Walsh named interim co-director of the HathiTrust Research Center

John Walsh
John Walsh

John Walsh, an associate professor of information and library science at the School of Informatics and Computing, has been named interim co-director of the HathiTrust Research Center.

Walsh will replace Professor of Informatics and Computing Beth Plale, who will be taking a temporary assignment as science advisor for public access for the National Science Foundation. Plale was among the founders of the HTRC in 2011, which was opened to develop cutting-edge software tools and cyberinfrastructure to enable advanced computational access to the growing digital record of human knowledge in the HathiTrust Digital Library (HTDL).

“I’m grateful to John for his willingness to take on this position,” Plale said. “Coming from the Department of Information and Library Science, he reaches students who have a different view of the Hathitrust Digital Library than my students, who tend to be computer science students studying large-scale systems and data science. He represents a new phase in HTRC’s future in a very positive way.”

Walsh, who has been at IU since 1996 and earned his Ph.D. in English from the university in 2000, also serves as ILS Graduate Program Director and ILS Doctoral Program Director.

“I’m excited to serve as co-director of the HTRC and support the Center's work fostering digital research of cultural heritage documents and other texts,” Walsh said. “I have a passion for building and using digital tools to explore literary and historical texts of the sort found in the HathiTrust's diverse collections. Filling this position with allow me to help other researchers pursue digital and computational research with HTRC tools and HT collections.”

The HathiTrust was founded in 2008 as a partnership between the Big Ten Academic Alliance and the University of California system to establish a preservation repository for content digitized as part of the Google Books Library project. It has since grown to a consortium of 132 member research libraries. HathiTrust encouraged the foundation of HTRC in 2011 in forward-looking recognition by research library leaders of the future of computational analysis of the massive digital corpora that is HTDL. This foresight is realized through HTRC Analytics v4.0, a release scheduled for Feb 2018 as the first release of the HTRC software and services that makes the in-copyright content broadly available for non-profit use.

“The HathiTrust Research Center has become a critical asset for SoIC, and Beth’s leadership has been essential to its development,” said Raj Acharya, dean of SoIC. “I have confidence John will continue to push HTRC to new heights and help researchers reach the full potential of the project.”

For more information on the HathiTrust Research Center, visit their website.

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