Launch of BOSLIT!

Our BOSLIT project and the new database were both launched in November 2023 at the University of Glasgow. In this article, Prof Kirsteen McCue (project co-leader) captures the launch’s success, illustrating her summary with graphs and data showcasing the power of BOSLIT for future research. The opening video of this post was filmed and compiled by Ruggero Banchin at the BOSLIT launch. Ruggero is a PhD candidate in Scottish literary translation at the University of Glasgow and previous contributor to this blog.

As the final blog post of our project, we are delighted to report on the launch of our new BOSLIT on 3 November 2023 at the University of Glasgow’s new Advanced Research Centre. Joined by nearly all of our network (sadly our Digital Officer, Dr Luca Guariento, was unwell that day) and by many of the founding BOSLIT team, we were able to publicly launch the new database and to mark the things we’d achieved over two years and with the wonderful support of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and our collaborators the National Library of Scotland and the International Association for the Study of Scottish Literature.

Project lead, Prof Kirsteen McCue, opened proceedings by talking about the history of BOSLIT and thanking those who had originally developed the project. Prof Peter France, BOSLIT’s first Chairperson and Dr Tom Hubbard, one of the two key project staff, were in attendance and Tom brought with him wonderful archival materials that tracked BOSLIT through the ages. Dr Paul Barnaby, the other key BOSLIT staff member was ill, but had sent his own BLOG recounting his time there.

Kirsteen then explained what the RSE-funded network had set out the achieve. Project Research Associate, Dr Paul Malgrati then shared all of the things we have delivered, including the BLOG which tracks the history of BOSLIT as well as showcasing the work of several key writers who had recently celebrated anniversaries (e.g. George Mackay Brown, James Hogg, Muriel Spark and Walter Scott) and opening up the data by commissioning younger scholars to engage with BOSLIT and comment on its usefulness.

In Luca’s absence, Paul was also able to showcase the database and to share many of the visualisations of the data that Luca had prepared. These allowed us to see what kind of coverage BOSLIT has in terms of languages:

Focussing on one of the most popular of writers on BOSLIT, Luca was able to show a graph which presented a chronological account of translations of the work of Robert Burns:

And Luca was able to illustrate that Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island was the most translated Scottish text of all time, and to show in which languages it was most popular:

Project Co-Lead Prof Lorna Hughes, then addressed the things we’ve discovered by using BOSLIT as a case study for rescuing older information/data resources. As it had been established in the 1990s, there are challenges in making such older data sources muscular in the 21st century. She explained that the NLS had done a brilliant job in securing and archiving the data on its Data Foundry, where we were able to access it. Lorna noted that the Network’s redevelopment and exploration of the BOSLIT data shows the value of re-using and mining this data to see patterns, carry out analysis on the data, and explore trends. Bibliographic projects are excellent opportunities to explore many key issues in digital humanities: open data, community engagement, linked open data, vocabularies and ontologies, and data visualisation, as we had just seen. There is indeed further work needing to be done with BOSLIT as RDA/Linked Open Data, and exploring wikidata opportunities. And she was able to describe the exciting collaboration we had been able to undertake with colleagues at the Czech Literary Bibliography to situate BOSLIT in a European context within their LIBRI project.

Our final presentation was by one of these Czech colleagues who had come specially from Prague and who had worked to pull the BOSLIT data into the new LIBRI network just for our launch. Ondřej Vimr, a researcher at the Czech Academy of Sciences (Institute of Czech Literature), showed us what BOSLIT might be able to achieve in the future. Ondřej’s research interests range widely within the history and sociology of translation and publishing, especially focusing on the circulation of ‘less translated’ European literatures in the post-WWII era employing both qualitative and computational methods. He is the Scientific Secretary of the Czech Literary Bibliography Research Infrastructure and head of the Global and Digital Literary Studies Lab, coordinating its innovation projects and research activities in computational literary studies. The title of his presentation/demo was “Testing BOSLIT in Enrichment and presentation of large and heterogenous bibliographical datasets.”  And it was the most exciting way to conclude our work on BOSLIT as part of our network over the past two years.

One of our PhD students, Ruggero Bianchin, kindly did some social media for us on the day, and he has zipped a number of interviews and some video of the event together for us which you can see here on our BLOG.

This is not the end for BOSLIT. We are working now on the next steps, to fill in missing data and to further explore how we can ensure BOSLIT stays awake and alive for the future. We want to continue wider dissemination of BOSLIT amongst the publishing world and the area of Translation Studies and we want to further develop options to support and sustain BOSLIT in years to come.  

We will use this BLOG to update users on our progress but, for the moment, we just hope as many of you will use BOSLIT and make the most of what is already there. If you have any questions/queries then please do get in touch. We may take a little time to get back to you, but we are always keen to keep our communication channels open.

Thanks for all your support across the project!

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