Twitter Chat graphic

Interview with LITA Twitter chat panelist Thomas San Filippo

The LITA Twitter chat on May 31 (1pm Eastern/12pm Central) will feature two projects and four panelists. In this post, we feature panelist Thomas San Filippo (@WallaceLibrary) from Wheaton College, who will participate along with his colleagues, Kate Boylan, and Mark LeBlanc. They will talk about their project to expand the use of JSTOR Forum on their campus. We recently interviewed Thomas about their project.

Q. Tell us a little about your role at your institution. What are you responsible for?

I’m the Systems and Educational Technology Liaison at the Wallace Library. I work with students, faculty and staff to facilitate and enhance the use of technology in pedagogy and scholarship, and I develop, support and maintain systems for search, discovery, and delivery of library services and resources. That’s a long way of saying that I’m responsible for configuring the library’s catalog and discovery layer, Wheaton’s digital repository, JSTOR Forum, ArchivesSpace and other library systems. I’m also the primary editor of the library’s website and, as a member of our Digital Initiatives department, I get to work with faculty and students (my favorite part of the job) on projects like this!

Q. Describe your project, its purpose, and its goals.

This year, the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) invited Wheaton, as members of the Consortium on Digital Resources for Teaching and Research, to apply for grants that support initiatives designed to deepen or expand the use of JSTOR Forum on campus and beyond. Ultimately, we want to create a new collection of born-digital scholarship on JSTOR Forum while preserving the work in our digital repository (DSpace) and in its original form on student-created websites. As the College reevaluates its core curriculum, this pilot project is part of the mandate to have students learn to navigate and experience digital spaces in new and more applicable ways.

Q. What was the biggest challenge you faced, and how did you overcome it?

As they do, they create learning objects that can be reused in future courses at Wheaton and, we hope, among other institutions in the JSTOR Forum community. These are rarely the types of objects traditionally curated on JSTOR Forum (photos) or the types of objects that can be easily displayed on or rebuilt from DSpace. For example, we’re archiving a 3D modeling and viewing website, a VR experience and a 3D printing how-to website, so we have .obj, .mtl and .js files, and even just archiving a static webpage to either of those platforms represents a challenge. While DSpace can ingest all these files, it is not easy to present them to users in a way that makes it easy to pull down code and rebuild it on their own. Some assembly is required. JSTOR Forum does not accept these files at all.

As is so often the case, it was one of our students that provided the breakthrough that allowed us to overcome these obstacles. After hearing about this challenge, he showed up at my office a few days later with a Bash script that recursively crawls a given URL and all of the links in that URL and all of the links in that URL and so on… It prints those pages to PDF, keeping the links intact, and uploads the PDFs to JSTOR Forum. A Python script within searches for 3D models on those pages and renders them separately (the regular script prints too fast to let the model render in time), producing images of the model from 16 angles. His next step in the development of the script will be to create videos of the models in the same way, and after that he would like to figure out how to embed the actual 3D model files in the PDF as attachments, so that the whole thing can be downloaded from JSTOR Forum and actually used.

Q. Do you have a link (website/GitHub/etc.) that demonstrates your project or shares documentation or other information about it?

You can check out the 3D modeling at http://cs.wheatoncollege.edu/~whedomain/index.html, the VR experience at http://cs.wheatoncollege.edu/~VRcart/src/gallery.html (you’ll need a VR headset and controller to get the full effect, but click the binocular icon in the bottom right corner for an idea) and the 3D printing at https://souzoumaker.com.

Information about the Wheaton panelists:

Kate Boylan is Director, Archives and Digital Initiatives at Wheaton College. On a day-to-day basis, she loves to talk about her hometown of Staten Island, NYC, and, more importantly works with faculty, staff, and students so that they can access the unique scholarly and intellectual assets of the college. She was previously the Digital Archivist at Facing History and Ourselves, Inc., in Brookline, MA. She holds a MLIS from Simmons College, and is a Wheaton alumna, Class of 2004, with a BA in English. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Beta Phi Mu and is a Posse Foundation Scholar. Kate Boylan enjoys thinking about metadata and its place in the world and seeing live music whenever she can with her two little boys. She was a competitive swimmer and still tries to swim on the regular. She enjoys cooking and savoring long meals and laughter with family and friends.

Mark D. LeBlanc is a Professor of Computer Science at Wheaton College. He holds a Ph.D. in Systems Engineering from the University of New Hampshire. Mark D. LeBlanc has served as a interdisciplinary evangelist, co-lead of the Lexomics Research Group, and co-coordinator of the Bioinformatics program. Mark D. LeBlanc is passionate about helping scholars conduct computational experiments on their “fav” texts. He loves the outdoors and can be found fishing at his family camp in Maine.

Thomas San Filippo is the Systems and Educational Technology Liaison at the Wallace Library. He works with students, faculty and staff to facilitate and enhance the use of technology in pedagogy and scholarship, and he develops, supports and maintains systems for search, discovery, and delivery of library services and resources. Thomas holds an MLIS from San Jose State University and a BA in History from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. In his free time, he indulges in watching (probably too much) sports, tries to find time to sleep while taking care of his newborn son, and values an evening spent cooking with family and friends or a morning spent curled up with three cats and a good book.

To participate

Launch your favorite Twitter app or web browser, search for the #LITAchat hashtag, and select “Latest” to participate and ask questions. Be sure to include the hashtag #litachat.

View more information, as well as past LITAchats.

Questions or Comments?

For all other questions or comments related to LITA events, contact us at (312) 280-4268 or lita@ala.org