Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - 18:13

As a grad student I've often found it challenging to find ways to apply the theory I've learned and gain practical experience in my field. This challenge motivated me to complete a practicum project during my final semester in the Master of Information Program at the University of Toronto. While I had a number of projects from which to choose, I decided on the DSU primarily because it allowed me to develop and demonstrate the digital skills that are in demand in my profession.

The project I signed up to complete involved helping the DSU migrate four collections of metadata from one access framework (CONTENdm) to another access framework (Islandora). While I initially thought this project would mostly consist of editing XML files and developing Drupal forms, I ended up doing far more interesting and complicated work than I had imagined. By the end of my practicum I had learned enough Python to script a small program to automate the creation of folders and the movement of files, had used Mogrify to batch edit hundreds of images using the command line, and learned more about XML namespaces than I thought possible. I also got the opportunity to work with the awesome staff at the DSU which would be worth it all on its own.

Looking back, my decision to complete a practicum project at the DSU was one of the smartest decisions I made while at the iSchool. I can directly credit this experience with landing a fulltime/permanent position in my field before graduation, as I was able to point to this practicum during job interviews as evidence of my technical ability and use my supervisor as a reference. Also, if you're interested you can check out some of work I did for the DSU on GitHub.

Monday, March 17, 2014 - 12:18

Scholarly content that is freely available to the public or Open Access (OA) is often talked about in the context of journal publishing. However, the Open Access movement is also having significant effect on academic book publishing. 

On February 13th, UTSC's Centre for Digital Scholarship, in collaboration with the UTSC Library's Digital Scholarship Unit, hosted a two hour seminar Open Access Books: Trends & Options that introduced how new publishing partnerships and digital technologies are transforming scholarly book publishing.

The afternoon got off to a lively start with a lunch sponsored by the Centre for Digital Scholarship and opening remarks and acknowledgements from UTSC faculty member Leslie Chan

Knowledge Unlatched logo

The first speaker Dr. Lucy Montgomery then told the story of the Knowledge Unlatched project through a co-ordinated Skype and PowerPoint presentation. This new project strives to create a sustainable route to Open Access by leveraging the combined power of libraries to secure long-term cost savings for their own institutions. A copy of Lucy's slides and talking points are posted on SlideShare. I'm happy to report back that in the days following the presentation that the University of Toronto Libraries has signed on as a charter member of this innovative approach to opening up access to a pilot collection of humanities and social science monographs through Creative Commons licences.  

OpenEdition books logo

The second speaker, Pierre Mournier joined us in person on route to the Interrogating Access conference. He shared a brief overview of the Open Access landscape in Europe, his take on economic OA models for books and the OpenEdition ecosystem and their approach to creating sustainable Open Access publishing. Of particular note is the OpenEdition Books platform for books in the humanities and social sciences which now includes 1225 titles - more than half of which are openly accessible to all in HTML format with additional services and formats through OpenEdition's Freemium model for subscribing libraries and institutions.

Watch the complete video of the seminar:


Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - 13:33

Since its inception in 2001, Wikipedia has emerged as an often contentious and undeniably powerful stakeholder in today’s knowledge ecosystem. Join us for an event that considers the scholarly implications of Wikipedia and the role it plays in post-secondary classrooms. Co-hosted by the Centre for Digital Scholarship and the UTSC Library’s Digital Scholarship Unit, Wikipedia, Scholarship & Pedagogy aims to explore and educate on these issues.

A keynote speech will be given by Dr Adrianne Wadewitz, Mellon Digital Scholarship Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Digital Learning and Research at Occidental College, on Wikipedia’s role in academia. A short workshop on embedding Wikipedia into the classroom will then be presented by Wikipedia campus ambassadors Andrew Leung, Deneille Walters, and Monico Santiago alongside Jonathan Obar, Visiting Assistant Professor at Michigan State University and senior program coordinator with the Canadian arm of Wikipedia’s Education Program, and James Scott, Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health.

A light lunch will be served at 12pm. Please RSVP at



Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 12:02

From the Doris McCarthy Gallery website:

The DMG is celebrating its 10th anniversary with an exhibition that pays tribute to Doris McCarthy’s glamourous depictions of the Canadian North, alongside current voices whose works look to nature to cast a light on contemporary life. Glam North explores the questions and revelations that surround our relationship to the natural world.

Curators Jennifer Rudder and Alexander Irving posit surprising and challenging affinities between McCarthy’s dedicated production and that of the next generation of artists. Glam North considers the idea of North in the context of the Canadian landscape, from Ontario (Robert Wiens’ watercolours of the old growth pine forests of Temagami) to Newfoundland (David Clarkson’s deconstructions of the icebergs off of Fogo Island), Nunavut (Samonie Toonoo’s sculptures depicting the intensity of contemporary struggles in Cape Dorset) to the imaginary (Alex McLeod’s Christmas tree-dotted digital landscapes). The North, particularly its visualization as a majestic space, was central to McCarthy’s work throughout her career. Glam North includes paintings by McCarthy that represent a wide variety of places and periods in her artistic practice, celebrating her love and reverence for the great outdoors.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - 20:04

Doris on a tree branch at Pine Lake, 1932by Sara Allain

Today our good friends at the Doris McCarthy Gallery at UTSC launched Glam North: Doris McCarthy and Her New Contemporaries, a new exhibition of works on the Canadian north that also celebrates the 10th birthday of the Gallery and the gift of over 230 paintings from McCarthy's estate. A local painter who trained with members of the Group of Seven, Doris became an outstanding landscape painter in her own right, particularly well known for her interpretations of northern Canada.

My first real archival job was to arrange and describe a huge archival collection donated to the UTSC Library by Doris McCarthy's estate. It was a pretty dramatic entry into the world of archiving -  65 unmarked banker's boxes awaited me and Kelli Babcock, my partner in processing. We dove headfirst into the minutiae of Doris' life. We sifted through thousands of letters and photographs and nearly eighty years of diaries where she self-chronicled her rich life. Though she was a teacher, traveller, and writer as well as a painter, art pervades the fonds so deeply that it becomes almost impossible, from an archival perspective, to separate the art from the artist.

Of all of the wonderful materials in the fonds one area in particular stands out as prime examples of Doris' artistic outlook on life - a slide series that Doris used to illustrate a talk she regularly gave, entitled The Artist's Eye. Though she travelled widely, Doris rarely completed paintings in situ - she often sketched or photographed her settings so that she could return to them in her home studio on the Scarborough Bluffs. The Artist's Eye slides show her progression from photo to finished piece in such a beautiful way. Below, you can see how Doris could take a fairly standard eastern Canadian view and create a beautifully stylized landscape.

Slides from the Artist's Eye collection, showing a photo, sketch, and finished painting

You can check out the gorgeous catalogue for the exhibition here, and more information about the archival collection here. Once we've got our Islandora installation completed, we'll have a ton of digitized material to share as well!