2019 Year in Review

image of sun dial on laptop screen with 2019 calendar in background
Image derived from public domain sources via Pixabay.

It’s been a busy year for SUP’s digital initiative. The production and preservation side of the program alone has been hard at work on turning out new titles and ensuring those already online stay in tact. From new publications to funding renewal to conference attendance and community outreach, we’ve been driving forward and fine tuning what we’ve learned over the past few years. And if the posts here have seemed a little less frequent lately, it’s only due to the increased project volume in production over the past several months. But as the year winds down, it’s a good time to look back on this work and highlight some of the key undertakings of 2019. There’s plenty to list, so I’ll just focus on what I’ve been up to in the production and preservation arena.

Perhaps the most notable milestone, the program wrapped up its initial three-year grant period in June. This period, also known as Phase 1, saw the development of a publication workflow for digital scholarly work which, with certain customizations for each project, served four publications between 2016 and 2019. A report was completed in the Fall cataloging the achievements and the challenges encountered along the way. Meanwhile, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded the program a second three-year grant to continue work on publications that were already in the pipeline, acquire new innovative projects, and to zero in on some of the solutions that were identified in Phase 1 for workflow, standards, archiving, and business modeling. The new grant for Phase 2 began in July this year and will continue through June 2022.

Two new publications came out of the initiative in 2019: Thomas S. Mullaney’s The Chinese Deathscape and Matthew F. Delmont’s Black Quotidian. The early months of 2019 leading up to the release of Mullaney’s project saw some close collaboration between Press production and the author’s development team at Stanford’s Center for Interdisciplinary Digital Research to get the custom platform and application securely installed on the supDigital server, and when all was in place and finalized, the project was greeted by enthusiastic readers who shared and tweeted the release widely. To celebrate the launch, Mullaney also gave a talk on his work in May at Stanford’s David Rumsey Map Center.

While The Chinese Deathscape continued to buzz through the web, production ramped up on Delmont’s Black Quotidian. Scalar’s editorial workflow was put to the test on this over 2000-page interactive scholarly work and came through it with some fixes and improvements thanks to the attentive and collegial team at USC who were instrumental in the final cleanup of this Scalar-based publication. The project was released in early November, and just a month later it has already received over 1800 unique visitors and 150,000 page views. Delmont also earned the 2019 Garfinkel Prize in Digital Humanities, which was awarded recently at the American Studies Association’s conference in Honolulu.

Collaboration and consultation within the publishing and archiving communities also continued. We joined several other publishers, including NYU Press, University of Minnesota Press, Michigan Publishing, Vega Academic Publishing, and others, on a new Mellon-funded initiative led by NYU that is exploring how archiving providers for publishers can build or expand services to better meet the needs of increasingly complex digital publications. The kickoff meeting was held at the Society for Scholarly Publishing conference in May, and work has already begun on the first set of test projects from participating publishers.

Initial planning has also begun on the partnership with Webrecorder which will span the 2020 calendar year and see the development of web archives for existing and future digital publications. The SUP team also spent time this year on continued testing with the Emulation As a Service Infrastructure as part of the partnership between Stanford Libraries and the Yale-led preservation project. This work will continue into 2020.

Collections were also started in the Stanford Digital Repository for the static archives of two 2018 publications: Filming Revolution and When Melodies Gather. The new pre-assembly tool built by Stanford Libraries’ Digital Library Systems and Services department has been instrumental in streamlining the initiation of publication archives, though work on metadata for these two collections will continue in 2020.

Members of the team attended and/or presented at several conferences in 2019, including the Modern Language Association, American Historical Association, Digital Humanities, Joint Conference of Digital Libraries’ Web Archiving for Digital Libraries, Digital Humanities Summer Institute, and Society for Scholarly Publishing just to name a few. I presented on how we’re addressing and anticipating the technical challenges of persistence and preservation of digital scholarly work at both DH in Utrecht and the SSP in San Diego, and I met with peers at UBC Press to compare notes and exchange ideas on workflows and tools for digital production.

2020 is already promising to be another busy year with two new projects slated for publication and several more in various stages of editorial and production workflows. With the release of Constructing the Sacred by Elaine Sullivan and Feral Atlas by Anna Tsing, et al, we’ll have published a total of seven unique interactive scholarly works since the digital initiative began. Read more about all of our digital projects, including those forthcoming at supDigital.org, or view the beautiful feature spread in the middle of SUP’s 2020 catalog.

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