The Born Digital Working Group Divides and Conquers

Back in October, we introduced the MITH/UM Libraries Born Digital Working Group (BDWG) with a post about processing the Bill Bly Collection.  Since then we’ve firmed up our goals (“start collecting/working with diverse born digital materials in the libraries”  being a bit nebulous and… huge) and divided ourselves into sub-groups to conquer them. Goals and groups decided upon, we’re going to try to give bi-weekly updates on our work, cross-posted to the MITH and Special Collections blogs. We’ll be cycling through the groups to ensure every area is covered; those areas are: tools, policies/procedures, metadata, and administration.

Originally called “Technology/BitCurator/hardware/software/tools,” this subgroup is dedicated to pre-processing work–everything that happens before an acquisition is deposited in the digital repository. The Tools group is led by Jennie Levine Knies and includes Amanda Visconti, Eric Cartier, Matt Kirschenbaum, Porter Olsen and Rachel Donahue.

Dedicated to developing the many guidelines necessary to implement new digital workflows in the libraries. The Policy/Procedures group is led by Joanne Archer and includes Caitlin Wells, Daniel Mack, Rachel Donahue, Robin Pike, and Trevor Muñoz.

Dedicated to data about data. Specifically, this group will look at everything that’s needed to create a properly-described submission information package (SIP). The Metadata Group is led by Joshua Westgard and includes Eric Cartier,Jennie Levine Knies, and Rachel Donahue.

Dedicated to providing the high-level support needed by change agents everywhere. Administration was originally lumped in with Policy/Procedures, but we broke it out to keep things specific and manageable. The Administration group is led by Trevor Muñoz and includes Daniel Mack, Jennie Levine Knies, Joanne Archer, Matthew Kirschenbaum, and Rachel Donahue.

As you read our posts in the future, bear in mind that we’re essentially starting from scratch. We’re unlikely to have anything amazingly groundbreaking to share, but we hope that being transparent about our work might help other organizations undergoing similar changes.


William Morris and J.R.R. Tolkien

William MorrisIn its December 2012 issue, Wired published an article “Before the Shire”  highlighting William Morris’s influence on the fantasy novel genre, most notably on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Morris’s later works, including The House of the Wolfings and all the Kindreds of the Mark, Child Christopher and Goldilind the Fair, The Sundering Flood, and The Well at the World’s End, contain elements of the supernatural, mythical expansive worlds, and tales of epic voyages fraught with heroic battles.  These works are often credited influencing pioneers of modern fantasy literature J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.

Magical wells of immortality; tyrannical kings; giants, endless wanderers seeking their destiny; cursed armor cast by dwarves; characters like Lord Gandolf of Brimside and Sage of Sweveham…Starting to sound familiar?

Morris’s fantasy novels and historical romances were inspired by his love of all things medieval, as well as his travels through Iceland. Morris was enamored with the landscape of Iceland and Norse mythology.  He began translating Icelandic sagas 1869, expanding to classical and medieval literature shortly thereafter . The combination of history and mythology fueled his passion for these works. His translations include Volsung Saga: The story of the Volsungs and Niblungs with certain songs from the Elder Edda, The Tale of Beowulf, The Odyssey and The Story of Gunnlaug the Worm-tongue and Raven the Skald.

To illustrate Morris’s connection to fanatasy, Wired chose the binding of an 1890 edition of Morris’s The Tale of the House of the Wolfings from our exhibit How We Might Live: The Vision of William Morris. The image invokes legends of kings and battles that have become the hallmark of literature by Tolkien and George R.R. Martin. Read an excerpt from House of the Wolfings to get a taste of Morris’s fantasy prose:

Whiles in the early Winter eve
We pass amid the gathering night
Some homestead that we had to leave
Years past; and see its candles bright
Shine in the room beside the door
Where we were merry years agone
But now must never enter more,
As still the dark road drives us on.
E’en so the world of men may turn
At even of some hurried day
And see the ancient glimmer burn
Across the waste that hath no way;
Then with that faint light in its eyes
A while I bid it linger near
And nurse in wavering memories
The bitter-sweet of days that were. 

To learn more about Morris’s translations and fantasy writings, visit the online exhibit How We Might Live: The Vision of William Morris.

Congratulations to the University of Maryland marching band: the Mighty Sound of Maryland!

Terrapin Tales

In a few days time the Mighty Sound of Maryland, the University of Maryland’s marching band, will play in President Obama’s second inaugural parade.  This continues a tradition for the band that goes back almost 100 years, to when the Maryland Agricultural College cadet band played in President Woodrow Wilson’s second inaugural parade in 1917 (seen below).  Maryland’s marching band has also played in the inaugural parades of President Eisenhower in 1953, Kennedy in 1960,  and Reagan in 1985. Congratulations to the MSOM for again being accorded this great honor!

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‘How We Might Live’ features Faux Cross Stitched Binding

Child Christopher Binding

Child Christopher Binding

Every month, How We Might Live: The Vision of William Morris, an exhibit highlighting the life and work of English designer and author William Morris (1834-1896), will showcase a new Morris-related item.

Visit the exhibit in January to view a unique copy of William Morris’s fantasy novel, Child Christopher and Goldilind the Fair. This 1900 edition was published by published by the American fine press pioneer Thomas Mosher. Do you think the design on the binding is reminiscent of a Morris embroidery pattern? Or perhaps 8-bit video game graphics?