UNT to host conference on using digital resources in research, teaching

Digital scholarship can be anything from university professors using geographic information systems data to map the distribution routes of books and newspapers in 19th-century America to students browsing online museum archives.

The Digital Frontiers 2013 conference at UNT Sept. 19-21 (Thursday-Saturday) will bring together scholars and teachers, academic and public librarians, students and others who are interested in digital scholarship – the use of digital archives, GIS and mapping, data visualization and blogging and social media in research and teaching. The conference will be held from approximately 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 19-20 (Thursday-Friday) and from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 21 (Saturday) in the forum on the first floor of UNT's Willis Library, which is located one block east of Highland Street and Avenue C at 1506 W. Highland St.

Digital Frontiers sponsored by UNT's Digital Scholarship Co-Operative. which was established in August 2012 by the deans of UNT Libraries and UNT's College of Arts and Sciences. The co-op provides programs and support for UNT faculty members to use digital resources for research, teaching and learning across academic disciplines, with special emphasis on the humanities. Other sponsors of the conference are the UNT Libraries, the Portal to Texas History and the Texas State Historical Association, which is housed at UNT.

Spencer Keralis, director for digital scholarship and research associate professor with the co-op, said a specific goal of the conference is collaboration.

"Librarians usually go to their own conferences and scholars go to their own conferences. We want to create an atmosphere where disciplinary boundaries are dissolved and conference participants are open to creative opportunities," he said.

He said the conference's model for collaboration between librarians and scholars is the Portal to Texas History. Created in 2002 by the UNT Libraries' Digital Projects Unit, the portal provides online access to more than 3.3 million pages of materials from archives, historical societies, small and large libraries, museums and private collections. Earlier this year, the portal received the Wayne Williams Library Project of the Year Award from the Texas Library Association. It has also been recognized by the National Endowment for the Humanities as one of the best online resources for education in the humanities.

The keynote speaker for Digital Frontiers 2013 is Trevor Muñoz, assistant dean for digital humanities research at the University of Maryland Libraries and an associate director of the university's Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities. Muñoz, a researcher in electronic publishing and the curation of digital humanities research data, serves as the principal investigator for the Digital Humanities Data Curation project, which is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities' Institutes for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities program.

Jeffery Stoffer, library assistant at the Ak-Chin Indian Community Library in Maricopa, Ariz., will be the conference's plenary speaker. He will discuss how he creates You Tube content and uses social media to provide information about the library's resources to the diverse community that it serves.

Registration for Digital Frontiers 2013 continues through Sept. 13 (Friday) at the conference website, with fees for professionals ranging from $25 to $200. Keralis said those who register at higher levels will receive perks such as travel mugs; flash drives loaded with conference-related materials; VIP tours of the UNT Libraries' Digital Projects laboratories, the Music Library or Archives and Rare Books; and free registration at the lowest level for next year's conference. A conference schedule is available on the website.