Celebrating Black History Month in the Romance Languages

Contemporary Black, African, and African diaspora writers across the world are redefining literature and criticism in French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. Here are some noteworthy books in their original languages recently acquired by the UC Berkeley Library. Translations into English may also be available for some of the better known.

 

Please also see the related English literatures post for Black History Month 2024 and the Black History at Cal library research guide.


Il Tolomeo: rivista di studi postcoloniali

Il Tolomeo

Hard to imagine the UC Berkeley Library as one that may soon not be able to afford new journal subscriptions but for better for worse, that’s where we are heading with serials reduction projects such as the one we undertook last year. It’s a good thing thing the open access movement is still gaining traction. It’s also a good thing universities like the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice are boldly choosing to publish their journals and some of their books this way.

Il Tolomeo: rivista di studi postcoloniali first saw the light of day in 1995, thanks to the work of a group of postcolonial scholars at Ca’ Foscari. The journal publishes peer-reviewed articles, reviews, interviews, and previously unpublished original contributions in the fields of francophone, anglophone and lusophone literatures. It investigates the postcolonial literary phenomenon in all its manifestations, but is particularly interested in contributions which take a comparative, interdisciplinary approach: dialogues between literature and the arts, investigations of hybrid forms such as comic strips and cinema, research which links literary studies with the social sciences, or innovative approaches such as digital and environmental humanities.

For its next issue, Il Tolomeo invites all interested scholars to send their contributions for the upcoming 2024 issue (no. 26). The issue will be divided into a generalist section (on any theme) and a thematic section dedicated to asylum, refugees and postcolonial literatures. The deadline for submitting complete contributions is May 20, 2024.

 


Revamped Guides for French/Francophone and Italian Literatures

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A recent overhaul of the two literary research guides for French and Francophone Literatures and Italian Literature & Criticism first created quite a long time ago will improve navigation and discovery in these vast print collections. Over the course of the past year, we have critically reviewed the former guides, weeded outdated resources, and replaced them with more current content with links to digital resources when available.

These two literature research guides are now benefiting from the LibGuides platform, which makes it much easier to revise than the former PDFs. Each guide is structured by sections for article databases, general guides and literary histories, reference tools, poetry, theater & performance, and literary periods. They interface seamlessly with related guides published by the UC Berkeley Library. For example, on the home page of each LibGuide, there is a prominent link to the lists of recently acquired publications in both French and Italian, making it even easier to stay current on new books in any particular call number range.

Because the guides are much easier to update, they encourage user interaction and invite community suggestions for inclusion (or deletion).

If you have time over the winter break, please take a whirl and let us know what you think. We’ll be unveiling a similar guide for Iberian Literatures & Criticism this spring!

 


PhiloBiblon 2023 n. 7 (diciembre): Subastas y literatura medieval (II). Nuevos manuscritos: Sumario del despensero; Historia del Rey Don Pedro, de Gracia Dei; Libro del juego de los escaques; y la Historia de los hechos de los cavalleros de Xerez de la Frontera

Como aguinaldo navideño, ofrecemos a lectores y lectoras de nuestro PhiloBlog una continuación de la primera entrada, publicada en marzo de 2021, en la que dimos a conocer algunas obras literarias encontradas en catálogos de subastas. En aquella ocasión describimos la existencia de una nueva Crónica de Enrique IV manuscrita (BETA manid 6089) y de tres impresos quinientistas: el Carro de las donas de Eiximenis traducido al castellano (BETA copid 9237) e impreso en 1542; la Crónica ocampiana (BETA texid 1141) de 1543; y las Siete Partidas alfonsíes (BETA copid 9240) impresas en 1576. En esta segunda entrega vamos a ofrecer otra vez un breve resumen de las últimas fichas incorporadas a nuestro proyecto procedentes de subastas y ventas de librerías de las que hemos tenido noticia.

La primera de ellas es una nueva fuente manuscrita de la obra que recibe el título de Sumario del despensero (BETA texid 2851), que se encuentra la venta en la Librería Anticuaria El Camino de Santiago (Catálogo 76, febrero de 2021, nº 85). A pesar de contar con una moderna edición (Jardin, 2013), el enorme laberinto ecdótico del Sumario todavía está por descifrar al completo, sobre todo lo que respecta a sus adiciones posteriores, así como a sus segundas y terceras redacciones, con la dificultad añadida del cotejo de supresiones o modificaciones del texto. La importancia de esta versión resumida del modelo narrativo cronístico emanado del escritorio alfonsí es su amplia presencia a lo largo de todo el Cuatrocientos, lo que a su vez conforma una magnífica prueba de la buena salud de la que gozaban estas recopilaciones abreviadas siglos más tarde de que fueran compuestas (Gómez Redondo, HPMC, III, 2098-2099).

El códice del Sumario del despensero a la venta en la librería leonesa se presenta, como suele ser frecuente, con otra obra más: la Historia del Rey Don Pedro (BETA texid 1547), escrita por Pedro de Gracia Dei (BETA bioid 2995), un autor cuya obra y biografía conforman uno de los mayores laberintos de la literatura castellana de los siglos XV y XVI, a pesar de los recientes esfuerzos recorriendo sus vericuetos efectuados por González de Fauve, Las Heras y De Forteza (2006); por Mangas Navarro (2020a; 2020b); y por Perea Rodríguez (2024). En la descripción del catálogo del manuscrito—del cual no disponemos de imágenes—nos indica un detalle esencial para trazar su procedencia si lo relacionamos con la introducción de la primera edición moderna (1781) del Sumario del despensero, efectuada por Llaguno Amirola. En ella (p. V, reproducida más abajo), el erudito alavés dijo haber cotejado, entre otros, un códice perteneciente al conde de Águila, Juan Bautista de Espinosa Tello de Guzmán (BETA bioid 8671). El manuscrito a la venta en la Librería Anticuaria El Camino de Santiago indica que se copió en Sevilla en el año 1775 y tuvo como antígrafo a aquella misma copia utilizada por Llaguno Amirola procedente de la biblioteca del conde de Águila.

Descripción antígrafo

El siguiente manuscrito, del que sí disponemos de imágenes, pertenece a la madrileña sala de subastas El Remate, y fue anunciado en su catálogo de junio de 2023. Se trata de una nueva y hasta ahora desconocida copia del Libro de los esquaques (BETA CNUM 16143), que a veces aparece con un título más largo: Libro de las costunbres de los ommes e de los offiçios de los nobles sobre el juego de los escaques (BETA texid 11294). El códice subastado que aquí describimos (BETA manid 6461), de tamaño folio, se encuentra en muy buen estado de conservación, pues apenas contiene dos o tres folios con pequeñas manchas de humedad que en ningún modo impiden el disfrute de la lectura del contenido.

Libro de los esquaques, f. 1r (manuscrito subastado por El Remate, 2023)
Libro de los esquaques, f. 1r (manuscrito subastado por El Remate, 2023)

Estamos ante una traducción al castellano del más importante tratado ajedrecístico de la Baja Edad Media en su vertiente románica occidental. Se atribuye su redacción al italiano Jacopo da Cessole, o Jacobus de Cessolis (BETA bioid 3290), que era la forma que llevaba su nombre en el tratado original, escrito en latín. Compuesta en el primer tercio del siglo XIV, la obra circuló con bastante profusión por toda Europa, como se deduce del amplio número de ejemplares de esta obra registrados por Patricia Cañizares Ferriz y Montserrat Jiménez San Cristóbal en la base de datos MANIPULUS. De hecho, la Biblioteca Nacional de España ha conservado varios de estos manuscritos del De ludo scachorum, entre ellos uno (MSS/8919) que tal vez sirviera como texto base para acometer algunas de las traducciones que hemos conservado. No obstante, téngase en cuenta que hay otros estudios, como los de Bataller Catalá (2000), que sugieren la atractiva hipótesis de que, en realidad, los romanceamientos castellanos de esta obra no fueron traducidos directamente del latín, sino que se basaron en una traducción previa ya existente del latín al catalán.

De ludo scachorum, BNE Mss/8919, f. 1r
De ludo scachorum, BNE MSS/8919, f. 1r

Gran parte del éxito del De ludo scachorum se debió a que, en realidad, al margen de describir las destrezas del juego del ajedrez, también era un manual de buenas costumbres de la aristocracia medieval, de ahí que muy pronto fuera traducido a otras lenguas. Por lo que respecta al castellano, se han conservado dos diferentes traducciones: la primera, la ya mencionada Libro de las costunbres de los ommes e de los offiçios de los nobles sobre el juego de los escaques (BETA texid 11294); y una segunda, de la que solo hemos conservado una traducción parcial del tercero de los tratados (BETA texid 3781). Esta última, la versión incompleta, se conserva junto a obras de Diego de Valera y Juan Rodríguez del Padrón en el manuscrito B2705 de la Hispanic Society neoyorquina (BETA manid 4024). De la versión completa conocemos dos manuscritos más: el primero es el códice 80 de la biblioteca de la Fundación Ducal de Alba (BETA manid 4880), mientras que el segundo es el RES/299 de la Biblioteca Nacional de España (BETA manid 6080).

libro de las costumbres de los hombres BNE RES 299, f. 1r
Libro de las costumbres de los ommes. BNE, RES/299, f. 1r

A falta de una más minuciosa exploración y cotejo de los textos contenidos en las fuentes, el manuscrito subastado por El Remate parece pertenecer a la misma tradición textual que los dos códices antes mencionados, el de la BNE y el de la Fundación Duque de Alba, si bien presenta un estado más tosco, sin tan profusa decoración como el de la BNE ni tan esmerados adornos gráficos y caligráficos como el de la Biblioteca ducal de Alba. Pese a este menor interés artístico, el manuscrito de El Remate aporta un dato fundamental para avanzar nuestro conocimiento de cuándo se realizó la traducción al castellano, puesto que está fechado en la “era de mill. cccc. xxx.”, tal como se observa al final de la columna de la derecha de la siguiente imagen.

último folio libro de ajedrez subastas el remate
Libro de los esquaques, f. 43r (manuscrito subastado por El Remate, 2023)

Como es sobradamente conocido, a la calendación en era hispánica hay que restarle 38 años para obtener la equivalencia en nuestro actual sistema de calendación, el de la era cristiana. Por lo tanto, el manuscrito estaría fechado en 1392, que es cuando la traducción ya se habría completado. Hasta ahora, se pensaba que había sido traducido mucho después, hacia mediados del siglo XV, conforme a la habitual tendencia de la crítica literaria medieval hispánica en hacer más tardías las fechas de traducciones de lo que en realidad son.

El último manuscrito al que nos referiremos en esta entrada también ha sido subastado por El Remate y lo más inmediato que hay que destacar de él es que, aparentemente, se trata de una obra que ha estado en paradero desconocido desde el siglo XVIII: la Historia de los hechos de los cavalleros de Xerez de la Frontera, que aparece con el nº 205 en el catálogo de subastas 239, correspondiente al  mes de julio de 2023.

Portada historia de los hechos de los cavalleros de Xerez de la Frontera

En su edición y estudio de El libro del alcázar, el profesor Abellán Pérez afirmó la existencia de un manuscrito del arcipreste local, Diego Gómez Salido, que en su momento fue muy utilizado por el medivalismo hispánico por su aparente contenido coetáneo a los tiempos medievales. Sin embargo, se perdió la pista de este libro entre 1705 y 1710. ¿Se trata del códice subastado por El Remate? Para asegurarse de que es, en efecto, el manuscrito de Gómez Salido, habría que contrastar su contenido con el del códice M/37 de la Biblioteca Municipal de Jerez de la Frontera. Parece bastante factible que puedan tener las mismas obras, sobre todo por las referencias que se hacen en ambos manuscritos a cierta genealogía sobre el linaje Villavicencio que se añadió con posterioridad a la primigenia redacción. El códice que reposa hoy en la librería pública jerezana ha sido recientemente restaurado, según informa Rafael de Leonor Molina en este artículo, y fue donado a la biblioteca por Pedro Gutiérrez de Quijano y López, que a su vez lo compró a Carmen de Cala, viuda de Juan Cortina de la Vega, conocido político y alcalde de Jerez de la Frontera en 1909. Es evidente que son de distinta procedencia, puesto que el subastado por El Remate, de 362 folios en total y con encuadernación holandesa del siglo XIX, presenta un exlibris de Feliciano Ramírez de Arellano (1826-1896), marqués de la Fuensanta del Valle, hermano de otros no menos destacados bibliófilos, los Ramírez de Arellano cordobeses. El marqués es conocido en el mundo de la erudicción hispánica decimonónica por haber sido durante muchos años, junto a José Sancho Rayón y a Francisco de Zabálburu, editor de la Colección de Documentos Inéditos para la Historia de España.

Por nuestra parte, solo esperamos a que los expertos se pongan de acuerdo sobre los contenidos de los últimos dos códices comentados para incorporar su contenido de creación medieval a nuestra base de datos y asignarlos los correspondientes identificadores. Pero eso será ya el año próximo, el mismo en el que deseamos a nuestros lectores y lectoras la mayor de las felicidades.

 

Óscar Perea Rodríguez
(PhiloBiblon BETA – University of San Francisco)

 

Obras citadas

Abellán Pérez, Juan. El Libro del Alcázar. De la toma de Jerez a la conquista de Gibraltar. Siglos XIII-XV. Jerez de la Frontera: EH Editores, 2012.

Bataller Catalá, Alexandre. “Les traduccions castellanes del Liber de moribus de Jacobus de Cessulis“, en Actas del VIII Congreso de la Asociación Hispánica de Literatura Medieval, eds. Margarita Freixas et al., Santander, AHLM, 2000, I, pp. 337-52.

Cañizares Ferriz, Patricia (dir.) ELME: «Los exempla latinos medievales conservados en España» (2016-2023).

El Camino de Santiago. Obras impresas y manuscritas. Católogo de Librería Anticuaria nº 76 – Febrero de 2021.

El Remate Subastas. Catálogo 15 de junio de 2023.

González de Fauve, María Estela; Isabel Las Heras; y Patricia de Forteza. “Apología y censura: posibles autores de las crónicas favorables a Pedro I de Castilla”. Anuario de Estudios Medievales 36.1 (2006): 111-44.

Gómez Redondo, Fernando. Historia de la prosa medieval castellana, III: Los orígenes del humanismo. El marco cultural de Enrique III y Juan II. Madrid: Cátedra, 2002.

Jardin, Jean-Pierre (ed.) Suma de Reyes du Despensero. París: e-Spania Books, 2013.

Leonor Molina, Rafael. “La restauración del manuscrito denominado El libro del alcázar.” Revista de Historia de Jerez 16-17 (2014): 31-50.

Llaguno Amirola, Eugenio de (ed.) Sumario de los Reyes de España, por el despensero mayor de la reina Leonor. Madrid: Antonio de Sancha, 1781.

Mangas Navarro, Natalia. “La figura de Pedro de Gracia Dei: un bosquejo biográfico.” Estudios Románicos, 29 (2020a), pp. 297-318.

––– “Nuevas fuentes para la poesía de Pedro de Gracia Dei.” Revista de Cancioneros Impresos y Manuscritos, 9 (2020b), pp. 44-75.

Perea Rodríguez, Óscar. “El Libro de los pensamientos variables como ejemplo de utopía y disidencia en el siglo XV.” Cuadernos del CEMyR 32 (2024): 105-29.


Celebrating more than 150 years of World Languages at Berkeley

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Collectively, undergraduates at Berkeley speak more than 220 different first languages. Offering instruction in at least 60 languages, Berkeley is one of the nation’s top institutions for the breadth and depth of its world languages program. The program also values revitalizing and preserving endangered languages. Photo: Neil Freese/UC Berkeley.

New banners celebrate 150+ years of Berkeley’s prominence in teaching world languages

At least 60 languages — from Mongolian and Old Norse to Polish, Catalan, Ancient Egyptian, Arabic and Biblical Hebrew — are taught at UC Berkeley, one of the nation’s top institutions for the breadth and depth of its world languages program. A growing emphasis also is being placed at Berkeley on revitalizing and preserving endangered languages, most of them spoken by Indigenous peoples.

To help honor more than 150 years of global languages at Berkeley, 63 colorful banners will begin flying throughout campus today, and for the next 18 months, that feature facts about the campus’s language programs, as well as 21 bilingual and multilingual faculty members, students and alumni.

Among the messages on the banners:

  • Collectively, undergraduates at UC Berkeley speak more than 220 different first languages.
  • More than 500 language learning classes are taught at Berkeley annually.
  • More than 6,000 Berkeley students enroll in those classes each year.
  • In 1872, the first endowed chair in the UC system was created — for the study of East Asian languages at Berkeley.
  • Students at all UC campuses can take online African language classes at Berkeley, which is well-known for Amharic, Igbo and Swahili instruction.

Reposted from Berkeley Letters & Science 10/25/23

See also: https://artshumanities.berkeley.edu/celebration-world-languages-uc-berkeley


PhiloBiblon 2023 n. 6 (octubre): PhiloBiblon White Paper

A requirement of the NEH Foundation grant for PhiloBiblon, “PhiloBiblon: From Siloed Databases to Linked Open Data via Wikibase: Proof of Concept” (PW-277550-21) was the preparation of a White Paper to summarize its results and provide advice and suggestions for other projects that have enthusiastic volunteers but little money:

White Paper
NEH Grant PW-277550-21
October 10, 2023

The proposal for this grant, “PhiloBiblon: From Siloed Databases to Linked Open Data via Wikibase: Proof of Concept,” submitted to NEH under the Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Foundations grant program, set forth the following goals:

This project will explore the use of the FactGrid: database for Historians Wikibase platform to prototype a low-cost light-weight development model for PhiloBiblon:

(1) show how to map PhiloBiblon’s complex data model to Linked Open Data (LD) / Resource Description Framework (RDF) as instantiated in Wikibase;
(2) evaluate the Wikibase data entry module and create prototype query modules based on the FactGrid Query Service;
(3) study Wikibase’s LD access points to and from libraries and archives;
(4) test the Wikibase data export module for JSON-LD, RDF, and XML on PhiloBiblon data,
(5) train PhiloBiblon staff in the use of the platform;
(6) place the resulting software and documentation on GitHub as the basis for a final “White Paper” and follow-on implementation project.

A Wikibase platform would position PhiloBiblon to take advantage of current and future semantic web developments and decrease long-term sustainability costs. Moreover, we hope to demonstrate that this project can serve as a model for low-cost light-weight database development for similar academic projects with limited resources.

PhiloBiblon is a free internet-based bio-bibliographical database of texts written in the various Romance vernaculars of the Iberian Peninsula during the Middle Ages and the early Renaissance. It does not contain the texts themselves; rather it attempts to catalog all their primary sources, both manuscript and printed, the texts they contain, the individuals involved with the production and transmission of those sources and texts, and the libraries holding them, along with relevant secondary references and authority files for persons, places, and institutions.

It is one of the oldest digital humanities projects in existence, and the oldest in the Hispanic world, starting out as an in-house database for the Dictionary of the Old Spanish Language project (DOSL) at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1972, funded by NEH. Its initial purpose was to locate manuscripts and printed texts physically produced before 1501 to provide a corpus of authentic lexicographical material for DOSL. It soon became evident that the database would also be of interest to scholars elsewhere; and a photo-offset edition of computer printout was published in 1975 as the Bibliography of Old Spanish Texts (BOOST). It contained 977 records, each one listing a given text in a given manuscript or printed edition. A second edition followed in 1977 and a third in 1984.

PhiloBiblon was published in 1992 on CD-ROM, incorporating not only the materials in Spanish but also those in Portuguese and Catalan. By this time BOOST had been re-baptized as BETA (Bibliografía Española de Textos Antiguos), while the Portuguese corpus became BITAGAP (Bibliografia de Textos Antigos Galegos e Portugueses) and the Catalan corpus BITECA (Bibliografia de Textos Antics Catalans, Valencians i Balears). PhiloBiblon was ported to the web in 1997; and the web version was substantially re-designed in 2015. PhiloBiblon’s three databases currently hold over 240,000 records.

All of this data has been input manually by dozens of volunteer staff in the U.S., Spain, and Portugal, either by keyboarding or by cutting-and-pasting, thousands of hours of unpaid labor. That unpaid labor has been key to expanding the databases, but just as important, and much more difficult to achieve, has been the effort to keep up with the display and database technology. The initial database management system (DBMS) was FAMULUS running on the Univac 1110 at Madison, a flat-file DBMS originally developed at Berkeley in 1964. In 1985 the database was mapped to SPIRES (Stanford Public Information Retrieval System) and then, in 1987, to a proprietary relational DBMS, Revelation G, running on an IBM PC.

Today we continue to use Revelation Technology’s OpenInsight on Windows, the lineal descendent of Revelation G. We periodically export data from the Windows database in XML format and upload it to a server at Berkeley, where the XTF (eXtensible Text Framework) program suite parses it into individual records, indexes it, and serves it up on the fly in HTML format in response to queries from users around the world. The California Digital Library developed XTF as open source software ca. 2010, but it is now in the process of being phased out and is no longer supported by the UC Berkeley Library.

The need to find a substitute for XTF caused us to rethink our entire approach to the technologies that make PhiloBiblon possible. Major upgrades to the display and DBMS technology, either triggered by technological change or by a desire to enhance web access, have required significant grant support, primarily from NEH, eleven NEH grants from 1989 to 2021. We applied for the current grant in the hope that it would show us how to get off the technology merry-go-round. Instead of seeking major grant support every five to seven years for bespoke technology, this pilot project was designed to demonstrate that we could solve our technology problems for the foreseeable future by moving PhiloBiblon to Wikibase, the technology underlying Wikipedia and Wikidata. Maintained by Wikimedia Deutschland, the software development arm of the Wikimedia Foundation, Wikibase is made available for free. With Wikibase,we would no longer have to raise money to support our software infrastructure.

We have achieved all of the goals of the pilot project under this current grant and placed all of our software development work on GitHub (see below). We received a follow-on two-year implementation grant from NEH and on 1 July 2023 began work to map all of the PhiloBiblon data from the Windows DBMS to FactGrid.

  ❧  ❧  ❧

For the purposes of this White Paper, I shall focus on the PhiloBiblon pilot project as a model for institutions with limited resources for technology but dedicated volunteer staff. There are thousands of such institutions in the United States alone, in every part of the country, joined in national and regional associations, e.g., the American Association for State and Local History, Association of African American Museums, Popular Culture Association, Asian / Pacific / American Archives Survey Project, Southeastern Museums Conference. Many of their members are small institutions that depend on volunteer staff and could use the PhiloBiblon model to develop light-weight low-cost databases for their own projects. In the San Francisco Bay Area alone, for example there are dozens of such small cultural heritage institutions (e.g., The Beat Museum, GLBT Historical Society Archives, Holocaust Center Library and Archives, Berkeley Architectural History Association.

 

To begin at the beginning: What is Linked Open Data and why is it important?
What is Wikibase, why use it, and how does it work?

Linked Open Data (LOD) is the defining principle of the semantic web: “globally accessible and linked data on the internet based on the standards of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an open environment where data can be created, connected and consumed on internet scale.”

Why use it? Simply, data has more value if it can be connected to other data, if it does not exist in a silo.

Wikibase in turn is the “free software for open data projects. It connects the knowledge of people and organizations and enables them to open their linked data to the world.” It is one of the backbone technologies of the LOD world.

Why use it? The primary reason to use Wikibase is precisely to make local or specialized knowledge easily available to the rest of the world by taking advantage of LOD, the semantic web. Conversely, the semantic web makes it easier for local institutions to take advantage of LOD.

How does Wikibase work? The Wikibase data model is deceptively simple. Each record has a “fingerprint” consisting of a Label, a Description, and an optional Alias. This fingerprint uniquely identifies the record. It can be repeated in multiple languages, although in every case the Label and the Description in the other languages must also be unique. Following the fingerprint header comes a series of three-part statements (triples, triplestores) that link a (1) subject Q to an (2) object Q by means of a (3) property P. The new record itself is the subject, to which Wikibase assigns automatically a unique Q#. There is no limit, except that of practicality, to the number of statements that a record can contain. They can be input in any order, and new statements are simply appended at the end of the record. No formal ontology is necessary, although having one is certainly useful, as librarians have discovered over the past sixty years. Must records start with a statement of identity, e.g.: Jack Keraouc (Q160534)  [is an] Instance of (P31)  Human (Q5).[1] Each statement can be qualified with sub-statements and footnoted with references. Because Wikibase is part of the LOD world, each record can be linked to the existing rich world of LOD identifiers: Jack Keraouc (Q160534) in the Union List of Artist Names ID (P245)  is ID 500290917.

Another important reason for using Wikibase is the flexibility that it allows in tailoring Q items and P properties to the needs of the individual institution. There is no need to develop an ontology or schema ahead of time; it can be developed on the fly, so to speak. There is no need to establish a hierarchy of subject headings, for example, like that of the Library of Congress as set forth in the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH). LC subject headings can be extended as necessary or entirely ignored. Other kinds of data can also be added:

New P properties to establish categories: nicknames, associates (e.g., other members of a rock band), musical or artistic styles);
New Q items related to the new P properties (e.g., the other members of the band).

There is no need to learn the Resource Description Access (RDA) rules necessary for highly structured data, such as MARC or its eventual replacement, BIBFRAME. This in turn means that data input does not need persons trained in librarianship.

How would adoption of Wikibase to catalog collections, whether of books, archival materials, or physical objects, work in practice? What decisions must be made? The first decision is simply whether (1) to join Wikidata or (2) set up a separate Wikibase instance (like FactGrid).[2] The former is far simpler. It requires no programming experience at all and very little knowledge of data science. Joining Wikidata simply means mapping the institution’s current database to Wikidata through a careful analysis of the database in comparison with Wikidata. For example, a local music history organization, like the SF Music Hall of Fame, might want to organize an archive of significant San Francisco musicians.

The first statement in the record of rock icon Jerry García might be Instance of (P31)  Human (Q5); a second statement might be Sex or Gender (P21)  Male (Q6581097); and a third, Occupation (P106) Guitarist (Q855091).

Once the institutional database properties have been matched to the corresponding Wikidata properties, the original database must be exported as a CSV (comma separated values) file. Its data must then be compared systematically to Wikidata through a process known as reconciliation, using the open source OpenRefine  tool. This same reconciliation process can be used to compare the institutional database to a large number of other LOD services through Mix n Match, which lists hundreds of external databases in fields ranging alphabetically from Art to Video games. Thus the putative SF Music Hall of Fame database might be reconciled against the large Grammy Awards (5700 records) database of the Recording Academy.

Reconciliation is important because it establishes links between records in the institutional database and existing records in the LOD world. If there are no such records, the reconciliation process creates new records that automatically become part of the LOD world.

One issue to consider is that, like Wikipedia, anyone can edit Wikidata. This has both advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that outside users can correct or expand records created by the institution. The disadvantage is that a malicious user or simply a well-intentioned but poorly informed one can also damage records by the addition of incorrect information.

In the implementation of the new NEH grant (2023-2025), we hope to have it both ways. Our new user interface will allow, let us say, a graduate student looking at a medieval Spanish manuscript in a library in Poland to add information about that manuscript through a template. However, before that information can be integrated into the master database, it would have to be vetted by a PhiloBiblon editorial committee.

The second option, to set up a separate Wikibase instance, is straightforward but not simple. The Wikibase documentation  is a good place to start, but it assumes a fair amount of technical expertise. Matt Miller (currently at the Library of Congress) has provided a useful tutorial, Wikibase for Research Infrastructure , explaining how to set up a Wikibase instance and the steps required to go about it. Our programmer, Josep Formentí, has made this more conveniently available on a public GitHub repository, Wikibase Suite on Docker, which installs a standard collection of Wikibase services via Docker Compose V:

Wikibase
Query Service
QuickStatements
OpenRefine
Reconcile Service

The end result is a local Wikibase instance, like the one created by Formentí on a server at UC Berkeley as part of the new PhiloBiblon implementation grant: PhiloBiblon Wikibase instance. He used as his basis the suite of programs at Wikibase Release Pipeline. Formentí has also made available on GitHub his work on the PhiloBiblon user interface mentioned above. This would serve PhiloBiblon as an alternative to the standard Wikibase interface.

Once the local Wikibase instance has been created, it is essentially a tabula rasa. It has no Properties and no Items. The properties would then have to be created manually, based on the structure of the existing database or on Wikidata. By definition, the first property will be P1. Typically it will be “Instance of,” corresponding to Instance of (P31) in Wikidata.

The Digital Scriptorium project, a union catalog of medieval manuscripts in North American libraries now housed at the University of Pennsylvania, went through precisely this process when it mapped 67 data elements to Wikibase properties created specifically for that project. Thus property P1 states the Digital Scriptorium ID number; P2 states the current holding institution, etc.

Once the properties have been created, the next step is to import the data in a batch process, as described above, by reconciling it with existing databases. Miller explains alternative methods of batch uploads using python scripts.

Getting the initial upload of institutional data into Wikidata or a local Wikibase instance is the hard part, but once that initial upload has been accomplished, all data input from then on can be handled by non-technical staff. To facilitate the input of new records, properties can be listed in a spreadsheet in the canonical input order, with the P#, the Label, and a short Description. Most records will start with the P1 property “Institutional ID number” followed by the value of the identification number in the institutional database. The Cradle  or Shape Expressions tools, with the list of properties in the right order, can generate a ready-made template for the creation of new records. Again, this is something that an IT specialist would implement during the initial setup of a local Wikibase instance.

New records can be created easily by inputting statements following the canonical order in the list of properties. New properties can also be created if it is found, over time, that relevant data is not being captured. For example, returning to the Jerry García example, it might be useful to specify “rock guitarist”(Q#) as a subclass of “guitarist.”

The institution would then need to decide whether the local Wikibase instance is to be open or closed. If it were entirely open, it would be like Wikidata, making crowd-sourcing possible. If it were closed, only authorized users could add or correct records. PhiloBiblon is exploring a third option for its user interface, crowdsourcing mediated by an editorial committee that would approve additions or changes before they could be added to the database.

One issue remains, searching:

Wikibase has two search modes, one of which is easy to use, and one of which is not.

  1. The basic search interface is the ubiquitous Google box. As the user types in a request, the potential records show up below it until the user sees and clicks on the requested record. If no match is found, the user can then opt to “Search for pages containing [the search term],” which brings up all the pages in which the search term occurs, although there is no way to sort them. They show up neither in alphabetical order of the Label nor in numerical order of the Q#.
  2. More precise and targeted searches must make use of the Wikibase Query Service, which opens a “SPARQL endpoint,” a window in which users can program queries using the SPARQL query language. SPARQL pronounced “sparkle,” is a recursive acronym for “SPARQL Protocol And RDF Query Language,” designed by and for the World Wide Web Consortium (WC3) as the standard language for LOD triplestores, just as SQL (Structured Query Language) is the standard language for relational database tables.

SPARQL is not for the casual user. It requires some knowledge of SPARQL or similar query languages as well as of the specifics of Wikibase items and properties. Many Wikibase installations offer “canned” SPARQL queries. In Wikidata, for example, one can use a canned query to find all of the pictures of the Dutch artist Jan Vermeer and plot their current locations on a map, with images of the pictures themselves. In fact, Wikidata offers over 400 examples of canned queries, each of which can then serve as a model for further queries.

How, then, to make more sophisticated searches available for those who do not wish to learn SPARQL?

For PhiloBiblon we are developing masks or templates to facilitate searching for, e.g., persons, institutions, works. Thus, the institutions mask allows for searches for free text, the institution, its location, its type (e.g., university), and subject headings:

PhiloBiblon User Interface

This mimics the search structure of the PhiloBiblon legacy website:

PhiloBiblon legacy Institution Search

The use of templates does not, however, address the problem of searching across different types of objects or of providing different kinds of outputs. For example, one could not use such a template to plot the locations and dates of Franciscans active in Spain between 1450 and 1500. For this one needs a query language, i.e., SPARQL.

We have just begun to consider this problem under the new NEH implementation grant. It might be possible to use a Large Language Model query service such as ChatGPT  or Bard as an interface to SPARQL. A user might send a prompt like this: “Write a SPARQL query for FactGrid to find all Franciscans active in Spain between 1450 and 1500 and plot their locations and dates on a map and a timeline.” This would automatically invoke the SPARQL query service and return the results to the user in the requested format.

Other questions and considerations will undoubtedly arise for any institution or project contemplating the use of Wikibase for its database needs. Nevertheless, we believe that we have demonstrated that this NEH-funded project can serve as a model for low-cost light-weight database development for small institutions or similar academic projects with limited resources.

Questions may be addressed to Charles Faulhaber (cbf@berkeley.edu).

[1] For the sake of convenience, I use the Wikidata Q# and P# numbers.

[2] For a balanced  discussion of whether to join Wikidata or set up a local Wikibase instance, see Lozana Rossenova, Paul Duchesne, and Ina Blümel, “Wikidata and Wikibase as complementary research data management services for cultural heritage data.” The 3rd Wikidata Workshop, Workshop for the scientific Wikidata community, @ ISWC 2022, 24 October 2022. CEUR_WS, vol-3262.

Charles Faulhaber
University of California, Berkeley

 

 


New Publication by Faculty Lisa Pieraccini

 Etruria and Anatolia : material connections and artistic exchange

Lisa Pieraccini, Lecturer of First Millennium BCE Italy, Reception, Collecting, has published a new book, available from the UC Berkeley Library. It is also available as an e-book. 

From the publisher’s website:

Striking similarities in Etruscan and Anatolian material culture reveal various forms of contact and exchange between these regions on opposite sides of the Mediterranean. This is the first comprehensive investigation of these connections, approaching both cultures as agents of artistic exchange rather than as side characters in a Greek-focused narrative. It synthesizes a wide range of material evidence from c. 800 – 300 BCE, from tomb architecture and furniture to painted vases, terracotta reliefs, and magic amulets. By identifying shared practices, common visual language, and movements of objects and artisans (from both east to west and west to east), it illuminates many varied threads of the interconnected ancient Mediterranean fabric. Rather than trying to account for the similarities with any one, overarching theory, this volume presents multiple, simultaneous modes and implications of connectivity while also recognizing the distinct local identities expressed through shared artistic and cultural traditions.


Robert H. Merriman Plaque online kick-off event 10/3/23

photo
Dr. Mark Strauss and Robert Merriman at the Estado Mayor of the Brigade at the Fuentes de Ebro, probably on October 12, 1937. ALBA Photo 11-0766 Tamiment Library, New York University.

Please join us in celebrating the memory of the UC Berkeley graduate student in economics, who gave his life fighting fascism in Spain as a member of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.

Remembering Robert H. Merriman (1908-1938):
From Berkeley to the Trenches of the Spanish Civil War

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

6:00 PM – 7:00 PM Pacific (PST)

Online event (registration required)

Robert Hale Merriman (1908-1938) was a UC Berkeley graduate student in economics and native Californian, who was among the first of some 2,800 American men and women to join the International Brigades to fight for democracy during the Spanish Civil War (1936–39). This diverse and racially integrated group of volunteers formed the unit known today as the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, in which Merriman was quickly promoted to major, becoming one of the highest-ranking Americans in the conflict. He went missing in action on April 2, 1938, near the Ebro River in the province of Tarragona.

The University of Barcelona’s DIDPATRI research group has offered UCB a second casting of the commemorative  plaque that stands today in the village where it is believed that Merriman was held and then executed by the fascists. We are launching a fundraiser to cover the costs of its installation at the center of campus near Memorial Glade, which honors UC Berkeley veterans of World War II.

This memorial will contribute to the educational mission of the University as a readily accessible stop for campus tours, as well as a relatable point of reference for interdisciplinary classes touching on twentieth century history. Its location near The Bancroft Library, where the Bay Area Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Post Records are archived, will also call attention to the research opportunities available there. These records were donated by Merriman’s widow, Marion Merriman Wachtel, who accompanied him in Spain where she was also a member of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.

photo of plaque

Project sponsored by the Department of Spanish & Portuguese at UC Berkeley.

For more information or to make a donation, please visit ucblib.link/robert-merriman.


Celebrate print and more this Bibliodiversity Day!

two books

Bibliodiversity Day was created in 2010 by Latin American publisher members of the International Alliance of Independent Publishers, a professional collective that brings together more than 800 independent publishing houses from over 55 countries around the world.

Since then, the event has taken place every year, especially in Latin America where the term “bibliodiversidad” was first coined. On September 21, the first day of spring for the southern hemisphere, publishers, booksellers, book professionals and readers are invited to celebrate independent publishing and bibliodiversity.

Bibliodiversity is the response to the huge imbalance in the publishing market, where commercial logic vastly prevails over intellectual adventurousness, characteristic of small, independent, or unconventional publishers. For academic libraries, the imbalance between commercial and independent publishers is further exacerbated by institutional preferences for digital over print. Faced with the continued prevalence of print publishing in most regions of the world (including Europe), the spectrum of viewpoints collected and preserved by academic libraries risks becoming impoverished without the conscious intervention of librarians and book dealers in charge of such curatorial decisions.

With that here are a few recent acquisitions to showcase from the Romance languages collection on this day of bibliodiversity:

Atzeni, Paola. Corpi, gesti, stili : saper fare e saper vivere di donne eccellenti nella Sardegna rurale. Nuoro: Illisso, 2022.

Ayroles, François. En terrasse. Paris: L’Association, 2019.

Bekri, Tahar. Chants pour la Tunisie. Neuilly-sur-Seine: Al Manar, 2023.

Cruanyes Plana, Toni. La Vall de la Llum. Barcelona: Destino, 2022.

Dumas, Catherine. Salette Tavares, Obra Poética 1957-1992. Imprensa Nacional-Casa da Moeda, 2022.

Hernando, Almudena. La corriente de la historia : (y la contradicción de lo que somos). Primera edición. Madrid: Traficantes de sueños, 2022.

Junyent, M. Carme. El futur del català depèn de tu. Barcelona: La Campana, 2022.

Kanapé Fontaine, Natasha. Nauetakuan. [New edition]. La Roche-sur-Yon: Dépaysage, 2023.

Sánchez Soler, Mariano. Una hojarasca de cadáveres : crónica criminal de la España posfranquista. Primera edición. Barcelona: Alrevés, 2023.

Lugassy, Maurice. Les Justes en Occitanie : cette page de lumière dans la nuit de la Shoah. Toulouse: Privat, 2023.

Mak-Bouchard, Olivier. La ballade du feu. Paris: Le Tripode, 2023.

María, Daniel. Bisutería auténtica. Barcelona: Egales, 2023.

Migneco, Giulia. Donne e antimafia. Ed. Valeria Scafetta. Padua: BeccoGiallo, 2022.

Ondjaki. Vou mudar a cozinha : contos. 1a edição. Alfragide – Portugal: Caminho, 2022.

El Moumni, Salma. Adieu Tanger : roman. Paris: Bernard Grasset, 2023.

Previtali, Enrico, Elena Ravera, and Stefano Rozzoni, eds. “Nuovi fascismi e nuove resistenze : percorsi e prospettive nella cultura contemporanea.” Ospedaletto (Pisa): Pacini editore, 2022.

Scotti Morgana, Silvia, ed. La letteratura dialettale milanese : autori e testi. Roma: Salerno editrice, 2022.

Sonko, Seynabou. Djinns : roman. Paris: Bernard Grasset, 2023.

 

And remember, new acquisitions lists are running again for print titles in French, Italian, and Iberian Studies. Check them out!


Romance Language Collections Newsletter no. 8 (Fall 2023)

This year’s welcome back newsletter for those working in the Romance languages focuses on digital and print resources. For the most up-to-date information on the UC Berkeley Library’s services, please continue to check the Library’s Get Help page.

Cinegramas: Revista Semanal (1934-36)
A substantial run of the Spanish weekly film magazine Cinegramas: Revista Semanal (1934-36) was acquired months before the Covid pandemic hit but can now be consulted in The Bancroft Library. It ceased publication with the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in July 1936.
What’s new in the Library for Fall 2023?

  • 2022-23 Serials Reductions
  • E-reserves & bCourses
  • Reference & Instruction
  • Library Workshops
  • Library Research Guides
  • New Books and More
  • Open Access Books
  • UC Library Search – 4 FAQs
  • Featured Digitized Work

See also: