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Dean's Fellows: Projects

Vanderbilt Libraries Special Collections Topics in Wikipedia

Wikipedia, the open source online encyclopedia, has become a major source of factual information during the past decade. Wikipedia is frequently the first place researchers turn to learn the basics of a subject. However, many of its articles remain underdeveloped or skewed.  A Wikipedia edit-a-thon brings together students, librarians, faculty members, and members of the Wikipedia community at large to develop articles belonging to a certain shared topic. Participants in an edit-a-thon receive instruction in editing Wikipedia as well as access to the resources of the sponsoring institution. Participants learn to engage with primary source materials, to write about important topics for a general audience, and to edit Wikipedia. Wikipedia provides a good set of guidelines about how to stage edit-a-thons (see, for example,

Duties: Vanderbilt Libraries is looking for a Dean's Fellow to assist its Director of Scholarly Communications and Special Collections staff members with hosting one or more edit-a-thons on topics related to special collections materials. The student will be responsible for identifying articles related to our special collections that do not yet exist or need improvement in Wikipedia, identifying relevant primary and secondary source materials in Special Collections, working with curators to digitize images to supplement written articles, coordinating with Wikipedia administrators, and advertising the edit-a-thons to the Vanderbilt community

Skills Needed Or To Be Developed: The edit-a-thons will provide substantial opportunity to engage with Vanderbilt's Special Collections, to learn the rudiments of digital text editing and digital imaging, and to engage in outreach within and beyond the Vanderbilt campus.

Mentors: Cliff Anderson and Kathy Smith

Dates of Employment: Fall 2013

Potential Candidates: Students interested in creative writing, political science, history

Contact: Cliff Anderson

Vanderbilt Television News Archive: Online Exhibit of Presidential Speeches

Description: Create an online exhibit of selected presidential speeches recorded by the Vanderbilt Television News Archive
The Vanderbilt Television News Archive is the most comprehensive collection of recordings of the national news broadcasts.  The recordings include specials that are valuable to the historical record but are not widely known.  This project would select from the Archives collection non-copyrightable presidential speeches for an online exhibit.  The exhibit would, in turn, raise the visibility of the Archive collections and of the Archive itself.

Duties: Assist library staff in selection of materials to be used, work with digital projects team members to design and develop an online exhibit, develop descriptions of materials included, work with Vanderbilt Television News Archive staff to prepare materials for the web.

Skills Needed Or To Be Developed: Conceptual understanding of database driven web applications, ability to produce metadata for description and search, basic understanding of transcoding video materials for presentation on the web, design skills for usable and accessible web exhibits.

Mentors: Jody Combs, Jodie Gambill and John Lynch

Dates of Employment: Fall 2013

Potential Candidates: Students interested in political science, history, communications, marketing, education/curriculum

Contact: Jody Combs

Vanderbilt Libraries Website Visual Communications

Description: Following user groups and usability studies, the Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries launched a renovated website in July 2013. Teams developed the content, architecture, and software required for the new web and mobile presence, and library divisional websites were integrated into a centralized, uniform framework. With consistent design and infrastructure, access to library services and resources has improved. This high-profile design has also increased library exposure with ample display space for photo banners and informational graphics. Additionally, the renovated site has engaged audiences with primary source material ranging from the Special Collections repository of rare books and manuscripts to Vanderbilt's Scholarly Communications.   
Recognizing the need to maintain fresh and visually-rich information that is relevant to the community and integrated across communication channels, the Library seeks to fill this immediate and continuing need with a student position of Dean's Fellow. This opportunity will provide assistance in the planning and production of visual communications strategies, best practices, schedules, and procedures.   

Duties: The Dean's Fellow will contribute to strategy development for promoting the library's resources, services, and events through its online presence.  These responsibilities will include creating best practices for image selection and targeting publicity materials to an array of audiences. The Fellow will also create a schedule of items to publish on the website, identify sources of information of interest to students, faculty, and the community, and use web tools and analytics to develop metrics, measure goals, monitor traffic, and report results.

Skills Needed Or To Be Developed: The ideal candidate will possess writing, presentation, and analytic skills along with a strong ability to communicate and work with members of the Library and University community.  Other helpful skills include visual design and web editing, experience with spreadsheets and web development tools, and knowledge of copyright and ethical use of artwork. 

Mentors: Hilary Craiglow and Dean Connie Dowell

Dates of Employment: Fall 2013

Potential Candidates: Students interested in design, communications, business, marketing, and strategy

Contact: Hilary Craiglow

Illustrated Editions of Les Fleurs du Mal (1857) by Charles Baudelaire

Description: The W. T. Bandy Center for Baudelaire and Modern French Studies is a world renowned library collection dedicated to the study of the 19th century French poet, Charles Baudelaire. Scholars come from all over the world to consult material about Charles Baudelaire's life, works, and related studies. The collection is "a jewel in the Vanderbilt crown" as described by a former director of the Center. The Bandy Center has developed an increasing web presence to address the needs of national and international scholarship. Les Fleurs du Mal, Baudelaire's most significant literary contribution, has inspired visual artists, from the 19th century to the present. There have been many important illustrated editions that complement the poetry of Baudelaire. The Bandy Center's collection includes examples of artists' books and illustrated editions of Les Fleurs du Mal. The participant in this project will become familiar with the work of Charles Baudelaire, the comprehensive collection of the library, and the importance of  Livre d'Artiste and artist's books. The Dean's Fellow would also learn the important components of organizing a web exhibition for the Vanderbilt community.

Duties: The Bandy Center is interested in a student who would identify and compile a comprehensive annotated bibliography for the illustrated editions of Les Fleurs du Mal. The student would research the editions' artists and illustrators, and photograph and scan the selected examples for each edition for the web presence. This online exhibition and bibliography would be useful to national and international scholars.

Skills Needed Or To Be Developed: The annotated bibliography requires a working knowledge to create a Word document and basic visual analysis skills. The student will need research skills to gather information about the illustrator and the editions, addressing the relationship between the visual and literary arts. The technical skills of photography, scanning, and documenting objective data will complement the intellectual work of annotation, when developed for the web exhibition. 

Mentors: Yvonne Boyer (and Celia Walker, Carla Beals and Henry Shipman, for the website exhibition)

Dates of Employment: Fall 2013/Spring 2014

Potential Candidates: Students interested in French literature, illustrated editions, and web exhibitions. Undergraduate with French language skills; conceptual understanding of database web applications, ability to produce metadata for description and search, design skills for usable and accessible web exhibition.

Contact: Yvonne Boyer

Helguera Colombian Collection

Description: Vanderbilt's rare collection of 19th-century Colombian broadsides, pamphlets, and programas provides special insights into the social, political, and cultural life of 19th-century Latin America through ephemeral materials that few collectors retained. Broadsides were often posted in public places to describe upcoming events from circuses to meetings or serve as political diatribes about current leaders. They were not intended for long-term use and so are exceedingly rare. The programas of schools and universities cover curricula, faculty, graduates, examinations, and regulations and are key primary sources for women’s studies, religious studies, and the general history of education in 19th-century Latin America. The pamphlets reflect the life and times and range from medicinal cures to elections to revolution. The Colombian Helguera Collection contains rare materials not available in the US or Colombia and its digitization would be of great value to scholars engaged in 19th-century Latin American history worldwide.

Duties: Select materials to be prioritized for digitization and design and prepare an online exhibition of images and text that reflects the society and culture of 19th-century Colombia. Develop descriptions of the materials to be included in the digital collection and in the online exhibition. The exhibition should reflect a special theme based on the unique primary sources in the collection such as the history of education in Colombia, the history of medicine, or the role of women in 19th-century Latin America.

Skills Needed Or To Be Developed: Spanish required. To be acquired: research skills using primary sources to gather information about Colombian historical events, metadata creation, design for online exhibit.

Mentors: Paula Covington (and Carla Beals for the website exhibition)

Dates of Employment: Fall 2013/Spring 2014

Potential Candidates: Students interested in Latin American social history, literature, and culture

Contact: Paula Covington

Historical Tour of the University

Description: This historic  tour of the campus would offer self-guided tours of some of the historic buildings and possibly some of the events in locations where they happened. Powered by GPS technology, each  tour would offer accurate turn-by-turn directions to historic attractions, monuments and interesting sights as well as some of the hidden gems on campus like the Tomb of the Three Bishops; as if you had brought along a Vanderbilt tour guide. At each location users would be able to see historic pictures of the buildings as well as hear descriptions of the buildings' donors, architects and uses through the years.  Unlike the current Virtual Tour on the university website, this would be a chance to have people explore the whole campus at their own pace. The audio component will make it accessible to people with visual impairments.

Duties: The Fellow will work with the university architect, archives, historians, etc. to create/compile information about points of interest accessible by tablet/mobile device via embedded QR codes. This would include selecting images from the University Photographic Archives as well as verifying information from Campus Planning records and the University Archives.

Skills Needed Or To Be Developed: Research using primary resources, metadata creation, programming skills (apps), digitization

Mentors: Judson Newbern and Kathy Smith with assistance from Lyle Lankford, University Historian

Dates of Employment: Fall/Spring 2013

Potential Candidates: Students with an interest in geography and history

Contact: Kathy Smith

Jack Corn Collection of Appalachian Photographs

Duties: Student will provide support for the Central Library exhibit program.  Student will assist with curatorial development of an interactive exhibition of photojournalism covering 30 years of life in the strip mining regions of Appalachia.  Duties will include:
(1) working with Cataloging and Exhibits Support Librarian to assist with selection of images to be digitized for inclusion in interactive exhibit;
(2) editing text written by photojournalist;
(3) writing metadata for interactive components; and
(4) helping plan programming and publicity for the exhibit.

Hours: 10 hours/week for 5 months [December-April]

Mentor: Celia Walker

Potential Candidates: Senior or graduate student in the area of political science or history of art

Contact: Celia Walker