Well, good morning!

It’s a beautiful Day of DH in Boston, and I don’t say that without appreciation to the powers that be — it’s only in the last three days that we haven’t been pummeled with flooding rain and umbrella-mangling wind (also called a Nor’easter, for those of you not from around here.)


View from my officeThe first thing I did today was look through my spam folder and delete everything in it.  I do this every day: when you live half your virtual life in email, you either keep on top of this stuff, or take your chances on the possibility that some of your legitimate mail will be lost.  I’m far from the most important person in the world, but some of the email that’s important to me has been mistakenly spam-filtered, so I do it.  I wonder how much aggregate time people spend sifting through their spam Just In Case, and what we could spend that time on instead.  These are things I wonder before coffee.


As I wrote in the About page, I’m a Digital Collections Librarian at the BU School of Theology (though by training I’m a computing humanist).  I also do a bunch of IT support for the School, which has gotten more than a little exciting of late.  First off, there’s now another person doing IT: long overdue, and a lifesaver.  Emily is great fun to work with, and is getting projects done that would otherwise just not get done.  Her presence, however, is indicative of another thing that’s worthy of note: as a digital humanist, I am not seen as “the person in the department who will fix your computer.”  That’s one of the parts of my job, but far from the only one; and I don’t take for granted that this is validated at my workplace.

This afternoon we, the School’s Administrative Cabinet, have a two and a half hour strategic planning meeting.  The entire university has been working on a new strategic plan since last summer, and our part is due soon; so we’re ramping up the work.  My task for the morning is to look through the 41-page strategic plan draft that was waiting in my inbox this morning.  We’ve been working on parts of this document, but this is the first time I’m seeing the entire thing, and let me tell you, it’s impressive.  Aspects that I’ve contributed to it include, let’s see:

  • projected advances in teaching (including distance teaching) and researching with technology;
  • further digitization efforts, both of library materials and of faculty members’ personal collections;
  • further classroom renovation, including installation of A/V systems and internet access points, and thoughts regarding how to use those;
  • integrating digital scholarship into new doctoral and postdoctoral programs;
  • digitally enhanced academic events for the University and larger community;
  • expanding scholarly collaboration within and outside STH.

So that’s what I’m doing this morning and early afternoon.  If I have time after preparing for the meeting, I’ll get some of the paperwork together for recently submitted electronic theses and dissertations.

Catching up, it’s what’s for lunch

Well, actually, for lunch was a meeting — the long one I referred to in my previous post.  Still processing that one; we did a lot of good strategic planning work, and talked to some folks from the BUWorks Project about how the business processes at BU are changing.  (The short answer: a lot, in the next couple of years, and to listen to them, we’re all going to be much happier for it.)

Came back to the office.  Approved a student worker’s time sheet, after checking in with her on the Internet Archive digitization project she’s been working on: right now she’s in the process of helping update the library catalog.  A shout-out to Christina “Mo” Geuther, here: she’s one of the best people I’ve ever worked with.  I hope one of the library schools she’s applied to accepts her, and gives her enough financial aid to actually attend.  She’d be a brilliant librarian.

Never did get to the electronic theses and dissertations this morning.  But right now it’s time for a break in the sunshine.  Because after I’m having an intense hour-and-a-half long session of revising a proposal narrative for a Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant.  Did I mention the deadline is soon?  Like, tomorrow?  (If you’re applying, don’t panic: that’s our internal deadline, because our Office of Sponsored Programs person is going away next week.  NEH is accepting them until Tuesday the 23rd.)

End of day, and still catching up: a trend?

Yes, I think we can safely say that, like most other folks working in academe, I always have more to do than there’s time for.

After my glorious, sunny break, I edited the grant proposal for a while, with occasional breaks to help Mo with stubborn computers.  Then I sent the draft off to a co-author and replied to some email—confirmed a training session on the book scanner with one of our faculty’s research assistants, emailed our Library of Congress consultant the new proposal draft, and also emailed some folks at a library school with strong computational expertise, in the hopes of getting connected to potential collaborators with more computational analysis skills than we have.

This all sounds so… well, not dry exactly, but on task, you know?  But I’m just like most other people I know in digital humanities.  One eye is almost always on Twitter, unless it’s on the blogosphere.  Being both organized and disciplined enough is always a challenge, but I have my hacks, and the week’s to-do list is pretty impressively checked off.  There are always unknowns and unpredictable interruptions in the workdays, but unless I get hit by a bus tomorrow, getting the entire list done shouldn’t be a problem.  Given we have a grant materials deadline tomorrow, hey, not bad.

Soon I am off to have perfectly lovely, analog dinner with friends.  Then I’ll come home, hang out with my cats and the rest of the household, and wonder whether I’ll come back to write a more reflective post another day.