The Manuscripts Division of the Department of Special Collections exists to arrange, describe, preserve, and make available documents and born-digital materials of enduring historic value, both as intellectual items and as historical artifacts, to support the research needs of the undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and other scholars at Stanford University and beyond. Stanford University Library subject curators actively seek out collections to enhance our holdings. Since 2009, Special Collections has been involved in developing a Born-Digital Program in collaboration with the Digital Library Systems and Services Department.
When Parker on the Web 2.0 launched in 2018, it was the culmination of a long-term development plan to host an international collaborative project on sustainable infrastructure at no cost to the user. The engineering effort was immense, and that effort paid off: we saw a nearly 10-fold increase in visitors to the site, and the incorporation of IIIF functionality to the Parker manuscript content allowed the digital objects to be used in a myriad of new projects, from AI-driven initiatives like handwritten text recognition and feature recognition, to crowdsourcing transcription projects, and aggregation and reuse across multiple platforms. While Parker 2.0 was a technical success, the intellectual content of the site - the painstakingly-crafted descriptive metadata produced in the late 2000s that drove Parker on the Web 1.0 - was not fully added to the new platform. Thanks to the encouragement of dedicated Parker on the Web users and scholars, we were able to prioritize a large-scale reassessment of the project descriptive metadata, identify gaps, and restore the manuscript descriptions to their full glory - improving the discovery functionality for the site and providing users with rich descriptions for every manuscript in the collection. Parker on the Web 2.1, released on March 3, 2021, finally completes the migration of the project from a stand-alone site built on bespoke software and using a customized and unique metadata structure to a sustainable and extensible collaboration built on open source software and common metadata standards.
Working in a large archive means you're always discovering collections - sometimes even collections that are already open and available. In this case, it was a group of audio tapes related to 1950s gay rights organization the Mattachine Society. In the midst of preparing for a vault move, we came across a tape labeled “Reel #6” which had been misfiled and listed as lost. After considerable sleuthing the reel was finally returned to its rightful box.
The deadline for submissions has been extended to March 15, 2021.
The Lighting the Way project team requests proposals from groups of around 3 to 6 participants to participate in a series of online meetings and collaborative activities over the course of six weeks, starting the week of April 19, 2021. Each working group will develop a written contribution of 5 to 10 pages, exploring topics related to improving archival discovery and delivery, intended for inclusion in a larger handbook compiled and published by the Lighting the Way project team.
To apply, please complete an application form, including a 250-word abstract of your proposed topic and potential group participants, no later than March 15, 2021. A PDF version of the application form is available for your reference. Participants will be notified by March 29, 2021 if selected to participate.
These contributions are intended to build on the work of Lighting the Way: A National Forum on Archival Discovery and Delivery, held at Stanford University in February 2020, which focused on information sharing and collaborative problem solving to improve discovery and delivery for archives and special collections. The Forum provided rich opportunities for discovering points of convergence, which can be explored in the Preliminary Report on the Forum. Topics generated by Forum participants may provide a starting point for proposals, but applicants are welcome to propose topics that are not represented in the Preliminary Report appendices.