Category: Digital Scholarship

Bob Dylan’s Career as a Blakean Visionary and Romantic

dylan-stelzigIn 2013, Milne Library published an essay by SUNY Geneseo Professor Emeritus Eugene Stelzig titled Bob Dylan’s Career as a Blakean Visionary and Romantic.”

Upon the occasion of Dylan’s being awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature, this might well be worth another look. Free PDF and ePub versions are available, and you can buy a print version from

“Bob Dylan’s Career as a Blakean Visionary and Romantic” was completed in 1976 as an invited contribution to a volume of academic and scholarly essays on Dylan to be published by the Popular Press and edited by Patrick Morrow. After the volume was accepted and the publication contract was signed, the Popular Press reneged on the agreement, apparently because it felt the volume would fall between the cracks: Dylan’s popular fan base would not be interested in a book of academic articles, and academics would not be interested in a pop culture idol. Obviously things have changed considerably in the intervening decades!

This discussion—written almost four decades ago—of the deep affinities between Dylan’s song poetry and the Romantics, especially William Blake, is one of the early “scholarly” as opposed to popular appreciations of Dylan’s art and his oeuvre from his first album up to and including Desire (1976).

According to Stelzig,

“The piece has led a sort of underground life for decades in the wake of Robert Shelton listing it in the bibliography of his biography of Dylan, so I’m delighted that Milne Library is making it available and easily accessible to anyone.”

We previously announced this publication in the Open Access resources via SUNY Open Textbooks.



Juilliard Manuscripts Collection

juilliardClassical music fans will want to check out the Juilliard Manuscripts Collection, a spectacular collection of very rare manuscripts. These documents were donated to the school in 2006 by Bruce Kovner, a business professional and philanthropist who served as chair of the board at Juilliard.

composersThis collection includes engraved first editions of manuscripts by Johannes Sebastian Bach; an autographed letter from Ludwig van Beethoven; a copy of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony – with his own annotations – that may have been used in the symphony’s very first performance; and a signed holograph by Claude Debussy.

Visitors to this website can search for manuscripts by composer. In addition to the luminaries mentioned above, this collection contains manuscripts by Johannes Brahms, Aaron Copland, Dmitri Shostakovich, Richard Wagner, and more. Each manuscript is accompanied with complete bibliographic information. [MMB]

This review originally published in The Internet Scout.

Becoming an Uber Efficient Researcher

zotero_gold-ruby-workshopPlease bring a laptop to the workshop!

Find out how to use research management tools like Zotero to gather, organize and automatically create citations for research papers. In this workshop, you will learn about the options available and gain hands-on experience with one of these tools to capture, save and export citations into a word document in the citation style of your choice.  Instructor: Tracy Paradis – Reference & Instruction Librarian, Milne Library

Becoming an Uber Efficient Researcher Using Research Management Tools 
Wednesday, September 21
2:30 – 3:30 pm
MacVittie College Union Room 322/323

[Register for Ruby Certificate Credit]

Presenting … Allison Brown, Milne’s Digital Publishing Services Manager

BrownAIt’s official — Allison Brown is Milne library’s new Digital Publishing Services Manager.  Allison was the successful candidate in last summer’s nationwide search to fill the newly-created position, bringing with her a proven track record of working with authors, navigating the publishing landscape, and producing a variety of publications.

Before you scratch your head too vigorously, wondering “But hasn’t Allison been here, doing that, long before this past summer?” — yes, she had been functioning as the digital publishing coordinator here in a temporary capacity for several years, and was instrumental in helping Milne build its publishing services from the ground up. The early projects, going back to 2012, include the Genesee Valley Historical Reprints Series (33 titles); Stuart Symington’s memoir, Tagging Along; and the first Proceedings of GREAT Day.

OpenSUNYTextbooksSince then, Allison has continued to produce more from Milne’s “press,” working closely with student groups, faculty, and emeriti at Geneseo and throughout SUNY. Among the current and ongoing projects she’s involved in is Open SUNY Textbooks,  for which she is project manager — working closely with authors and coordinating peer review, editing, and GDProceedingspublishing. She also continues to assist with production of the Proceedings of GREAT Day as well as advise for and coordinate publication of Gandy Dancer, the Geneseo-based, SUNY-wide student literary magazine edited by SUNY Geneseo students. With Gandy Dancer, Allison works closely with English professor Rachel Hall’s Editing & Production Workshop classes, both in and out of the classroom.

As Digital Publishing Services Manager, Allison manages to offer both publication assistance (production, project management, software training, etc.) to authors and experiential learning to the interns with whom she regularly works. She expects both areas to grow as more authors explore alternative publishing options, including open access (OA) publications and digital projects, and more students seek help with producing and managing their publications.

Allison earned a B.A. in English from Houghton College and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Emerson College in Boston. Prior to coming to Milne Library, she worked at Boston College’s library as a circulation desk assistant. Allison is an avid consumer of audio books since, she says, she seems to spend a lot of time in her car (much of it driving between her home in Rochester and work in Geneseo), and listening is a good way to use that time.

You can find Allison in her office (Milne 108) on the Library’s lower level, or contact her at [email protected] or 585-245-6020.

Life in the Digital Woods: Walden, A Fluid Text Updated

[See our update post on the Digital Thoreau blog too!]

A Recap: What is Walden: A Fluid Text?

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 12.50.31 AMOur Fluid Text edition of Walden gathers eight years and seven versions of the American masterpiece using the Versioning Machine tool and Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) mark-up. Want the modern edit of the masterpiece?– we also have the 1971 Princeton University Press edition, reproduced with permission. Readers can see the definitive version foremost (with or without our notes, easily toggled off for a clean read), and then view the older workings of the novel. Easily presented side-by-side, readers can wade time’s river in order to view the evolution of Walden as Thoreau honed it over the years. We’ve encoded the textual changes down to the word based on the scholarship of Ron Clapper. A simple click on the text will highlight the cross-edition variations; all the grunt work has been done for the fascinated student of Thoreau, and now further opportunities for scholarship are available with this publicly available text. Coders, too, can step behind-the-screen to see our TEI mark-up and XSLT. The Fluid Text edition of Walden takes the confident and singular challenge Thoreau gave us long ago even further through the field of digital humanities, and studies of encoding and authorial evolution:

It is not all books that are as dull as their readers . .  .

The Upgrade

With the release of the newly updated Walden: A Fluid Text comes plenty of detail, and quite a few major features. SUNY Geneseo’s Fluid Text team has worked primarily to clean up and edit the text, and to work on a new face for the project. Various bugs and textual errors reported by ours users have been amended, and we used this data to forecast how we wanted to improve the webpage for this update, and this is what we’ve done.

Our Walden: A Fluid Text Data Dictionary has been updated, so now TEI experts and novices alike can view the substratum of encoding mark-up–  the usage of TEI elements and attributes, as well as definitions and further usage tips. On a similar note for coders and the curious, our XSLT source code is now available [ziptar.gz].

Support for Thoreau’s journal notes (added by Dr. Paul Schacht’s “Literature and Literary Study in a Digital Age” course students) are now available in our work as Notes studded throughout the text. These journal notes were the earliest conceptions of many famous thoughts and passages found in Walden, jotted down by Thoreau years in advance. If you want to take a look at the student work and how this was done through scholarship and various coding methods for this semester-long undertaking, head over here.

In our polishing, we’ve also overhauled the graphical qualities of Walden: A Fluid Text. Stylistic textual rendering has been tweaked, and the distinctive tables in Economy, the inaugural and often mathematical chapter, are reformatted for easier understanding. Currently, individual columns in the versioning machine layout can now scroll independently of each other as well, so that reader’s can compare different sections of Walden at once.

What’s Next

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 11.47.34 AMOur Fluid Text, as the name suggests, is always changing, and we have many more features in mind. In keeping with the possibilities of digital tools, and TEI in particular, we have a planned revamp of the website interface to gild our look with a simplicity inspired by Walden itself. Dr. Paul Schacht plans on involving students in this project through further work in his Digital Studies course. A new users manual is planned to accompany the new look. Special attention will also be paid to accessibility on tablet screens, for scholars who want to read Thoreau in the library and woods alike.

No wonder that Alexander carried the Illiad with him on his expeditions in a precious casket. A written word is the choicest of relics . . . 


Thoreau, Digitized. Deliberately.


by Paul Schacht

Henry_David_Thoreau-350wIn Walden, nineteenth-century American author, philosopher, and activist Henry David Thoreau wrote that he went to the woods because he wished to “live deliberately.” In the same work, he also wrote that “Books must be read as deliberately as they were written.”

Digital Thoreau is a joint initiative of SUNY Geneseo, the Thoreau Society, and the Walden Woods Project aimed at promoting the deliberate reading of Thoreau in ways that illuminate his creative process and facilitate thoughtful conversation about his work.

The projects that comprise the initiative are open in a variety of ways.

FluidDigital Thoreau’s main scholarly project is a “fluid text” edition of Walden. Thoreau revised the manuscript of Walden seven times between 1846, when he began working on it while still living at the pond, and 1854, when the first edition was published. Our fluid text Walden makes it possible for readers to follow the manuscript revisions across the seven versions, comparing any version with any other and with the Princeton University Press edition of the finished work.

The project would not have been possible without the cooperation of Thoreau scholar Ronald E. Clapper, who freely shared with us his 1967 dissertation identifying all the manuscript variants. Nor could it have happened without the Versioning Machine: the open-source platform for displaying text-versions that we’ve adopted to display the variants on-screen.

TEIIn turn, we’re openly sharing the XML-TEI code that’s the back end of that Versioning Machine display — code written right here at SUNY Geneseo by Milne Library faculty and staff. Other digital humanists have already downloaded the code to see how the variants display on another versioning platform, Juxta.

Walden: A Fluid Text Edition also incorporates the scholarly notes that SUNY Distinguished Professor and former SUNY Geneseo English department member Walter Harding wrote for his Walden: An Annotated Edition (1995). This addition was made possible because the notes were freely shared with us by the Harding family.


Screenshot: A Readers Thoreau

Another of our projects at Digital Thoreau, funded by a SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grant, is a text of Walden designed to invite conversation both in the text’s margins and in discussion forums. Readers can participate in this conversation individually or in groups. The Readers’ Thoreau brings together two open-source plugins from the open-source blogging platform WordPress — Commons In A Box and CommentPress — to create a “social reading” experience that has the fundamental features of a social network. Readers can comment on any paragraph of Walden, add labels to comments, search other readers’ comments by label, follow the comment activity of friends in the network, join forums, and continue conversations that begin inside the text in other ways. They can filter comments so that they only see the ones that interest them. Two or more groups can decide to read Walden with each other. They can “like” the comments they find most valuable and recommend comments to friends.

DigThorSliderWe think of The Readers’ Thoreau as a tool for reading deliberately by reading deliberatively. You could also think of it as space for open conversation about one of literature’s greatest works.

Open access is the means by which Digital Thoreau’s projects have come into being; it’s also the end they serve.


Primary Sources: Hands-on History!

Using primary sources is an excellent technique for exploring historical events or topics. Knowing what a primary source is and finding concrete examples however, can be challenging. The video below, designed by librarians Sue Ann Brainard and Michelle Costello, introduces the plight of the Little Rock Nine and their integration struggles through the use of primary sources, such as images, oral histories, government documents and music.

This video is intended to be an introduction to a set of tutorials on specific research tools and techniques used to locate and access primary sources, to be created over the next year or so.

Please feel free to contact us with ideas for content and to let us know if you are interested in designing or developing future tutorials.

Sue Ann Brainard – [email protected]

Michelle Costello – [email protected]

What is Digital Scholarship?

Digital Scholarship is (among other things) scholarly activities such as writing, research, and communications that take advantage of technologies in the digital world. While digital scholarship might be found everywhere from Twitter to Tumblr to WordPress, it frequently centers around the development of scholarly works, and the software platforms which support them. For example, the TAPAS Project is creating a place where scholars can create and edit texts encoded in TEI XML, and publish them in the same space. Editing Modernism in Canada has a similar purpose, but devoted to modern Canadian authors. In the physical and applied sciences, is an indispensable resource for discovering and reading the works of other scholars. The social web has tailored some of its resources to scholarly communications as well, creating a plethora of platforms that fuse bibliographic reference management with social networking — such as Mendeley, Zotero, Connotea, and Papers.

Here at SUNY Geneseo, the faculty and librarians at Milne are working on a number of digital scholarship projects. For example, Digital Thoreau is a digital scholarship project which is creating a web-based scholarly edition of Walden where users can create and view scholarly commentary inline with the text. SUNY Geneseo Journal Publishing is our peer-reviewed open access journal publishing service which uses the Public Knowledge Project‘s Open Journal Systems. You can read the contents of GREAT Day there, and Educational Change, which is a peer-reviewed journal published by the New York State Foundations of Education Association.

If you’d like to learn more about what we’re doing, or if you have a project to propose, please get  in touch with Joe Easterly, Milne’s Electronic Resources & Digital Scholarship Librarian at [email protected]