LC Labs Letter: September 2022

September 2022

Monthly News from the Library of Congress Labs Team

Our team, LC Labs, turns 5 this month! In September 2017, the Library established a group of innovation specialists to support creative uses of the digital collections. LC Labs works with colleagues around the institution to help throw open the Library’s treasure chest, connect more deeply with researchers and the public, and cultivate a culture of continuous learning. Over the past five years, we’ve done just that!

This month’s issue contains exciting updates on the 2020 Staff Innovator project, a walk down memory lane, and a look to the future with our new Chief, Laurie Allen! Enjoy.


Q&A with Laurie Allen, Chief of LC Labs

The LC Labs team is excited to share that our colleague Laurie Allen has been selected as the new Chief of the Digital Innovation Lab (LC Labs)! In her new role, Laurie will lead LC Labs’ experiments into the digital collections and the team’s support of the Library’s ongoing digital transformation.

Laurie brings decades of experience in libraries and digital librarianship to her position as Chief – read this interview to learn more about her background and discover her thoughts about the future of LC Labs.


Born Digital Access! Where are we Now?

The Manuscript Division (MSS) is excited to announce the launch of a born-digital access workstation in the Manuscript Division Reading Room, located in the Library’s Madison Building in Washington, DC. The workstation’s specialized software means it can render born-digital collection materials, which have inherent, unique challenges related to preservation, appraisal, and access. Practically speaking, this new workstation makes it possible for interested researchers to come onsite and access thousands of files in over 120 collections held by the Manuscript Division.

The workstation represents the fruition of the 2020 Staff Innovator project, Born Digital Access Now!. Staff Innovators Chad Conrady and Kathleen O’Neill identified the barriers to accessing the full range of the Manuscript Division’s born-digital holdings. With the help of staff in the Manuscript Division, LC Labs, and OCIO, Conrady and O’Neill stewarded this solution to meet the division’s goal of improving access to and engaging researchers with born-digital materials.

Now, the Manuscript Division is looking for researchers! Most notably, many science and journalism collections, previously impacted by the lack of emulation tools, are now more easily accessible. MSS born-digital holdings span the late 1970s to the present and include the papers of scientists like Nina V. Fedoroff and Edward N. Lorenz. To find out more about what materials are available, please browse or search the MSS Finding Aids or ask a librarian in the Manuscript Division. You may also directly call (202) 707-5387 or email to set up an appointment to use the workstation in the reading room. Please help us spread the word!


Five Years of LC Labs

Through research, experimentation, and collaborations with other federal agencies and cultural heritage groups, LC Labs has helped some of the Library’s brightest ideas become vivid reality. The original Library of Congress API has evolved into three distinct services and an array of machine-readable access methods. The early Beyond Words crowdsourcing pilot has grown into By the People, now a permanent Library program with thousands of dedicated volunteers. The efforts of the Library’s very first Innovator in Residence, data artist Jer Thorp, now sit in company with ideas from Brian FooBenjamin Lee, and Courtney McClellan. And numerous other investigations have explored machine learningspeech-to-text transcriptionemulation environments, and other ways of using technology to help make the collections more available.

Join us in celebrating our anniversary by looking back at some of our most illuminating research and collaborations since 2017.



  • LC Labs calls for shared ML framework at iPres 2022: Team members Abbey Potter and Meghan Ferriter presented alongside the authors of the Digital Preservation Coalition’s Beginners’ Guide to Computational Access at last week’s International Conference on Digital Preservation. In their talk, Abbey and Meghan proposed a step toward collaboratively generating a LAM-specific framework for understanding and implementing ML and AI technologies built on the long-term stewardship and ethical responsibilities of cultural heritage organizations.

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Collaborations with Embedded Audio Metadata: Reusing Cue Chunk Data for IIIF Web Annotations

Collaborative editing and preservation capabilities enabled by an emerging open source workflow and updated preservation guidelines? More on a pilot of annotation approaches with AudioAnnotate Audiovisual Extensible Workflow, FADGI and BWF MetaEdit, and American Folklife Center collections in this post.

Fun with File Formats

Today’s guest post is from Kate Murray, Marcus Nappier, and Liz Holdzkom of the Digital Collections Management & Services Division at the Library of Congress. Are you a file format fan? If you’re curious how to pronounce the still image format HEIF (spoiler alert: it rhymes with “beef”) or the difference between PDF/A-3 and PDF/A-4, […]

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a…derivative dataset!

This post describes a collaboration between LC Labs member Eileen J. Manchester and Peter DeCraene, the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow to answer the question: “what would it mean to treat a dataset as a primary source?”

A look at FADGI with Librarian-in-Residence Hana Beckerle

Today’s guest post is from Hana Beckerle, a 2021 Librarian-in-Residence at the Library of Congress. I graduated with my MSLIS from Catholic University of America (CUA) in May 2021 and joined the Library’s Digitization Services Section (DSS) as a Librarian-in-Residence in June. While at CUA, I worked as an Electronic Resources Assistant at the University […]

That’s Our Cue! Updates for the FADGI Embedded Metadata Guidelines and BWF MetaEdit for the Cue Chunk in Broadcast Wave Files

This is guest post, the first in a series of updates about the recent work of the Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines Initiative (FADGI) Audio-Visual working group, is co-authored by Kate Murray, Digital Projects Coordinator in Digital Collections Management and Services, audiovisual archivist and technologist Dave Rice, and Jérôme Martinez, Founder and President of The […]

Next Slide Please: 2021 Digital Strategy Summer Intern Design Sprint part I

This is an interview with Emily Zerrenner, Jodanna Domond, Luke Borland, and Darshni Patel, four of the seven students that joined our team during the summer of 2021. As a small group, they worked together to better understand the Library’s Web Archives with the needs of researchers and data visualization artists in mind.

That’s a wrap! 2020 Staff Innovator detail comes to a close

A reflection on the 2020 Staff Innovator detail from an LC Labs team member, shared in the hopes that some of the lessons we learned from this cross-institutional partnership may be applicable to other institutions and interesting to our readers!