Project Blacklight, the Collex spin-off Solr/Rails-based library catalog system we’ve mentioned around here before, is now officially open source and available, with a dayglow website, no less! It’s mostly a labor of love for the developers involved, so there’s not much yet in the way of documentation, but there is a mailing list and you can also watch work in progress at the UVA Library here.
Erik Hatcher recently presented as part of a “Digital Future and You” series at the Library of Congress. A webcast of Solr Powered Libraries: Using Blacklight and Collex at the University of Virginia” is now available on the LC website.
If you’re in the Charlottesville area this week and are interested in a first-hand look at Collex, please join us at the New Horizons in Teaching and Research conference, jointly sponsored by ITC and the University of Virginia Library. I’ll be offering two brief sessions on Collex (at 9:30 AM on May 22nd and at 11 o’clock on the 23rd) and will also speak more generally on NINES as a scholar-driven response to the crisis in humanities publishing at 2:45 on Tuesday the 22nd. For more details, see the conference program.
A new online journal, L’observatoire Critique des ressources numériques en histoire de l’art et archéologie, has published a splendidly comprehensive review of NINES, Collex, and related projects. It’s rare that you feel your work has been so thoroughly “grokked,” and we’re extremely gratified by the care that has been taken in this review. It is available here in French, with an English abstract, and we are informed by the editor of L’observatoire Critique that a full English translation is forthcoming.
One of the most exciting aspects of working on the Collex and NINES projects is watching our research and development work pay off in unexpected contexts (unexpected, that is, from the somewhat narrow prospect we took in 2003, when my main job was to redesign the Rossetti Archive and help think of ways to serve a specialized group of 19th-century literary scholars). This week, we’ve opened up Project Blacklight for a limited engagement in the University of Virginia Library’s “lab” space: two weeks of testing to generate as much feedback as possible in helping us improve the tool, a Collex spin-off for faceted browsing in library catalogs.
Bess Sadler, who has been instrumental in bringing this experimental system to the Library, has some technical details and ruminations on her blog. I suppose it’s what she says about “prospect” in search and browsing that makes me think back to our first prospects for Collex, when the tool wasn’t even a tool, but rather an idea for fostering digital archive “curation” in personalized and low-tech ways. In the interest of ever-more-interesting avenues through information (and while we’re still working on the Collex exhibit builder), we’re proud to offer Blacklight. Please try it out and give us your feedback!
Blacklight is a UVA Library instance of Erik Hatcher’s Solr Flare, which we’ve mentioned before. Bess and Erik and I will have a chapter on this project in an upcoming ACRL publication, “Library 2.0 Initiatives in Academic Libraries.”
The Collex team would like to welcome our new collaborator, Gaelic scholar Michael Newton, who has won an NEH Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant for his project, “Finding the Celtic.” Michael will lead the first group to set up Collex with a major body of humanities data outside the NINES purview, and he will be extending our open-source software with important temporal and geographical visualization features as well. Meal do naidheachd, a charaid! Congratulations, friend. We’re looking forward to a fruitful partnership.