Author Archives: Bob

Digital Humanities Center: New, Enhanced Video Editing Lab

dhc-vido-editintOver the last few months, the video editing facilities at the Digital Humanities Center (DHC) have had a major makeover. The older machines in that room have been replaced by 8 dual screen iMac computers, with a new suite of software on the machines. We now support three editing softwares: Adobe Premiere (along with a full suite of Creative Cloud tools), Avid, and, FinalCut7.

The staff of the center includes graduate students in the Film Division of the School of the Arts, who can provide assistance with many video editing needs.
The environment also enhances our ability to support a variety of other Mac softwares: DevonThink, Sente, NVivo, and Filemaker Pro.

The layout of the room and a ceiling projector also make this available as an instructional space for small groups. The DHC will be offering some video editing, NVivo, and DevonThink workshops here later in this semester, and we are happy to reserve the room for other small groups wanting to organize technology workshops.

The open hours of the DHC are:

Monday 11-6
Tuesday-Thursday 11-9
Friday 11-6
Saturday and Sunday, 12-6

Exploring Columbia’s Journal Collections with Browzine


The researcher follows many paths in search of scholarly information — chasing down specific items recommended by colleagues using CLIO and the Catalog, using the same tools to follow the footnotes and delve into an author’s sources, searching in Google Scholar, Web of Science, Scopus, or collections of online full text to follow the footnotes “forward,” (i.e., to see who else has cited a work), or mining gateways like EbscoHost and Proquest or individual databases for their field to discover works that have been written on a particular topic. A less systematic, but often equally fruitful approach has long been serendipity, the chance identification of relevant or related material that frequently occurs when one is browsing a collection, say, while looking for a particular item on the shelves in the library stacks and notices another interesting title just a . In recent decades, with the movement of much material to offsite collections and the replacement of more and more print texts by online electronic ones, many scholars have lamented the declining opportunities for this kind of tangential discovery.

Happily, Columbia and other libraries have been circling back to a revival of this approach.

A wonderful, though still little known feature of our current online catalog is the option it provides for a Virtual Shelf Browse. When a full record is displayed on the bottom of the screen, the shelf browse option appears at the bottom of the page, and can be turned on by simply clicking a button. One can then browse back and forth along a virtual shelf that brings all of Columbia’s library departments together.

Browzine is a tool that seeks to enhance the declining opportunities for serendipity in our periodical reading rooms, as more and more titles become available in online format only. Browzine works with an impressive list of publishers to bring many (but far from all) of the journals in our collection into a library from which individual titles can be retrieved and browsed, starting with the most recent issue. Individual articles can be displayed on screen and then downloaded to one’s desktop or captured using a citation management software like Zotero.

After creating a user account (don’t use your Columbia password!), a reader can place the journals most likely to be consulted on a four personal bookshelves. An app for portable devices can also be downloaded, enabling users to sync to their online account and download and read articles there.

The number of publishers working with Browzine is growing. If there is a journal that you would like to see included here, feel free to contact us at

Humanities Data Management Workshop, March 24, 2016

The Humanities and History Division will be offering a new workshop, Humanities Data Management: An overview of resources and best practices for organizing, managing, and archiving your research materials at all stages of the scholarly process, on Thursday, March 24, from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm in Butler Library 208b (Studio@Butler).

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“Piled Higher and Deeper” by Jorge Cham

All of us create an enormous amount of electronic material – in our research and writing, phone, email, and internet communications,  commercial transactions and official business,  and pursuit of our personal pastimes and interaction with others.  That material exists in a variety of formats – word processor files, bibliographic databases, pdfs, webpages, image and media files, spreadsheets, computer programs, blog and Twitter posts, email messages, address books and contact lists, text and voice messages and more – and is stored in a variety of locations – on personal computers, tablets,  cell phones, the Internet, CDs and DVDs,   external hard drives, USB drives and other places as well.  The files are typically easy to copy, send, store, transport, edit and transform, but they are also vulnerable to damage or loss through misplacement, editing errors, hardware or software failure or obsolescence, file decay or corruption, theft, water or fire damage, and  other mishaps.  Some of that material is short-lived, and thankfully so, given the huge amount of content that each of us produces.  At the same time, there is much we will want to save for the short, medium, or long term to support our ongoing research, to refer to or make available as needed, or simply to have as part of our personal collections.  Some will be for our use only, but we may want to make some of it available to others, and some we may eventually want to leave behind as a record of the work we have done in our careers.

For all these reasons, it is increasingly important to take steps to organize and preserve your data.  Most of us have an inadequate approach to this process at best.  However, a growing number of tools and strategies are available to make the process easier and more straightforward.  For this reason, the Humanities and History Division has been working with Amy Nurnberger, Columbia University’s Research Data Manager, to introduce humanities scholars to some of the tools, resources, and best practices for managing research data.

We look forward to seeing you there!


Text and Image Scanning and Machine Reading (OCR)
at the Digital Humanities Center

The Digital Humanities Center’s computer lab (DHC) in 305 Butler provides Columbia students, faculty, and staff with 10 scanners for copying images and copying and reading texts in a vets.2008-04-30.DSC_9678ariety of forms – books, loose pages, photographs, slides, negatives, microfilm, microfiche, and microprint.   (Visitors can take advantage of four public canners, one in room 300, another in room 304, and two more in room 401.) The reading process for texts, known as optical character recognition (OCR), which is implemented by default when one scans, results in output that can be searched, annotated, extracted, and edited, greatly enhancing its value as a tool for research and learning.   The powerful Abbyy FineReader OCR software available at the DHC can produce highly accurate text for most of the world’s languages, including Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, and the DHC is in the process of closing the few remaining gaps by acquiring software for reading languages in South Asian and Arabic alphabets.

Five large-format 14 x 17 inch Fujitsu scanners can easily accommodate most book sizes as well as large stacks of loose sheets, enabling a user to create a pdf from a 300-page book in just about half an hour. An overhead Minolta scanner can handle even larger formats (up to 18 x 24 inches) and is ideal for brittle material that might be harmed on a flatbed machine. Three smaller Fujitsu scanners are well suited for quickly scanning stacks of loose pages and outputting copies of documents using FineReader or Adobe Acrobat Professional, as well as for digitizing smaller-format books. All of the scanners can process images, but the two 14 x 17 Epson XL10000 scanners are optimal for producing quality high-density images of opaque or transparent material and are capable of handling multiple images at the same time. Finally, a ScanPro 2000 scanner can deal with most forms of microforms, and in the case of some microfilm, can be made to automatically process a series of images. Depending on the quality of the original, the resulting images of those microforms can often be successfully OCRed as well. (Two other ScanPro scanners are available in the Periodical Reading Room in 401 Butler.)

Printed guides for using each of these scanners are available at the DHC, and staff is on duty to train and assist you in your work. The lab is open Monday 11-6, Tuesday through Thursday 11-9, Friday 11-6, and Saturday and Sunday 12-6. If you would like to reserve a particular scanner in advance, you can do so by calling 212-854-7547 during opening hours.

Digital Humanities Center Film Festival, November 16 -17 in 203 Butler


To celebrate its support for film editing and the talents of the film makers on its staff, the DHC will be holding a two-day festival on Monday November 16 and Tuesday November 17 in 203 Butler.  The program, which will start at 6:30 p.m. each day, presents 12 short works and a special bonus feature made by current or former members of the DHC staff as part of their work for the MFA program in the Film Division of the School of the Arts.

The seventy-minute program on both nights will be followed by refreshments and a discussion with the film makers.  We look forward to seeing you there!

The schedule of films and their directors is as follows:

Monday, November 16
Chapa (Fabio Montanari)
By Jamal Joseph (Mike de Caro)
Keep The Change (Rachel Israel)
The Secrets We Keep (Felecia Hunter)
Under the Gray (Sam Mariotti)
Cain (Zijian Yan)

Tuesday, November 17
Sariwala (Shayon Maitra)
Private space (Rachel Del Giudice)
Forever in Hiatus (Andy Nguyen)
Rattlefly  (Min Ding)
The Death of Hercules (Marie Schlingmann)
The Right Hollywood (Nick Rudman)
It Doesn’t Get Any Hotter (featuring Nick Rudman and Gustavo Rosa)



Digital Centers Intern Gustavo Rosa Talks about the Libraries

Gustavo Rosa, a graduate student in the Film division of the School of the Arts, has worked since 2012 as an Electronic Research Assistant at the Digital Humanities Center (DHC), assisting patrons with video editing, digitization of text and image, and a variety of other tasks.  His training at the school has  given him the chance to work in all areas of the film-making process, but he has also a special opportunity to work with the Libraries’ collections in discovering and assembling background research material for a number of feature films.  This year he is working as a Digital Centers Intern at the DHC with Film and Performing Arts Librarian Nancy Friedland and the Center for Teaching and Learning on the creation of a new edition of the Film Glossary, a popular Columbia online resource for the study of film.

Gustavo was asked to describe his experience with the Libraries for Columbia Giving Day.  Excerpts of that interview can be viewed below.


To learn more about other Columbians changing the world and participate, please visit  Libraries Giving Day Page.

Welcome to the Spring Semester at Butler Library!


We are eager to help you take full advantage of the rich collection of resources and tools that the Libraries have to offer.  If you are new to Columbia or have not done much library research until now, we urge you to consider coming to one of three workshops on “Getting the Most Out of the Libraries’ Website,” offered from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m., in 306 Butler on Thursday, January 21, Tuesday, January 26, and Wednesday, January 27.  That class will help you find your way to a variety of services and databases that can make your research faster and more efficient.  You can register for that session, and access a variety of other workshops on software tools at (click on “LibraryWeb Intro” to go straight to the listings for “Getting the Most Out of the Libraries’ Website”).

If you can’t come to the workshop but would like help getting started or getting help with any other question about library resources and services, subject and reference specialists are available at the desk in 301 Butler from 1-9 on Monday and Tuesday, 1-6 on Wednesday, and 1-5 Thursday, Friday and Sunday, and in 305 Butler (the Electronic Text Service) from 11 to 1 Monday through Friday, and 12 to 5 Saturday.  You can also reach us by phone at 212-854-2241 and an even fuller range of reference and research support services online at