Archive for the 'LCRM Project News' Category

The LCRM Project (2008-2012)

Looking back on the Publishing the Long Civil Rights Movement project four years after it ended in December 2012, one is struck by the number of outcomes it generated, both public achievements and more invisible, behind-the-scenes developments. The complexity of the collaboration and its experimental nature might have made the results harder to see in their totality, although its influence continues. The occasion of the final post before archiving of the blog prompts a brief summary of the work produced under a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which ran from 2008 through 2012 (three years plus a two-year renewal).

Public-Facing Achievements

    Following are the public-facing achievements:

  1. SOHP conference. An influential conference organized by Professor Jacqueline Hall and the Southern Oral History Program, “The Long Civil Rights Movement: Histories, Politics, Memories,” which took place from April 2 to 4, 2009. The conference brought together many scholars working to redefine and expand the study of the civil rights movement.
  2. CCR conferences. Two important conferences offered by the Center for Civil Rights, which were partially funded by the grant: “Looking to the Future: Legal and Policy Options for Racially Integrated Education in the South and the Nation” (April 2, 2009) and “The Unfinished Work: Advancing New Strategies in the Struggle for Civil Rights” (November 1, 2010).
  3. An experimental online collection of civil rights scholarship that was freely available to the public for 15 months. It demonstrated the multifaceted potential of interactivity in scholarly publishing and the value of aggregating university press monographs online, a new phenomenon at the time. Before building our own platform, we evaluated about a dozen other tools and platforms, from commercial (BePress, MarkLogic, etc.) to nonprofit (HighWire, JSTOR, OJS, etc.). Some notable features:The content was full-text searchable.
    • Multiple genres of content were included (books, articles, papers, and reports).
    • Bibliographies were activated with DOI links.
    • A scholarly design feature that was admired by other publishers was the page-turn icon that unobtrustively marked the page breaks in the original books, for citation purposes.
    • Registered users could add comments, and this function was used in five university courses. In addition, comments contributed by archivists that included outbound links inspired the LCRM Project’s later focus on enhanced e-books connected to archival materials (“portal books,” see below).
  4. A series of reprints of archival slave narratives and other compelling nineteenth-century texts, published under a new imprint called DocSouth Books, named for the Library’s Documenting the American South online program. DocSouth books are newly typeset for readability but otherwise unaltered from the original publications, with the original page numbers preserved. One of the first books chosen for the program was Twelve Years a Slave, which we subsequently were pleased to find out was soon to be made into a movie.
  5. Multimedia enhanced/portal e-books, which demonstrated how current e-book publishing can include multimedia primary source materials and link to online archives. (Those with outbound links we dubbed portal books.) The books balanced embedded audio and video interview excerpts and documents with outbound links to full collections, pioneering a new collaborative way for publishers and archives to collaborate, enliven history scholarship, and activate hidden collections.
    • Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues by William Ferris included the author’s original video recordings of blues artists.
    • Freedom’s Teacher: The Life of Septima Clark by Katherine Mellen Charron included documents, audio interviews, and outbound links to collections at UNC and the Avery Center in Charleston.
    • Blowout! Sal Castro and the Chicano Struggle for Educational Justice by Mario T. García and Sal Castro included video interviews and documents.
    • Cooking in Other Women’s Kitchens: Domestic Workers in the South 1865-1960 by Rebecca Sharpless contained 100 pages of primary-source documents.
  6. The LCRM blog, to which all the collaborating partners contributed. The category “This Day in Civil Rights History,” researched and written by Allie Shay at UNC Press, was especially popular, while posts about enhanced e-books, and how to produce them, were read the most widely over time.

Process-Oriented Results
Following are some of the less visible, behind-the-scenes results:

  1. Ingest interface. The online platform, which we called Voice in honor of its commenting functionality, was built on Open Source software. Its back-end content management and ingesting tools were as usable and organized as the public-facing interface. Content could be made Open Access or restricted. The code is available on GitHub under the name of Constabaris.
  2. XML book production. One of the reasons for the usability of the online collection was the excellent TEI XML schema devised for scholarly books by the Press-Library collaborative production team. It is available through the TEI Scholarly Publishing Special Interest Group (SIG).
  3. Library-press publishing workflows. In addition to the smooth process for ingesting books in the online pilot as described above in item 1, DocSouth Books, which are available as e-books and print-on-demand paperbacks, made use of a new XML-to-typesetting automated tool developed by a vendor called CodeMantra. This Library-Press publishing workflow was formalized in a Memorandum of Understanding between the parties; this new publishing partnership helped to inspire a new program in Publishing Services at the Press and could serve as a model for other library-press publishing collaborations.
  4. Digital oral histories. The SOHP developed a new direct-to-digital interviewing process, which involved not only employing new digital voice recorders but also a new process for applying metadata (including latitude-longitude pairs and field notes) and working with archivists to ingest interviews into the Library’s collection more efficiently.
  5. Mapping of oral histories. The SOHP worked with the Digital Humanities Lab to map a growing set of interviews (50 by the end of the grant period), creating a model project, “The Long Women’s Movement,” for the new DHPress toolkit then in development.
  6. Enhanced e-book workflow. The UNC Press team produced documentation for production of enhanced e-books, including an XML-Early workflow and author guidelines. Several other university presses consulted the LCRM team for information on how to produce enhanced e-books.
  7. Item-level digitization at the Library. The Library developed a new on-demand digitization process, which allows partial digitization of collections to the folder level; newly digitized finding aids highlight the materials that are available online. This system also makes it more efficient to connect e-books with primary-source materials.
  8. Extended LCRM digitization project. The project inspired a subsequent Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN) digitization project of North Carolina civil rights materials, in which 38 collections from UNC, Duke, NCCU, and NCSU were digitized. In all, 360,252 documents were digitized by this impressive collaboration.

Following are some interesting numbers that were compiled during the final months of the LCRM Project:

total number of scholars, legal experts, educators and activists who attended SOHP and CCR conferences

posts in the LCRM Project blog as of October 2012

visits to the blog in November 2012, a 473% increase in visits over November 2011 (5981 in 2012 compared with 1043 in 2011), and a 741% increase over November 2010 (which had only 711).

faculty (272) and librarians (116) who completed the 30-page, 10-part survey that helped us develop a working prototype of the “Voice” publishing platform

new LCRM oral-history interviews recorded, with 50 more in the pipeline

UNC Press books included in the online pilot collection

UNC Press books converted to TEI XML as a result of the workflow established by the LCRM Project; 152 directly Mellon-funded

registered users and 607 annotations at the close of the online pilot’s 15-month test period (July 15, 2011)

images from 18 LCRM-related document collections that were digitized at the Library, prompted by content in the online pilot

slave narratives and other nineteenth-century texts published in the DocSouth Books series by December 2012 (more have been published since)

enhancements to Freedom’s Teacher: The Life of Septima Clark by Katherine Mellen Charron, including 60 excerpts from interviews with 15 different individuals

Most-Viewed Posts in This Blog
Following are the most-viewed blog posts in the history of the blog:

  1. “Glenn Beck to Reclaim Civil Rights Movement,” by Seth Kotch (9439 pageviews; 6576 unique pageviews; 1:17 average time on page)—published August 27, 2010.
  2. “SNCC’s 50th: Thoughts from Sue Thrasher” (1886 pageviews; 1569 unique pageviews; 3:02 average time on page)—published May 10, 2010.
  3. “Enhanced E-books and Portal Books,” by Project Director Sylvia Miller (638 pageviews; 530 unique pageviws; 3:46 average time on page)—published August 5, 2011.

Looking Forward
Interestingly, many of the challenges and opportunities that the LCRM Project collaborators recognized during the grant period are still very much alive and pertinent to current debates around the role of libraries and university presses in scholarly communications. While the need to aggregate university-press monographs online was met by both ProjectMuse and JSTOR, hidden primary-source collections still need to be made available and discoverable, while the increasingly multimodal work of scholars still needs versatile publishing solutions.

At the close of the grant, we reported in conclusion as follows:
“The ways in which all three project partners reach their audiences have undergone significant transformation since the start of the LCRM Project. The Mellon Foundation’s generous support over five years’ time has allowed us not only to produce some new and exciting demonstrations and prototypes but in so doing, to transform our internal workflow processes in innovative and lasting ways. We have become more technologically adept, and more flexible, with iterative change now a norm that we embrace. Last but not least, we have established relationships and deepened connections among our organizations and the work that we do. All three project partners recognize that our missions are ultimately similar, to share with scholars, students, and the general public the treasures of history and the stories they tell, via meaningful and useful curation, interpretation, and presentation—all of which might fit an evolving definition of publishing. Based on our experience with the LCRM Project, we are confident that by connecting and integrating our work both conceptually and concretely, we will continue to innovate and produce new forms of scholarly communication that will surprise and engage our audiences in new ways for many years to come.”

Brief Acknowledgments
Principal Investigators. The Publishing the Long Civil Rights Movement Project was inspired by Professor Jacquelyn Hall’s essay, “The Long Civil Rights Movement and the Political Uses of the Past,” in which Hall argued that the civil rights movement began in the late 1930s and continued well past the 1960s. Kate Torrey, then-director of the University of North Carolina Press, initiated discussions with Hall and the Mellon Foundation. The other two original Principal Investigators in the collaboration were the late Julius Chambers, the director of UNC’s Center for Civil Rights, and Richard Szary, Associate University Librarian and director of the UNC Special Collections Library. (In the second phase of the project, the Center for Civil Rights was not an official partner on the grant, though the online collection continued to feature their important work.) Toward the end of the project, Jacqueline Hall passed the SOHP baton to Professor Della Pollock, and Kate Torrey passed the Press baton to John Sherer.

Project Staff. Sylvia K. Miller, Project Director, guided the project through its exploratory, implementation, and renewal phases until it closed in 2012. Seth Koch led the SOHP’s contributions as Coordinator of Digital Oral History Initiatives. The Voice online platform was programmed almost single-handedly by Adam Constabaris; Brad Scott prepared the requirements document, and Jeremy Buenviaje was the designer. TJ Ward took over for Adam following the online launch to maintain and upgrade the platform. Kenneth Reed, Digital Production Specialist, devised the XML and metadata schema, the production workflow, and the ingestion interface for the Voice platform; Tom Elrod, his successor in that position, continued to develop new e-workflows for the Press. Russ Damian and Allison Shay were the versatile and able editorial assistants for the project.

Many others too numerous to name at each collaborating campus unit contributed their valuable time and expertise to make the project a success.

   – Sylvia Miller

“Blowout!” New Multimedia Book on the Way

Today the LCRM Project team finalized a file that we have been working on for a few months.  It contains 2.5 hours of audio and 1 hour of video in the form of 100 excerpts from archival sources—mostly interviews with 10 individuals, but also some film footage from 1968.  The file is our latest enhanced e-book, Blowout!  Sal Castro and the Struggle for Educational Justice by Mario García and Sal Castro.  The book is about the student walkouts in 1968 that started the Chicano rights movement.

Published in hardcover in 2011 by UNC Press, Blowout!  is an ideal candidate to become an enhanced e-book because it is based on oral-history interviews.  Sal Castro’s first-person narrative, as transcribed by Professor García of U.C. Santa Barbara from some 50 interview tapes, forms the central narrative.  In the print version, brief quotes from the students are interspersed throughout the book.  In the enhanced version, we were able to include much more of these interviews, transforming a one-person narrative into more of a multi-voiced production.

We have also included a number of documents.  A few standout items are J.F. Kennedy’s Los Angeles itinerary from the day he met with Castro only one week before he won the 1960 Presidential election, a telegram containing Senator Robert Kennedy’s endorsement of the students’ efforts, a page from a student newspaper expressing outrage at biased treatment by teachers and administrators, and materials given to students attending the Chicano Youth Leadership Conference (CYLC) in 1964, 1965, and 2004.  (When you read the book, you’ll understand how important this CYLC material was in helping to shape generations of Chicano leaders.) All told, these important items comprise 100 pages of documents and images that the reader can enlarge to see more detail. Earlier this afternoon, we sent the file to Professor García for checking on his iPad.  Official release of the enhanced e-book for iPhone and iPad via Amazon’s Kindle app, and for the Nook Color and Nook Tablet from Barnes & Noble, is scheduled for November.  Stay tuned! Once the enhanced e-book is available via Kindle, we will make a video demonstration, the way we did for Freedom’s Teacher.  

Here is the marketing blurb that will be made available shortly.  It is a bit long at 352 words because we could not quite contain our enthusiasm after working on this fascinating project! Continue reading ‘“Blowout!” New Multimedia Book on the Way’

From the Archives: When “you can’t write with the ink” — Looking at the Civil Rights Act of 1956, part I

This post is the 5th in a series from the Triangle Research Libraries Network’s CCC project, digitizing more than 40 archival collections related to the long civil rights movement from four area institutions.  For more on this digitization project, click here.

This is the first of a two-part series discussing materials related to the Civil Rights Act that have been digitized for the CCC grant from the Basil Lee Whitener Papers. This post presents a letter to the editor found in the research files of Congressman Basil Lee Whitener from Mecklenburg County, N.C., who served in office from 1957 to 1969.  This letter, written by concerned citizen H.F. Seawell, provides an illuminating yet disturbing portrait of the mindset that perpetuated Jim Crow.

Basil Lee Whitener Papers, Box 1, Folder 1 – "A Treatise on Color, With Examples Cited" (file ID blwms01001098)

In 1956, Congress debated H.R. 627, more commonly known as the Civil Rights Act of 1956.  Authored by Congressman Emanuel Celler (D-NY), this bill intended to outlaw the various measures that states had implemented in order to prevent African Americans from voting, such as poll taxes and reading tests.  In his letter opposing H.R. 627, H.F. Seawell composed a “treatise on color” that included such conclusions as: “This country has produced two Washingtons, George and Booker T.  When you try to mix ’em [sic], it is like putting ink in a glass of water, the water is not fit to drink and you can’t write with the ink.”

Seawell’s central thesis was that mixing races would result in ill effects for all parties:  “I love the colored folks. . . . The surest way to ruin a colored man is to force him over to mingling with white folks.  It ruins his personality, destroys his initiative, and corrupts his ‘payrology [sic].'” (As an aside, I cannot determine what Seawell meant by “payrology.”)  This quote demonstrates that Seawell believed segregation to be altruistic, meaning that racists would conversely advocate integration.  To further his erroneous argument, Seawell lists famous African Americans whom he admires such as W.C. Handy, Al Jolson, Ethel Waters, Satchel Paige, and Jackie Robinson.  Seawell might have actually appreciated the contributions of these individuals to their respective fields, but it is notable that he pigeonholed their contributions into entertainment and athletics.  Politics represents a different issue; Seawell claims that African-Americans helped various white figures achieve success, but he does not list any African American political pioneers.  Of course, by arguing that African Americans enabled white success, Seawell’s thesis on the negativity of racial integration inherently fails.  The cognitive dissonance that we find in Seawell’s letter is thus a microcosm of the convoluted logic of the mindset of Jim Crow.

By Josh Hager, CCC Graduate Research Assistant

Producing the “Freedom’s Teacher” Enhanced E-Book

Many thanks to our publishing colleagues who sent positive comments and thoughtful questions in response to our announcement of the enhanced e-book version of Freedom’s Teacher:  The Life of Septima Clark by Katherine Mellen Charron.  In this blog post, I’d like to review briefly some of the aspects of the enhanced e-book editorial and production process that were new to us.  (This overview is cross-posted on the Association of American University Presses Digital Digest blog.)

Author’s voice, multiplied.  At our invitation, the author provided extended captions for 19 of the enhancements, or 20% of the total.  The author’s voice now appears in the book in three layers: (1) in the audio, in the role of interviewer; (2) in the finished biographical narrative; (3) in the extended captions, which might be said to mediate between the first two.  She is slightly embarrassed when she hears her own voice in the audio; nevertheless, she is interested in the ways in which the enhanced e-book reveals the historian’s research process to readers, especially students of history.  One enhancement is a map, based on her notes from reviewing the 1910 census, on which she has marked the race of Clark’s neighbors in Charleston.  The map connects the raw census data with the finished narrative, in which the author states that Clark’s was a mixed-race neighborhood.  We toyed with a possible headline, “Historian at Work,” which we did not include but which might describe all of the enhancements.

Digitization.  Ideally the author’s materials would become a digital archive at a collaborating institution during production of the book.  However, in this demonstration project, the author had not yet decided where to donate her research materials, including 13 taped interviews.  Making do with the situation, we borrowed her stack of cassette tapes and digitized them in the media lab at UNC’s undergraduate library.  This took about 20 hours of staff time, spread over a couple of weeks, that we were able to justify under the umbrella of the Publishing the Long Civil Rights Movement project.

Publisher-archive partnership.  Septima Clark’s papers are housed at the Avery Center for African American Research and Culture at the College of Charleston.  Recognizing the potential of the enhanced e-book to bring  the Center’s collections to the attention of a wider audience, the archivists granted permission for use of the materials that the author had identified and, with the support of the college’s Lowcountry Digital Library, digitized them.  The Center’s archivists were enthusiastic partners and even rediscovered in their holdings an interview with Clark that the author had not previously heard.  The collaboration is formally acknowledged on the title page of the enhanced e-book, and links to the Center’s website are included in the captions.

Technology.  The technology that we used was fairly simple; new standards from Barnes & Noble and Amazon allowed us to avoid having to use or write special software.  Starting with an Epub file, we inserted outbound links in the form of DOIs and URLs.  We inserted new content in an appendix and created internal navigation via HTML links inserted by hand; the audio content was in MP3 form.

Audio excerpts.  Cutting the excerpts from the long interviews took only a few hours.  However, choosing and marking the excerpts to be cut took another several hours.  We did it the old-fashioned way, by reviewing transcripts together with the author, who bracketed chosen passages with a pencil.  Once all the MP3 audio files were included in the Epub file, some work had to be done to even out the sound volume.  The very best interview with Clark is, ironically, the one with the most ambient noise; perhaps more experienced sound engineers could have removed some of it.

Ellipsis.  In a couple of cases, the transcripts of interview excerpts included ellipsis points where the author had asked that we skip a digression in the conversation.   However, at first the digitally spliced-together audio did not indicate an ellipsis; this is a minor point, but it seemed to cross a line of scholarly integrity.  Playing around with “Garage Band,” a program that comes automatically loaded into a Mac laptop, we devised a swift clock-ticking sound to indicate the ellipsis.  We hope that people will know instinctively what it is when they hear it. Continue reading ‘Producing the “Freedom’s Teacher” Enhanced E-Book’

Celebrating Freedom’s Teacher, the Enhanced E-book

Two weeks ago, we announced the publication of a special enhanced e-book version of Freedom’s Teacher: The life of Septima Clark by Katherine Mellen Charron (click here). Produced in collaboration with the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at the College of Charleston, the enhanced e-book features nearly 100 primary-source items, including photographs, documents, letters, newspaper clippings, and 60 audio excerpts from oral history interviews with 15 individuals—including Clark herself—each embedded in the narrative where it will be most meaningful. (See the bottom of this post for a video demonstration).

This week, the project team, the author, and professors and scholars of history celebrated the release of this exciting new product—a scholarly work which truly redefines the concept of the “talking book.” Here are a few informal photos from the event at The Crunkelton on West Franklin Street in Chapel Hill.

Left to right: UNC Press digital production specialist Thomas Elrod, LCRM project assistant Alison Shay, “Freedom’s Teacher” author Katherine Mellen Charron, and LCRM project director Sylvia Miller.

Adriane Lentz-Smith, Duke University’s Hunt Family Assistant Professor of History, poses with an enlarged version of the book cover.

Author Katherine Charron shows the enhanced e-book on an iPad to Duke University's Hunt Family Assistant Professor of History Adriane Lentz-Smith. Liz Lundeen, a PhD student of history at UNC Chapel Hill, watches.

A video demonstration of the enhanced e-book.


Browsable and searchable from anywhere in the text, the enhancements include transcripts, additional commentary from the author, and outbound links to online archives. The enhanced e-book is available for the Barnes & Noble Nook and the iPhone and iPad via Amazon’s Kindle app.

Check back for upcoming posts about the creation process, from the point of view of the author and project staff.

Announcing Freedom’s Teacher, the Enhanced E-book

The University of North Carolina Press today announced the publication of a special enhanced e-book version of Freedom’s Teacher:  The Life of Septima Clark by Katherine Mellen Charron.  Produced in collaboration with the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at the College of Charleston, the enhanced e-book features nearly 100 primary-source items, including photographs, documents, letters, newspaper clippings, and 60 audio excerpts from oral-history interviews with 15 individuals–including Clark herself–each embedded in the narrative where it will be most meaningful.

YouTube demo of Freedom’s Teacher enhanced e-book

First published in 2009, this biography tells the story of civil rights activist Septima Poinsette Clark (1898-1987), who developed a citizenship education program that enabled tens of thousands of African Americans to register to vote and to link the power of the ballot to concrete strategies for individual and communal empowerment.

Clark, who began her own teaching career in 1916, grounded her approach in the philosophy and practice of southern black activist educators in the decades leading up to the 1950s and 1960s, and then trained a committed cadre of black women to lead this grassroots literacy revolution in community stores, beauty shops, and churches throughout the South. In this engaging biography, Katherine Charron tells the story of Clark, from her coming of age in the South Carolina lowcountry to her activism with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the movement’s heyday.

“Developing this enhanced e-book, we undertook a wondrous journey,” said Charron. Continue reading ‘Announcing Freedom’s Teacher, the Enhanced E-book’

Voices for Civil Rights

Check out the first installment of the Southern Oral History Program’s “Voices for Civil Rights” here. Good interviews make good radio!

A Spotlight on Jacquelyn Hall

UNC recently ran a feature on Jacquelyn Hall, former director of the Southern Oral History Program and recent inductee into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Check it out.

Enhanced E-books and Portal Books

This is a follow up to a recent posting on what we have learned from the LCRM Project’s online publishing pilot.

This blog post has two sections:

1.  Publisher-library partnerships and enhanced e-books
2.  Links to related “portal books” projects and enhanced e-books

Publisher-library partnerships and enhanced e-books

A new kind of publisher-library partnership might take place at the level of the individual book.  I would like to see archiving, digitizing, and publishing happen in tandem.  For example, when an author has conducted oral-history interviews and consulted archival documents during research for a book, the interviews might be ingested into an archive and made available digitally, and the archival collections that were consulted might be digitized, at a library.  Simultaneously, the book would be edited and produced at the publishing house.  This parallel process would make it possible to publish the book as an enhanced e-book with archival material imbedded in it and outbound links to primary-source collections included as well.

The process would be most efficient if a single archive hosted the most important material; however, material from multiple archives could be included in much the same way that illustrations and tables from multiple sources are currently included in print books.

A quotation or illustration selected by an author is usually representative of a larger collection.  The author’s choice is in itself valuable scholarly information, because it prioritizes the primary-source item in an interpretive context. In a new interconnected online environment, that item can also serve as a portal to the full collection from which it was selected.  The author might write captions or sidebars that include links to full collections, or she might prefer to have an archivist write them.

There is an exciting future for enhanced e-books in scholarly publishing in the humanities and social sciences, and I look forward to seeing publishers and librarians share best practices and work out a repeatable, scalable process.  (The AAUP report “Sustaining Scholarly Publishing:  New Business Models for University Presses” rightly recommended that “there should be a central conduit for sharing information about these projects.”)  Although the number of e-books enhanced with multimedia materials is growing, it is a challenge to find examples in which illustrations/captions and sidebars/annotations serve as portals to full archival collections as in the LCRM online pilot; I list a couple of links below, but surely I am not aware of all related projects. I would welcome comments on this blog post sharing such projects.

Enhanced e-books would be even more useful to scholars if they also included DOI (digital object identifier) links.  (In the LCRM pilot, bibliography entries include outbound DOI links to the full text of the referenced sources, when available via the CrossRef system.) Historians and sociologists are certainly not used to seeing DOI links in bibliographies; the “wow” factor of this feature in the LCRM pilot was significant.  According to the LCRM technical team, it is quite feasible to include DOI links in Epub files.  Has anyone done this yet?  Please comment on this blog post if you know the answer.

Links to related “portal books” projects and enhanced e-books

We need to coin a term for an e-book that is connected to multimedia sources via annotated links (and perhaps connected to published sources as well, via DOI links).  A “portal book”?  Someone will surely invent a term more clever and appropriate for a book that is transformed in the digital environment into a dynamic “interface to a body of information” (Tim O’Reilly).

Archaeology of the Americas Digital Monograph Initiative,

This project plans to incorporate multimedia data sets within enhanced monographs as well as partner with archaeological data aggregators to include links to databases outside of the monograph itself.  I look forward to hearing whether any of the collaborating presses will partner with their own university library or institutional repository for stable hosting of the data sets.


Candide 2.0:  A networked edition of Voltaire’s 1759 classic,

Based on CommentPress (see Institute for the Future of the Book, below), this site includes commissioned annotations from a variety of commenters.  The commenting period is now closed, but all of the content is still accessible.  The emphasis was textual commentary, but at least one comment by a curator linked the text to online archival collections.


Ethnomusicology Multimedia (EM),

This project turns our LCRM Project approach 180 degrees by prioritizing the annotation of audiovisual material within the audiovisual archive; if I understand it correctly, keying of that material to monograph pages would be a second step.  This is a fascinating idea that could also work for oral histories and books on (civil rights) history.  Archivists are keen to capture scholars’ notes on their holdings, and an annotation that is not tied to a particular secondary text could apply to many texts.  However, within a particular monograph, the reader might find more meaningful an annotation that is contextually connected to the narrative.  I look forward to learning whether the Indiana University Library is partnering with the project to create and host the archive, and to seeing how the idea of keying archival material to monograph pages will develop.


Institute for the Future of the Book,

The above site describes CommentPress and links to the many interesting experiments that New York University has done with it, but as far as I can tell, the site does not offer any information about the new software that Bob Stein described at the recent AAUP meeting in Baltimore and which he said would launch in October 2011.  It is a new, more sophisticated version of CommentPress that he called SocialBook (not to be confused, I believe, with a currently available iPad app by the same name).  Using Epub files, it will allow readers to highlight, annotate, share comments, have virtual book groups, and—the main reason I list it here—comments can incorporate links as well as other uploaded materials.  Users will be able to choose whether or not to share their comments publicly.


The Long Civil Rights Movement Project,

Some of the most pertinent links inserted by users in our project are attached to annotations now closed to public access, but you can still see how the annotation feature works on the open access content.  Again—in sum—scholars and archivists were invited to add annotations and links to primary source collections.  One advantage of the dynamic, participatory model is that it is always poised to take advantage of the constant, rapid increase in the amount of primary-source material that is coming online as a result of archivists’ digitization efforts.  The potential for links to break and need updating is a disadvantage that needs to be addressed.  In order to link to published sources, bibliographies in the collection include both DOIs and OpenURL links (the latter for those users who know how to set up the OpenURL plug-in).


Note that the foregoing projects might be considered a subset or offshoot of the growing body of enhanced e-books in which multimedia files are embedded (rather than linked).  Some exciting and fascinating examples in scholarly book publishing are:


Dangerous Citizens by Neni Panourgiá (Fordham University Press and Columbia University Library, 2009).  A specially programmed open-access website-book. (Marginal commentary is termed “parerga.”)


The Elements by Theodore Gray (Touch Press,  2010) An iPad app.

Demo on YouTube:

Give My Poor Heart Ease:  Voice of the Mississippi Blues by William Ferris (University of North Carolina Press, 2010).  A Kindle enhanced e-book; soon to be a Nook enhanced e-book.


Gems and Gemstones: Timeless Natural Beauty of the Mineral World  by Lance Grande and Allison Augustyn  (University of Chicago Press and Touch Press, in collaboration with the Field Museum, 2011).  An iPad app.

Demo on YouTube:


Learning from YouTube by Alexandra Juhasz (MIT Press, 2011). A “video -book” available online only, in an experimental interface .  (A page integrating text and video is termed “texteo.”)



Corrections, additions, and discussion are welcome.


Reflecting on the LCRM Project’s Online Pilot

This post contains 4 sections:

1. Close of the online pilot
2. The expected, the unexpected, and in between
3. What did we learn?
4. What is next for the LCRM Project?

Coming soon:  A follow-up post on enhanced e-books

Close of the online pilot

After 14 months, the Long Civil Rights Movement Project’s pilot online collection officially closed its test period on July 18, 2011.  You can still see it at, although project staff will no longer grant premium access to the full text of the experimental site’s 87 titles (books, articles, papers, and reports) to those who register except by special request.  Registration will continue to give any user the ability to see open-access content and comment on it at the paragraph level.

The commenting feature was the focus of the experiment.  During the test period, the number of registered users grew beyond our expectations, finishing at 776.  The number of annotations contributed by users was also impressive, finishing at 607.

The expected, the unexpected, and in between

As with any experiment, some desired and expected outcomes eluded us, while other developments both raised knotty questions and presented new opportunities.

In the elusive-goals department, for example, the authors of the 87 books, articles, papers, and reports in the collection did not enhance their published writing with sidebars offering further thoughts since publication, nor did they share links to archival sources–despite several authors’ enthusiasm about these ideas in focus group meetings.

Authors and other scholars saw the site as a teaching tool.  One author added discussion questions to his book,  and five undergraduate classes around the U.S. used the site. (The number of courses might easily have been higher than five, but we limited this aspect of the experiment.)  One class at Duke University, taught by an author, contributed 80 percent of all the comments in the site.  Students responded to the assigned reading about civil rights activism with candor and genuine emotion in their comments, sometimes linking to outside sources and occasionally sharing related personal experiences.  This activity led us to knotty-question territory, challenging us to think about how to design a business model for an online collection that would include or rely upon course-adoption books.

One desired outcome proved elusive until we offered participants an honorarium.  We hoped that archivists, who have an intimate knowledge of the materials in their collections, and who have worked hard to make those materials available online, would have an incentive to increase the discoverability of those collections.  A desire to link published scholarship with archival materials in a granular, contextual manner was a prime reason for the inclusion of a commenting tool in the site.  We hoped that archivists would voluntarily contribute annotations for that purpose, but—despite their stated enthusiasm—they did not find the time.  Once they were commissioned to do so on deadline, however, and offered an honorarium, they produced the most useful, scholarly, detailed annotations in the site.  Their contributions present an attractive opportunity to work with archivists on e-book enhancements in the future.

What did we learn?

In science publishing, there is attention to the importance of archiving data sets and making them accessible for reference and reassessment.  In the humanities, primary-source materials, such as diaries, letters, pamphlets, manuscripts, and oral history recordings and transcripts, are the scholar’s data sets.  Continue reading ‘Reflecting on the LCRM Project’s Online Pilot’