Event | Online Learning and the MIT Approach with Sanjay Sarma

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Sanjay Sarma

On Monday, May 9, 2016 at 12 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Dr. Sanjay Sarma, Dean of Digital Learning at MIT, will give a talk entitled, “Online Learning and the MIT Approach.” This event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.

MIT launched OpenCourseWare (OCW) 15 years ago, and since then it has reached over 200 million users. Five years ago, it launched MITx, and then edX with Harvard, and it has reached nearly 10 million users with MOOC’s. Dr. Sarma will talk about these advances in digital learning and explain what MIT’s approach is. In particular, he will discuss MIT’s interests in the science of learning and the new initiatives MIT has launched in primary, secondary, tertiary, and professional learning.

Sanjay Sarma is the Fred Fort Flowers (1941) and Daniel Fort Flowers (1941) Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT. He is the first Dean of Digital Learning at MIT. He co-founded the Auto-ID Center at MIT and developed many of the key technologies behind the EPC suite of RFID standards now used worldwide. He was also the the founder and CTO of OATSystems, which was acquired by Checkpoint Systems (NYSE: CKP) in 2008. He serves on the boards of GS1, EPCglobal and several startup companies including Senaya and ESSESS. Dr. Sarma received his Bachelors from the Indian Institute of Technology, his Masters from Carnegie Mellon University and his PhD from the University of California at Berkeley. Sarma also worked at Schlumberger Oilfield Services in Aberdeen, UK, and at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories in Berkeley, California.  He has authored over 75 academic papers in computational geometry, sensing, RFID, automation and CAD, and is the recipient of numerous awards for teaching and research including the MacVicar Fellowship, the Business Week eBiz Award and Informationweek’s Innovators and Influencers Award. He advises several national governments and global companies.

This event is part of the Teaching and Learning in the Digital Environment lecture series.

Date: Monday, May 9, 2016
Time: 12 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Event | Terra Huber on “The Conservation of a 16th Century Papal Bull on Parchment”


During preservation

During National Preservation Week on Friday, April 29, 2016 from 2 – 3 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Terra Huber, Assistant Paper Conservator at the Northeast Document Conservation Center, will give a talk entitled, “The Conservation of a 16th Century Papal Bull on Parchment.” This event is free and open to the public.

After preservation

A papal bull is an official letter or charter issued by a pope of the Roman Catholic Church, named after the bulla, or authenticating lead seal, affixed to the document. Papal bulls are handwritten on parchment, a historical writing surface prepared from animal skin that presents unique challenges to the conservator. This talk will focus on the history, materials, production, and conservation treatment of a papal bull from the collection of the Brown University Library. The Brown University Library’s papal bull is dated to 1580 and was issued by Pope Gregory XIII, the pope responsible for introducing the Gregorian calendar which we use today.


Terra Huber

Terra Huber has studied and worked in the field of conservation since 2009. She has worked as an Assistant Paper Conservator at the Northeast Document Conservation Center since 2015 and has completed internships at the Walters Art Museum, the Newberry Library, the Boston Athenaeum, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Terra earned a Master of Arts with a Certificate of Advanced Study in Art Conservation from Buffalo State College, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Tyler School of Arts of Temple University. She is a member of the American Institute for Conservation and the Guild of Book Workers.

Date: Friday, April 29, 2016
Time: 2 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Exhibit | A History of the Brown University Orchestra

OrchestraPicA History of the Brown University Orchestra is now on display in the Orwig Music Library.

The exhibit chronicles the development of orchestral involvement on Brown’s campus from 1919 onward.  Highlights include programs from performances with Leonard Bernstein, Itzhak Perlman, and Steve Reich, as well as the merger of the Brown Orchestra and Pembroke Orchestra, which happened over 30 years before the two colleges formally joined together.

Dates: April 22 – October 1, 2016
TimeLibrary Hours
Location: Orwig Music Library, 1 Young Orchard Avenue, Providence


Event | Tara Nummedal and Donna Bilak: “Tear the Books Apart: Atalanta fugiens in a Digital Age”

Atalanta emblem XI

On Thursday, April 21, 2016, at 12 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, scholars Tara Nummedal and Donna Bilak will speak about their digital publication, Project Atalanta. This event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow the talk.

Recently chosen as one of two pilot projects for Brown’s Mellon-funded digital publishing initiative, Nummedal and Bilak’s publication will bring a multimedia seventeenth century text to life in digital form. The digital publication will produce a dynamic, enhanced digital edition of Michael Maier’s extraordinary text, Atalanta fugiens (1617/18). An alchemical emblem book, Maier’s Atalanta fugiens re-casts the myth of Atalanta—the fleet-footed virgin—as a series of fifty emblems that outline the creation of the philosopher’s stone. With its combination of text, image, and music, the Atalanta fugiens represents an early multimedia work. In Project Atalanta, this historic text will be represented in dynamic digital form and be accompanied by newly written scholarship that will help elucidate the Atalanta fugiens’ many layers. 

In this lunchtime talk, Nummedal and Bilak will discuss their work-in-progress, share insight into the world of seventeenth century emblem culture, and help build a foundation for an open dialogue about the processes, opportunities, and challenges of producing digitally rich scholarly products. 

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Tara Nummedal

Tara Nummedal is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the History Department. She is the author of Alchemy and Authority in the Holy Roman Empire and is currently completing her second book, “The Lion’s Blood: Alchemy, Gender, and Apocalypse in Reformation Germany.” Her work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and, most recently, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. She is Past President of the New England Renaissance Conference and a member of the editorial board of the journal Ambix. She teaches courses in early modern European history and the history of science.


Donna Bilak

Donna Bilak is a lecturer at Columbia University in New York. Her research interests encompass early modern European history of science and alchemy, early modern emblem culture, as well as 19th-century jewelry history and technology. Dr. Bilak’s doctoral research reconstructed the life and times of a 17th-century Puritan alchemist who operated in England and America, and she was the 2013-14 Edelstein Postdoctoral Fellow at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia where her research focused on analysis of the Atalanta fugiens(1618), an alchemical emblem book that encodes laboratory technologies using music and images. Dr. Bilak has lectured extensively on the topics of early modern alchemy as well as jewelry history throughout North America and Europe​.

Date: Thursday, April 21, 2016
Time: 12 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Event | Annual Yoken Lecture: Timothy Mooney’s Molière Than Thou


Timothy Mooney as Tartuffe

Actor and author Timothy Mooney will deliver the Annual Mel and Cindy Yoken Cultural Series Lecture on Monday, April 11 at 4 p.m. in Carmichael Auditorium at 85 Waterman Street (BERT Building). For the lecture, Mooney will reprise his one-man play, Molière Than Thou, in which he explores some of Molière’s most humorous speeches.

Molière Than Thou finds Molière left without a cast when all of his fellow performers happen to consume “the same sort of shellfish” at one of the local public inns. Rather than refund the box office income, Molière offers to perform a “greatest hits” of sorts, and leads the audience, which occasionally participates, through a hilarious succession of favorite speeches that trace his illustrious career. Plays represented include Tartuffe, Don Juan, The Doctor In Spite of Himself, The Precious Young Maidens, The Misanthrope, and The School for Wives. Throughout, “Molière” will explain his working process.

mooneytimh1Timothy Mooney is the author of The Big Book of Molière Monologues and the textbook Acting at the Speed of Life. He has adapted Shakespeare in Breakneck Hamlet and Shakespeare’s Histories: Ten Epic Plays at a Breakneck Pace! During the past fifteen years, Tim has performed Molière Than Thou over 500 times. He is the former founder and editor of The Script Review and the former Artistic Director of Chicago’s Stage Two Theatre, where he produced nearly fifty plays in five years, including seventeen iambic pentameter variations of Molière’s plays, which have been produced over 150 times around the world. His Doctor in Spite of Himself took third place in the Scottish Community Drama Association National Festival.

Date: Monday, April 11, 2016
Time: 4 p.m.
Location: Carmichael Auditorium, 85 Waterman Street, Providence

Parking information:

Metered street parking is available on Waterman Street and surrounding streets. Off-street parking is available to visitors in Lot 68 Upper, Power Street Parking Garage, 111 Power Street.  View Map (Entrance located at the intersection of Power and Thayer Streets.) Lot 68 is a significant walking distance from 85 Waterman Street. We recommend arriving early to find close on-street parking.

Event | On the Material Trail: Embedded Librarianship in the Heart of Tuscany


4th International Creative Competition for New Designer Makers, Milan, Italy, February 2016

In 2015, Mark Pompelia, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Visual + Material Resource Librarian, accompanied a double-major RISD student (Apparel Design-Industrial Design) on an international exhibition program called Craft the Leather. Based in the Tuscan Leather District of San Miniato, Italy, the program hosted ten schools for a weeklong immersion into the industry of vegetable-tanned leather making, which is both centuries old and full of modern innovation.

On Monday, April 18, 2016 at 4 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Mark will explain how the week served to launch each student on an artistic journey to craft a line of works based on the sites visited, lessons learned, and the inherent qualities of the supplied leathers. Produced over summer 2015 in direct consultation with the Material Librarian, the works were collected in a curated exhibition launched at a February 2016 international exposition in Milan.

Mark Pompelia

Mark Pompelia, Visual + Material Resource Librarian, Fleet Library, RISD

Mark Pompelia has been Visual + Material Resource Librarian in the Fleet Library at RISD since 2010. He oversees its non-text collections to include still and moving images in analog and digital formats, including film and video, slides and photographs, half a million picture clippings, 21-million digital images via subscription, and more, in addition to one of the largest material samples collection in the country. He is the administrator for Artstor Shared Shelf and the newly launched Digital Commons @ RISD institutional repository.

Date: Monday, April 18, 2016
Time: 4 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Event | Bill Rankin on “The Map, the Grid, and the Politics of Space, 1915 – 2015”


On Friday, April 8, 2016 at noon in the Population Studies and Training Center in Mencoff Hall, Bill Rankin, Assistant Professor of the History of Science at Yale University, will give a talk, “The Map, the Grid, and the Politics of Space, 1915 – 2015.”

This event is part of the Spatial Humanities Lecture Series and is sponsored by Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences (S4), the Brown University Library, and the M. B. Mandeville Lectureship Fund. It is free and open to the public.

In the last hundred years, the authority of the representational map has been challenged from multiple directions. On the level of everyday spatial management, the god’s-eye view of the map has been supplemented and displaced by new kinds of coordinate systems that stitch together the urban and the territorial. On the level of spatial imagination, the one-size-fits-all topographic map has been upstaged by new forms of argumentative and activist cartography. This talk addresses both of these turns–the first historically, during World War I and the decades afterward; the second through Rankin’s own urban mapping work.

picture-20-1443225396Bill Rankin‘s research focuses on the relationship between science and space, from the territorial scale of states and globalization down to the scale of individual buildings. He is particularly interested in mapping, the environmental sciences and technology, architecture and urbanism, and methodological problems of digital scholarship, spatial history, and geographic analysis (including GIS). His forthcoming book, After the Map: Cartography, Navigation, and the Transformation of Territory in the Twentieth Century, is a history of the mapping sciences in the twentieth century. His work in cartography can be found at www.radicalcartography.net.

Date: Friday, April 8, 2016
Time: 12 p.m.
Location: Population Studies and Training Center, Mencoff Hall, 68 Waterman Street, Providence

Exhibit | Tripping the Light Fantastic: Experimental Optics in the Victorian Era

Opt1cIn 1704, Isaac Newton published the first scientific work on light. Working carefully but not very cautiously, Newton began compiling the results of hundreds of experiments he performed in the quiet space of his own rooms at Cambridge over the course of four decades, from the 1660s forward. Many of these experiments involved Newton using his own eyes as the experimental apparatus, through such risky maneuvers as staring directly at the sun and slipping a small knife around the side of the eyeball to see how the additional pressure he exerted would affect his sight. Despite having to spend months in the dark to allow his eyes to recover from the stress of these activities, he gained enormous insight from these and other, more standard, experiments. The resulting book, entitled Opticks, broke new ground in science and led to the establishment of a new field for study of the physical properties of light.


The devices on display at the John Hay Library date from the second half of the 19th century and were purchased for use by faculty and students in the Brown Physics Department. They were eventually transferred to the Library once technological advances had rendered them obsolete for instructional purposes in the field. Still, their mechanical precision was important at the time of their creation and would have been the envy of Newton and his 17th century colleagues at the Royal Society. After all, if only Newton had had the automatic spectroscope, he would not have had to stick that knife into his own eye!

Dates: March 29 – May 15, 2016
TimeLibrary Hours
Location: Lobby Cases, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Exhibit | Cardboard Revolution: Cartoneras, Literacy, and Sustainable Publishing in Brazil


On March 31, 2016, the Brown University Library will host the reception for the Brazilian Studies Association (BRASA) annual conference. As part of the conference, the Library is mounting an exhibit featuring two independent publishers from Brazil: Dulcinéia Catadora and Mariposa Cartonera, entitled “Cardboard Revolution: Cartoneras, Literacy, and Sustainable Publishing in Brazil.” The exhibit will be installed in the Finn Room cases at the Rockefeller Library.

Drawn from the diverse materials of Brown University Library’s Brasiliana Collection, the chapbooks in this exhibition showcase the vibrant productions of two independent Brazilian publishing collectives, DULCINÉIA CATADORA and MARIPOSA CARTONERA. The collectives are representative of the widespread Latin American practice of cartonera—an alternative publishing and art venture committed to social activism, economic justice, cooperative creativity, and literacy. The books of poetry and prose feature prominent and undiscovered writers and are bound in distinctive covers crafted in workshops by the collectives, community members and artists.

Date: March 30 – May 2, 2016
Time: Library Hours
Location: Finn Room Exhibit Cases, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Event | Tom Elliott on “The Pleiades Gazetteer Data Model: Going Off-Road in the Spatial and Digital Humanities


On Friday, March 25, 2016 at noon in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Tom Elliott, Associate Director for Digital Programs and Senior Research Scholar at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University, will discuss the Pleiades Gazetteer of the Ancient World, a community-built gazetteer and graph of ancient places.

Tom will unpack the Pleiades data model and the content curation process that supports it, highlighting the major decision points and criteria in its development history. A key theme of the talk will be conceptual flexibility and reinvention in a digital humanities project.

This event is part of the Spatial Humanities Lecture Series and is sponsored by Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences (S4), the Brown University Library, and the M. B. Mandeville Lectureship Fund. It is free and open to the public.

Pleiades publishes authoritative information about ancient places and spaces, providing unique services for finding, displaying, and reusing that information under open license. It publishes not just for individual human users, but also for search engines and for the widening array of computational research and visualization tools that support humanities teaching and research. It embraces the new paradigm of citizen humanities, encouraging contributions from any knowledgeable person and doing so in a context of pervasive peer review.

The project arose out of work on the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World. It now provides open access to the most comprehensive geospatial dataset for antiquity available today; it serves as a key component of at least 40 other important digital humanities projects; and it constitutes a core resource for classroom activities focused on ancient geography.

Since its inception, Pleiades has been repeatedly been re-conceptualized in response to technical challenges and opportunities. The resulting digital publication can be hard to characterize by genre or function. Is it historical? Is it archaeological? Is it a GIS or a digital gazetteer? Is it an “Un-GIS”? A reference work? A controlled vocabulary? A Linked Data graph?

Tom Elliott

miniTom Elliott graduated from Duke University in 1989 with B.S. in Computer Science and a second major in Classical Studies. Following service as a Communications and Computer Systems Officer in the United States Air Force, he worked as a software developer and program manager for AEgis Research Corporation (now AEgis Technologies) on a number of visual and engineering simulation projects. He received his Ph.D. in Ancient History from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 2004, for research focused on the intersection of Roman documentary, administrative and geographic studies. His doctoral dissertation was entitled: Epigraphic Evidence for Boundary Disputes in the Early Roman Empire.

Tom has spent nearly two decades advancing the practice of digital humanities in ancient studies. In the late 1990s, he wrote database software that was used to prepare the alphabetical gazetteer and Map-by-Map Directory that accompanies the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World (Princeton, 2000). During that period he also started the EpiDoc Community, which creates standards-based tools and guidelines for the digital encoding of epigraphic and papyrological texts like those published in the Inscriptions of Aphrodisias 2007or by the Integrating Digital Papyrology project. In August 2000, he was appointed as Founding Director of the Ancient World Mapping Center at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. In February 2006, Tom stepped down from this position to assume full-time leadership of the Pleiades Project, which is developing an online workspace for ancient geography. In 2008, he brought this role with him to the Institute, where he is also responsible for developing and overseeing a spectrum of innovative digital projects and services.

Date: March 25, 2016
Time: 12 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence