You are here




This week, while things were otherwise quiet at Stanford due to Spring Break, 35 technologists from 20 institutions* descended upon Stanford for our annual library developers' (un)conference: LibDevConX, hosted by SUL's Digital Library Systems & Services group. For the fourth year in a row, the event brought together some of the best and brightest technical experts from different places with like concerns, to explore needs, common solutions, and learn from each others' innovations. This year, topics included: 

  • comparing media and digital asset management solutions
  • the latest features in Hydra 6
  • exploring Hydra-not-on-Fedora
  • what it would take to replace DSpace with a Hydra head
  • requirements for a robust digital exhibits engine
  • image interoperability
  • effective approaches to testing web front-ends
  • performance tuning for Ruby on Rails apps
  • successful recipes for devOps

The event site is online at, and notes are being posted in GitHub at Work on some of the many ideas generated at the event has already begun, and will be coming to a digital library system near you in the coming quarters. 


*CDL, Cornell, Columbia, Digital Curation Experts, the Danish Royal Library, Danish Technical University, Duke, the Getty Research Institute, Harvard, Indiana University, MIT, Notre Dame, NYU, Oregon State, Penn State, Princeton, the Southern California Chinese American Society, University of Virginia, and WGBH

Pure grape brandy ad

Stanford Vintage: A Look at the Stanford Wineries

Leland Stanford: American industrialist, politician, university founder, and vintner. The Stanford's owned wineries in Tehama County, Alameda County, and produced wines on their stock farm in Palo Alto.

Tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. Peter Henry Blair, Dean of New York University's Stern School of Business, will speak about his new book, "Turnaround: Third World Lessons for First World Growth." He is a well-known expert on the global economy. The talk will be held in the Lane/Lyons/Lodato Room of the Fisher Conference Center of Arrillaga Alumni Building, and is sponsored by the Hoover Institution Media Fellow Program.



Alternative Academic Career Paths for PhDs: logo

On April 10, three Stanford librarians will talk to Stanford graduate students about their experiences moving from PhD programs into library work.  This event, titled “Alt Ac @ Libraries,” will feature Chris Bourg, AUL for Public Services (PhD in Sociology); Matt Marostica, Subject Specialist for Economics and Political Science (PhD in Political Scicence); and Regan Murphy Kao, Japanese Studies Librarian (PhD in Japanese).

Matt, Regan, and Chris will engage with soon-to-be Stanford PhDs on what it means to support research through curation, collection, and other library work, instead of taking more traditional PhD paths into tenure-track faculty positions — positions that are both increasingly scarce and not necessarily the right fit for all academically-minded people.  They will likely address both the challenges and the rewards of their careers in an academic library such as Stanford's.

The perhaps odd-sounding "alt-ac" moniker gained prominence a few years ago as a Twitter hashtag marking conversations among and about "alternate" career paths for people with academic dreams (and credentials).  In 2011, an unusual (and fascinating) collection of essays called #alt-academy, edited by University of Virginia digital humanist (and fellow library worker) Bethany Nowviskie, was published by MediaCommons.  This path-breaking collection describes itself as being

by and for people with deep training and experience in the humanities [and other fields], who are working or are seeking employment — generally off the tenure track, but within the academic orbit — in universities and colleges, or allied knowledge and cultural heritage institutions such as museums, libraries, academic presses, historical societies, and governmental humanities organizations. 

Like all institutions of graduate education, Stanford has large communities of both PhD-bound students nervous about future employment, and PhD-educated, untenured, academic staff who love their careers.  Surprisingly — shockingly, really — these two communities rarely gather to discuss what will inevitably unite many of their members: an "alternate academic" professional career.  The Alt Ac Speaker Series, of which this Stanford Libraries panel is part, is sponsored by the Vice Provost for Graduate Education, the Career Development Center, the School of Humanities and Sciences, and the Humanities Center.  The series is designed to give Stanford graduate students the opportunity to explore "a range of rewarding alternative academic (alt ac) career options within colleges and universities." 

The Stanford Libraries, meanwhile, are a haven for people who have chosen precisely such careers.  Our colleagues Chris, Regan, and Matt will be proudly representing the dozens of us who have chosen this path, which they'll generously share with our graduate student colleagues on campus.

Emeritus Professor Barton J. Bernstein will present a lecture on the U.S.'s decision to use the A-bomb on Japan this Friday night, March 1st, at 6:00 p.m., Building 200 (second floor), Room 205. The hour-long lecture will be followed by a Q&A segment. It is free and open to the public. Prof. Bernstein, a widely published expert on A-bomb history, will present a planned resonse--partly in agreement and partly in disagreement--to the noted film maker Oliver Stone's documentary, "The Bomb." The documentary and a panel featuring Oliver Stone and Daniel Berrigan, was presented last Friday night.

American writer Jeffrey Eugenides at the Miami Book Fair International 2011

Writer Jeffrey Eugenides will be reading this evening at the Knight Management Center's Cemex Auditorium. Eugenides—who received an MA in English and Creative Writing from Stanford in 1986—is the author of 1993's The Virgin Suicides and of 2003's Pulitzer Prize–winning MiddlesexThe event takes place at 8:00 pm.

Take a look at SearchWorks for titles by Jeffrey Eugenides available in the libraries.

Tomorrow evening filmmaker Oliver Stone and historian Peter Kuznick will be participating in a panel discussion and showing their new documentary about the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. In the film — entitled The Bomb— Stone and Kuznick suggest that the bombing of Hiroshima was not necessary to end World War II. The panel discussion will be moderated by History Professor Emeritus Barton Bernstein, and will also include Daniel Ellsberg, the former military analyst who in 1971 provided the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times.

The Bomb is an episode of Stone's Showtime series The Untold History of the United States, based on the book of the same name by Stone and Kuznick.

The event takes place Friday, February 22, at 6:00 p.m. in the Lane History Corner, Room 02.

Bernstein will be giving a follow-up lecture on Friday, March 1, at 6:00 p.m. in the Lane History Corner, Room 205.


Scripting the Sacred: Medieval Latin Manuscripts

Scripting the Sacred, an exhibition of Western European manuscripts and fragments, showcases the medieval experience of reading. The exhibition is on display in the Peterson Gallery and Munger Rotunda of Green Library through March 17, 2013.

Studying these texts involved not only the absorption of knowledge, but also practices of interpretation, identification, and devotion. By focusing on the exercise of reading, this exhibition explores "scripting" in diverse forms: scribal activity, scripted performances, and inscribed divine things (res divinae).

Throughout the Middle Ages, the Bible remained the paradigmatic text for reading and studying. The exhibited biblical items highlight different preferences pertaining to legibility. Indeed, scribes designed manuscripts to guide, assist, and sometimes challenge readers, as medieval versions of biblical commentary and patristic works exemplify. The liturgical genres on display contain written and visual markers that instruct readers in the proper performance of the Mass, music, and specific feast days. The text portion of the liturgy helped stage the clergy's ceremonial duties. Liturgical fragments with musical notation assisted ritual actors in the memorization of stylized speech. Both components show how customized manuscripts promoted reading aloud. Miniature prayer books and books of hours demonstrate a late medieval trend toward privatized and personalized lay devotion.

Additional materials on exhibition include fine facsimiles from the Art & Architecture Library portraying the national origins of late antique and medieval scripts and illustration, fragments of ancient Egyptian papyri highlighting the gradual transition from papyrus to parchment and from scroll to codex, and a selection of codices and fragments–mainly recovered from the bindings of early printed books–from Stanford's paleography collections.

Far from being a static process, reading in the Middle Ages necessitated a dynamic relationship between manuscripts and their readers, at a much more deliberate and contemplative pace than most modern reading. As we encounter radical changes in our own digital age, this exhibit encourages us to think critically about how we interact with the text, and how these interactions condition the way we acquire knowledge.

Scripting the Sacred is curated by Kathryn Dickason, Ph.D. candidate in Religious Studies and David A. Jordan, assistant director for library development and associate curator for paleographical materials.

Exhibit cases are illuminated Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m. The gallery is accessible whenever Green Library is open; hours vary with the academic schedule. To confirm library hours, call 650-723-0931 or go to

For a map of campus and transportation information, go to

NOTE: The exhibition is free and open to the public; first-time visitors and those without Stanford ID must register at the entrance to Green Library before entering the building.