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CLIR Issues 136


CLIR Issues

Number 136  July/August 2020
ISSN 1944-7639 (online version)


Digital Library of the Middle East Offers Rich Resources for Teaching and Learning

CLIR Names 2020 Postdoctoral Fellows

Virtual Colloquium Highlights DLF Born-Digital Access Working Group Activity

Digitized Collections in the News


—DLF Forum Community Voting Deadline Aug. 31

—Recordings at Risk Application Period Opens Nov. 2


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Digital Library of the Middle East Offers Rich Resources for Teaching and Learning

In July, CLIR and Stanford Libraries announced the release of a public, open platform for the Digital Library of the Middle East (DLME), which aims to become one of the world’s largest online archives of Middle Eastern and North African artifacts. The DLME aggregates, through an ongoing program, digital records of published materials, documents, maps, artifacts, audiovisual recordings, and more from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

An international collaborative effort under development for four years, the DLME currently brings together 127,443 digital records of materials held in museums, libraries, and archives worldwide. It also provides an array of applications, tools, and descriptions that enrich the content and facilitate browsing, search, and interpretation. The DLME is intended to serve as a resource for teachers, students, and researchers, as well as for the general public.

“The MENA region’s cultural legacy spans thousands of years and is foundational for the collective intellectual and artistic expression of the modern world,” said CLIR president Charles Henry. “The DLME is wholly dedicated to preserving and disseminating this heritage through advanced digital technology and human proficiency. A collaborative effort, its priorities, areas of focus, and evolution are guided by those who live and work in the Middle East.”

A team of five curatorial advisors from the MENA region worked to identify and prioritize records for federation during the design phase of the DLME platform. Currently aggregated materials are described in 10 languages, originating from more than 800 distinct, named locations, and covering millennia. They comprise metadata records and thumbnail images of artifacts and of documents, including manuscripts, published materials, architectural records, and maps; GIS data; and videos and oral histories. DLME’s ongoing development will focus co-equally on adding records and strengthening the network of participating institutions in the MENA region and worldwide.

The technical platform was developed by a team at Stanford Libraries with leadership from CLIR and funding from the Whiting Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The platform is built upon the open source Spotlight and Blacklight software frameworks, and supports presentation of resources compliant with the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) using the Mirador viewer. “The Stanford Libraries contribution to the DLME in creating a platform as well as making use of IIIF and Mirador are indicators of our commitment to global appreciation of the history and cultures of the Middle East as the most ancient cradle of civilization,” said Michael A. Keller, vice provost and university librarian at Stanford.

Stanford Libraries will continue to serve as the technical partner in operating, enhancing, and populating the site. An International Council of Advisors, made up of individuals who represent the regional and international interests of the DLME, will advise on a range of issues relating to operations and content.

Bulletin image: “Sari” ware bowl with bird motif, 10th-11th century, Sārī, Māzandarān, Iran. Image from Harvard Fine Arts Library Special Collections SCW2016.03590.

CLIR Names 2020 Postdoctoral Fellows

CLIR welcomes eight postdoctoral fellows as the seventeenth cohort in the Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. Fellows will work in data curation for African American and African Studies funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; in data curation for energy social science supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; and in digital humanities and digital scholarship funded by individual host institutions.

Portia D. Hopkins
PhD: American Studies, University of Maryland, College Park
Host: Rice University

Luling Huang
PhD: Media and Communications, Temple University
Host: Carnegie Mellon University

Petrouchka Moïse
PhD: Design in Cultural Preservation, Louisiana State University College of Art and Design
Host: Grinnell College

Rebecca Pickens
PhD: Organizational Behavior, Cornell University
Host: University of Michigan Energy Institute

Jennifer Ross
PhD: American Studies, William & Mary
Host: University of Toronto, Jackman Humanities Institute

Synatra Smith
PhD: Global and Sociocultural Studies, Florida International University
Host: Philadelphia Institute of Art

Francena Turner
PhD: Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Host: Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities

Laura Wilson
PhD: English Literature, University of Mississippi
Host: Fisk University

The CLIR Postdoctoral Fellowship Program offers recent Ph.D. graduates the chance to develop research tools, resources, and services while exploring new career opportunities. CLIR Postdoctoral Fellows work on projects that forge and strengthen connections among collections, educational technologies, and current research. Host institutions benefit from fellows’ field-specific expertise by gaining insights into their collections’ potential uses and users, scholarly information behaviors, and current teaching and learning practices.

The new fellows began the program with an introductory online seminar from July 27 to July 31, 2020. The seminar oriented fellows to issues facing twenty-first-century libraries, including data and software curation, and provided an opportunity for them to meet others in their cohort to share experiences and information. Fellows’ supervisors participated in part of the seminar to discuss expectations and strategies for maximizing the effectiveness of the fellowships. Eleven fellows from the 2019 cohort will spend a second year at their host institutions.

Virtual Colloquium Highlights DLF Born-Digital Access Working Group Activity

A recording of the first-ever DLF Born-Digital Access Working Group (BDAWG) Virtual Colloquium, held Aug. 20, is now available (slides are available here). Four presentations from BDAWG members highlighted their work developing a digital archiving graphical risk assessment model, integrating practices for born-digital archives into the University of California’s Guidelines for Efficient Archival Processing, expanding digital access through virtual reading room functionality at Princeton University, and creating ethical online internships. The presentations are followed by a Q&A session.

Formed in 2017, BDAWG produces research on and advances the practice of providing access to born-digital collections. Currently with 180 members, the group—like all DLF working groups—is open to all, regardless of DLF membership or institutional affiliation. More information about BDAWG, including a signup link, is available at Learn more about all of DLF’s working groups at

Digitized Collections in the News

In the past two months, several projects funded by Digitizing Hidden Collections and Recordings at Risk grants have made their collections freely available online. Here are a few of the announcements we’ve seen. Want to share your news? Tag us on Twitter with @CLIRNews, @CLIRHC, or @CLIRRaR.

Marian Anderson Collection, Newly Digitized by Penn Libraries: Now Accessible Online (DHC 2017). The University of Pennsylvania has completed the digitization of more than 2,500 items from the collection of Marian Anderson, one of the most celebrated singers of the 20th century. The body of primary sources in the collection—including letters, diaries, journals, interviews, recital programs, and private recordings—spans the Philadelphia-born contralto’s six-decade career as a concert singer and advocate for social justice. University of Pennsylvania Almanac, July 28, 2020.

Milner Library Preserves Vital History with the Digitization of Circus Route Books (DHC 2016). Illinois State University’s Milner Library has digitized more than 300 circus route books from 1842–1969 to preserve the rich history of one of the most important forms of American entertainment. The project was a collaboration with Circus World in Baraboo, Wisconsin, and The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida. Illinois State University News, July 21, 2020.

Out Front: LGBTQ Posters Now Available Online (DHC 2016). ONE Archives at the University of Southern California (USC) Libraries has completed its project to catalog and digitize a large collection of graphic materials, providing access to 60 years of LGBTQ visual history on the USC Digital Library. More than 4,200 posters and demonstration signs have been digitized—many are available to the public for the first time. The images span the 1950s-2010s and document a variety of topics, including pride celebrations, AIDS/HIV education, LGBTQ rights, women’s movement, nightlife, leather communities, arts, media, and other political movements. ONE Archives at the USC Libraries, July 2020.

Welcome to Venice West: Audio Recordings from the Lawrence Lipton Papers (RaR Cycle 2; Fall 2017). The USC Digital Library recently digitized a selection of 147 recordings from the Lawrence Lipton papers. Lawrence Lipton was a Beat poet and chronicler of the Beat Generation as it manifested across the cafés and artists’ pads of Venice, California. One significant part of Lipton’s papers that, until recently, has been largely inaccessible is his collection of audio recordings. Lipton’s audio recordings comprise 300 hours of original interviews with monumental artists, such as Kenneth Rexroth and Langston Hughes; live readings by numerous Beat poets from the “Venice West” scene; and live jazz and poetry experiments with musicians like Dave Brubeck and Buddy Collette.

Western Water Archives (DHC 2016). The Digitizing Southern California Water Resources Project—also known as the CLIRWater project—led by The Claremont Colleges Library this spring made available a vast collection of materials relating to water management, use, and history in Southern California. The project aims to digitize and democratize Southern California’s water history to pave new avenues for research. Archival collections from The Claremont Colleges Library and seven partner institutions (Pomona College; A.K. Smiley Public Library; California State University Northridge Oviatt Library; California State University San Bernardino Water Resources Institute; National Archives and Records Administration at Riverside; Ontario City Library; and Upland Public Library) are now available in a central location. These collections originate from a variety of sources, such as federal, state and local governments, water companies, local agencies, engineers and other individuals involved in water resources development in the Southern California region.


DLF Forum community voting deadline is Aug. 31. There’s still time to register your preferences for sessions at the Virtual 2020 DLF Forum, to be held November 9–10. Review the lineup and cast your vote here.

Recordings at Risk application period opens Nov. 2, with a deadline of Jan. 29, 2021. Significant changes to the program’s guidelines are not expected, so applicants may choose to use last cycle’s guidelines and template to begin drafting proposals. Updated materials will be posted at before Nov. 2.

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