We are pleased to report on the progress of Footprints since our last update. The project has been growing steadily both in its technical and scholarly capabilities, and in its growing recognition in the world of Jewish studies and among practitioners of the Digital Humanities.
We invite you to check out the recent developments in the site by visiting the following link: https://footprints.ccnmtl.columbia.edu/. The site has undergone a number of changes since its launch last year, thanks to our talented developers at the Center for Teaching and Learning. With our last update, we described the new capacity for batch upload, which allows us to enter hundreds of footprints with a single click. Access to these materials is now bi-directional: libraries and librarians can now export ranges of Footprints data to augment their own copy-specific catalogs with information reconstructed by scholars who have uploaded material to our site in the course of their individual research. The export function will also allow researchers to use Footprints to produce datasets relevant to their specific research questions for further analysis.
Partnerships with libraries around the world have begun to yield results, and we look forward to adding data from many additional collections to the site. The Schneerson Collection at the State Library in Moscow is systematically adding provenance data from its collection, and a batch of data from Leo Baeck Institute in New York has been successfully uploaded. Within the next week, data from the provenance-rich Shimeon Brisman Collection, now at the University of Washington in St. Louis, Missouri, will be added to the site. Another batch collection, of data culled from Christie’s and Kestenbaum’s Judaica auction catalogs by an undergraduate researcher at the University of Pittsburgh, will follow the Brisman data.
The site is now also increasingly easier to navigate. In an earlier stage, contributors to the site had to engage in a repetitive process of data entry; now the site migrates more data than before to populate shared fields with call numbers and permalinks to imprints and copies of books. Each new entry reduces the manual entry required of future contributors as the site stores and suggests titles, editions, and individuals involved in the historical transit of books.
Footprints now also features enhanced visualization tools. Every individual footprint page is accompanied by notifications of “similar footprints,” inviting users to engage the web of people, places, and texts that the site brings together into a single field. We continue to hone the mapping functions, which will enable refined search parameters as site covers the map of Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, and beyond.
We are very proud to partner with Marsh’s Library in Dublin and its Keeper, Jason McElligott, on a grant-funded project to catalog Marsh’s Judaica and enter their provenance into Footprints. The award will fund a three-month research fellowship for a librarian or scholar to produce a mutually beneficial work of copy-specific cataloging, which will be featured both in Marsh’s individual catalog and our own aggregated Footprints site. (Deadline to apply is March 1!) Marsh’s is an ideal partner in that its collection derives from the historical period covered by Footprints, and is sufficiently sized to produce a critical mass of results within a manageable body of data.
Our project grows in response to productive conversation with colleagues in the fields of Jewish studies and the Digital Humanities. In February, co-director Joshua Teplitsky represented the Footprints project at an EAJS sponsored roundtable on the history of the Jewish book and digital humanities, hosted at the Universiteit van Amsterdam, coordinated by Andrea Schatz, Irene Zwiep, and Emile Schrijver. We have also been invited to demonstrate our project at Radboud University, Nijmegen for the workshop of the “Digitizing Enlightenment” Project. Footprints will also be featured at a Celebration of Teaching and Learning sponsored by CTL on March 6.
As always, we welcome new collaborators, as well as feedback and questions. You can always reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.