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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Reflecting on the Mary Church Terrell transcribe-a-thon with the Douglass Day team

In today’s post, By the People community manager Lauren Algee interviews members of the Douglass Day team about their February 2021 transcribe-a-thon for the Mary Church Terrell Papers. Launched in 2018, By the People is a volunteer engagement and collection enhancement program at the Library of Congress that invites the public to explore and transcribe Library of Congress digital […]

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.

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.

Every collection and project is its own unique journey: An Interview with Marcus Nappier

I’m excited to share this interview with Marcus Nappier, one of my colleagues in the Digital Content Management Section. My hope with this interview, and the others that we publish here, help spread awareness about the background, experience, and interests of the people that support the Library of Congress in providing enduring access to digital […]

Joining By the People: An interview with Abby Shelton

I’m thrilled to share that Abby Shelton has joined the Digital Content Management section as a new Digital Collections Specialist working as a community manager on the By the People Program. To that end, I’m also happy to share this interview as part of our occasional series where we learn more about the background, experience, and […]

Volunteer Vignette: It’s just so much fun!

In today’s post, I interview a By the People volunteer, Maddie, who has gone above and beyond! By the People is a crowdsourced transcription program launched in 2018 at the Library of Congress. Volunteer-created transcriptions are used to make digitized collections more accessible and discoverable on You can read our other Volunteer Vignettes on the Signal here and here. Carlyn: What […]

Volunteer Vignette: We’re all in this together!

In today’s post, Sam Schireson interviews a By the People volunteer, Judith, who has gone above and beyond! By the People is a crowdsourced transcription program launched in 2018 at the Library of Congress. Volunteer-created transcriptions are used to make digitized collections more accessible and discoverable on You can read our other Volunteer Vignette on the Signal […]

Speculative Annotation in the Classroom: A Conversation with Educator Ashley Wood and Innovator Courtney McClellan

The following is a guest post by the 2021 Innovator in Residence Courtney McClellan, a research-based artist who lives in Atlanta, Georgia. With a subject focus on speech and civic engagement, McClellan works in a range of media including sculpture, performance, photography, and writing. She has served as studio art faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University, […]