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Computing Cultural Heritage in the Cloud

Awarded September 2019

With grant support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the LC Labs team is testing a cloud-based approach for interacting with digital collections as data. In collaboration with subject matter experts and IT specialists at the Library, LC Labs has invited a cohort of research experts to experiment with solutions to problems that can only be explored at scale. This effort will help produce models for supporting cloud-based research computing, and will make the costs and possibilities of this work more transparent to the broader cultural heritage community. The CCHC project extends into December 2022; interim reports, resources, code, and models will be shared throughout 2022, with a final report to summarize the learnings and recommendations of the initiatives.

The CCHC Data Sandbox

The CCHC grant team devised as an experimental sandbox for sharing data packages compiled as part of the initiative. These data packages were used as part of the CCHC Data Jam, an invitation-only event in October 2022 at which outside experts gave their input on what it was like to computationally access and engage with large Library of Congress collections datasets using cloud services.

Catch up on CCHC

Check out the following press releases for more about the initiative and about the CCHC researchers cohort.

You can also follow progress of the CCHC initiative in these blog posts on the Signal.

CCHC Research Experts

Lincoln Mullen, associate professor at George Mason University in the Department of Art and Art History and director of computational history at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, will research “America’s Public Bible: Machine-Learning Detection of Biblical Quotations Across LOC Collections via Cloud Computing.” Dr. Mullen extends his work with Library of Congress collections, having won first place in the 2016 Chronicling America Data Challenge. Lincoln's work on this project is available on GitHub.

Lauren Tilton is an assistant professor of digital humanities at the University of Richmond in the Department of Rhetoric & Communication Studies and is co-director of Photogrammar and the Distant Viewing Lab. Tilton’s project, “Access & Discovery of Documentary Images” will examine approximately 250,000 images from five early 20th century photography collections. The project will look for ways computer vision methods could be improved to better consider context and enhance discovery. The code for the ADDI visualizer prototype can be found on GitHub.

Andromeda Yelton, a software engineer and professionally trained librarian, will research “Situating Ourselves in Cultural Heritage: Using Neural Nets to Expand the Reach of Metadata and See Cultural Data on Our Own Terms.” Yelton’s project will create an interactive data visualization that clusters conceptually similar documents, helping users who only have a rough idea of the items they’re looking for. The project will use a searching capability that utilizes machine learning and “fuzzy search” to help users discover and navigate Library collections. The code for Andromeda’s work on Situating Ourselves in Cultural Heritage is available on GitHub.

Advisory Board

We are thrilled to welcome the following members to our advisory board.

  • Katrine Hofmann Gasser
    Section Manager at the Royal Danish Library
  • John Hessler
    Geography and Maps Division, Library of Congress
  • Harriett Green
    Associate University Librarian for the Digital Scholarship and Technology Services Division, Washington University in St.Louis
  • Dr. Liz Lorang
    Associate Professor of Libraries, University of Nebraska Lincoln
  • Dr. Ian Milligan
    Associate Professor in the Department of History, University of Waterloo
  • Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble
    Associate Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in the Department of Information Studies
    Co-Director of the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry
  • Dr. Sarah Stone
    Executive Director, eScience Institute, University of Washington
  • Dr. John Walsh
    Director of HathiTrust Research Center, Associate Professor of Information and Library Science, School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, Indiana University, Bloomington

The 2020 Call for Researchers

In autumn 2020, we released a Broad Agency Announcement and began accepting applications for the research cohort. See the full postingExternal, including the public record of questions and answers. You may also wish to read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Interested Researchers.This Signal blog captured the call for expert researchers.

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