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Using Neatline to bring research to life; a collaborative project at the University of Virginia

June 4, 2014

Barbara Opar and Barret Havens, column editors

June column written by Rebecca Cooper Coleman, Architecture and Instruction Librarian, Fiske Kimball Fine Arts library and Ronda Grizzle, Project Management & Training Specialist, Digital Research & Scholarship, University of Virginia

In the Fall semester of 2014, seventeen students enrolled in On Haj with Ibn Jubayr: Reconstructing the 12th Century Mediterranean.  The course, cross-listed as both an architectural history and art history seminar, focused on the writings of 12th century Muslim Ibn Jubayr as a starting point for broader exploration of the visual culture associated with pilgrimage and Mecca.  Final projects in the class consisted of online exhibits created using Neatline, which was developed in the University of Virginia Library Scholar’s Lab, and is described as “a geotemporal exhibit-builder that allows you to create beautiful, complex maps, image annotations, and narrative sequences from collections of archives and artifacts…”  Successful integration of Neatline into the course required collaboration between faculty member Lisa Reilly, course teaching assistant Elizabeth Mitchell, Scholar’s Lab technical trainer Ronda Grizzle and GIS specialist Kelly Johnston, and Architecture Librarian Rebecca Cooper Coleman.  Through their work with Neatline, students brought their research to life, using the tools and methodologies of the experimental humanities to create coherent narratives on their themes.  Students also learned to navigate primary sources and negotiate issues of intellectual property while curating their work for the web.  The collaboration between faculty and the Library in shaping and executing the assignment promoted numerous learning objectives that stretched far beyond the course title and allowed students to acquire skills that will continue to serve them as scholars.

The exhibits can be viewed here.

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