Conferences & Symposia

Take Note Site Visits

"Take Note" brings together scholars from literature, history, media studies, information science, and computer science to explore the past and future roles of note-taking across the university. The conference will open with the launch of an online, interactive exhibition of notes held in Harvard University collections. On Thursday, November 1, there will be a selection of site visits to the Harvard libraries and museums that contributed to the online note exhibition.

Articles of the various site visits by Harvard students are online.

An asterisk indicates site visit at the Radcliffe Institute.

Andover-Harvard Theological Library
Time: 1:30–3:00 PM; 3:30–5:00 PM
Religious and Theological Note-taking
The site visit will provide an opportunity for participants to read, examine, and peer into some rare "notes," including a French Bible with notations of a Boston earthquake, a 19th Century translation of the book of Luke, a Mishnah copy detailing a unique date of publication, and manuscript sermon outlines, among other items. The Rare Books stacks of the library will also be toured. Andover-Harvard Theological Library was formed by an agreement in 1910 that brought together the library collections of Harvard Divinity School and Andover Theological Seminary, both of which were founded in the early 1800s. Given its age, size, and depth in languages and formats, the collection is strong in many special subject areas of religion and theology that reflect its histories (Congregational, Unitarian, and nondenominational), the scholarly interests of faculty, and the evolving curriculum of the school. The site visit will include a brief overview of the collection, a gallery talk, and a close look at additional materials with notes.

Bow and Arrow Press of Adams House
Time: 3:30–5:00 PM
Where Letters Are Things: Making Language Physical with Letterpress
This site visit will be hands on and will involve making animated flip books using letterpress as well as viewing examples of already completed flip books. NOTE: It is two steps down to get to this office, and participants may get inky and dirty from the participation element.

Bureau of Study Counsel, Harvard University
Time: 3:30–5:00 PM
Note Taker/Note-maker: The Challenges of Note Making for the Developing College Brain
The Bureau of Study Counsel is an academic and developmental center that provides learning support to Harvard students. Following a brief introduction to the services of the Bureau, this site visit will present a hands-on demonstration and discussion designed to explore the task of note-making from the perspective of the college note-maker, and to consider the roles of cognitive development, decision making, and epistemology in the note-making experience.

Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
Time: 1:30–3:00 PM
Capturing Nature in Field Notes
Held in the special collections room at the Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, this site visit will consider the field notes of scientists and naturalists. While viewing the notebooks of eminent figures such as John James Audubon, Louis Agassiz, William Brewster, and Jacques Burkhardt, we will discuss the historical tradition of field-based documentation. Using examples gathered in the recent publication Field Notes on Science & Nature (Harvard University Press, 2011), we will also discuss current practices and how field notes continue to be relevant in the development of observational skills in a wide range of disciplines.

Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library
Time: 1:30–3:00 PM; 3:30–5:00 PM
Special Collections of the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library
During this session, participants will examine the variety of ways notes and note-taking appear in the collections. Annotations in musical scores may reflect details of a particular event or provide insight into the musical thinking of a conductor or performer. Composers’ sketches and drafts notate musical ideas in development and have much to reveal about the compositional and creative process. Notes in other kinds of unpublished manuscripts as well as marginalia in published materials constitute a different category of annotation, one that reflects processes of research and scholarship rather than artistic creation. Other examples may be found in field notes and field recordings made in the context of ethnographic research that documents musical cultures and communities of the world. Conference attendees will also have the opportunity to tour the library's current exhibition, "Music First and Last: A Centenary Celebration of Sir Georg Solti," with its curator, Robert Dennis. Drawing on hundreds of heavily annotated conducting scores Solti accumulated over the course of his career and now part of the library's Sir Georg Solti Archive, the exhibition illustrates how Solti’s interpretations developed, how he solved musical problems, and how he adapted performances to suit a particular context.

Fine Arts Library and Harvard Art Museums Archives
Time: 1:30–3:00 PM
Notes in the Collections
Works will be exhibited from the collections of the Fine Arts Library and Harvard Art Museums Archives with an emphasis on some of the objects submitted to the “Take Note” exhibit. Fine Arts collections will focus on the records of travel and discovery. Museum Archives will include student drawings and paintings and document the record of teaching art at Harvard in the first part of the 20th century. Highlights will likely include class notes and notes on drawing by Harvard faculty members Arthur Pope and Paul Sachs, and a tour of the library.

Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine*
Time: 1:30–3:00 PM
Treasures from the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine
This site visit will contain a presentation, in on-site and virtual forms, of “Take Note” exhibit items and will likely include one Isaac Newton manuscript, polio evaluations of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, some Stuart touch pieces, and a Thomas Jefferson vaccination letter.

Harvard Law School Library, Historical and Special Collections
Time: 3:30–5:00 PM
Noting the Law: Informal Note-taking in Law Books Across the Centuries
The six items featured in the “Take Note” interactive exhibit will be on view, along with additional examples. Historical & Special Collections staff will provide an overview of their collections and introduce the objects on display. The objects range from an early printed volume of law cases with extensive marginal notations by a previous owner, to works bound with blank leaves to allow for copious note taking, to Harvard Law School class notes featuring doodles and musical notation.

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics*
Time: 1:30–3:00 PM; 3:30–5:00 PM
Touch the Harvard Library's Collections Through Surface Technology
Harvard librarians demonstrate new gesture-based technology on the Microsoft SUR40 table with Pixelsense. Learn how researchers can now interact in new ways with digital images from the Harvard Library collections. Items in the “Take Note” exhibit will be featured in this hands-on site visit. Participants will be shown a demonstration of gesture-based library technology tools and then will have the chance to interact with it themselves.

Harvard University Archives
Time: 1:30–3:00 PM; 3:30–5:00 PM
Note-taking Habits at Harvard: A Selected History
An historical display of notes from the 17th to the 20th centuries, including commonplace books, diaries, and annotated publications kept by administrators, faculty, and students. Participants will be introduced to the work of the Harvard University Archives, learn about the context and provenance of the materials on display, and view additional resources in online and on-site formats.

Harvard-Yenching Library
Time: 3:30–5:00 PM
Notes and Manuscripts: East Asian Materials and the Stories They Tell
This will be an introduction to the Harvard-Yenching Library with a focus on Japanese, Korean, and Chinese manuscripts and books. These materials inform us about how knowledge was learned and transmitted. Objects on display will include manuscripts on 18th century falconry and books on Western philosophy owned by a Harvard Japanese student. View a related video about the books of the Japanese student.

Houghton Library
Time: 1:30–3:00 PM; 3:30–5:00 PM
Tour of Houghton Library
This will be a general tour of the library exhibition areas, including: the Edison and Newman room, where the current exhibition is devoted to Amy Lowell as a collector; the Keats Room and Dickinson Room, where books, artifacts, and manuscripts of those poets can be seen; the Hyde Room, devoted to Samuel Johnson and his circle, where we will also have a few of the books and manuscripts that are included in the “Take Note” interactive exhibition on temporary display; the W.K. Richardson Room, where the collection of that early to mid-20th century collector is held; and the Amy Lowell Room. There is also a single case on the ground floor devoted to Dickens artifacts.

HUIT Academic Technologies*
Time: 1:30–3:00 PM
Connected Collective Knowledge: The New Annotation-Citation Paradigm
In the current digital paradigm for research, teaching, and learning, there is an enormous and growing need to create, search, and discover relevant digital resources. Scholarly annotations and citations have the potential to form a more seamless web of access to related resources, scholarship, researchers and objects for learning and study. With academic work across all disciplines now requiring detailed engagement with all forms of media including images, video, and audio, an annotation-citation system for easily citing, searching, discovering and cross-referencing relevant resources and annotations across all of these forms is paramount in building a pillar of collective knowledge. In this session, we will expose past and current trends of note taking and how modern digital annotation tools are evolving to close the digital marginalia gap. We will also offer new perspectives on the current trends to make digital marginalia persistent over time and for future research.

MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease, MIND Informatics Group*
Time: 3:30–5:00 PM
Pervasive, Transferable Annotation for Science Content on the Web
We will demonstrate a set of tools for pervasive, transferable annotation of web content for scientific and other applications. Our team has developed a suite of tools for semi-automated and manual annotation of biomedical and scientific content on the web, using textmining and formal ontologies to assist the critical judgment and annotation goals of individual scientists. The annotation target does not need to be updatable by the annotator, as annotation is stored separately from its target, and "knows" how to find its context accurately. Annotation may be kept private (personal database); or shared selectively to individuals, groups, and circles; and/or published to the web at large. We have also integrated these tools with a popular web content management system (Drupal) and other technologies for applicability to a wide variety of problems.

metaLAB at Harvard
Time: 1:30–3:00 PM
The Social Life of Objects
This site visit will present the Teaching with Things initiative, which includes both the development of a "mosaic" approach to representing the physicality and sensory affordances of cultural objects including books, and annotation layers pinpointed to 3d digital models of such objects.

Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study*
Time: 1:30–3:00 PM; 3:30–5:00 PM
Women “Take Note”
This site visit will consist of a presentation and viewing of a selection of diaries, commonplace books, class notes, and annotated publications on view with commentary by curators and/or research librarians.

Weissman Preservation Center
Time: 1:30–3:00 PM
Tour of the Weissman Preservation Center
Behind-the-scenes tour of Harvard Library’s special collections conservation laboratory. Learn how science and art are combined to preserve Harvard’s treasures as you chat with conservators treating medieval illuminated manuscripts, antiquarian maps, ephemera, photographs, Asian scrolls, and more.