Reflections on DHSI 2017

Rebecca ChungRebecca Chung (@rebeccamchung) is Project Manager at Books Arts Studio, Arts, Architecture, and Engineering Library. 

I attended the Digital Humanities Summer Institute for the first time, thanks to a DLF + DHSI Cross-Pollinator Tuition Award. My areas are book history and preservation (Ph.D. English, M.S.I. preservation and archives). My course was “The Predigital Book,” in which students learn the fundamentals of descriptive and analytical bibliography. We had Fredson Bowers’s Principles of Bibliographical Description, materials from the University of Victoria’s Special Collections, and the guidance of librarians. I knew collational formulas from my previous work, but once a bibliographer, always a bibliographer: I spent a happy week with a 1906 Doves Press edition of Emerson’s Essays.

Doves Press Emerson
Doves Press edition, Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1906

Most importantly, the room brought together librarians, publishers, digitization specialists, vendors, and scholars from multiple fields. We were able to discuss, in breath and depth, how digitization impacts reading and studying paper materials: for worse (losing significant properties) and better (access through surrogates, distant reading).

In preservation, my area of interest is migration, particularly paper-to-digital and back again. I also am a letterpress printer who experiments with additive (3D) printing to replace or remake damaged type and ornaments. Both at DHSI and the concurrent SHARP conference, I met other printers and librarians attempting to transport history’s artifacts using digital files and PLA.

It was exciting that we all understood the need for users to handle and manipulate artifacts. We have a common purpose. In addition, we learned that we benefited from having access to letterpress studios and 3D-printing labs simultaneously—a consequence of the makerspace movement.

3D-printed type block, University of Michigan Library, Shapiro Design Lab
3D-printed type block, University of Michigan Library, Shapiro Design Lab

At DHSI, we focused on sharing interests, making friends, and learning about other courses. When too tired to focus, we enjoyed the beautiful University of Victoria campus. If the happy intensity of DHSI 2017 is any indication, the materiality of the text—in all media, vellum to bits—is in safe hands.

Finnerty Gardens, University of Victoria
Finnerty Gardens, University of Victoria

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