Currently viewing the tag: "Luis A. González"

Date:  Wednesday June 17, 2015, 10:30 am to 12:00 pm
Moderator: Rafael E. Tarragó, University of Minnesota
Rapporteur: Christine Hernández, Tulane University

Sarah Buck-Kachaluba, University of California, San Diego and Lynn Shirey, Harvard University
The Genesis and Evolution of the Digital Primary Resources Subcommittee

Luis A. González, Indiana University
Archivo Mesoamericano: An International Collaborative Video Digitization Project

Antonio Sotomayor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Digitizing the Conde de Montemar Letters (1761-1799): A Beginner’s Impressions on Multi-Departmental Collaborations and Digital Humanities

The moderator, Dr. Rafael E. Tarragó, begins the session by introducing the panel of presenters and reminding the audience of the rules for the session.

The panel began with the presentation by Antonio Sotomayor about the digitization of the Conde de Montemar letters held by the University of Illinois.  Antonio gives a brief background to the project now entering its third year.  The Conde de Montemar collection is a large holding comprised of family correspondence dating to between 1761 and 1799 of a noble family of the Peruvian viceroyalty.

The theme of Antonio’s presentation is that of the importance of inter-departmental collaboration in a library digitization project.  He begins with the groundwork phase of the project where discussions with several groups of experts were vital to the development of the proposed content and technical execution of the project.  These experts included faculty members with expertise in the subject areas that would directly benefit from digital access to the Conde de Montemar letters.  Discussions with digital librarians and technical support staff helped to make clear the multitude of models for digital humanities projects and the kinds of questions that need to be asked and answered in order to choose and develop a database model appropriate to the primary sources to be digitized.  In the end, Antonio notes that two of the most important questions to be addressed are which disciplines will derive the most benefit from this project and what will investigators need for their research.

Along with these discussions, Antonio notes that he had to do a fair amount of research on the materials themselves and on the literature concerning digital humanities projects, in general.  He also discussed the process of evaluating various models taken from other digital humanities projects for use with the Conde de Montmar letters.  The goal for the University of Illinois project was always to create a resource that would be something more than just published digital images of letters.

Additionally, collaborations with appropriate departments on campus and off-campus were essential to the project.  Care had to be taken not to tread on inter-departmental politics or feelings of territoriality.  Antonio notes also that with some aspects of the project there was a steep learning curve and storage space and maintenance for the database needed to be procured and negotiated.

Antonio then goes on to describe the general workflow for the project.  The letters are digitized, then metadata records are created, and finally a transcription will be made of each letter.  Sotomayor notes that each step entails a series of decisions to be made and funding to be secured.  Staff support at each step is critical as well.  The digital platform chosen for the project is eXtensible Text Framework (XTF).

Antonio concludes the presentation with a brief overview of the current work on the project.  This stage includes interacting closely with the IT department and securing funding to create transcriptions of the letters.  Project staff will work with faculty members to assess the digital products created and to help the project team to further develop the digital materials into a teaching tool.

The next presentation was given by Luis A. González concerning the Archivo Mesoamericano project.  Luis begins with thanks to the panel organizers for the invitation to present.  He introduces the Archivo Mesoamericano as a resource.  It is an archive of video materials that is freely accessible online and fully searchable using Spanish keywords.  The project is international in two senses:  the first, being that two of the partner institutions are located outside of the United States; and two, that the records in the Archivo Mesoamericano are in both Spanish and English and are searchable using Spanish search terms.  The institutions involved in the creation of the Archivo Mesoamericano include the University of Indiana and two other partners which are the Institute for the Historia de Nicaragua and Central America (IHNCA) and the Museum of the Word and the Image (MUPI).

Luis continues with a discussion of the history of the project.  It began in 2005 when two separate databases CAMVA and CLAMA were merged to form the Archivo Mesoamericano.  The consortium of partners included the University of Indiana (CLACS and DLP), CIESAS, IHNCA, and MUPI.  Jeffrey Gould was an early founder of the Archivo Mesoamericano as he created the original consortium from a network of protest projects in California.  The project was funded with a TICFIA grant.

The goals of the Archivo Mesoamericano project are the following:  1) preservation of a wide range of video content and video sources; 2) dissemination and access to video resources made freely available for educational purposes.  The archive’s materials are indexed, annotated, and are discoverable via WorldCat; and 3) to be technologically innovative.  An annotation tool was developed at the University of Indiana for use on the video materials in the archive.  Although the tool is proprietary, training workshops were provided for all partner institutions.  The content of the archive would be of interest to those who study indigenous languages, conditions and conflicts in rural communities, and rural guerrilla conflicts.

Luis then gave a demonstration of how to navigate to the Archivo Mesoamericano webpage, how to enter the database via the browser interface, how to search for video materials, and what kinds of video material a user can expect to find.

Luis concludes with a brief summary of the highlights of the Archivo Mesoamerica which are the following:  the Archivo is a searchable digital archive, it is an open access archive, it provides a unique teaching and research resource, titles are currently being catalogued, the Archivo will provide long-term preservation of its content as the University of Indiana will sustain the database, and there is institutional cooperation involved in the development and long-term sustainability of the current database

The final presentation was that of Drs. Sarah Buck Kachaluba and Lynn Shirey concerning the foundations for establishing the Digital Primary Sources Subcommittee within SALALM.  Lynn Shirey begins with a brief background discussion.  She explains that numerous researchers based at small institutions were having difficulty finding and gaining access to primary resources necessary to their studies.  Their needs prompted the start of a project to create a finding aid for primary sources.  An early version was drawn up by combining multiple lists, creating a bibliography, and adding webpage links.  A sub-committee of two people who would also serve as an editorial board was established and they made an early effort to secure funding and which was subsequently provided initially from SALALM.

The moderator, Dr. Rafael Tarragó and current sub-committee chairman, interjected at this point to add that the sub-committee now numbers at more than 25 people and it held its first official meeting at the current annual conference of SALALM.  He gave a brief summary of the results of the first sub-committee meeting and a demonstration of the webpage and current listing of primary resources.

Sarah, Lynn, and Rafael conclude the presentation with a series of needs for how the sub-committee and the current primary source list could be moved forward.  These efforts include:  help with cataloging and organizing the list; securing more funding; and providing more depth to the current listing of primary sources beyond the immediate needs expressed initially be a select number of researchers.  A final comment was interjected by panelist Luis A. González that the current listing of primary sources comes only from members of SALALM and asks whether there would be an opportunity to open it up to materials held by institutions outside of SALALM.

The Question and Answer period began with a comment from Dr. Sarah Aponte of the Dominican Studies Institute directed to panelist Antonio Sotomayor.  She describes a “Spanish paleography tool” that is used at the Institute and she has found it very helpful for teaching people how to read paleography.  She suggests that it may be helpful to Antonio with his Conde de Montemar Letters digitization project.  Panelist Luis A. González of the University of Indiana and moderator Rafael Tarragó of the University of Minnesota affirm the tool’s usefulness.

Diana Restrepo Torres of the Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango poses a question to Luis A. González of the University of Indiana:  When you say “searchable” [in reference to the Archivo Mesoamericano], what do mean?  Is it searchable only by the title or for content within the films as well?

Luis A. González responds that both title and content are searchable and shows several examples searching on keywords, dates, and places.  He explains that the all of the scenes in each film are annotated and catalogued using proprietary software developed at the University of Indiana.  The software was originally used to analyze and index folk music videos and has since been re-tooled for use with the ethnographic videos in the Archivo Mesoamericano.  One of the reasons for developing this software was to provide multi-lingual access to the materials.

Maria Torres of the Universidad de Puerto Rico poses a question to Luis A. González of the University of Indiana about the language used to create the descriptive texts and subject headings in the videos contained in the Archivo Mesoamericano.

Luis A. González responds that the vocabulary used for the Archivo Mesoamericano metadata was adapted from that used by UNESCO for describing cultural subjects.

Luis A. González of the University of Indiana poses a question to Antonio Sotomayor of the University of Illinois:  Antonio, based on your descriptions of letters in bundles and their orientation, what are you thinking of doing [with respect to representing the original physical orientation of the texts on pages of letters].

Antonio responds with a demonstration of the vertical orientation of the texts in one letter, but the spatial orientation of the letter’s texts does not necessarily correspond with the train of thought conveyed in the reading of the letter.  A graduate student familiar with the texts of colonial folios was brought in to help decode the structures of the letters.  He points out that this is one example of why the Conde de Montemar Letters project must be a collaborative one.

Lynn Shirey of the Library of Congress adds that the project could endeavor to show how the writing in the letters can be re-orientated.

Antonio responds that this could be tricky to do.  It shows how essential it is to know well the nature (both physical and content wise) of the materials being digitized in order to best structure the resulting database.  He notes that it takes more time to plan a database structure than to actually build it.

Rafael E. Tarragó of the University of Minnesota comments that paper was expensive and very important during the Colonial period, so people would economize when it came to filling the space on pages of paper.

Antonio Sotomayor of the University of Illinois comments that the goal of the project is to capture the whole essence of each letter in reference to watermarks on the papers because this may be of interest to researchers.

Christine Hernández of Tulane University adds that there are visualization tools that can be used in a database of images to convey orientation and position of database items in a series.

Antonio Sotomayor of the University of Illinois replies that the project begins with adding informative essays about the viceroy’s family to explain provenience and structure of the letters and to explain the cultural context of the entirety of the collection.

Rafael E. Tarragó of the University of Minnesota ends the session at 11:45 am.

Panel 15, June 18, 2012, 3:30pm-5:00 pm
Moderator: Teresa Chapa (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Presenters: Denise Stuempfle (Indiana University); Sara Levinson (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill); Teresa Chapa (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Rapporteur: Brenda Salem (University of Pittsburgh)

The presentations in this panel discussed collecting artist’s books from Latin America at an academic library from the perspective of librarians in acquisition, collection management, and cataloging. The moderator, Teresa Chapa, started out by introducing herself as well as the other two presenters.

The first presentation, titled, “Latin American Book Arts: Challenging Tradition and a Challenge to Collect” was given by Teresa Chapa, the librarian for Latin American, Iberian, and Latino/Latina studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC). Chapa started out by relating how she acquired her first (Ediciones) Vigía book as a new bibliographer in 2001. Each of the Vigía books is hand-made by artists in Matanzas, Cuba. The purpose of Chapa’s presentation was to inform others about the challenges of collecting Vigía books, which she was unaware of as an inexperienced bibliographer. She clarified that she would be using the general term “book arts” to describe books that come from Vigía and other books of an artistic nature because she does not have a background in art librarianship to confidently differentiate among the different kinds of artist’s books. Using that term also allows her to include the more inexpensively made “cartonera” books, as well as works of art, such as “Todos Los Mares Del Mundo” by Venezuelan artist Ricardo Benin, which cost $1,000. Throughout the presentation, she passed around several examples of book arts.

Chapa explained that book arts in Latin America are different from book arts in other countries in that Latin American book arts are more socially and politically engaged. As such, convention is disregarded, so alternative or everyday materials are used to create these books as opposed to the fine material used in conventional book arts. The structures of these books are also unconventional. She named a number of publishers throughout Latin America that specialize in book arts and described their different approaches to making books. She mentioned Eloisa Cartonera in Argentina, Ediciones Vigía in Cuba, Taller Leñateros in Mexico, and Ral Varoni in Argentina. Their unique and unconventional approaches to creating book arts create special challenges in the storage and preservation of these items in libraries.

Among the things she wishes she had considered before deciding to collect Latin American book arts were the high cost of the books, whether the books would be housed in the art library or rare book room, and whether the rare book curator or librarian would even accept the care of these books. In her case, the rare book librarian was hesitant to accept the books but was eventually won over. Still, whether or not care of these books will be accepted is something to consider when taking on such a collection. There are also the costs of housing, preserving, and cataloging the books to consider, which are significant. As an example, she talked the book titled “Altar Maya Portátil: Hechizos Mayas de Bolsillo” that consists of a miniature altar with candles, incense, figurines, and three small books. She described the creative solution to storing this collection of items devised by the preservation department. Other things to consider are how funding for the acquisition and care of these books can be justified; how these books fit into an academic curriculum; and how the collection can be promoted in order for it to be used. She went on to list possible reasons that would justify having a collection of book arts at an academic library as well as the challenges in acquiring these books. At the end of the presentation, Chapa talked about her experience in organizing an exhibit of UNC’s book arts and the activities related to the exhibit. The exhibit was named “Hecho A Mano: Book Arts of Latin America” and focused on the book arts of Cuba, Argentina, and Mexico. She stated that it was a lot of hard work, but it paid off because she now receives a lot of requests for the books. She also showed the searchable exhibit website as well as the Artist’s Books resource page in the UNC Libraries website.

The second presentation was titled, “Voices from the Margin: An Exploration of Themes in the “Libros Cartoneros” of the Indiana University Libraries Collection” and was given by Denise Stuempfle, a catalog librarian for Latin American, Iberian, and Latino Studies materials at Indiana University. In this presentation, Stuempfle discussed the subject treatment of “Libros Cartoneros” held at Indiana University (IU). She started her presentation by defining “Libros Cartoneros” as chapbooks manufactured by alternative publishing houses, known as “cartoneras.” The books have covers of corrugated cardboard that are hand-painted with unique designs. She then went over a brief history of the cartonera publishing houses and provided background information on the cartonero book collection at IU, which was started in 2004 and contains approximately 500 cartonero books. Stuempfle previously presented on this topic at the SALALM conference in Providence. In that presentation, she gave an overview of IU’s collection and described how they were being processed. The objectives for this particular presentation, however, were to explore the themes in the works that make up IU’s cartonera collection and to demonstrate the creation of subject access to these works using the Library of Congress’ special provisions for increased subject access to fiction.

Stuempfle talked about the practice of many academic libraries to not add subject headings when cataloging works of fiction, opting to have author and title as the main access points. The disadvantage to doing this, she asserted, is that works cannot be searched for by similar themes. Also, it is assumed that the searcher knows the exact titles and authors he or she is looking for. While this practice works for established authors, it makes cartonero books harder to find because their authors are not well known within mainstream publishing and do not have an established canon. An example of such an author is Washington Cucurto. Omitting subject headings when cataloging works of fiction, particularly cartonero books, is often a time-saving measure for catalogers dealing with a large backlog, but it puts the burden on the researcher when it comes to discovering these works. The Library of Congress has a provision for allowing the addition of subject headings when cataloging works of fiction, but these apply only to certain works, such as biographical and historical fiction, as well as animal stories. She then cited several academic articles that emphasize the importance of subject headings in works of fiction for improving discoverability. She also said that many users have expressed the same sentiment. In order to promote and improve access to the works in the cartonera collection, which the Special Collections Department already spent money in acquiring, it made sense, she concluded, to invest the time and money in providing subject access to them.

Since 2001, the Library of Congress has had special provisions for increased subject access to fiction. However, these provisions were made with public libraries in mind as a way for patrons to more easily search for recreational reading. With the exception of the New York City Public library, no public libraries have cartonero books, so cataloging and providing subject access to these books should fall upon the academic libraries, because many of them have cartonero books. Besides helping the recreational reader, subject access to fiction, she asserts, would also help save the time of the academic researcher, particularly those who might be conducting a literature research. Also, it is important to provide enhanced access to these works because the Library of Congress classification numbers for works of literature correspond to the author, not the subject matter of the work. Moreover, these provisions were aimed at English-language works, but it stands to reason that they can be applied to non-English works as well.

When it comes to providing subject access to the cartonero books at IU, certain subject headings and form subheadings are commonly used. For example, to indicate the country of publication, the subject heading “chapbooks” is used with the country of publication as a subheading. The works found in the cartonero books cover a large range of literary genres and themes. Stuempfle went on to list many of the titles held in their collection. She then made a subject analysis of three works of fiction found in the collection. The examples included La asesina de Lady Di by Alejandro Lopez, Barrio Miseria 221 by Daniel Hidalgo, and Trento by Leónidas Lamborghini. Subject headings were assigned according to the work’s individual characters, class of persons to which the primary character belongs, and settings in the story, all according to certain considerations such as the Library of Congress special provisions for subject access in works of fiction. Headings for topical access and genre headings were also assigned. In some cases, new subject headings are proposed through Subject Authority Cooperative Program (SACO).

Stuempfle ended her presentation by concluding that the thematically diverse libros cartoneros are a rich resource for literary researchers, particularly those in the field of Latin American Studies. As such, institutions with strong comparative literature, linguistics, and Latin American Studies programs should ensure that access to these works is enhanced so that scholars can benefit from them. Subject access to the humanities has been historically difficult but the problem is compounded when it comes to literature from Latin America. Stuemple considers creating enhanced access to cartonero books part of a larger effort to expand knowledge and use of Latin American and Caribbean literature.

The third presentation, titled “Creating Access to the Vigía Collection of Artists’ Books at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill” was given by Sara Levinson, a catalog librarian at UNC. In her presentation, Levinson talked of the challenges of the descriptive cataloging of UNC’s collection of Vigía artists’ books. Unlike regular books that are in roughly the same physical form in relation to each other, what sets artists’ books apart is what they look like. But to be cataloged, words can only be used to convey something that is mainly visual. The Vigía artists’ books at UNC are housed in the Rare Book Collection section of the library. They are not available in the open stacks and cannot be checked out, so the only way to access them physically is to go to the Rare Book Collection section of the library and request to see them individually. In order to give library patrons a good idea of what these books look like before they see them, Levinson tries to provide as much description as possible in order to “paint a picture” with words. She tries to imagine who would be searching for these books, what they would be searching for, and how they would search for it. She uses genre headings from the Rare Book and Manuscript controlled vocabulary, as these headings are familiar for those who work with rare book collections and those librarians who provide rare book-related reference help. She also uses headings from the Art and Architecture Thesaurus, as these books are considered art works and would be familiar to students and researchers of art, as well as to art librarians. However, these terms are not searchable in all of UNC’s catalogs, so when cataloging each item, Levinson uses long descriptive notes, which are keyword searchable. When possible, Library of Congress subject headings are also used. The materials and techniques used to create the book are often included in the description. Levinson read examples of the descriptive notes she writes in the records for these artists’ books.

Levinson ended her presentation by saying that she hoped that in providing a large number of potentially searchable words in her descriptions, patrons would be more easily able to find the records for these books. She also thanked the people who helped her in putting together her Powerpoint presentation, which included beautiful photographs of the artists’ books she described.

Questions & Comments:

Meiyolet Mendez (University of Miami) asked Levinson if she is the only cataloger who writes such detailed descriptions of artists’ books in bibliographic records and how long it takes to catalog such a book.

Levinson replied that bibliographic records for some of these books already exist, but she enhances those records by adding subject headings, genre terms, and searchable headings. The cataloging takes a while so she tries to spread the work out, but she wants to make them as complete as possible because she wants patrons to be able to find the records for these books. She ventures that in the future, when the Art and Architecture subject terms are searchable in all catalogs, such detailed descriptions won’t be necessary.

Stuempfle then asked Levinson if these record enhancements are done at the local level or if she applies them to OCLC records as well.

Levinson replied that it depends on whether she is doing original or copy cataloging. She contributes her original records to OCLC with all enhancements but if she makes any significant changes to existing OCLC records, she makes them only at the local level.

Wendy Pedersen (University of New Mexico) commented that at her institution, the catalogers have worked on artists’ books, adding detailed description as well. She then asked Stuempfle if IU’s cartonero books are special collections and what considerations are taken in shelf-listing them.

Stuempfle said that IU’s cartonero books are individually put in special preservation boxes and placed in the library’s storage. If patrons want to look at them, they can be requested and sent to the patron within half a day.

Martha Preddie (University of Trinidad and Tobago) asked Chapa what the print run for artists’ books usually are. Chapa replied that depending on the publisher, the print run might be as little as 20 to as many as 200.

Chapa added that she had not been able to bring any Vigía books to the conference because they cannot be checked out of the UNC library, but that she does have some books in her office to use as examples when she does presentations in classrooms.

Preddie then asked if the books are digitized and Chapa replied that they cannot be digitized as her institution does not hold the copyright for these books. Moreover, getting the permission to digitize the books has not been a priority for the library as they are busy digitizing other material. But for the artists’ books exhibit website, images of the featured books were digitized.

Stuempfle disclosed that she ended up with the responsibility for a box full of artists’ books that had not been cataloged when the previous art librarian had moved on to another position and that she is currently trying to figure out how to catalog them.

Sarah Leroy (University of Pittsburgh) asked whether the multiple copies of artists’ books are meant to be identical in spite of a small print run. Having them being identical, she added, would make it easier to use a bibliographic record for different copies.

Chapa replied that usually, copies in a print run are identical. Leroy said that it would be useless to write a detailed description of a cartonero book in an OCLC record since each cover in a relatively large print run of a cartonero book is different.

Stuemple and Chapa explained how the creation processes of cartonero books and artists’ books like the ones at Vigía differ from each other. Levinson added that artists’ books, unlike cartonero books, are numbered.

Luis A. González (Indiana University) asked Chapa if she had ever been challenged to justify the acquisition of artist books.

Chapa replied that putting together the exhibit on artists books helped to get support from the library director. The library’s new rare book curator is a bit resistant about accepting the care of the books, but the assistant art librarian, who is a book artist, has been very supportive and promotes the materials.

The panel concluded with the moderator thanking the rapporteur and the presenters.