The University of Kansas Libraries
KU joins Mellon-funded project to bridge technology and scholarship
A team of three University of Kansas faculty and staff is taking part in Project Bamboo, a series of Mellon-funded workshops designed to explore technological advancements in the arts and humanities.
Project Bamboo unites more than 360 arts and humanities faculty, computer scientists, librarians, information technologists, and others from more than 90 international colleges, universities, and private and public organizations who are interested in advancing arts and humanities research through shared technologies. KU’s team for the first workshop, held in July at Princeton University, included Scholar Services staff member Scott Hanrath, Anthropology Professor Allan Hanson and Germanic Languages/Literatures Professor Frank Baron.
KU earned the opportunity to participate in the 18-month process thanks to a successful application by Holly Mercer. Mercer, a librarian and head of KU’s Scholar Services program, explained that the libraries are beginning partnering with Information Technology to support the application of technology to humanities.
“I saw Project Bamboo as an opportunity to further explore the issues surrounding the application of technology to scholarly practices,” said Mercer. “These workshops will help us identify current practices across disciplines on campus, engage our faculty and move the discussion forward, all in a very collaborative setting.”
The KU participants agree the process has opened their eyes to the influence of technology in research and in the classroom.
Hanson said he left the workshops with specific ideas about how automated information technology can contribute to his own research. “I formed the general conviction that many humanities researchers at KU and elsewhere could benefit from information technology, often in ways that they do not recognize, and that efforts such as Project Bamboo may help bring them to realize that,” he said.
Hanrath noted that cooperation between experts in diverse fields gave him a new perspective on KU’s electronic resources. “I'm very interested to see how the project will incorporate the ideas generated at the workshop into their plans for developing shared technology services,” he said.
Baron said he also saw great potential in the collaboration between different researchers. “There has been a tendency ‘to reinvent the wheel.’ Bamboo is an effort to bring together humanists with similar interests to bridge the gulf between specific research goals and the Internet technology experts who might be able to solve problems. It was informative and inspiring to hear experts who have had success using such tools describe innovative, collaborative projects,” he said.
KU was recently selected to participate in the next two rounds of Project Bamboo after the initial meeting. Hanson, Mercer and Director of Research IT Services Dilawar Grewal will represent KU at the next workshop, but there will be opportunities for other KU faculty and staff to contribute to the project. KU Scholar Services and the workshop participants will work to generate interest in technical solutions for scholarship on campus throughout the 18-month process. The information gathered from faculty will be used to build customized tools in response to expanding scholarly research needs.
Project Bamboo launched in April 2008. Workshop 2 will be held in San Francisco October 16-18, and Workshop 3 is planned for Chicago in mid-January. Learn more at projectbamboo.org.
Contact: Rebecca Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org, 785-864-1761