Meet Our Graduate Assistants: Hannah Meyer

Photo of Hannah in front of Main Library

What is your educational and/or professional background? 

I went to Elon University for my undergraduate degree, where I majored in psychology with minors in teaching & learning and literature. While at Elon, I worked at their library which cemented my desire to work at a library. Other professional experiences have included working at local bookstores during the summer.  

What led you to your field? 

I grew up going to my local public library. I have always loved reading and knew I could not picture a future where I did not spend my workday surrounded by books. I enjoy doing research and helping patrons find what they are looking for.  

What is your specialty within the Scholarly Commons? 

I am a shift supervisor at Scholarly Commons. I supervise student assistants during weekend and evening hours. I also work on various projects within the department including working on LibGuides and scheduling. 

What Scholarly Commons resource are you most excited to learn about? 

I am most excited about learning about all the loanable technology that Scholarly Commons has to offer! It has been interesting getting to see the different options for equipment to check out and to learn the difference between them.  

What do you hope to do after graduation? 

I am still undecided on what kind of library I would like to work at after graduation. Right now, I am considering working at either an academic, community college or public library.  

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Meet Our Graduate Assistants: Nora Davies

Nora headshot

What is your educational and/or professional background?

I graduated with an English degree from Beloit College in Wisconsin. Afterwards, I worked at the Circulation Desk and then at the Reference Desk at Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin, IL. I also had a second job in Materials Services and then later Cataloging at the Poplar Creek Public Library in Streamwood, IL. 

What led you to your field?

I ended up in the library world unintentionally. As an undergraduate, I worked a campus job at the college library so I could avoid cafeteria work. Then, once I moved back to my hometown, I used that experience to apply for a job at my local public library. I ended up really enjoying the atmosphere of the reference desk and worked there for five years. I like the odd out-of-the-box questions I get at the desk and enjoy helping people with their research, their genealogy hunt, or their email accounts. Libraries do a whole lot more than I’d ever realized.

What are your research interests?

I’m interested in equitable and accessible library services, social work in libraries, and open educational resources (OER). I’m also interested in art and design.

What is your specialty within the Scholarly Commons?

I’m working as a Digital Projects Assistant at Scholarly Commons and the Rare Book and Manuscript Library. I work on our social media accounts, our newsletter, and I create graphics or instructions as needed.

Describe a favorite project you’ve worked on.

In my previous position, I was given free rein to work on mini posters for a bunch of tri-sided stands to advertise different library services. I enjoy being able to make creative graphics and designs.

What Scholarly Commons resource are you most excited to learn about?

I’m excited to learn more about our studio cameras and how to take professional-looking photos.  

What do you hope to do after graduation?

I’m still undecided as to what kind of librarianship I’d like to pursue after I graduate. I think I’d like to work as a research librarian at a college or university.

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Welcome Back to the Scholarly Commons!

The Scholarly Commons is excited to announce we have merged with the Media Commons! Our units have united to provide equitable access to innovative spaces, digital tools, and assistance for media creation, data visualization, and digital storytelling. We launched a new website this summer, and we’re thrilled to announce a new showcase initiative that highlights digital projects created by faculty and students. Please consider submitting your work to be featured on our website or digital displays. 

Looking to change up your office hours? Room 220 in the Main Library is a mixed-used space with comfortable seating and access to computers and screen-sharing technology that can be a great spot for holding office hours with students. 

Media Spaces

We are excited to announce new media spaces! These spaces are designed for video and audio recordings and equipped to meet different needs depending on the type of production. For quick and simple video projects, Room 220 has a green-screen wall on the southeast side of the room (adjacent to the Reading Room). The space allows anyone to have fun with video editing. You can use your phone to shoot a video of yourself in front of the green wall and use software to replace the green with a background of your choosing to be transported anywhere. No reservations required.

Green Screen Wall in Room 220. Next to it is some insignificant text for design purposes.

For a sound-isolated media experience, we are also introducing Self-Use Media Studios in Rooms 220 and 306 of the Main Library. These booths will be reservable and are equipped with an M1 Mac Studio computer, two professional microphones, 4K video capture, dual color-corrected monitors, an additional large TV display, and studio-quality speakers. Record a podcast or voiceover, collect interviews or oral histories, capture a video or give a remote stream presentation, and more at the Self-Use Media Studios.

Finally, we are introducing the Video Production Studio in Room 308. This is a high-end media creation studio complete with two 6K cameras, an 4K overhead camera, video inputs for computer-based presentation, professional microphones, studio-lighting, multiple backdrops, and a live-switching video controller for real-time presentation capture or streaming. Additionally, an M1 Mac Studio computer provides plenty of power to enable high-resolution video project editing. The Video Production Studio can be scheduled by arranged appointment and will be operated by Scholarly Commons staff once the space is ready to open. 

Stay tuned to our spaces page for more information about reserving these resources.

Loanable Tech

The Scholarly and Media Commons are pleased to announce the re-opening of loanable technology in Room 306 of the Main Library. Members of the UIUC community can borrow items such as cameras, phone chargers, laptops, and more from our loanable technology desk. The loanable technology desk is open 10:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Fridays, and 2-6:30 p.m. on Sundays. Check out the complete list of loanable items for more on the range of technology we provide.

Drop-in Consultation Hours

Drop-in consultations have returned to Room 220. Consultations this semester include:

  • GIS with Wenjie Wang – Tuesdays 1 – 3 p.m. in Consultation Room A.
  • Copyright with Sara Benson – Tuesdays 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. in Consultation Room A.
  • Media and design with JP Goguen – Thursdays 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. in Consultation Room A.
  • Data analysis with the Cline Center for Advanced Social Research – Thursdays 1 – 3 p.m. in Consultation Room A.
  • Statistical consulting with the Center for Innovation, Technology, and Learning (CITL) – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, as well as 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Wednesdays in Consultation Room B.

Finally, a Technology Services help desk has moved into Room 220. They are available 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays to assist patrons with questions about password security, email access, and other technology needs.

Spatial Computing and Immersive Media Studio

Later this fall, we will launch the Spatial Computing and Immersive Media Studio (SCIM Studio) in Grainger Library. SCIM Studio is a black-box space focused on emerging technologies in multimedia and human-centered computing. Equipped with 8K 360 cameras, VR and AR hardware, a 22-channel speaker system, Azure Kinect Depth Cameras, Greenscreen, and a Multi-Camera and display system for Video Capture & Livestreaming, SCIM Studio will cater to researchers and students interested in utilizing the cutting edge of multimedia technology. The Core i9 workstation equipped with Nvidia A6000 48GB GPU will allow for 3D modeling, Computer Vision processing, Virtual Production compositing, Data Visualization/Sonification, and Machine Learning workflows. Please reach out to Jake Metz if you have questions or a project you would like to pursue at the SCIM Studio and keep your eye on our website for launch information. 

Have Questions?

Please continue to contact us through email (sc@library.illinois.edu) for any questions about the Scholarly and Media Commons this year. Finally, you can check out the new Scholarly Commons webpage for more information about our services, as well as our staff directory to set up consultations for specific services. 

We wish you all a wonderful semester and look forward to seeing you here at the Scholarly and Media Commons!

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There’s been a Murder in SQL City!

by Libby Cave
Detective faces board with files, a map and pictures connected with red string.

If you are interested in data or relational databases, then you have heard of SQL. SQL, or Structured Query Language, is designed to handle structured data in order to assist in data query, data manipulation, data definition and data access control. It is a very user-friendly language to learn with a simple code structure and minimal use of special characters. Because of this, SQL is the industry standard for database management, and this is reflected in the job market as there is a strong demand for employees with SQL skills.  

Enter SQL Murder Mystery

In an effort to promote the learning of this valuable language, Knight Labs, a specialized subsidiary of Northwestern University, created SQL Murder Mystery. Combining the known benefits of gamification and the popularity of whodunit detective work, SQL Murder Mystery aims to help SQL beginners become familiar with the language and have some fun with a normally dry subject. Players take on the role of a gumshoe detective tasked with solving a murder. The problem is you have misplaced the crime scene report and you now must dive into the police department’s database to find the clues. For true beginners with no experience, the website provides a walkthrough to help get players started. More experienced learners can jump right in and practice their skills. 

I’m on the case!

I have no experience with SQL but I am interested in database design and information retrieval, so I knew it was high time that I learn the basics. As a fan of both games and detective stories, SQL Murder Mystery seemed like a great place to start. Since I am a true beginner, I started with the walkthrough. As promised on the website, this walkthrough did not give me a complete, exhaustive introduction to SQL as a language, but instead gave me the tools needed to get started on the case. SQL as a language, relational databases and Entity Relationship Diagrams (ERD) were briefly explained in an approachable manner. In the walk through, I was introduced to vital SQL functions like “Select:, “Where”, wildcards, and “Between”. My one issue with the game was in the joining tables section. I learned later that the reason I was having issues was due to the tables each having columns with the same title, which is apparently a foundational SQL feature. The guide did not explain that this could be an issue and I had to do some digging on my own to find out how to fix it. It seems like the walkthrough should have anticipated this issue and mentioned it. That aside, By the end of the walkthrough, I could join tables, search for partial information matches, and search within ranges. With some common sense, the database’s ERD, and the new SQL coding skills, I was able to solve the crime! If users weren’t challenged enough with that task, there is an additional challenge that suggests users find the accomplice while only using 2 queries.

User interface of SQL Murder Mystery
Example of SQL Murder Mystery user interface

The Verdict is In

I really loved this game! It served as a great introduction to a language I had never used before but still managed to be really engaging. It reminded me of those escape room mystery boxes like Hunt a Killer that has users solve puzzles to get to a larger final solution. Anyone who loves logic puzzles or mysteries will enjoy this game, even if they have no experience with or even interest in coding or databases.  If you have some free time and a desire to explore a new skill, you should absolutely give SQL Murder Mystery a try!

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Meet Our Graduate Assistants: Apollo Uhlenbruck

This semester, the Scholarly Commons is onboarding five new GAs! In order to help you get to know all the new faces, we will be asking them to answer a few questions, and posting their responses throughout the fall. 

First up, we have Apollo Uhlenbruck. 

Apollo headshot

What is your educational and/or professional background? 

I got my undergraduate degree from Wellesley College in Massachusetts, where I studied media arts. Afterwards, I moved back to my hometown of Missoula, Montana and worked a wide variety of jobs: first, I was a production assistant on a Gold Rush spin-off, then I spent a little over a year as a bookseller at an independent bookstore as well as providing in-home care for people with developmental disabilities. Then, after a brief stint as an administrative assistant at the University of Montana, I finally worked in shelter animal care at the Humane Society of Western Montana before packing up my bags and moving to Illinois! 

What led you to your field? 

My hometown’s public library was a staple of my childhood. I was one of those kids that got in trouble for reading during class, and the library was more than happy to feed my voracious appetite. I also joined the library’s teen writers’ group, which helped me grow as a writer and a person. In my work after graduation, I’ve found that I really enjoy working with and helping people, so I aim to combine my love of books with my love of people by going into library and information science. 

What are your research interests? 

I would say that my interests are very broad. I’m primarily interested in how libraries can better serve marginalized groups, but I’m also curious about UX design, gamification, mythology, and diverse representation in youth literature. 

What is your specialty within the Scholarly Commons? 

I’m wearing multiple hats here at the Scholarly Commons, focusing on both GIS and Web and Media. Part of that involves helping to run this blog! 

Describe a favorite project you’ve worked on. 

Moon tarot card

For one of my undergraduate courses, I created a major arcana tarot deck comprised of photos featuring queer and gender-nonconforming individuals, emphasizing the magic that is present in everyday life. The photo series was an interpretation of the Major Arcana informed by the traditional symbolism and meanings and viewed through a queer feminist lens. The project involved research into the history of Tarot as well as the relationship between witchcraft and feminism. 

What Scholarly Commons resource are you most excited to learn about? 

The new studio space in 308! It’s still in the works, but as soon as it’s up and running I think it’ll be a great space in which to experiment with lighting and photo/video equipment, and I can’t wait to see what kinds of projects people create!  

What do you hope to do after graduation? 

After graduating from the MSLIS program here at Illinois, I hope to go into public librarianship and youth services. 

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A Different Kind of Data Cleaning: Making Your Data Visualizations Accessible

Introduction: Why Does Accessibility Matter?

Data visualizations are a fast and effective manner for communicating information and are increasingly becoming a more popular way for researchers to share their data with a broad audience. Because of this rising importance, it is also necessary to ensure that data visualizations are accessible to everyone. Accessible data visualizations not only help an audience who may require a screen reader or other accessible tool to read a document but are also helpful to the creators of the data visualization as it brings their data to a much wider audience than through a non-accessible data visualization. This post will offer three tips on how you can make your visualization accessible!

TIP #1: Color Selection

One of the most important choices when making a data visualization are the colors used in the chart. One suggestion would be to use a color blindness simulator to check the colors in the data visualization and experiment to find the right amount of contrast between colors. Look at the example regarding the top ice cream flavors:

A data visualization about the top flavors of ice cream. Chocolate was the top flavor (40%) followed by Vanilla (30%), Strawberry (20%), and Other (10%).

At first glance, these colors may seem acceptable to use for this kind of data. But when ran through the colorblindness simulator, one of the results creates an accessibility concern:

This is the same pie chart above, but placed under a tritanopia color blindness lens. The colors used for strawberry and vanilla now look the exact same and blend into one another because of this, making it harder to discern the amount of space they take in the pie chart.

Although the colors contrasted well enough in the normal view, the color palettes used for the strawberry and vanilla categories look the same for those with tritanopia color blindness. The result is that these sections blend into one another and make it more difficult to distinguish their values. Most color palettes incorporated in current data visualization software are already designed to ensure the colors do not contrast, but it is still a good practice to check to ensure the colors do not blend in with one another!

TIP #2: Adding Alt Text

Since most data visualizations often appear as images in either published work or reports, alt text is a crucial need for accessibility purposes. Take the visualization below. If there was no alt text provided, then the visualization is meaningless to those who rely on alt text to read a given document. Alt text should be short and summarize the key takeaways from the data (there is no need to describe each individual point, but it should provide enough information to describe the trends occurring in the data).

This is a chart showing the population size of each town in a given county. Towns are labeled A-E and continue to grow in population size as they go down the alphabet (town A has 1,000 people while town E has 100,000 people).

TIP #3: Clearly Labeling Your Data

A simple but crucial component of any visualization is having clear labels on your data. Let’s look at two examples to see what makes having labels a vital aspect of any data visualization:

This is a chart for how much money was earned/spent at a lemonade stand by month. There is no y-axis labels to describe how much money is earned/spent and no key to discern the two lines that represent the money made and the money spent.

There is nothing in this graph that provides any useful information regarding the money earned or spent at the lemonade stand. How much money was earned or spent each month? What do these two lines represent? Now, look at a more clearly labeled version of the same data:

This is a cleaned version of the previous visualization regarding how much money was earned/spent at a lemonade stand. The addition of a Y-axis and key now show that more money was spent in January/February than earned, but then changes in March peaking in July, and then continuing to fall until December where more money is spent than earned again.

In adding a labeled Y-axis, we can now quantify the difference in distance between the two lines at any point and have a better idea of the money earned/spent in any given month. Furthermore, the addition of a key at the bottom of the visualization distinguishes the lines telling the audience what each represents. By clearly labeling the data, it is now in a position where audience members can interpret and analyze it properly.

Conclusion: Can My Data Still be Visually Appealing?

While it may appear that some of these recommendations detract from the creative designs of data visualizations, this is not the case at all. Designing a visually appealing data visualization is another crucial aspect of data visualization and should be heavily considered when creating one. Accessibility concerns, however, should have priority over the visual appeal of the data visualization. That said, accessibility in many respects encourages creativity in the design, as it makes the creator carefully consider how they want to present their data in a way that is both accessible and visually appealing. Thus, accessibility makes for a more creative and transmissive data visualization and will benefit everyone!

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Designing a Research Poster

Posters are widely used in the academic community, and most conferences include poster presentations in their program.  Research posters summarize information or research concisely and attractively to help publicize it and generate discussion. As we prepare for the Undergraduate Research Symposium, here are some tips to help you make an engaging poster.  

Essential Elements of a Poster 

The essential items that must be included in your poster are these five things:  

  • Title 
  • Names of Presenters/Researchers 
  • Contact Information 
  • Institutional Affiliation 
  • Your Research  

The first four elements of that are reasonably straightforward. The fifth element (your research) is a little less direct, but it leaves you space to be creative with your poster design so that it matches what you have to say about your research.  

What Makes a Good Research Poster 

The poster format provides more freedom in how to present an idea than a standard academic paper, so feel free to be creative in your poster design. Don’t feel limited by the text of the paper that you’re basing the poster on or strict conventions of how all posters “should” look. You can use boxes, different formatting techniques, fonts, and images to create a visually pleasing poster. Generally, you want to follow these basic design guidelines:  

  • Important information should be readable from about 10 feet away
  • Text is clear and to the point  
  • Use of bullets, numbering, and headlines make it easy to read  
  • Effective use of graphics, color and fonts  
  • Consistent and clean layout 

poster about tips for designin an effective research poster

Image credit: Poster Session Tips by mousejockey@psu.edu, via Penn State

 

Different disciplines have different norms and expectations as to what should be included. If you’re unsure of what’s appropriate for your field, look for some examples of research posters in your discipline, or ask one of your professors for guidance. 

What Software Can I Use to Make a Poster 

You have many options to create a research poster. Three common tools are:  

  • PowerPoint 
  • Adobe InDesign 
  • Canva 

Most people feel most comfortable using PowerPoint, especially since it can be pretty straightforward to use if you have used Microsoft Office Products before.  

Adobe InDesign will give you complete creative flexibility, but it can be difficult to use if you have never used an Adobe product before. You can get a free Adobe license during the 2021-2022 school year through the Illinois WebStore 

Canva is great for creating professional looking design with a user-friendly, simple approach. However, it has a fairly narrow window of poster sizes that can be used with the free version, so you can check that out before starting your design. Even if you are unable to create your poster on Canva due to size restriction, it is a good place to get some inspiration and then carry those ideas over to PowerPoint or InDesign.  

Whichever software you use to create your poster, make sure to double check that your poster meets the size requirements. The standard size for a research poster is 48” by 36″, but make sure to verify with your advisors before sending it off to print. 

Visualizations 

Including visualizations can help your poster stand out and help others understand your research. There are lots of ways to include visualizations on your poster, including:  

  • Graphs 
  • Charts  
  • Photographs 
  • Word Clouds 
  • Quotations  
  • Stock Images 

word cloud visualization of presentation tags

Image credit: Visualizations by Scholarly Commons via University of Illinois

If you plan to use stock images in your poster or have copyright questions about legally using images, contact the library and we can help!  

The staff at the Scholarly Commons also has knowledge about resources that can help you create data visualizations, such as Excel, Tableau, Wordle, ArcGIS, and more.  

Printing Tips 

Knowing how and when to print your poster can be tricky. Follow these guidelines to make sure your poster is printed correctly and on time:  

  • Printing out posters takes time, especially around the Undergraduate Research Conference. Be sure to finish your poster with enough time for it to be printed!      
  • Print yourself a small version of your poster to make sure the proportions and colors look correct. Some print services offer these pre-prints 
  • Have a friend look your poster over for spelling or grammatical mistakes      
  • Be sure your file is the correct size before sending it off 
  • Do not laminate your poster or print them on poster board, print posters on fabric for easy travel or print on poster paper 

For more tips, examples, and how-to guides, feel free to check out the Scholarly Commons Research Posters LibGuide 

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Meet Our Graduate Assistants: Ryan Yoakum

In this interview series, we ask our graduate assistants questions for our readers to get to know them better. Our first interview this year is with Ryan Yoakum!

This is a headshot of Ryan Yoakum.

What is your background education and work experience?

I came to graduate school directly after receiving my bachelor’s degree in May 2021 in History and Religion here at the University of Illinois. During my undergraduate, I had taken a role working for the University of Illinois Residence Hall Libraries (which was super convenient as I lived in the same building I worked in!) and absolutely loved helping patrons find resources they were interested in. I eventually took a second position with them as a processing assistant, which gave me a taste for working on the back end as I primarily prepared materials bought to be shelved at each of the libraries within the system. I really loved my work with the Residence Hall Libraries and wanted to shift my career to working in a library of some form, which has led me here today!

What are your favorite projects you’ve worked on?

I have really enjoyed projects where I have gotten to work with data (both for patrons as well as internal data). Such projects have allowed me to explore my growing interest in data science (which is the last thing I would have initially expected when I began the master’s program in August 2021). I have also really enjoyed teaching some of the Savvy Researcher workshops, which have included ones on optical character recognition (OCR) and creative commons licensing!

What are some of your favorite underutilized Scholarly Commons resources that you would
recommend?

The two that come to mind are the software on our lab computers as well as our consultation services. If I were still in history, using ABBYY FineReader for OCR would have been a tremendous help as well as supplementing that with qualitative data analysis tools such as ATLAS.ti. I also appreciate the expertise of the many talented people who work here in the library. Carissa Phillips and Sandi Caldrone, for example, have been very influential in helping me explore my interests in data. Likewise, Wenjie Wang, JP Goguen, and Jess Hagman (all of whom now have drop-in consultation hours) have all guided me in working with software related to their specific interests, and I have benefitted greatly by bringing my questions to each of them.

When you graduate, what would your ideal job position look like?

I currently have two competing job interests in mind. The first is that I would love to work in a theological library. The theological library could be either in a seminary or an academic library focusing on religious studies. Pursuing the MSLIS has also shifted my interests in working with data, so I would also love to work a job where I can manage, analyze, and visualize data!

What is the one thing you would want people to know about your field?

Library and Information science is not a field limited to working in the stereotypical way society pictures what a librarian’s work looks like (there was a good satirical article recently on this). It is also far from being a dead field (and one that will likely gain more relevance over time). As part of the program, I am slowly gaining skills that have prepared me for working in data which can apply in any field. There are so many job opportunities for MSLIS students that I strongly encourage people to join the field if they are interested in library and information science but have doubts about its career prospects!

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Open Education Week 2022

Open Education Week

Open Education Week brings awareness to the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement and to the how OER transforms teaching and learning for instructors and students alike.

What is OER?

OER refers to open access, openly licensed instructional materials that are used for teaching, learning or research.

Why is OER Important?

OER provides free resources to institutions, teachers, and students. When incorporated into the classroom, OER can:

  • Lower the cost of education for students
  • Reinforce open pedagogy
    • Allow educators to update and adapt materials to fit their needs
    • Encourages students’ interaction with, and creation of, educational materials
  • Encourage open knowledge dissemination

OER Incentive Grant

The University is giving faculty an incentive to adopt, adapt, or create OER for their courses instead of using expensive materials. The OER Incentive Grants will fund faculty teaching undergraduate courses. Instructors can submit applications in three tiers:

  • Tier 1: Adopt – incorporate an existing open textbook into a course
  • Tier 2 Adapt – incorporate portions of multiple existing open textbooks, along with other freely available educational resources, modifications of existing open education materials/textbooks, or development of new open education materials
  • Tier 3: Create – write new openly licensed textbooks

The preferred deadline to submit a proposal is March 11th. If you are interested in submitting a grant but cannot make this deadline, please reach out to Sara Benson at srbenson@illinois.edu. To learn more about this program see the webpage on the Faculty OER Incentive Program.

Upcoming OER Publication

In conjunction with Sara Benson, copyright librarian at UIUC, and the Illinois Open Publishing Network (IOPN), co-authors Christy Bazan, Brandi Barnes, Ryan Santens, and Emily Verone will publish an OER textbook, titled Drug Use and Misuse: A Community Health Perspective. This book explores drug use and abuse through the lens of community health and the impact of drug use and abuse on community health. Drug Use and Misuse is the third publication in IOPN’s Windsor & Downs Press OPN Textbook series. See the video below to learn more about the process of creating this textbook.

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Going Down the Jane Austen Rabbit Hole

This post is part of a series for Love Data Week, which takes place February 14-18 2022.

Written by Heidi Imker, Director of the Library Research Data Service

When you think of data, your mind probably doesn’t jump right to Pride and Prejudice. That is, unless you’re Heidi Imker, Director of the Research Data Service and amateur Jane Austen internet sleuth. “In late 2020,” Heidi says, “I was in desperate need of a post-Outlander spiritual cleanse. Naturally, I turned to Pride and Prejudice. Over a year later, I’m still in the midst of a fantastic, out-of-control Jane Austin binge, and I’ve got oodles of related resources worthy of Love Data Week.”

Join Heidi on a virtual tour of some of her favorite data resources about Austen, her works, and historical England.

  1. janeaustenr: Jane Austen’s Complete Novels

In this fabulous R package, data scientist Julia Silge used text data for the Austen novels available from the also fabulous Project Gutenberg. The package offers cleaned data, documentation, and scripts to play with and analyze the novels.

  1. Word Frequencies in English-Language Literature, 1700-1922

Randomly, sifting through the janeaustenr dataset gave me a new level of appreciation for the word “ignore.” Austen didn’t use “ignore” once in any of her novels. It turns out that no one was really using it because it hadn’t caught on yet. In fact, according to Google’s ngram viewer, “ignore” didn’t start getting traction until circa 1845. And now you might be thinking word frequency data is fun, and it is! Like this word frequencies dataset available from the HathiTrust Research Center.

  1. Napoleon Series

One of the things I learned during this binge was that dating the events in Pride and Prejudice has been a subject of debate for some time (as in, about a century). I found it downright fascinating that scholars could map parts of the book to the 1811 calendar year and others to the year 1794. I had never really thought about the characters existing in a specific year, but now I wondered what else was happening in those years? I discovered the Waterloo Association, a community of military historians behind the Napoleon Series. This immense archive contains articles on military history, biographies, and documentation of thousands of officers and soldiers (such as Challis’s Peninsula Roll Call).

  1. London Lives

Provides searchable access to >240,000 digitized pages of archival documents, with special focus on crime, poverty, and social policy. Not only is the source material available, but the people behind London Lives have made it a point to keep humanity at the forefront by constructing biographies of the individuals caught in the crime and poverty cycle in London between 1690 and 1800.

  1. Calendar of London Concerts 1750-1800

My favorite dataset of all time, it was thoughtfully and painstakingly created by Professor Simon McVeigh at Goldsmiths, University of London over many decades. It lists 4,001 concert events, as found through locating and documenting adverts in archival newspapers—by hand. When Lady Catharine tells Elizabeth that “it will be in my power to take one of you as far as London, for I am going there early in June, for a week,” what could that self-professed music aficionado have heard in June 1794? Voila! Perhaps it was Handel’s Messiah at St Margaret’s Church in Westminster on Thursday, June 5th.

I appreciate the Calendar of London Concerts dataset for my odd little hobby, but I love it as an information professional. The sheer dedication it took assemble the data, especially with such strict attention to detail, is incredible. Let me explicitly gush about the documentation for a moment. Context! References! Abbreviations! All explained! What’s “HM”? His Majesty’s something or other? No, it’s the Half-Moon Tavern in Cheapside. Currency conversions! Syntax for nearly impossible to standardize programme content! It’s forty-four glorious pages! Swoon!

Related resources on London concerts

What started out as a casual, online-friendly hobby ended up introducing me to a wealth of enlightening open data resources, and I’m in love with every one of them. Since my Austen binge is apparently nowhere near over, you may well get another link-laden post for next year’s Love Data Week. <3

Headshot of HeidiHeidi Imker is the Director of the Research Data Service (RDS) and an Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The RDS helps researchers across the Urbana-Champaign campus manage and share research data, and in her role as Director, she ensures the RDS takes a collaborative, user-oriented, and practical approach to research support. Heidi holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Illinois and did her postdoctoral research at the Harvard Medical School.

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