LC Labs Letter: December 2020

December 2020

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

Our Projects

Can the Library of Congress Labs team interview you?

Would you or someone you know be willing to (virtually) sit down with us for a 1-on-1 interview? We are looking for people to take part in user research who use digital resources like historical photos, books, documents, newspapers, music, video, maps, data or websites in the following activities:

  • Formal and informal education
  • Activism and community leadership
  • Data journalism, communications or media
  • Undergraduate creative / art studies

The schedule for the interviews will be based on what works best for the participants.

If you know anyone who can help with this research, please get in touch with us by emailing [email protected] or go directly to this sign up form that is managed by our contractor, Digirati.  Thank you very much for your help!

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

As Born Digital Access Now!, the 2020 Staff Innovator project, came to a close, the team reflected on some of what we learned from this collaboration. Though it may seem counter-intuitive for a project with “digital” in the title, a lot of these lessons are driven and informed by people rather than technology.

If you’re interested in staff exchanges, born digital access, or even just in how LC Labs approaches our work, read about it in this recently published blog post on the Signal.

In conversation with Innovator in Residence Courtney McLellan

The design of 2021 Innovator in Residence Courtney McClellan’s Speculative Annotation experiment begins in the classroom. In a recent post on the Signal Blog, Courtney interviewed educator Ashley Wood about how her high school photography class uses annotation to analyze and engage in visual storytelling.

Courtney will continue to work with classes through the remainder of the school year, so if you are interested in sharing information about your own teaching practices, please email us at [email protected].

Select hits from a year of LC Labs Letters!

This month marks the last issue of 2020 and the one-year anniversary of the LC Labs Letter. To celebrate, we’ve included some of our most popular updates from past issues spanning January to November 2020:

We’d love to hear how you’re enjoying the newsletter and how we could do better. You can reach us at [email protected] anytime.

Curio

  • The Library released four new sets of “free to use” pictures! These curated sets feature items from the Library’s digital collections that are free to use and reuse. The Library believes that this content is either in the public domain, has no known copyright, or has been cleared by the copyright owner for public use. They’re grouped according to a common theme; the latest released themes are: “Shoes,” “Games,“It’s Raining Umbrellas” and “Coffee or Tea.” 
  • We co-authored an article about putting Newspaper Navigator in the hands of Library users with 2020 Innovator Ben Lee! We had fun reflecting on how we worked with collections experts to make machine learning more accessible to the public. Check it out for an overview of the project and some behind-the-scenes details about our process.
  • Wayne State University’s Electronic Music Ensemble used Citizen DJ for one of their recent experimental performances.
  • Stanford computer science student Miranda Lin Lee trained a machine learning algorithm on digitized newspapers pulled from the Library’s Chronicling America API. The algorithm learned what newspaper pages are “supposed” to look like and created a new set of surrealist ”Nonsense Newspapers”. Do you think the computers got it right?

To subscribe to the monthly LC Labs Letter, visit //updates.loc.gov/accounts/USLOC/subscriber/new?topic_id=USLOC_182

For more information about LC Labs, visit us at https://labs.loc.gov/

Questions? Contact LC Labs at [email protected]

 

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! 

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.

Newspaper Navigator Search Application Now Live!

On September 15, 2020, the Library of Congress announced the release of Newspaper Navigator, an experimental web application which makes 1.5 million photographs from the dataset from Chronicling America available to the public to explore for the first time. Read more about the design and features of the project below or jump straight to the newly launched application at //news-navigator.labs.loc.gov/search !

Metaphors for Understanding Born Digital Collection Access: Part III

Kathleen O’Neill is currently serving as one of two Staff Innovators at the Library of Congress. Their 2020 project, Born Digital Access Now!, explores existing pathways for accessing born digital materials in the Manuscript Division. In this series of blog posts, Kathleen describes the complexities of gaining access to born digital materials through the lens of three different metaphors. Up first was “Media Format, or, Have Fun Storming the Castle!” The second blog post discussed “Legacy File Formats and Operating Systems or Lost in Translation.” This is the third and final post in the series and Kathleen carefully explains the process of emulation and makes it feel less like “strange magic.”

Metaphors for Understanding Born Digital Collection Access: Part II

Kathleen O’Neill is currently serving as one of two Staff Innovators at the Library of Congress. Their 2020 project, Born Digital Access Now!, explores existing pathways for accessing born digital materials in the Manuscript Division. In this series of blog posts, Kathleen describes the complexities of gaining access to born digital materials even before they reach researchers. This is the second post in the series and focuses on legacy file formats through the metaphor of being “lost in translation.”

Metaphors for Understanding Born Digital Collection Access: Part I

The following is a guest post by Senior Archivist Kathleen O’Neill. Kathleen and her colleague Chad Conrady are currently working on a project called Born Digital Access Now! as the 2020 Staff Innovators in LC Labs. Their first blog post introduces the project, which aims to provide greater access to born digital materials held in the Manuscript Division, in greater detail. Today’s post is the first in a series of three blog posts in which Kathleen will discuss different challenges or barriers to born digital collection access through the lens of three different metaphors. Up first is: “Media Format, or, Have Fun Storming the Castle!”