In 2012, Dr. Brian Gran (Associate Professor, Sociology) was one of five faculty members selected to further their research through the Freedman Fellows Program, a partnership between Kelvin Smith Library and the College of Arts and Sciences. The program aims to promote scholarly research at CWRU by granting awards to faculty members pursuing projects that the Freedman Center for Digital Scholarship can support with new ways of presenting, sharing, visualizing, collecting and analyzing data.
Gran, a former lawyer whose sociological research focuses on human rights and institutions that support and hinder their enforcement, proposed a project entitled Digital Mapping of Child Trafficking in Northeast Ohio, to expose child trafficking occurring all too close to home.
“Many are surprised to find that human trafficking is happening in their own backyard,” said Gran. “Even some of those working on the ground level with this topic don’t realize the full extent of the problem.”
Integral to Gran’s project was the creation of digital maps to visualize the data he collected daily from online escort service ads. To enable the spatial data component, he was paired with Ann Holstein, a GIS (geographic information systems) specialist at Kelvin Smith Library.
“Dr. Gran’s data included locational information,” explained Holstein. “This allowed us to create maps to analyze spatial trends, such as where the heaviest areas of human trafficking are occurring in the Greater Cleveland area.”
The maps helped Gran to see where individual incidents were occurring, as well as larger patterns geographically. He expressed that it would be difficult to identify trends without the maps because of the rapidly changing nature of the data.
“The information is hidden and it moves quickly,” said Gran.
The Freedman Fellows Program also enabled Gran to share his research with a broader audience, including a presentation on campus to showcase his project with Holstein as co-presenter. Since then, Gran has presented his research at academic conferences and is pursuing additional grants, such as a proposal to the National Institute of Justice in response to a call for proposals to estimate human trafficking. The research that the Freedman Fellows Program supported will be an essential component of the overarching project.
In addition to Dr. Gran, four faculty members were selected as Freedman Fellows in 2012. Each Fellow presented an overview of his or her project, process behind the methodology and how technology impacted the success of the project.
As digital scholarship is adopted by a wider array of disciplines to investigate research topics more deeply, KSL's Freedman Center for Digital Scholarship is examining how it will need to adapt accordingly. In fall 2012, the library was fortunate to receive a $1 million lead gift from Marian K. Freedman and her family to significantly expand the scope of the Freedman Center’s services. KSL will use this funding to further the Freedman Center’s transformation to a physical and virtual destination for discovery, creativity and collaboration.
To learn more about our plans for moving forward, we invite you to read the Freedman Center for Digital Scholarship White Paper that was issued this spring to outline the new vision and collect feedback.
In April 2013, the Freedman Center hosted a colloquium entitled, Exploring Collaboration in Digital Scholarship. Co-sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences and Information Technology Services, the colloquium focused on how producing and supporting digital scholarship is a necessarily collaborative process and is better because of it. Speakers from THATCamp (The Humanities and Technology Camp), Emory University, the Research Data Alliance, College of Wooster, NITLE (National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education) and the University of Cincinnati joined representatives from KSL to share their thoughts on how collaboration has brought a new level of discovery and understanding in support of scholarship.
From September through December, 2012, two KSL staff members participated in the DuraSpace/ARL/DLF E-Science Institute to learn more about supporting e-research on campus. The research team consisted of KSL’s Brian Gray (Team Leader for Research Services and Research Services Librarian for Chemical Engineering and Macromolecular Science & Engineering) and Yuening Zhang (Research Services Librarian for Biology and Chemistry), along with Michael Kenney (Faculty Support & Academic Technology Leader, Information Technology Services) who served as the required non-library representative.
The webinar-based Institute consisted of 22 organizations, and focused on e-research support with an emphasis on the sciences, although the outcomes could be applied to all disciplines. The team took part in discussions about how to set an organizational baseline and context for e-research on campus; how to develop the “building blocks” for the future; and how to develop a strategic agenda for not only the library, but for the entire university.
“The Institute wasn’t to tell us how to start e-research on campus or how to teach people to be e-researchers, but to ask the correct questions and start developing our own plan for our Case community,” said Gray.
As a result, the team has already begun initiating conversations across campus. The lessons of the Institute are taking an immediate effect on the library and its resources as well, such as directly influencing the Freedman Center 2.0 white paper.