Announcement | New Project Selected for Brown’s Digital Publications Initiative

Shahzad Bashir, Director of Middle East Studies, Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Humanities, and Professor of Religious Studies

The Office of the Dean of the Faculty and the University Library, together with the Digital Publications Advisory Board, are pleased to announce the selection of the next long-form scholarly work to be developed under Brown’s Digital Publications Initiative.

Islamic Pasts and Futures: Horizons of Time, by Shahzad Bashir, Director of Middle East Studies, Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Humanities, and Professor of Religious Studies, probes the functioning of time as an aspect of human experience. It focuses on Islam, understanding it as an element of human imagination made real in an illimitable array of physical objects and linguistic traces. Attending to this evidence instantiates Islam’s entwining in stories of human lives over more than fourteen centuries. Relying on theoretical discussions from fields such as philosophy of history and anthropology, historiography, and cultural, visual, and literary studies, Professor Bashir asks that we look beyond the commonplace view of Islamic history that is predicated on seeing time as a one-way stream. Rather, ‘Islamic time’ is a vast matrix of ‘present’ moments that fold pasts and futures into themselves. Artifacts of human endeavor, such as texts, paintings, buildings, and so on, are symptoms of these presents that contain diverse understandings of selves and the world. For materials pertaining to Islam—produced by Muslims and non-Muslims alike—analytical horizons connected to time generate new frames for comprehending Islamic phenomena.

The Digital Publications Initiative, generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is establishing an infrastructure to support the development and publication of scholarly works that incorporate the capabilities of digital tools and technology to advance theory, method, and argument. Editorial and digital development of these works is supported through the University Library for eventual review and release by academic presses that are increasingly publishing digital monographs. Anchored in the University Library and the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, this initiative extends the University’s mission of supporting and promoting faculty scholarship, while also helping to advance digital scholarship in the humanities.

In addition to Islamic Pasts and Futures: Horizons of Time, by Shahzad Bashir, current digital scholarly publications supported under this initiative include Italian Shadows: A Genealogy of Virtual Reality, by Massimo Riva, Professor of Italian Studies; Furnace and Fugue: A Digital Edition of Michael Maier’s Atalanta fugiens (1618) with Scholarly Commentary, by Tara Nummedal, Professor of History, and Donna Bilak of Columbia University; and The Sensory Monastery: Saint-Jean-des-Vignes, by Sheila Bonde, Professor of History of Art and Architecture and Professor of Archaeology, and Clark Maines, Professor Emeritus of Art History at Wesleyan University.

To learn more about Brown’s digital scholarly publication program, please visit the Digital Publications Initiative website, or contact Allison Levy, Digital Scholarship Editor (

Announcement | Jeanette Norris Named Head of Metadata Services

Jeanette Norris has accepted the position of Head of Metadata Services, effective December 1, 2018. Prior to this promotion, Jeanette served as a Metadata Librarian.

Jeanette’s inclusive leadership style will be instrumental in moving the department into new modes of descriptive cataloging and metadata demanded by sophisticated discovery systems and digital platforms. With clarity of expression and a focus on direct action, she is a constructive force in ensuring that the Access Services and Collection Management department is truly the learning community it aspires to be.

As a Metadata Librarian, Jeanette managed a team of experts who are responsible for ingesting and exporting hundreds of thousands of records annually into the Library’s Management System and ensuring that the quality of the records meets the highest standards. Jeanette also led the effort to match use of the International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) with Brown University departments and organizations and is currently working with the Brown Digital Repository (BDR) developers to align up-to-date metadata standards with the evolving usage of the BDR.

Chair of the Discovery Advisory Group, Jeanette successfully led the transition from Summon to the EDS discovery system and, together with Digital Technologies, continues to lead the ongoing creative development of the open source Blacklight system. Recently, she partnered with vendors and colleagues to conduct usability studies to make sure that the needs of Brown University researchers and scholars are being progressively met.

Jeanette inspires confidence in her colleagues through her metadata expertise, bridging policy and procedure in the service of creating a robust delivery experience for our patrons that will facilitate and enhance their interaction with Brown’s distinctive collections.

Announcement | Tiffini Bowers, Exhibition Curator, Receives Excellence Award

The  Library is proud to congratulate Tiffini Bowers, Exhibition Curator, on her receipt of the 2018 Brown University Excellence Award in the Rising Star category.

The Rising Star Award is presented to an individual or team that, “has made an immediate impact on their department and the University. This award recognizes the energy, enthusiasm, knowledge, and innovative ideas a new employee may bring to the workplace” (Brown Human Resources).

Hired as the inaugural Brown Library Exhibition Curator in 2016, Tiffini provides leadership, vision, and strategic direction for the Library’s exhibition program, which is committed to supporting the Library’s mission; aligning with Brown’s standards and priorities; and upholding professional standards in conservation, preservation, scholarship, and collections care and management.

An award-winning museum curator with over 15 years of experience, Tiffini has worked with numerous museums, cultural institutions, and entertainment organizations including the Smithsonian Institution, Hermosa Beach Historical Society, Hollywood Black Film Festival, Autry/Southwest Museum of the American Indian, and California African American Museum.

With nine exhibition spaces throughout four buildings and a mix of permanent, temporary, and traveling exhibits, the exhibition program at the Library requires a great deal of planning, knowledge, creativity, and expertise. Tiffini brings all of these attributes to her role and the Library is thrilled that the University has recognized her as a rising star for the excellence she imparts to our exhibitions program.

Click here for more information about exhibits at the Library.

Exhibit | Transcultural by Design: Iranian Ceramics

Transcultural by Design: Iranian Ceramics from the Minassian Collection
Curated by Rhodes Scholar Rhea Stark ‘18.5.

From where exactly do the Islamic arts originate is the question at the center of this exhibition. While the answer perhaps seems intuitive— the Islamic Middle East—the reality is far more complex. The Islamic arts have from their beginnings existed in circulation and conversation with an array of work originating in China, India, and Europe.

Explore Iranian ceramics from the Joukowsky Institute of Archaeology’s Minassian Collection and learn about their transcultural aesthetic references.

Exhibit Lecture

Expanding the Field, Disrupting Canons:
Iranian Ceramics, Trade, and Collecting Practices

Martina Rugiadi, Associate Curator of Islamic Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art will explore the historical techniques and trading practices of Iranian ceramics.

Please join us for the talk and Q&A. The lecture and exhibit are free and open to the public.

Exhibit Dates: December 14, 2018 – December 16, 2019
Exhibit TimeJohn Hay Library Hours
Exhibit Location: Willis Reading Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Lecture Date: Friday, December 14, 2018
Lecture Time: 5 – 6:30 p.m.
Lecture Location: Lownes Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Announcement | Academic Engagement

As of January 1, 2019, the Research and Outreach Services staffing unit within the Brown University Library will be renamed Academic Engagement. With a mission to strengthen and sustain critical partnerships with Brown’s educational and research programs, Academic Engagement’s team of disciplinary and methodological experts will bring new focus to the Library’s central role in advancing academic excellence at Brown and supporting the priorities outlined in the University’s strategic and operational plans.

The new organizational structures for the staff, resources, and services that make up Academic Engagement and Preservation, Conservation, and Library Annex represent an important step toward strengthening the Library’s capacity to fulfill its emerging strategic vision and goals.

Academic Engagement will be jointly led by Erika Sevetson and Sarah Evelyn, both of whom have been promoted to, respectively, Director of Academic Engagement for Health, Biomedical, and Physical Sciences, and Director of Academic Engagement for the Humanities and Social Sciences. In these new roles, Erika and Sarah will report directly to Deputy University Librarian Nora Dimmock.

Erika Sevetson, Director of Academic Engagement for Health, Biomedical, and Physical Sciences

Erika Sevetson joined the Brown University Library and the Alpert Medical School in 2012 and has been instrumental to the growth of the Library’s collaborations with scholars in the sciences at Brown. In this new role, Erika will provide broad departmental leadership for activities in support of the research lifecycle, including impact evaluation, systematic review, data management, and scholarly communication and publication. Erika will also continue to serve as the Health Sciences Librarian, liaising with the BioMed Administrative Leadership Team, the Medical Director’s Team, and the MD Curriculum Committee.

Erika earned a bachelor’s degree in American History from Mount Holyoke College and an MLIS from Simmons College. Prior to the Brown Library, she worked at the University of Wisconsin – Madison’s Ebling Library.

Sarah Evelyn, Director of Academic Engagement for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Sarah Evelyn, who came to the Library in 2005 and held positions of progressive responsibility, provides leadership in the development and delivery of user-centered library services, instructional design, and web services. She also oversees Library student orientation activities and provides guidance on open education resources and copyright. An expert in pedagogy, Sarah will have responsibility for Academic Engagement activities that advance the diverse teaching and learning goals of the Brown University community, including the creation of programs to enhance student learning and develop information literacy capabilities in collaboration with individual faculty members and key stakeholders. In this new role, she will support teaching strategies and disciplinary and interdisciplinary scholarly and research activities across the domains for scholars/researchers at all levels, and with a focus on integrating social science and humanistic research methods.

Sarah received a bachelor’s degree in Communication from The American University, a master’s in Educational Technology from Pepperdine University, and an MLIS from Simmons College. Before coming to the Brown Library, Sarah held positions at the Center for Media Literacy, the Museum of Tolerance, WETA-TV, and iXL consulting.

Announcement | Michelle Venditelli Named Head of Preservation, Conservation, and the Library Annex

Effective January 1, 2019, Michelle Venditelli will be promoted to Head of Preservation, Conservation, and the Library Annex, consolidating the reporting line of preservation and conservation operations at the Brown Library.

Michelle will continue to report directly to Associate University Librarian for Access Services and Collection Management, Boaz Nadav-Manes, who will be replaced by the Interim AUL for Access Services and Collection Management, Pat Putney, when Boaz departs in mid-January 2019 to assume the role of inaugural Executive Director of Libraries at Lehigh University.

Michelle has worked at Brown since 1997. Under her leadership, the preservation unit has evolved its focus on conservation and exhibit support while also developing creative approaches to more generic binding needs. In addition, Michelle has worked closely with the Annex team to make our largest library a hub of operational excellence. She has been instrumental in disaster preparation and contributed her talents to the Library in many other ways.

In her new role as the Head of Preservation, Conservation, and the Library Annex, Michelle will assume direct responsibility for the library conservation operation and will soon launch a renewed search for a conservator.

Michelle holds a BA in Psychology, Graduate Certificate in Human Resources and MLIS, University of Rhode Island. Prior to working at the Brown Library, she managed Carriage House Paper in Boston, MA, apprenticed in bookbinding and letterpress printing, and taught paper making and marbling in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She has also managed contemporary craft galleries in Los Angeles and Providence and worked as a bookbinder.

Exhibit | In Solidarity: Exhibiting Civic Engagement, Protest, and Activism on Campus

On Wednesday, December 12, 2018 from 12 – 2 p.m., the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice will present In Solidarity: Exhibiting Civic Engagement, Protest, and Activism on Campus. The Brown University Library is taking part in this campus-wide, end of semester open gallery event, during which students and members of the community are invited to experience different perspectives on issues of social justice.

Each exhibition on the self-guided tour examines civic engagement, activism, and protest through archival documents, contemporary artwork, historic photographs, and music.

The Library’s exhibit, Protest & Perspectives: Students at Brown 1960s – 90s, was created by the Brown University Archives Fellows and can be viewed on the wall outside of the Patric Ma Digital Scholarship Lab in the Rockefeller Library.

Seven locations with eleven exhibits will be available on the tour. Click here for the list of spaces and exhibits and click here for a map of the participating galleries.

Date: Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Time: 12 – 2 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence, RI and other locations on campus

dSalon | A Digital Interface for 17th Century Texts in the Aymara Language of Peru

Join the Center for Digital Scholarship on Wednesday, January 23, 2018 at 2 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library for a dSalon discussion on “A digital interface for 17th century texts in the Aymara language of Peru.” Nicholas Emlen, Digital Fellow at the John Carter Brown Library, and Patrick Hall, PhD Candidate in the Department of Linguistics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, will give a short introduction to their collaborative project and then will lead a discussion of some of the technical and conceptual issues involved in this project.

This event is part of the Center for Digital Scholarship’s dSalon series of presentations and discussions around digital scholarship. Free and open to the public.

A Digital Interface for 17th Century Texts in the Aymara Language of Peru

The project creates a digital interface that allows users to explore transcribed, translated, and linguistically analyzed versions of two seventeenth century Peruvian texts in the Aymara language. The first text is a nearly 600-page narrative written by a native Aymara speaker. The second is a dictionary—which is still the most comprehensive source on the Aymara language even today—that was compiled from that narrative text. The two texts are digitized and available online, but they are idiosyncratic and difficult to interpret, and in practice remain quite inaccessible to both scholars and Aymara speakers today.

The interface aims to open up accessibility to the texts and to provide a host of new analytical tools. One innovative aspect of the interface is that it provides integrated access to both texts at the same time. The narrative text and the dictionary fit together naturally, since the latter was compiled from the former. Thus, through the digital interface, users can search for a particular word or grammatical feature and call up examples from both the dictionary and the narrative text written by the 17th century Aymara speaker. This integration of analytical information from the dictionary with a sample of how the language was used by native speakers from the 17th century creates a powerful tool that can be used by historians, anthropologists, linguists, and native speakers alike.

Nicholas Emlen

Nicholas Emlen

Nicholas Q. Emlen is a Digital Fellow at the John Carter Brown Library and a Visiting Lecturer in Anthropology at Brown. He is a linguistic anthropologist who has conducted extensive ethnographic research on multilingualism, migration, and coffee production on the Andean-Amazonian agricultural frontier of Southern Peru. He also works on the reconstruction of Quechua-Aymara language contact in the ancient Central Andes, and on multilingualism among Quechua, Aymara, Puquina, and Spanish in the colonial Andes, using texts from the John Carter Brown Library’s collection.

Patrick Hall

Patrick Hall

Patrick Hall is a PhD candidate in linguistics at UC Santa Barbara. His work is focused on new approaches to designing and implementing software for language documentation using the standard, ubiquitous technologies of HTML, CSS, and Javascript. His data models and applications are based directly on documentary practice, resulting in tools which are robust, but nonetheless simple enough to be archived alongside the data they are used to produce.

Date: Wednesday, January 23, 2019
Time: 2 – 3:15 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence, RI

Announcement | 50 Year Anniversary of the Black Student Walkout: A Collaboration between Brown University Archives and WGBH

Produced by WGBH and reporter Gabrielle Emanuel, the video, “Fifty Years Ago, Black Students At Brown Walked Out For Change” is available on WGBH online.

Click here to read the WGBH story and see the video.

In addition to the video, the story will be told today during the “All Things Considered” afternoon broadcast, available at 89.3 and 89.7 FM in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Ms. Emanuel worked in collaboration with Jennifer Betts, Brown University Archivist and Interim Director of the John Hay Library and Special Collections, on this remarkable video that documents the Black Student Walkout at Brown on December 5, 1968. Today marks the 50th anniversary of this call to action by 65 Brown students of color, who demanded an increase in recruitment and admission of black students to Brown.

1968 Black Student Walkout

Part of a national movement by black college students, the 1968 walkout at Brown stands out for its longevity–students camped out at the Congdon Street Baptist Church for three days–and its success. As a result of this coordinated action and the serious negotiations between Brown administration and the student representatives that took place during the three-day protest, the University agreed to significantly enhance efforts around black student admission practices, with $12 million over three years earmarked for recruitment. According to a letter from President Christina Paxson to the Brown community:

The walkout ended on Dec. 9, when the students secured the University’s agreement to launch an effort to significantly increase the number of black students in each new class. Those students established a foundation for future generations of historically underrepresented students, including other black students, in advocating together for a better Brown.

Protest & Perspectives: Students at Brown 1960s-90s

This fall, the Library presented the exhibit Protest & Perspectives: Students at Brown 1960s–90s, which included the 1968 Black Student Walkout. Installed on the wall outside of the Patric Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, the exhibit was created by the Brown University Archives Fellows during the summer. They are:

  • Amyre S. Brandom, Xavier University of Louisiana, Leadership Alliance
  • Kayla Smith, Spelman College, Leadership Alliance
  • Rachel Souza, Brown University ‘21, Presidential Scholar

Click here to see the online exhibit about the Walkout.

Days of Absence: The 1968 Black Student Walkout at Brown

In addition, the Library hosted the exhibit Days of Absence: The 1968 Black Student Walkout at Brown in the Lownes Room of the John Hay Library in September. The exhibition, curated by Bernicestine and Harold Bailey, was created in conjunction with the Black Alumni Reunion.

Social Justice & Special Collections at the Brown University Library

The Library’s collections contain a vast source of material related to social justice on campus and throughout the world. Open to the public and easily accessible to all Brown students and faculty, the John Hay Library and its knowledgeable staff are available to all researchers interested in working with the unique, fascinating, revelatory, and, in many cases, priceless items waiting to be explored.

Collections of interest in this area of study include (but are not limited to):

Event | RavenSpace: A Collaborative Model for Digital Publishing in Indigenous Studies with Darcy Cullen and Beth Fuget

Join the Brown University Library on Friday, November 30, 2018 from 12 – 1:15 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library for a talk entitled, “RavenSpace: A Collaborative Model for Digital Publishing in Indigenous Studies.” Darcy Cullen, Assistant Director of RavenSpace: Digital Publishing in Indigenous Studies at UBC Press, The University of British Columbia, and Beth Fuget, Grants and Digital Projects, University of Washington Press (Chair), will talk about this collaborative project, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This event is free and open to the public. A light reception will follow the talk.

RavenSpace: A Collaborative Model for Digital Publishing in Indigenous Studies

As scholarship evolves to take advantage of digital forms and contexts and scholars seek new ways to reach the various audiences they want to engage, the scholarly communications infrastructure is responding and adapting publication practices to meet changing needs. RavenSpace is a new publishing platform for media-rich, networked, interactive books in Indigenous studies that provides a digital space where communities and scholars can work together to share and create knowledge. Based on Scalar and other open-source technologies, and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the platform meets the standards of peer-reviewed academic publishing and respects Indigenous protocols for accessing and using cultural heritage and traditional knowledge. It supports collaborative authorship and offers different paths through the work for different audiences. Darcy Cullen and Beth Fuget will discuss the development and goals of this new model of publishing.

Darcy Cullen

Darcy Cullen is Assistant Director, Acquisitions, at the University of British Columbia Press and the Principal Investigator for RavenSpace. She has written about the collaborative nature of publishing in Editors, Scholars, and the Social Text, and is an ardent supporter of new modes of book publishing that take account of digital, networked, and collaborative scholarship.

Beth Fuget

Beth Fuget manages grants and digital projects for the University of Washington Press, where she is currently launching their first open access books. She has also worked as an acquisitions editor at the press and before that, as a writer, editor, translator, and teacher.

Date: November 30, 2018
Time: 12 – 1:15 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence, RI