Missionary Linguistics in Colonial Africa

Missionary Linguistics in colonial Africa / Corpus de travaux linguistiques des missionnaires provides linguistic analyses of continental Africa and Madagascar languages compiled by French Catholic missionaries between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The corpus contains multilingual (and multi-directional) dictionaries, descriptive grammars, vocabularies, and various hybridizations of these genres. In addition to the catalogue of titles, the corpus can be explored, filtered, and searched along several parameters, including: the target language documented, author(s), missionary organization(s), and place of publication. An interactive period map allows the texts to be explored geographically, by place of publication and target language locus.

Open Access Week Display

Thank you for checking out our Open Access Week Display! All of the content below with an orange tag has been made Openly Accessible to anyone around the world via our Open Access Publishing Fund. Scholars from BC who have authored this work have chosen to make their content available by working with publishers who do not charge subscription fees.

We will be having a meeting to discuss the Open Access Movement and how you can get involved at Boston College.

Orange QR Codes

The QR codes you see here on each article will link you directly to the online, open version of that article. Open Access publications mean that even if you were not on campus, you would be able to access this content with a working internet connection and nothing more. All of this content has been submitted by BC authors, and the Article Processing Charges associated with making the article open access are covered by Boston College Libraries as an aim to create more accessible assets worldwide.

Green Price Tags

These articles are from subscription journals – because we are on the Boston College campus, we have access to these articles while we are logged into the VPN associated with our BC usernames, however, this is not open access – and it is not accessible to users who are not affiliated to a subscribing institution. The price tags indicate how much full access to the article would cost.

Open Access Rocks?

Indeed, most rocks are freely accessible. These are here to highlight the 3D sketches of rocks that have been used to illustrate the collection for a geology class during the pandemic. Using these models, students can study geological formations in detail from wherever they are, without having to commute or interact in person. As technology improves and develops, finding new ways to deliver lessons or educational materials will increase accessibility across the board, and engage new learners who may have had large physical barriers that can now be circumvented.

It is not just articles that are open access. Books can be published open access as well. Peter Suber’s Open Access costs to own physically, but the entire content can be accessed online through the publisher’s website.

Digital Accessibility

What is Digital Accessibility?

Being able to access the web means having access to the modern economy, crucial social spaces, and, of course, vast information. Conversely, not having equal access to the web means not being able to participate in society fully. Unfortunately, reduced access is the reality for many people with disabilities who cannot always navigate the web as efficiently or effectively due to a lack of consideration for their technology design needs. (Interfaces not designed with the visually impaired in mind, for example, can be frustrating at best and impossible at worst to use.) However, there is a growing awareness around this issue, and efforts by such groups as W3C WAI, which has established web accessibility guidelines, have led the way. 

To contribute to this vital effort, all who create web content should educate themselves about how to make it as accessible as possible. Reviewing W3C’s Essential Components of Web Accessibility (or see the full guidelines) is an excellent place to start learning. The University of Iowa has a free Accessibility 101 course, which provides helpful instruction on accessibility principles. Web browser extensions, of which there are many, can be used for usability testing. (Usability testing is crucial when designing websites for people with disabilities.) The BC Libraries Digital Scholarship Group recently added an accessibility section to the DS Handbook, containing a growing list of accessibility-oriented resources for digital scholarship project creation. Finally, one helpful set of standards to keep in mind for designing accessible content is POUR:

  • Perceivable: This refers to the users ability to identify content based on their own senses. For many, this may mean using predominantly visual cues, while for others it may mean using none. Alternative text for images, as well as emerging technologies that may include cues for smell and taste are great examples proactive “perceivable” technology.
  • Operable: A user must be able to successfully navigate and interact based on the tools provided – sometimes this could mean the exclusive use of a keyboard instead of a mouse, or allowing for voice commands when working through an interface.
  • Understandable: All users should be able to comprehend the content they are viewing. Presentation and design should be predictable in its layout and design, color choices and patterns should work to improve overall flow and make the interface more comprehensible. Right now, the push for Universal Design would create a consistent style for websites, which could make online interfaces much more consistent and navigable based on the common use.
  • Robust: Websites ought to provide every option to individuals who want to view their content via their necessary means. Making sure that alternative inputs, such as voice commands are acceptable, and that the site can be run on a variety of browsers that may provide specific accessibility related plug-ins.

As you create content online; think about how it can be used, perceived, and understood as a resource for folks who might gather information through a variety of different means, methods, and senses.

Digital Scholarship Online Workshops: Fall 2021

The workshop schedule for the 2021 Fall semester has been published. Go to the Digital Scholarship events page to find out more details and register today. Topics range from exploring some foundational tools in Excel and diving deeper into programs like Tableau, a data visualization tool, or Omeka, an open-source digital exhibit publishing platform.

Below are some examples from programs like Tableau and Omeka, as well as some examples of GIS projects that students have worked on in the past.


Figuring out the best ways to showcase different statistics and research can be difficult via traditional print-based media. Tableau exists to help scholars tell the full story of their data; by using interactive graphs, charts, and infographics, data can be contextualized in ways that are more intuitive, and users can showcase or highlight certain trends and patterns.

Below are a few examples of Tableau projects that have been developed from previous workshops.


Omeka is a a web-publishing platform that can be used to develop and present digital projects. It is a relatively basic program at its core, with extensions and flexibility that can help create the right project and user experience. The “Introducing Digital Projects” workshop on October 14 will cover the essentials of getting started with Omeka.


Geographical Information Systems can capture, analyze, and present geospatial data. GIS workshops will help to familiarize with concepts and tools used for mapping projects.

Each year the Digital Scholarship team awards a contest for a GIS project created at Boston College. Information on the contest and to see previous project, check out our GIS Day website and this project from last year’s winner below.

This poster highlights different aspects of the Black Lives Matter protests that occurred in the United States between May 2020 and January 2021.

Scholarship Opportunity: Bookbuilders of Boston 2021

Bookbuilders of Boston, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1937 to promote excellence and innovation in book publishing and manufacturing, makes annual grants to area universities and colleges, providing student scholarships for engagement in projects that build awareness and practical knowledge of various aspects of the publishing industry.

The Boston College Libraries are seeking a BC undergraduate or graduate student interested in exploring the Open Access landscape in academic publishing. The student will have the opportunity to work with the Digital Scholarship Group on projects that support Boston College open access journals

Projects will demonstrate how open publishing can help remove financial barriers by providing free access to scholarship from all over the world. At the BC Libraries, we add to this effort by indexing our scholarly journals, compiling statistics on the use of the Open Access Publishing Fund, gathering information regarding readership of the academic journals hosted here at Boston College, and creating promotional materials to encourage new publications.

Skills learned and developed will be applicable in careers in online publishing, digital marketing, editorial work, academics, and digital scholarship. The successful candidate will demonstrate an interest in open access and an affinity for marketing and promotion. Basic graphic design and web competency skills are a plus. Please see this 2020 Ejournals newsletter for an example of the type of project you may be working on.

The stipend for this work is $3,500 to be distributed over the course of the project, and it is expected that the candidate will invest up to 200 hours of time into the project overall. The project timeframe is flexible depending on the candidate’s availability, but will need to be completed no later than January 2022.

To apply, please send a one to two page statement outlining your interest and relevant background, skills and learning goals by February 28, 2021, to Sarah Melton (sarah.melton@bc.edu). Please include your full name, class year, and contact information on a separate cover sheet.

Digital Scholarship – Year in Review

There have been many changes since January 2020, but students, faculty, and staff have done a tremendous amount in terms of Digital Scholarship projects and publication! The Digital Scholarship Group is proud to share some of our accomplishments.

Check out the graphic below, put together by Data and Visualization Librarian Allison Xu, to see a snapshot of all of the projects we have worked on this year.

Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities

The Digital Scholarship team is partnering with the English and History departments to offer graduate students a Certificate in the Digital Humanities. Courses will be available to Masters and Doctoral students who are interested in learning more about how new technology is shaping the way we gather, share, and present information.

Graduate students already enrolled a program at Boston College will have the opportunity to pursue coursework in any of the following disciplines:

  • Classical Studies
  • English
  • Economics
  • History
  • Political Science
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology
  • Romance Languages and Literatures
  • Slavic and Eastern Languages and Literatures
  • Sociology
  • Theology

Requirements for the certificate will come via three classes – an introductory course, a departmental course, and a capstone. The first step for interested graduate students is to contact your graduate advisor to receive approval for enrolling in the mandatory introductory course.  

On the whole, this certificate reflects the changing landscape in the humanities. As research in the humanities is utilized and consumed with the guidance of different technologies, it has become increasingly important for scholars to understand how to present research in the most accurate and evocative ways.  

As more and more technologies and systems become available and open for use, strategies around the most effective ways to conduct research are continually evolving – this certificate will provide context around the current ideas in digital scholarship, and pair that with hands-on experiences from around specific departments.

For more information, see the DH Certificate page hosted by the BC Department of History.

Check Out Our Podcasting Room

This post is by Melanie Hubbard, Digital Scholarship Librarian for Instruction.

Podcasting Room
A student recording with Audacity in the Podcasting Room.

The Podcasting Room in The Digital Studio, found on the 2nd floor of the O’Neill Library, provides an opportunity to create your own podcast (and other kinds of audio projects). What makes it a “podcasting room”? It’s the equipment–the mics and the software. There is also the acoustic paneling that reduces sound reflection (reverb). The room’s furniture and size are part of it since it allows people to record podcasts in small groups. (Except for during COVID. Sorry! Only one person can be in the room at a time.)

I love podcasts, and I know I am not alone. (To say they are popular would be a massive understatement.) If you’re similar to me, you like them because you love stories, learning new things, and listening to people having interesting conversations. I’m also drawn to podcasts because I am interested in sound as a creative medium. My background includes a certain amount of professional audio experience, so I have a special appreciation for this kind of work, and I am excited to see (and hear) the projects our students create and the sort of audio-based assignments our faculty design. 

Audacity is an open source sound recording and editing platform.

Working with sound can be a little intimidating since it’s easier for us to identify “bad sound” than to figure out how to create “good sound.” The Podcasting Room is here to set you up for greater success as am I, who can consult on your projects. This fall, the O’Neill Library will also be offering an asynchronous workshop, Working with Sound: Introduction to Audio Recording and Editing, which will be available on October 1. You are welcome to join the group or conduct the workshop later on your own, as it will remain online indefinitely.

What’s in the Podcasting Room? There is a Mac with the audio applications GarageBand and Audacity, a well-known and widely-used open-source recording software, two Audio Technica AT2005USB microphones, and two pairs of Audio Technica ATH-M20x headphones. (Read more)

Want to use the Podcasting Room? Visit the Podcasting Room page to make a reservation.

Need Help? Email digitalstudio@bc.edu for questions regarding the Podcasting Room or consultations on audio projects.

New Service: Ordering Premium-Quality Digital Images

As we all continue to adjust to the realities of this pandemic, the Boston College Libraries are focused on not only safely reopening, but also continuing to explore services for researchers and scholars to improve digital engagement with collections.

High resolution images of materials held by Burns Library may now be ordered through our new pilot scanning service, both by BC students and people outside the BC community.  This is an experimental approach to accessibility, and marks the first time the Libraries will be offering publication-quality images in addition to the established Burns reference scans on demand.

Requests will be made to order by Digital Repository Services staff using imaging equipment in our Digital Lab. While this is a major shift in the workflows of the Digital Repository team, the approach to provide publication-quality images will be an opportunity for our libraries to lead the way in creating secure workflows that meet the needs of an ever-changing community. We will be evaluating the efficiency and efficacy of this pilot service, and adjusting accordingly.

Please see below for a brief Q and A with our Digital Production Librarian Chris Mayo who has helped to conceptualize and create this new service.

How can you make a request for a specific image?

When you find Burns material in the catalog and click on “Request scans from Burns Library” there are new options available. Lower-resolution reference scans have always been free and will continue to be so, but you now have options to request high-resolution tiffs of five or fewer images from any item, or for an entire archival folder. Users who want images of specific pages of books will need to specify which pages when making their request.

How much will it cost to make a request for an image?

If five or fewer images are requested, the cost is $25. If an entire archival folder (consisting  of more than five images) is requested, the cost is $75. It’s free for users with BC email addresses.

We should probably also note that if you accidentally request images from something that has already been digitized, Burns staff will be able to see that while processing the request and will provide those files free of charge.

What types of images can I expect to find in this collection? Is it mostly photography, or hi-res prints?

We will be making images to order. People can place an image request for anything in the Burns collection, a copyright assessment will be made, and if we can produce an image, we will. So the types of materials will vary depending on the request, but images will always be delivered as high-resolution tiff files, made via photography with a digital camera.

Is this just for hi-resolution images? How can I find a low-resolution image of something if necessary?

Yes, this is for high resolution only, and we anticipate this mostly being a service for people who need publication-quality images for books or articles. Low-resolution images can be requested through the same interface, and will be produced by Burns reference staff rather than the Digital Lab. 

What are the best places to go to see what categories or types of images might be in the Burns repository?

Search the catalog and limit to Burns materials to see the titles that images may be requested from. 

Check out the Libraries’ existing digital collections online, and our Digital Scholarship projects, many of which integrate and highlight Burns digitized collections.

Welcome Matthew Naglak – Digital Scholarship Projects Librarian

What drew you to the position at Boston College?

When I saw the advertisement for a digital scholarship librarian at BC, I was drawn to it because of my desire to partner with faculty and students to help bring their research and data to life in new and exciting ways. Working at BC, with a growing Digital Scholarship team within the library, is a perfect opportunity to put my skills to good use while continuing to expand my digital skills in new directions. I think my past work on digital projects in both academia and at Michigan Publishing has prepared me well to work with faculty and students, particularly those interested in 2D and 3D interactive data. 

What do you think the biggest change to your job will be once we are back in the library – how did the COVID crisis affect your role?

The COVID crisis showed the importance of digital scholarship and digital teaching to the future of research and higher education. In terms of teaching, being prepared for and coming up with best practices for undertaking digital seminars/workshops/etc. With an uncertain future economically and health-wise, this is only going to grow more important. Combined with this is working with faculty and students to ensure that they have access to the resources they need to succeed. What can we do to make sure BC students are able to take advantage of and learn the skills necessary to make their way in an increasingly digital world. 

What surprised you most about starting at the Boston College Libraries?

Too soon to say! I am excited about how the DigSchol team seems to communicate well and work together on projects. I think that’s really useful and important, having seen the issues that may arise when communication is lacking.

Do you have a favorite tool for analysis or research? What is it and what do you like about it?

As someone who loves spatial data and maps in particular, my favorite tool recently has been the open-source Leaflet JavaScript library which can be used for the creation of interactive maps and images. Spatial data can often be overwhelming, particularly for those not familiar with complex software like ArcGIS; using Leaflet, it is possible for the researcher to put their spatial data in the palm of a reader’s hand, making it easily accessible and searchable without the need for any external software or account. Though I have mostly used it in the creation of archaeological and historical maps so far, I am excited to explore the possibilities for its use in a wide variety of projects.  

What should your teammates at BC know about you?

I’m very excited to be here and especially to be in a collaborative work environment! I believe that having a diversity of inputs can only make scholarship better (digital or otherwise). Feel free to contact me anytime with thoughts, questions, comments, concerns, ideas, hopes, or dreams!