Islandora Camp BC 2015

Last month (16-18 February 2015), the Islandora Camp BC 2015 was held here in Vancouver, and I was lucky enough to attend and represent Canada’s Early Women Writers (CEWW) specifically and CWRC more broadly. My contribution was to highlight CWRC Writer as a custom application embedded in Islandora, and to show other “campers” its advantages over, say, using Oxygen Editor for xml tagging and mark-up. (Also to show how pretty CWRC Writer is…) I presented Monday afternoon, the first day of the camp, with Mimi Lam from UBC Library; Rebecca Dowson, who is the English and History liaison librarian here at SFU Library; and Mark Leggott, who is one of the initial designers of Islandora, and currently University Librarian at UPEI and President of discoverygarden inc., a commercial Islandora services company.

The audience contained a significant number of librarians and others who were well-versed in Islandora as an open-access database system, but not as familiar with Digital Humanities as a discipline. Rebecca therefore began by introducing the concept of Digital Humanities before branching out to a description of some of the DH research projects currently held at SFU Library, including Komagata Maru: Continuing the Journey and the Lake District Collection. Mimi similarly presented a number of projects in the Digital Humanities held at UBC Library, including the extensive Chung Collection. I contributed my bit about CWRC, and Mark summed up with an overview of Islandora’s applicability as a platform for Digital Humanities projects.

I had thought I was going to walk the audience into CWRC Writer through the Islandora (actually Drupal) data entry online form that we use, show how we ingest a digital text, then open a (previously ingested) text in CWRC Writer so they could see the OCR, image, and xml in the triptych screen presentation. As it turned out, by the time we were up, other presenters had shown their sites’ access forms sufficiently, and I could skip straight to showing how CWRC Writer could be used to create both structural and semantic tagging of ingested documents. Mark Leggott had previously used Editing Modernism in Canada (EMiC) as an example of a site running Islandora, so the audience had already seen a screen shot of CWRC Writer, which is up and running at EMiC. All this made my job very easy, and it was really enjoyable to walk the audience through CWRC Writer, singing its praises. It was gratifying to have a number of people approach me after the presentation, letting me know how interested they were in CWRC Writer and CWRC as a greater project.

The camp was three days long: the first day was an introduction to Islandora and its multiple facets; the second day broke into admin and programming streams for hands-on learning; on the third day, various associated programs and activities were presented, including SFU Library’s upcoming migration for CONTENTdm over to Islandora, which interests me (and of course our project) greatly. Perhaps it was because it is easy to keep participants engaged when they are actually participating; perhaps it was because there were few enough of us that we all got the attention we needed and were able have a voice in multiple conversations; regardless of exactly why, Islandora Camp BC 2015 was probably the most informative (and well-organized) camp/conference I have been to.

~Karyn Huenemann, Project Manager, Canada’s Early Women Writers (SFU)