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Bibliocircuitry: Making (with/of/about) 한지 INLS 690-276: fall 2020

The Idea

This book (and the process of its creation) is an exploration of intersections - of making, digital scholarship, librarianship, and Korean studies. The paths of these intersections trace my identity as a maker.

I (Allison Kittinger) am an aspiring digital scholarship librarian interested particularly in East Asian digital scholarship. I previously did not see digital scholarship as a form of making, but after creating this book, I agree with Nichols, Melo, and Dewland (2017) when they say that “the popularization of maker culture, and thus the proliferation of makerspaces, has served diverse transdisciplinary projects—most notably digital humanities projects.” Makerspaces and digital scholarship centers in academic libraries often overlap in terms of users and services offered, and I wanted to showcase that in my book. I also convey in the creation of this book an image of librarianship as scholarship - an often-challenged idea (Shirazi, 2017). I know that as a librarian I may not be recognized as a scholar by others, and I will challenge that assumption throughout my career. Making my book from scratch represents the labor of librarian scholarship that often goes unacknowledged.

Finally, with this book I address my passions for East Asian studies and nontraditional and multilingual scholarship. The book is presented completely in Korean, and much of the content within it is in Korean as well. I also include media besides scholarly articles within the book's pages, asking the reader to consider making and digital media formats as scholarship. Hanji (한지) is traditional Korean mulberry paper, and the practice of producing it in itself reproduces hundreds of years of history with every sheet of paper. The book itself is made from hanji used in a Korean bookbinding process, making it a product and repository of made scholarship.

The Process

Papercraft

This book was created using hanji paper and Korean bookbinding. The book is a product of its own subject, creating a kind of meta-making experience for the reader. The hanji the book is bound in is printed with the 훈민정음 (hunminjeongeum), the document in which the Korean script was first recorded by its inventor, King Sejong. I wanted to center Korean as a central part of the reading experience, so I chose this paper.

Adafruit Circuit Playground Express

Upon opening the book, the reader hears the Adafruit Circuit playground Express play the beginning of Arirang, a traditional Korean folk song. I chose Arirang because it has had countless variations and additions over the years, representing an ongoing process of making rooted in tradition - like hanji.

Augmented Reality

I used Augmented reality to create a sort of digital bibliography of hanji. I used cutouts of the hanji paper for makers, and scanning a marker using the ARize app opens links to various media including videos, articles, and overviews of hanji and hanji making.

The markers read: "book," "one," "two," "three," "four," and "more," respectively. The first marker leads to introduction, markers one through four lead to media pieces about hanji, and "more" leads to a Google Scholar search of articles about hanji, encouraging the reader to explore further.

The Conclusion

My perception of makerspaces has changed greatly since I have found my maker identity through the creation of this book. Like many others (correctly or otherwise), I perceived the makerspace to be a site of technological creating with a high barrier to entry in terms of learning skills. I know that many people rarely see trainers or colleagues in makerspaces that look like them, and from experience I know how much that can lower confidence. But making is not always technical and does not always occur at the site of makerspaces, just like scholarship is not always scientific and does not always occur in the form of a peer-reviewed journal article. This shift in perspective has helped me both gain a sense of identity as a "maker" and think critically about who is still excluded - or intentionally excluding themselves - from claiming that identity.

My hope is that this book would leave readers with new perspectives or questions about scholarship, language, identity, and making.

References

Nichols, J., Melo, M. & Dewland, J. (2017). Unifying Space and Service for Makers, Entrepreneurs, and Digital Scholars. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 17(2), 363.374.

Shirazi, R. (2017). Reproducing the Academy: Librarians and the Question of Service in the Digital Humanities. In J. Sayers (Ed.), Making Things and Drawing Boundaries. University of Minnesota Press.