This episode is a little different from what we usually do, in that the focus isn’t one person’s work but rather a new tool designed to enhance knowledge access for everyone. It’s called Marble, and it’s a collaboration between Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Libraries and Snite Museum of Art developed with a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Marble is an online portal that lets users all over the world view and learn about materials from the Snite Museum, Rare Books & Special Collections, and the University Archives in a way that is so cool it made us want to do a show literally about a website.
And to cover everything that makes Marble special, we tried something else different: Not one but two interviews, with two people who have played distinct roles in its creation.
First you’ll hear from Mikala Narlock, digital collections librarian at the Hesburgh Libraries, who analyzed how content would be uploaded to Marble. Mikala and host Ted Fox talked on a windy day outside the library about the user experience—the types of artifacts available in the platform, what shows up on your screen when you run a search, why this is different than what existed before, and importantly, how anyone can use it, regardless of whether they have an affiliation with Notre Dame.
After Mikala, it’s Erika Hosselkus, a special collections curator and Latin American studies librarian at the Hesburgh Libraries who led the content team for the Marble project. Erika and Ted met up in Rare Books and Special Collections at the library, where they talked about how the materials Marble gives people access to can inform teaching, research, and just our collective consciousness, not to mention how digital discovery can actually serve as an important gateway to the physical collections themselves.
- Marble website: marble.nd.edu
*Note: We do our best to make these transcripts as accurate as we can. That said, if you want to quote from one of our episodes, particularly the words of our guests, please listen to the audio whenever possible. Thanks.
Ted Fox 0:00
(voiceover) From the University of Notre Dame, this is With a Side of Knowledge. I’m your host, Ted Fox. We started out as the show that invited scholars, makers, and professionals to brunch for informal conversations about their work—but last season, we needed to record remotely. This year we’re excited to be able to bring back in-person interviews while still taking advantage of the flexibility afforded by our remote setup. But whether we’re literally sitting down with a guest or talking with them virtually from that trusty old walk-in closet, we hope you’ll find that you’re glad you stopped by. Thanks for listening.
This episode is a little different from what we usually do, in that the focus isn’t one person’s work but rather a new tool designed to enhance knowledge access for everyone. It’s called Marble, and it’s a collaboration between Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Libraries and Snite Museum of Art developed with a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Marble is an online portal that lets users all over the world view and learn about materials from the Snite Museum, Rare Books & Special Collections, and the University Archives in a way that is so cool it made us want to do a show literally about a website. And to cover everything that makes Marble special, we tried something else different: Not one but two interviews, with two people who have played distinct roles in its creation. First you’ll hear from Mikala Narlock, digital collections librarian at the Hesburgh Libraries, who analyzed how content would be uploaded to Marble. Mikala and I talked on a windy day outside the library about the user experience—the types of artifacts available in the platform, what shows up on your screen when you run a search, why this is different than what existed before, and importantly, how anyone can use it, regardless of whether they have an affiliation with Notre Dame. After Mikala, it’s Erika Hosselkus, a special collections curator and Latin American studies librarian at the Hesburgh Libraries. I’ll tell you more about that part of the conversation in a bit. But first … (end voiceover)
Ted Fox 2:19
Mikala Narlock, welcome to With a Side of Knowledge.
Mikala Narlock 2:21
Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to be here!
Ted Fox 2:24
We are outside of your home, the Hesburgh Library, on a very--I guess it's not drizzly right now. It's a gray day.
Mikala Narlock 2:31
It's a very dreary day indeed.
Ted Fox 2:33
So we're here to talk about Marble. And I know Marble is an acronym. What does Marble stand for?
Mikala Narlock 2:41
Yes, that's a great question. So Marble is an acronym. It stands for museums, archives, rare books, and libraries exploration. And so what it is, is a new online teaching and research tool funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Woo! It's in partnership with the Snite Museum of Art and Hesburgh Libraries. And basically, what Marble does is provide access to distinctive cultural heritage collections from the Snite Museum of Art, Rare Books and Special Collections, and University Archives through a single portal for serendipitous search and browse and discovery for the first time. And one thing I super love about the platform is that access to the content is free and open to the public. So like you don't have to have a Notre Dame Net ID to like, log in and view this content, you can be anywhere in the world and start browsing some of the amazing collections that you would normally have to physically come to campus to view.
Ted Fox 3:33
So--and again, I will talk to Erika a little bit about what we mean by cultural heritage collections. But in general, what kinds of materials and collections do people have access to through the platform?
Mikala Narlock 3:44
Yeah, that's a great question. It's kind of a whole wide range of things. So everything from the Snite could include, like, art objects, such as photographs or sculptures or paintings. And then from, like, the Rare Books and University Archives side of things, you get access to our unique manuscript collections, some of which originate at the University of Notre Dame, and some of which originate, you know, as far away as South America! I know that's Erika's specialty so that's why I bring it up. (Ted laughs) So really, it's anything and everything. But what I really love about Marble is if for instance, you were searching like Peruvian art, not only would you see Peruvian art from the Snite, but you might see related items from Hesburgh. Like, do we have a book about this? Do we have some manuscripts from a Peruvian artist? And so you can really do this like ... cross-thematic and cross-discipline searching that, even in the before times, if you could come to campus to do all these things, you'd have to go to three separate locations to do this work. And now you can do it from the comfort of your couch through Marble.
Ted Fox 4:45
How many items are in there right now?
Mikala Narlock 4:48
Yeah, so right now we have about 5500.
Ted Fox 4:51
Mikala Narlock 4:53
Ted Fox 4:54
I was gonna say, I mean, it's so new that was almost--I don't know what I thought the number would be in my head. But that is a bigger number than I thought. Very cool.
Mikala Narlock 5:00
Well, the cool thing is, is like for many, many years now, the Library, the Archives, and the Snite have been digitizing and photographing our materials, but they just weren't available through a single location. And so we were really fortunate to have like, a backlog of content that we could prioritize, and that, like, low-hanging fruit to just really get into Marble as quickly as possible.
Ted Fox 5:21
You talked about someone, you know, coming to visit campus and having to go to three different places previously to find these things. So, I think that gets at some of what's different about Marble than saying, you know, I'm going to go to the Snite Museum website and run a search or go to the Hesburgh Library website and run a search. Beyond bringing those three, I guess you could say, repositories of these items together, are there other things that's different about running a search through Marble versus doing a standard, you know, website search of the Hesburgh Library website?
Mikala Narlock 5:55
Yeah, so for a couple of reasons. And I'm gonna pick my favorites, but know that I could talk about this for hours. (both laugh) So previously, the Snite actually didn't have an online search. And so for the Snite materials in particular, this is the only way you can find their content right now. You know, before you had to either go or, you know, contact a curator, which is great, the curators there are amazing of course, but it's still, like, labor-intensive. Back to your original question of how it's different from searching the Library catalog in particular: The Library catalog, while incredibly informative, is very text-heavy. And so while you might, you know, find a record for a photograph, you would just read about it. It would say, like, photograph 1918, black and white. But what's really different about Marble is that you actually get to see the item. And so there's just a different experience of, like, reading about an item and going to view it versus just being able to see it right there, and really get a sense for what it's about.
Ted Fox 6:49
Is that uncommon to have a resource like this at a university? Because I mean, it's such a cool project and really jumped out to me when I saw it being described, which is why I want to talk to all of you about it. But is that kind of a new thing, that a university library and museum would do something like this?
Mikala Narlock 7:10
The answer's kind of yes and no. So since we applied for this grant, there have been a few other projects in this vein. And even before our work, for example, a peer institution has records from their art museum in their library catalog. But again, that's a very text-heavy--so you would just see a title and then Vermeer and you wouldn't actually get to see it. And so the fact that Marble not only brings together these three repositories, and is very visually appealing, and has a ton of other features that I could talk about for hours at end, it is sort of unique. So while other institutions and libraries and archives and museums may do bits and pieces of this, we think we're bringing it together in, like, a new and innovative way to really, really serve the campus needs and the teaching and research mission of the University.
Ted Fox 8:01
So I type marble.nd.edu into my browser, there's a big search bar right at the top, it's impossible to miss. I enter my search term, it returns results. As I like to say, we--I think we all know how search engines work at this point. But then I click on one of the results. What kind of--I mean, you've talked about this, you talked about the photos--but what information am I going to get when I click on one of these items in Marble?
Mikala Narlock 8:25
So the really, really cool thing ... I've said "really, really" a lot. [Mikala laughs] One thing I love about Marble-
Ted Fox 8:32
I also say, "Like you just said previously" a lot, so you don't need [both laugh]--you're in good company.
Mikala Narlock 8:38
Oh, good. I appreciate that. When you click on a record in Marble--first, for all of the listeners at home, please know that I love the visual appearance of the site. So, like, go check out the site.
Ted Fox 8:49
It absolutely is, it's beautiful.
Mikala Narlock 8:51
I'm so grateful for the Art Museum because they really did drive, like, the aesthetics in this project, and so I think the site is so aesthetically pleasing. But back to your original question, about what information you see when you click on an item. So at the top half of the page, we have what we call our tombstone information. That's like the title, the date, the creator, a description if we have one, then a picture. And then, if you scroll down to the bottom half, you get to see all of the information. And this information is being harvested from our source systems. So that means, the systems where librarians and curators are entering the information, we are pulling directly from that. And this is really significant because, while our records don't change frequently, they do change! As we learn new information about items, or maybe update how we talk about things. And so what's cool about harvesting from these source systems is that as soon as that information is updated, it's updated in Marble. And so our users have access to the most up-to-date information.
Ted Fox 9:52
And it's from curators and people like that.
Mikala Narlock 9:54
And it's directly from the curators, yes!
Ted Fox 9:57
Well, I mean, I'm just sitting here listening to this as someone who, in addition to this podcast, I do a lot of website work, and just think about how easy it is for things to become out-of-date. So the fact that it's pulling it in real time from these source databases, or whatever else is such a great--just so that you always know that what you're getting in this platform is the most up to date thing that you could be getting.
Mikala Narlock 10:17
Right. And so early in the project, we thought about kind of having a separate database just for Marble. But then we were like, No, within a matter of months, this is going to be out-of-date.
Ted Fox 10:26
And then someone has to go through all 5500 and say, Oh, wait, which of these do we have to update?
Mikala Narlock 10:32
[laughs] Yes. And so that's what's really beneficial about this harvesting mechanism, is users have access to the most up-to-date information, which is so critical for teaching and research.
Ted Fox 10:42
And I know there's something called Triple I-F images. So what, what are--I know this is a big deal, but I know nothing about them. So what are Triple IIIF images?
Mikala Narlock 10:52
Okay, for everybody at home, I had to pull this up. [Ted laughs] Because I always forget the acronym. So it stands for--Triple I-F stands for the International Image Interoperability Framework, which is--
Ted Fox 11:01
I don't know why you would ever forget what that stands for. [laughs]
Mikala Narlock 11:03
I know! I always go image, international, interoperable ... Like I know there's--I know the words. [laughs] But it's just a fancy way of saying that you provide a structured way to use and interact with images and text and audio files at an international level. And so, with a Triple I-F it's called a manifest; it's a structured JSON file to describe an item. You can use that manifest in any Triple I-F compliant image viewer. And this is pretty neat because if, for instance, we had a van Gogh--I don't think we do have a Van Gogh--but if we did, you could compare it with like, the Rijksmuseum's van Gogh in one viewer, and so you can do some like pretty cool cross-institutional browsing. But even at like a more--I don't want to say simpler level because it's not simple. But at a less grandiose level, Triple I-F provides a way to like, zoom in really deeply to items, and it also provides some basic image manipulation tools like a rotation, or even color adjustment. So you could have a full-color manuscript that maybe you make grayscale. Or maybe you invert the colors. And this is something that I think is really exciting, because you might be listening at home and thinking like, Well why would you want to adjust the colors on this, you know, beautiful item? And the reason we chose--we chose not to remove those tools is because we want to encourage users to think about: What could you learn about an item if you looked at it differently? You hear stories all the time about because someone x-rayed an item, they could now learn more about its history. And while we won't do that in Marble [both laugh], you know, even something as simple as making something grayscale might highlight an annotation that you missed, or turning it upside-down might make the painting completely different. And I can assure you that if you go to the Snite and try and like, turn it upside-down and get as close as you can, you will very quickly be removed from the premises. [both laugh]
Ted Fox 12:52
You will be asked to leave.
Mikala Narlock 12:54
But in Marble, you get to do that, and you get to think about, Well, what if I could do this? And if you can't tell, I think that's one of the best parts about Marble is, how can you interact with this in a different way?
Ted Fox 13:04
Well, I saw you do a demonstration of this back in the spring for something we were doing for the Provost's Office. And so I've gone on the site, and I played with the zoom in particular. And it really is--I mean, the resolution that you maintain, and how--like, the example you had used was, I think it was a, it was a monument to a president. I don't know if it was Woodrow Wilson or--
Mikala Narlock 13:24
Ted Fox 13:25
And it was like, there was like an epitaph. And when you just looked at it initially on the screen, it's like, Oh, I can tell there's writing there, but it's small. And like, the granularity you could go down to, like you were reading a page out of a book. It's really incredible.
Mikala Narlock 13:38
Yes, it's really neat. And yeah, I have found so much in items where I'm like, Oh, like now that I can zoom in, I can see this or I can see the crackling of the paint, or--yeah.
Ted Fox 13:50
So what--I know there's a portfolios feature too, which is something that, to launch the site, people at the Snite and Hesburgh Libraries have curated some portfolios. But I know this is also an interactive thing for users who come to the site and use it.
Mikala Narlock 14:05
Yes, so the portfolio. I keep saying it's my favorite because every part of Marble is my favorite. But the portfolio really is my favorite tool. It empowers members of the Notre Dame community to be curators of their own collections. And so with the portfolio tool, you log in with your NetID; so this is the one feature you have to have a Notre Dame ID to use. But then after you've logged in, you can start saving items to your own portfolio, kind of like a, almost like a, I hate using Amazon as an example, but almost like a shopping list in some ways, where you can save items to come back for future viewing. And then in these portfolios, you can add annotations. And so what that means is it could be "This is a really pretty image," or it could be "This demonstrates X, Y or Z movement." And so, we haven't had a ton of uptick with these yet because the site launched very recently, but we think that they're going to be useful for teaching and research in particular. Because I mean, I was thinking of it as like, if I'm a researcher, I can make a portfolio for all the items I want to use in an article. Or maybe I'm a teacher, and I want to make a portfolio to have my students view prints over time, and so I pulled them together, and I share it with my students. Or maybe I'm a student, and I want to demonstrate knowledge I've learned over a semester, and so I make a portfolio and share with my professor as a final assignment or something. Or maybe I just think there are some really cool images, and I want to save them for future viewing for fun. Yeah.
Ted Fox 15:36
Yeah, no, that's very cool. So you mentioned the grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Mikala Narlock 15:40
Ted Fox 15:41
That the University received back in 2018. And I think--I told you I do this all the time [both laugh]--I think we talked about some of these things, but what need in making that grant to the University to develop this tool that brought these--not disparate resources, but resources from different places together--was it knowledge accessibility broadly, is it a preservation kind of thing? What need was the foundation aiming to address in giving the University that grant to make this resource?
Mikala Narlock 16:13
Yeah, that's a phenomenal question. And it's again one that I could talk about for way too long. So at the local level, this was trying to solve the problem of, you know, the Snite had no online access point. And here in Hesburgh Libraries, we actually had many, many, many access points, digital collections. And so you'd have to know who to talk to, or where to go or how to find it. And so by bringing all of the items together into Marble, now you just have the one-stop shop. But at a larger level, while to the outside observer, libraries, archives, and museums might seem pretty similar, we actually have a ton of nuance and differences between our works. So for example, we use different software, or even something like "format"--you know, like a photograph or an image or what have you, it might be called "classification" or "genre" or "medium" in different departments. And so this grant was seeking to understand like, how can we bring together the libraries, archives, and museums, both at that technical level of like, How do our software and our databases talk together? But also at the human level: How can we understand what format means even knowing that we use it slightly differently? Or how can we make this shared understanding? And so with Marble, we released all of the software as open-source. And so other institutions around the world can adopt all or part of our technical solution. But we've also made all of our, like, human infrastructure documentation publicly available. So even if, like, a smaller institution can't adopt our technical platform, they can see how we brought the teams together, or how we mapped format to genre or that sort of thing. And so we're hopeful this will enable more collaboration on a much larger scale.
Ted Fox 18:02
So last question, and we've touched it, but it's worth emphasizing. Anyone listening to this podcast: How do they get access to Marble?
Mikala Narlock 18:09
Yes, they go to marble.nd.edu. And they go check out how visually appealing the site is. It has a really big header image that I absolutely love. And yeah, anybody anywhere in the world can go there right now.
Ted Fox 18:22
That's awesome. Mikala Narlock, thanks so much.
Mikala Narlock 18:25
Thank you so much.
Ted Fox 18:28
[voiceover] My thanks again to Mikala for braving that wind with me. Erika Hosselkus and I met up in Rare Books and Special Collections at the Library, where, as mentioned, she is the Latin American studies librarian. Erika led the content team for the Marble project, and we talked about how the materials it gives people access to can inform teaching, research, and just our collective consciousness, not to mention how digital discovery can actually serve as an important gateway to the physical collections themselves. [end voiceover]
Ted Fox 19:00
Erika Hosselkus welcome to With a Side of Knowledge. I talked a little bit to Mikala earlier about Marble giving access, people access to cultural heritage collections. But what does that mean, exactly? What are we talking about when we talk about cultural heritage collections?
Erika Hosselkus 19:17
Yeah, so that's a good question. There are many ways that you could define cultural heritage. And I think for purposes of Marble, cultural heritage kind of refers to any sort of artifact--whether it's a work of art, like a painting or a sculpture, but also a book or a manuscript--any artifact that kind of gives insight into the human past. So it's a whole variety of materials produced by people. And with Marble, of course, it's not just things produced in North America or in the US, but it's a global perspective. So human production from across time and across the globe, really.
Ted Fox 19:55
And do we have specific areas at Notre Dame, between the Hesburgh Libraries and the Snite Museum of Art, where we're particularly strong, where people would be particularly drawn to finding those kinds of artifacts here?
Erika Hosselkus 20:09
Yeah, another interesting question. So yeah, I mean, historically, of course, Notre Dame has collected Catholic materials. So from way back, it was a repository for manuscripts kind of reflecting Catholic heritage, Catholic experience. So that's one of our strengths. The Snite has strengths in sort of the European artistic tradition. But also with Marble, we have been conscious about trying to reflect a much broader experience than what might be traditionally associated with Notre Dame, and over the past years, and maybe decades, we've been collecting more broadly, so we also hope that we're representing other communities, as well. There are materials that represent the Latinx experience. We have items--I know there are Snite pieces that are from Africa, some that reflect Asian American artists, so we strive to represent as broadly as we can.
Ted Fox 21:09
So I know this project--I mean a big project like this, of course it was in the works before the pandemic. But I would imagine that the last year-and-a-half has really kind of driven home the importance of finding new and inventive ways to give people access to holdings that maybe they had to visit physically before. Is that, has that been your experience of this time, that this almost seems like it's taken on even more of an importance than it did before?
Erika Hosselkus 21:36
Yeah, I think that's very true. And it became true on a kind of a personal level, especially because working in Rare Books and Special Collections, we typically connect with students, with faculty, with researchers on a daily basis, like face-to-face. So we meet with them, we talk with them about their research interests, we encourage especially students to use our collections, we host classes. And when COVID hit we stopped all of that pretty abruptly, as many of us did, things--things changed. But we didn't want to completely lose that kind of daily interaction with people that might be interested in our collections. So I think COVID, like you say, it made us even more aware of something that we already knew, which is that we need to make these collections more available, make them more easily accessible. And it also encouraged us to use technology in really new and innovative ways. And fortunately, we had already begun the Marble project. So we were able to benefit from that, and we were able to send students and faculty to Marble. It's still in development, so we don't have everything in there, we're adding to it all the time, but we did send people to Marble. And I actually kind of have an anecdote, if you don't mind.
Ted Fox 22:48
Erika Hosselkus 22:49
A colleague of mine and I--my colleague, Rachel Bohlmann, who's our American history curator--we kind of wanted to figure out a way to do some teaching with our materials during COVID, and we couldn't do it face-to-face. And you may know that the University offered a winter session, which is a new offering for Notre Dame students, and winter session courses were taught almost entirely online. So we actually proposed a course for the winter session using Marble. And what we did was we asked students in our course to create a digital exhibition. So they used Marble, which has materials from Rare Books, the Snite, University Archives. The course was sort of centered around the theme of diversity, so we asked students to look at diversity in our campus collections, create their own digital exhibition. So kind of back to your question, I would say that COVID actually pushed us to do new and unique things with our materials, things that we hadn't previously done; we'd never had students create a digital exhibition. So really, in a way COVID was a good push for us, and Marble was a good tool for us during that time period. So, I actually feel like we had a good outcome, despite, you know, the challenges that were presented, as well.
Ted Fox 24:04
And you talked about how, you know, you proposed a class and taught that. Is that, kind of the digital exhibition thing, is that how you envision other faculty using it in the classroom? Or is that just one way that faculty could use it in the classroom?
Erika Hosselkus 24:20
Yeah, so I think that's just one way. I mean, I think that it's a really excellent way to use Marble, if I can say that.
Ted Fox 24:27
[both laugh] Absolutely you can say that.
Erika Hosselkus 24:29
I'm not trying to like, pat myself on the back. But I was so glad that we were able to get students to actually produce their own exhibition, to display their own research in a way that is done by professionals in museums and archives fields. So I think that is a great way to use Marble. I think students and faculty can use it in all different ways, though. Something as simple as, if you want your students to research a certain topic or theme, you can ask them to go to Marble, search that topic or theme, and pull together a portfolio of materials that relate to that theme. It's great, of course, because you can get items from Archives, from Rare Books, and also the Snite, so you're mixing, kind of art with, you know, historical materials in a unique way. So that's a really easy way to use it. I think we also hope that students will start to go to Marble on their own at some point and look there for resources for their own research, for their own course papers, and that it won't always be at the impetus of faculty. Something else that we, we hope with Marble is that, it will sort of be a gateway to our collections. We don't ever want it to entirely replace the experience of going to Rare Books or going to the Snite. But you know, you start there. And maybe you don't find exactly what you want, then you actually go to the repository and you talk with somebody and kind of get more, but--lots of ways to use it. I'm also, Mikala and I always like to talk about spin-off ways that you can use Marble. So if you go to Marble, you can see an image, right? You can even download an image. But what if you want to do more? You can kind of take that image, and there's software out there, you can put it in a piece of software--there's an example I'm thinking of called Exhibit--where you can take an image like of a painting, and Exhibit allows you to zoom in to little details in the painting and, like, annotate those details. So you can kind of create a little mini exhibit on one piece of art. And because of the way Marble is structured, it uses Triple I-F, you can do that. So there's lots of ways to kind of pull stuff from Marble and even build on it.
Ted Fox 26:34
And I mean, one thing I want to, you know--I think it's important to point out to people listening to this is. As important as it is to provide access to these kinds of materials to Notre Dame faculty and Notre Dame students, I know--it was one of the reasons why I was so interested in doing an episode about Marble because we, you know, we created this podcast around the idea of making information at a university more accessible to people, and as accessible to as many people as possible. And I know Marble, I mean, is really a tool created with that in mind. It's trying to make these holdings that Notre Dame has not only accessible to the campus community, but accessible to anyone who goes to the website.
Erika Hosselkus 27:15
Yeah, absolutely, that's something that's really important for us about Marble is that we try to make the materials in Marble as openly available, as accessible as possible, to as many people as possible. So we tried to provide downloading capabilities when we can. Sometimes we have copyright concerns or privacy concerns that limit us, but we tried to be as open as we can with it. I kind of have another anecdote that I'd like to share.
Ted Fox 27:45
[both laugh] Absolutely, we love anecdotes here.
Erika Hosselkus 27:47
So one group of materials that we've currently got in Marble is a big collection of 19th-century Peruvian periodicals, like newspapers, magazines. And you might not think of that as a traditional strength of Notre Dame, and maybe it isn't, but we do have a really rich collection of these materials from Peru. So we got a grant to digitize--it's about 5,000 pages-worth of materials. So we digitized those, and they are now available in Marble. And this is a great example of something that we've sort of made accessible to a population that maybe not--would not otherwise have access. So we like the idea that Peruvians can look at these if they would like to; if they just go to Marble, they're there. And these items are out of copyright, so they can download them, take them, use them for research. So that's, that's a good example.
Ted Fox 28:34
Yeah, that's very cool. And I mean, I think we're--this is a, it's a big-picture question. But it goes to--I think you're starting to, you know, hit on that there that--I have observed, and this certainly isn't a novel observation, but that we, as humans, are often characterized by an unwillingness or resistance to step outside of what we know is our experience of the world. And I'm wondering from like, you know, kind of just a bigger-picture perspective, as a curator, as someone who has devoted your professional life to curating knowledge and making it available to people, what role does access to cultural heritage materials have to play in how people of different backgrounds relate to one another? Or does it have a role to play? Am I, am I overstating it? But as an outsider, it seems like it really has an important role to play.
Erika Hosselkus 29:27
Yeah, I agree. I think it really can. And I think, you know, with specific reference to Marble, it's, as we've been saying, it provides more people with access to more of our cultural heritage, our sort of broadly defined, broadly shared human heritage. And just kind of thinking about the way that a person interacts with Marble: You go to it, and maybe you put in a search because you know kind of what you're looking for, a particular place or time or theme, and you find an item, but you find a whole bunch of items, right? So you immediately have access to more of cultural heritage than you did before you went to Marble, right? So even just exploring--you can't help but explore when you go there. So I think this tool does something important for that access to cultural heritage. You almost--you explore by default when you go to it. And something I think also that's important about the access is that it not only gives you information, but it can provoke questions, thoughts, conversation. And kind of just to jump back to the the winter session course that we taught, we asked our students to look for items in Marble, to talk about diversity in our campus collections, and they had some really interesting and thoughtful conversations. And so I saw, you know, how this can work. If you give people access to these things, you ask them to think about it, they have great conversations. Of course, Notre Dame students are great, so they tend to have great conversations, but I think the idea applies broadly. You can, you know, open up conversation in new ways with access like this.
Ted Fox 31:05
Erika Hosselkus, thank you so much for making time to talk to us. And I mean, I know we're still adding things to this, but congratulations on this project because it seems like a really, a really cool thing that you all are doing over here.
Erika Hosselkus 31:16
Yeah, well, thank you very much, and we encourage everybody to take a look, we are adding all the time.