LC Labs Letter August 2021

August 2021

A Monthly Roundup of News and Thoughts from the Library of Congress Labs Team

Our Projects

2021 Innovator in Residence Speculative Annotation tool now live

2021 Innovator in Residence Courtney McClellan and the LC Labs team are proud to announce the launch of Speculative Annotation a public art project designed for students to annotate select items from the Library’s collections.

Through annotation tools such as stamps, text, multicolored highlighters, and other unique designs, Speculative Annotation offers a way of talking back to historical items from the Library of Congress’ vast holdings.

The experience is designed to be engaging, fun, and collaborative–you can even share your creations via URL! Read our launch story on Twitter, use the tool, and share your annotation with us on social media using #AnnotateLOC.

And don’t miss “Annotation as Artistic Act,” on Thursday, August 26 at 12 pm ET. McClellan will moderate a panel discussion about the overlap between contemporary art and education annotation practices. Panelists Amber Esseiva, Dr. Remi Kalir, and Dr. Antero Garcia will draw on their work in the museum and the classroom to discuss why annotation is relevant today. Register for the free event here //

More information and code for Speculative Annotation can be found on


Computing Cultural Heritage in the Cloud: How values drive our process

Recently, the CCHC project team used the Signal blog to offer a view into the foundational thinking behind their processes and their work using agile techniques to approach the initiative.

In this post, Innovation Specialist Olivia Dorsey shares how the team developed a set of values to guide their efforts and communicate their progress. The work is both exploratory and inviting, as the team approaches challenges with an open mind and relies on the collective expertise and experiences of their colleagues to build understanding and inform future practice at the Library.

And in case you missed it, here’s an interview introducing Innovation Specialist Alice Goldfarb and more about working with the researchers.


Summer interns learn about collections as data, user needs, and prototyping in collaborative “design sprint”

This summer, seven students from across three internship programs joined the Digital Strategy team. Each used their time with LC Labs or the Connecting Communities Digital Initiative to focus on ways to broaden the reach and impact of existing and future initiatives with new users in mind.

In addition to their individual projects, our summer cohort worked collaboratively on an activity called the “data exploration design sprint.” They worked in two teams to a) understand a Library of Congress dataset, b) research a target user of this dataset and c) design a pen-and-paper prototype that would make this dataset more accessible or engaging for the imagined user.

In two recent interviews on the Signal Blog, teams Digivision and Datamagination share more about what they made and what they learned from the design sprint.

And don’t forget to check out their features on the Of the People program blog for more about about Joshua and Darshni‘s summer work.



  • Grants are available NOW through the Of the People Community Collections program! Apply today to receive funding to produce cultural documentation about your community from the community’s own perspective. If you’re applying as part of an organization, please see Support and FAQ for organizations. If you’re applying as an individual, please consult the Support and FAQ for individuals post.
  • A recent Signal post describes how and why By the People invited Library of Congress staff to transcribe collections at the start of the pandemic.


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Sparking the Datamagination: 2021 Digital Strategy Summer Intern Design Sprint part II

This is an interview with Maria Capecchi, Abigail Tick, and Joshua Ortiz Baco, three of the seven students that joined our team during the summer of 2021. As a small group, they worked together to better understand the Newspaper Navigator data set with the needs of undergraduate students in mind.

Analyzing the Born-Digital Archive

Kathleen O’Neill is a 2020 Staff Innovator with LC Labs and a Senior Archivist in the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress. In this post, she discusses her analysis of the various file formats in the Manuscript Division’s born-digital holdings.

Citizen DJ at the virtual National Book Festival

This post was originally featured on the Minerva’s Kaleidoscope blog for kids and families. We’re excited and grateful to be able to re-share about this opportunity to experience Citizen DJ at the virtual National Book Festival next week!

Five Questions for Will Elsbury, Project Leader for the Election 2014 Web Archive

The following is a guest post from Michael Neubert, a Supervisory Digital Projects Specialist at the Library of Congress. Since the U.S. national elections of 2000, the Library of Congress has been harvesting the web sites of candidates for elections for Congress, state governorships and the presidency. These collections  require considerable manual effort to identify […]

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 […]

Content Matters Interview: The Montana State Library, Part Two

This is part two of the Content Matters interview series interview with Diane Papineau, a geographic information systems analyst at the Montana State Library. Part one was yesterday, December 5, 2013. Butch: What are some of the biggest digital preservation and stewardship challenges you face at the Montana State Library? Diane: The two biggest challenges […]

Content Matters Interview: The Montana State Library, Part One

In this installment of the Content Matters interview series of the National Digital Stewardship Alliance Content Working Group we’re featuring an interview with Diane Papineau, a geographic information systems analyst at the Montana State Library. Diane was kind enough to answer questions, in consultation with other MSL staff and the state librarian, Jennie Stapp, about […]

Content Matters: An Interview with Edward McCain of the Reynolds Journalism Institute

For this installment of the Content Matters interview series of the National Digital Stewardship Alliance Content Working Group I interviewed Edward McCain, digital curator of journalism at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute and the University of Missouri Libraries. The University of Missouri Libraries joined the NDSA this past summer. Ashenfelder: What is RJI’s relationship to […]