March 22nd Notes: Natasha Smith

Natasha Smith spoke to the Digital Scholarship group on March 22nd, 2011.

Natasha outlined her history with digital publishing, starting with the Documenting the American South project 15 years ago. DocSouth was developed by the Library, but involved UNC scholars and an editorial board. The site remains popular, receiving 2 million unique visits last year. Natasha views the CDLA as a digital scholarship ‘lab’ that can provide the infrastructure and technical know-how to help scholars realize their visions.

As an example of how digital publishing can dramatically increase utilization of resources, Natasha demonstrated the North American Slave Narratives collection. Originally used maybe 5 or 6 times a year, the collection is now viewed online thousands of times a day from visitors all over the globe.

DocSouth has been a leader in adopting open-source standards such as PhP, Python, XHTML, and XML (including T.E.I.). This has allowed their collections to remain usable over time and has enabled detailed markups, such as the time-coded transcriptions of the Oral Histories of the American South.

During the ensuing discussion, Natasha discussed the challenging grant-based funding model her organizations cope with. She also noted that the Library was moving away from labor-intensive scholarly markup of collections in favor of large-scale digitization.

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