Global Digital Library Symposium @ UVA, Oct. 31-Nov. 1

Global Digital Libraries

A symposium sponsored by Rare Book School, the Scholars’ Lab, and the Buckner W. Clay Endowment for the Humanities at the Institute of the Humanities & Global Culture

University libraries and humanities centers are shifting many resources toward the development of digital libraries and archives, intended to foster scholarly research in networks that span both national and financial borders. Large-scale projects along these lines, such as Europeana and the Digital Public Library of America, have developed out of academic discussions and endeavors initiated by professors and librarians. At the same time, large-scale, international, collaborative initiatives present new organizational challenges for humanities departments and research libraries alike. This symposium will explore and critique the kinds of models that have emerged for building global digital libraries, and the kinds of comparative research that have been made possible through them.

The symposium is intended for digital humanists from departments throughout the UVA community and beyond, and is designed to contribute to UVA’s strategic planning and development of ongoing and emerging global projects to digitize and interpret collections. The symposium will also foster collaborative relationships among UVA and other research centers that are helping to form global digital libraries.


Wednesday, 30 October

10:00–11:00 am | Public lecture by Dot Porter. Scholars’ Lab, 421 Alderman Library.

Thursday, 31 October

12:00–1:30 pm | Luncheon and round-table discussion moderated by Will Noel and Michael F. Suarez, S.J. Limited to 24 participants. Rare Book School, 112 Alderman Library.

5:30 pm | Public lecture by Will Noel: “Global Digital Libraries: Some Principles and an Idea.” This lecture will question the notion of digital surrogacy, discuss best practices for the presentation of digital information on books, and look at exploiting digital technologies to further the study of book archaeology. Auditorium of the Harrison Institute and Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. Reception to follow at Rare Book School, 112 Alderman Library.

Friday, 1 November

2:00–4:00 pm | Workshop led by Will Noel and Dot Porter: “Disbinding All the Books in the World.” Using the combined skill sets of Rare Book School, The Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, and the Scholars Lab, this workshop will sketch out what needs to be done to enable the virtual disbinding of all digitized books openly available in standard formats. The takeaway will be a blueprint for building such a tool. Limited to 24 participants. Rare Book School, 112 Alderman Library.


To register for the luncheon and/or symposium workshop, please fill out the registration form. Registration for the luncheon and workshop is limited, so don’t delay:

Symposium Presenters

Will Noel is Director of the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, and Director of the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, before which he worked at The Walters Art Museum as Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books. Among his books are The Harley Psalter (1995), The Oxford Bible Pictures (2005), and The Archimedes Codex (2007). An advocate for open manuscript data, during his tenure the Walters began to release full digital surrogates of its illuminated medieval manuscripts under a creative commons license. Will was a 2012 TED speaker, and in 2013 was honored as a White House Open Science Champion for Change. He has been a member of the Rare Book School faculty since 2005.

Dot Porter is the Curator of Digital Research Services in the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, Kislak Center for Special Collections, University of Pennsylvania. Dot holds Masters degrees in medieval studies and library science, and started her career working on image-based digital editions of medieval manuscripts. She has worked on a variety of projects, focusing on materials as diverse as ancient texts and Russian religious folklore, providing both technical support and scholarly expertise. Her research focuses on medievalists’ use of digital resources. At Penn, she both provides general digital humanities support for faculty and graduate students, and plays with digitized medieval manuscripts.

Michael F. Suarez, S.J. is the Director of Rare Book School, and a University Professor with a separate appointment as Professor in UVA’s English department. In addition, he serves as Honorary Curator of UVA’s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections department. Suarez’s most recent publication is The Book: A Global History (forthcoming from Oxford University Press, 2013). He is co-Editor (with H. R. Woudhuysen) of The Oxford Companion to the Book (Oxford University Press, 2010), and co-General Editor of The Collected Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins Internationally known for his work on both printed and digital materials, he is Editor-in-Chief of Oxford Scholarly Editions Online, a major digital undertaking (2010–2020) of Oxford University Press.​

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