Digitized books and resources are a go-to source for researchers getting started. But what does it take to make digital objects useful for research? Who (and what) makes that happen? And what kinds of projects do these objects – from book to data to file – help researchers accomplish? Following one item on its journey, BOOK.DATA.FILE is about diving into the reading room, digitizing collections, and pushing the boundaries of data-driven research and scholarship with library collections.
This exhibition draws on the rich history of the Penn Libraries’ involvement in understanding the role of digital technologies in advancing research and scholarship. The annual Lawrence J. Schoenberg Symposium on Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age and efforts like OPenn to make available and usable archival images and metadata have long placed Penn at the forefront of open data in cultural heritage collections. Similarly, the Center for Research Data and Digital Scholarship fosters data literacy and critical thinking in digital project collaboration. Navigating engagement and project building with digitized files and data, the Center staff help researchers learn to ask questions finding and managing digital objects to support research. The goal is to approach digital projects in an ethical way, and learn to read digital archives critically.