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Growing a digital humanities community

November 27, 2012, was the inaugural meeting of the new regional group for digital humanities in the Delaware Valley. There are already over 100 members in the Google Group and 34 of us showed up at the Chemical Heritage Foundation for the first meeting. I’m so excited that so many people are interested in creating a regional DH group! I first got interested in DH while working on my master’s degree in the Washington, D.C. area, which is fortunate to have two really excellent DH centers (CHNM and MITH), so I’m really excited to help bring some of that vibe to Philly!

At the meeting, we discussed a few topics including what our vision for the group is and what sorts of things we would like the group to do. In order to facilitate this, we broke into a few smaller groups. You can read the minutes from the meeting here. If you’re interested in helping out, our working groups are: the web & social media team, the programming team, and the outreach team. If you don’t want to help out actively at this time, you are welcome to stay in touch via the Google Group and Twitter (more social media accounts to follow).

As we start our own DH initiative here at Falvey Library, I’m wrestling with a lot of the same questions the regional group is. It’s easy to say that we should support DH, but it’s much harder to make that vision into a concrete reality. What is/are the digital humanities? How can we “sell” it to people who would be interested in the kinds of projects you can do with DH, but maybe don’t understand what DH is? How do we evaluate DH projects? How do we integrate DH into the classroom? There are a lot of questions and — at least for now — not as many answers. But that’s okay. DH is a growing movement and, more importantly, a growing community. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can grow here at Villanova.

Photo of pumpkin and gourd seedlings.
“Seedlings” by Ed Mitchell.


Why the Cambridge Companions are a boon to writers of term papers

Over on the Philosophy blog, Nikolaus Fogle extols the virtues of the original, and best, “companions to” series. “They’re ideal resources for term papers, since each volume is carefully curated to inform and advance the scholarship at the same time.”

Through the library catalog, you can find Cambridge Companions for many  topics and writers, from baseball to Aristotle.


Thee, Thou, and Ain’t

Posted for: Lisa McColl, Spring 2012 Digital Library Intern.

Philadelphia, November 9, 1880

My dear Lizzie
I received thy postal and in answer say thee would be welcome to the instruments – if there were any to send …

(Letter, To: Elizabeth Sarah Kite From: John Alban Kite, November 9, 1880)

Thus begins a letter from John Alban Kite to his sister, Elizabeth Sarah Kite. Elizabeth Kite’s early letters in this new collection from the Digital Library, came mainly from her Quaker family. The letters’ heavy use of “thee” and “thou,” a common practice of Quakers of that time, gives them a formal tone to our modern ears. The family took care with their writing, sometimes chiding Elizabeth if her letter fell short of their writing expectations. Her grandfather lectured in an 1875 letter to Elizabeth, “I wish to encourage my grandchildren to accustom themselves to the use of the pen in epistolary correspondence for to become a good letter writer is quite an attainment.” (From , Letter to: Elizabeth Sarah Kite, From: John L. (John Letchworth) Kite, November 8, 1875.)

How then could one of John L. Kite’s grandchildren, five years later, use the word that appears at the very top of the first page of that same 1880 letter? It is that ultimate of colloquialisms that will sound the “uneducated” alarm, even in children’s ears, today:

Ain’t this beautiful weather? What would grandfather think? The day after I read this surprising use of slang by a member of the Kite family and seeming anachronism I saw a new book entitled The Story of Ain’t by David Skinner. While the book did not answer my particular questions as to when the word began and if it was considered slang by John Alban Kite and the rest of his family, it chided me to search further.

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage the word “ain’t” was commonly used during the time that John Alban Kite wrote this letter and was not quite as vilified for use in casual conversation as it is today. It’s difficult to say if his grandfather would have approved of its use in writing an “epistolary correspondence,” but it’s fun to see in this context today … ain’t it?


Minh Cao is Scholarly Outreach team's graduate assistant

By Alice Bampton

Minh Cao is this academic year’s Scholarly Outreach team graduate assistant. Minh, a native of Hanoi, Vietnam, earned a bachelor’s degree in Global Interdisciplinary Studies from Villanova University. She is enrolled in the Department of Communication graduate program.

As the Outreach graduate assistant, Minh works with Darren Poley, Outreach librarian and team leader, and Gina Duffy, library events and program coordinator.

Minh is interested in graphic design, photography, travel, arts and crafts, and languages.

Minh would like to work in public relations after she graduates. She says, however, “my priority is to find something that I love doing and find meaning in doing it.”

Poley says, “Given the ever-increasing number of events in the Library, having a graduate assistant who collaborates well with Falvey’s event coordinator, Gina Duffy, is necessary. Minh has been a competent and gracious addition to the Library’s scholarly outreach team. Minh’s familiarity with the campus community, due to her undergraduate studies here, has confirmed yet again how essential it is to have a graduate assistant for events and outreach with a connection to the intellectual, cultural and social life of the Villanova University community.”


Lisa McColl serves as Fall Digital Library intern

Lisa McColl joined the Digital Library team as the Fall 2012 Digital Library intern. Lisa says she is excited about working with metadata, which allows her to delve into the collections and learn about them. She will be working with metadata as her internship project. Read more on the Digital Library Blue Electrode blog.



ESRI Business Analyst Online

The Library is making Esri Business Analyst Online (BAO) available to the entire campus.  Esri is the market leader in ArcGIS software for mapping data. Esri BAO is a web based product designed for siting optimization and comparisons.  With it,  one can analyze the demographic characteristics and market potential of selected locations or geographies.  The underlying data sets are drawn from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Directory of Major Malls, Gfk MRI Consumer Surveys, Market Planning Solutions traffic counts, and Esri Tapestry Segmentation. Use Esri BAO for solving these common business problems:

  • Identify promising new store locations
  • Compare locations
  • Refine understanding of local markets to target campaigns


The user interface is relatively intuitive, but helpful documentation with video guides are embedded within the product to facilitate use.  Both reports and maps can be generated.

When we learned that the  Department of Geography and Environment’s site license for desktop use could be extended at no additional cost to include web access, we coordinated with Guillaume Turcotte, GIS Laboratory Technician and Instructor, and he made the access happen.  Thank you, Guillaume!

Esri Business Analyst Online is available on the Databases A-Z list and select subject guides.  To access, authenticate with your LDAP,  and create a personal user name and password linked to your Villanova email address.


Available for Proofreading: With the Ulster Division in France

The latest project in our ongoing proofreading effort is With the Ulster Division in France, an account of the 11th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (part of the Ulster Division).  Compiled from the notes of a soldier killed in action during World War I and illustrated with photographs and maps, the book provides a substantial amount of primary source material on the experience of Irish soldiers in France.  To help us create an eBook edition of the book, you can read about our  proofreading project and visit the project page.


Sorcerers' Semester: The Closing Ceremonies

The Library will be wrapping up its Sorcerers’ Semester this Wednesday and Thursday in the library first floor lounge. These final two days of marathon reading will complete the last book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Come read a chapter from the book, or just stop by to enjoy the snacks and hear the conclusion of this beloved series.

The event will also feature a raffle to win a free Kindle with all 7 of the Harry Potter books pre-loaded onto the device!  All students who have read throughout the course of the semester are eligible to win the Kindle, so stop by and read a chapter before Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. when we’ll be doing the drawing.

The event runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Dec. 5 and Dec. 6.


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Last Modified: December 3, 2012