackStory podcast. His talk is titled “History Between the Lines: Thinking about Collections as Data.”

Paul Ford

Paul Ford

Another featured speaker is Paul Ford, a journalist, programmer and co-founder of Postlight, a digital product studio in New York City. He is the author of a breakthrough piece, “What is Code,” revealing how computers, applications and software work. He will discuss “Unscroll: An Approach to Making New Things From Old Things.”

Other speakers include:

  • Tahir Hemphill, media strategist and artist, manager of the Rap Research Lab
  • Sarah Hatton, contemporary Canadian artist, creator of Detachment
  • Stephen Robertson, director of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media and professor at George Mason University
  • Patrick Cronin and Thomas Neville, co-directors of THATCLASS
  • Jessie Daniels, professor at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY
  • Geoff Haines-Stiles, producer of “The Crowd and the Cloud” television series
  • Nicholas Adams, sociologist and research fellow at the Berkeley Institute for Data Science
  • Rachel Shorey of The New York Times’ Interactive News Department
  • Stephanie Stillo, curator of the Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection in the Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division

This is the second in the “Collections as Data” event series hosted by the Library of Congress. Last year’s event in the Coolidge Auditorium attracted a sold-out crowd and has been viewed more than 8,000 times on the Library’s YouTube channel. That event introduced the topic of collections as data and explored ethical issues around building and using digital collections. This year’s meeting will focus on stories of impact this work has on the public.

We hope you can join us next week either in-person or virtually. Everyone can follow along and join the conversation via the #AsData hashtag.

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