As the pandemic shifts our education to an online platform, professors and librarians have had to rethink how to exhibit their research, classroom projects, and collections. How can you recreate the library in a virtual classroom where many of the students are in different parts of the country? How can students present their work to each other and to the public when in-person gatherings are a safety hazard?
The answer to most of these questions has been to create a website. As a Digital Humanities Associate, my primary work this term has been to build websites, using tools like Omeka, Scalar, and WordPress, to create ways for faculty and librarians to display their work in a pandemic-ravaged world.
At the beginning of the term, I worked with the Special Collections librarian to transfer images of rare books to a website for classes to peruse. Normally, the Special Collections department would welcome students into the library to walk around and look at the amazing collection of facsimiles and manuscripts, encouraging students to flip through the pages and get up close and personal with these rare texts. With the arrival of coronavirus, all this has changed.
As a substitute for an in-person showcase, I created an Omeka site that contained images of rare books for student. While they weren’t able to feel the vellum of the pages, students really enjoyed being able to see images of the texts produced during the period they were studying. Digitalizing these images and making them available online made the texts more accessible, even if we lost some of the materiality.
I think one of the (very) few positive things about the pandemic is how it has forced people to reimagine and innovate the way we do things. Carleton faculty and librarians have clearly shown themselves up to the challenge.