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Durable Trifles

Adrianne Wadewitz

Indiana University

"Crowdsourcing scholarly marginalia: The Jane Johnson Collection and Web 2.0"

In the middle of the last decade, the Lilly Library at Indiana University digitized the Jane Johnson Collection, a unique collection of handmade children’s educational cards produced during the mid-eighteenth century. One hope was to grant increased access to a fragile, one-of-a-kind resource. The theory was that by digitizing these rare texts, more commentary and scholarship would be undertaken on them. In this paper, I will explore to what extent that hope was realized by tracking page views, links to the site, and numbers of publications produced. I will also evaluate what other digital tools we might use to further that goal of increased scholarship, particularly focused crowdsourcing. I will work to establish a moderated wiki either within or adjacent to the site and encourage conference-goers and others interested in the topic to experiment in the space. This paper, then, will not only be a presentation, but also will be community scholarship in action—it will enact the idea it is discussing and for which it is calling. Rather than having disparate journal articles, published years apart, commenting on the Jane Johnson Collection (some of which will languish unfinished or unpublished), let us attempt to gather all of those brilliant little nuggets of we jot down in the margins of our own books but never share. 


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