Best Practices for Multimodal Exhibits & A Murder Mystery Game in the Library

This spring, I curated a multimodal exhibit at the Haverford College Libraries that brought an early 18th century murder mystery to life. “Who Killed Sarah Stout?” draws together various materials from Haverford’s Quaker and Special Collections regarding The Trial of Spencer for the murder of Sarah Stout. The case still remains an unsolved mystery (Cowper was acquitted) and visitors are asked to explore the exhibit for evidence and ultimately to place their own verdicts. The exhibit is location based (think Clue) with each space providing a different lens and highlighting various archival documents. Visitors can use a mobile device to play a game in which they can summon characters from the Trial.

Throughout the process of implementing this exhibit and now reflecting back, a few core questions about best practices for multimodal or hybrid (digital and analogue) exhibits have stuck with me:

1.) How to balance the framework of creating an overall, cohesive narrative for the exhibit which can also leverage the possibilities of mobile platforms for visitors to create their own pathways? How to scaffold hybrid environments for various audiences and interests?

2.) Does the organization have a responsibility to provide access to the technology? (For example if there is a mobile component, should mobile devices be provided?) What are the gradations of access? How do these considerations impact the feasibility/sustainability of such exhibits?

3.) What are the options for scaling hybridity in terms of access, labor and tools?

4.) What are other opportunities to create hybrid models?

I would love to be able to think through some of these questions with the PhillyDH@Penn community and to hear about other projects that have engaged/ will engage with multimodal methods.

Using XML technologies

While cleaning out my old office in a recent move, I found this fortune cookie message: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

Having worked with the XQuery programming language for the last five years, I find that doing–working through problems with digital texts and images–is the best way to learn XML technologies and tools in my work as a librarian.

I’d like to propose a unconference session on using XML technologies. I’m really interested in what other people are doing and why they decided to use the tools that they found worked for them.

Any thoughts?

Registration is now closed.

We are excited to report that registrations for the June 4 event have maxed out at 255 (awesome) participants. For those visiting the site for the first time, we are no longer accepting registrations. Sorry! Please keep an eye on #phillyDH or our Twitter list to read the buzz on the day of the event.

For those who have registered, please propose an unconference session now!!! This is a great opportunity to start conversations with an amazing community of folks. Help us make this day productive and fun for all our attendees!

Workshop Registration

We are excited that over 216 people have registered for PhillyDH@Penn here at the Penn Libraries’ Special Collection Center on June 4. Please check your email for details on registering for workshops, lunch preferences, etc. We will handle workshop signups first-come first-served.

On June 4, please bring your Photo ID or PennCard for building entry. Also, please bring your laptop (or iPad) and charger along if you can. We plan to video-record the day so please plan accordingly.

Please log on to this website and let us know if any difficulties come up. You can propose an unconference session now, comment on someone else’s proposal or wait to do this in person that morning. Do let us know if you have any questions or suggestions for us.

Joseon and Chosŏn


Hello.  I am a historian of East Asian Art, and I’d like to greet you with a little survey.  The Philadelphia Museum of Art will host a major exhibition next year called “The Art of the Joseon Dynasty. “  My survey has four questions:

1) When and where was the Joseon Dynasty?  (PS–I know the “right” answer, but I want to know what non-specialists in East Asia might think this refers to.)

2) When and where was the Chosŏn Dynasty?

3) When and where was the Yi Dynasty?

4) What is the correct pronunciation of Joseon and Chosŏn?  How do they differ?

Thank you.  You can leave answers in your comments.

Collecting student work examples

Hi all, I direct the Weigle Information Commons at Penn Libraries. I’m looking forward to meeting many new people. Looks like it will be a packed day!

I would like to propose an unconference session on methods for collecting, managing and displaying student work examples from courses, independent research etc. We’ve been trying to do this ad-hoc for several years now, and I’m ready for a better plan. I know Omeka has potential for this, and would like to hear about similar projects.


I am currently in my second quarter at Drexel, working on my MLIS, with a concentration in Archival Studies. So I’m pretty brand-new to this whole thing! I have no experience whatsoever with digital humanities, but that’s why I’m here. I’m interested in attending PhillyDH@Penn to learn about new technologies and specifically about EAD, and to meet others in the field. I’m unsure about my career ambitions this early in the game, so I’m trying everything I can and meeting as many new people as possible! I am starting a part-time volunteer position with the South Asian American Digital Archive, so I’m hoping that what I learn at this conference will help me in my work there. Looking forward to this!

Why me = DH philly

DHPhilly is bringing together a Wow-plus group of creative and smart people. I look forward to meeting the makers behind the many interesting projects. My background is in graphic design, so I’ve been using digital design tools since the first Mac appeared. I am happy to contribute any aspect of my design expertise that may be useful. I am new to DH, and very excited about the work being done, and its opportunities. I am engaged in acquiring a palette of DH skills in order to contribute to the field.

I am available as a volunteer to assist with any aspect of the event. If help is needed, please contact me.

My current research project is on cartography, culture and identity in Northern Ontario, with an emphasis on recovering indigenous place names.

Session Idea: Sir Hilary, in the stacks, with the app…yet-to-be-built apps for archives and special collections.

Do you use your smart phone every day in the stacks or in the reading groom? What is the app you need that doesn’t yet exist? What would make your work day more fun, your patrons more productive, your collections more accessible? Maybe we’re all thinking of similar (unmet) needs that could be articulated and, beyond the session, built.

This session would explore and articulate the need, and maybe plan for how the app could get built – THATCamp hackathon? PhillyDH incubator?


Session notes here:

Getting Ready for PhillyDH@Penn

Here are some tips on getting comfortable with this website:

  1. Photo: Add your photo on the People page: Make an account on (with the same email address you used to register) and upload your photo there. It should show up soon on our page.
  2. Bio / Contact Info: Round out your profile now so others can reach out to you more easily between now and June 4. Click on your name at top left of page and edit your profile. (Trouble logging in? Send us an email.)
  3. Write a “hello post”:  Write now! Say a few words to start the conversation – nothing extensive needed. What inspired you to join us? What would make the day a success for you? Give a shout out to another attendee to encourage them to join in. Browse what others have said to get ideas. Choose the Blog category for general posts and the Session Proposals category to suggest an unconference topic.