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#NextUP: Manifold: Digital Publishing as a Thing of Beauty

This year’s #UPWeek coincides with a meeting of the Manifold Team—representatives from the three founding partners, the CUNY Graduate Center, Cast Iron Coding of Portland, OR, and the University of Minnesota Press. We’ll all be meeting halfway between Portland and NYC in Minneapolis, seeing each other in person for the first time since the pandemic began.

Five years in, it seems like a good time to reflect on a digital publishing platform that has grown and evolved significantly since the launch of its first version in 2018. Now used by over thirty publishers, many of whom began through a pilot program generously funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Manifold just released its seventh version earlier this year.

Home to hundreds of publications, many of them enhanced with video and audio resources, highlighted and annotated by readers around the world, Manifold was designed to extend the print book into the digital space, without sacrificing the beautiful reading experience that a well-designed print book provides. It remains an open source project, benefitting from community feedback and community-funded features.

With the new journal features of v7, Manifold now hosts publications such as Ada, Cultural Critique, and the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, creating unique digital hubs where these journals’ reader communities can meet and interact. A lot of time and thought has gone into improving the platform for open educational resources (OERs) as well, in collaboration with Manifold publishers such as Affordable Learning Georgia and the Open Education Network, allowing teachers to create and curate Project Collections across Manifold instances, making it possible to frame an entire syllabus within Manifold. We’ve continued to see the platform used to create digital editions of public domain texts that can be highlighted, annotated, and discussed in public or private reading groups in the classroom.

The analytics features have been a favorite of publishers and authors since they were launched in v6—and I can say firsthand what a pleasure it is to be able to report the exact number of engagements, highlights, annotations on an author’s text. Authors continue to get excited about the expanding capabilities of Manifold to enhance and expand their work, and the fact that Open Access allows their work to resonate broadly and internationally.

Of course, each press has its own reasons for turning to a platform like Manifold. At a recent Manifold Community Meetup, Managing Editor Deirdre Mullervy of Gallaudet University Press explained that the press had received a directive from their administration to include more sign language video in their texts, which was what led them to the Manifold platform initially. They have since expanded their offerings significantly, and released a recent guide to bilingual Deaf Education Studies that has become one of the most visited resources on their site.

Here at Minnesota, our Manifold instance now hosts almost 200 projects, far outstripping our initial projections. It has allowed us to release a dozen monographs open access, through the TOME program, and several more through the new Fellowships Open Book program at the NEH. It has also allowed us to work out individual arrangements with both new and backlist authors to open their work through Manifold, in cases where their universities or funding agencies have resources to support open access. Authors who envision multimodal works, or iterative projects that will be published in stages, come to us directly—sometimes specifically because of our association with Manifold. The platform’s ongoing accessibility work has informed our own efforts to make Minnesota books more accessible to all readers.

A recent Modern Philology review of Whitney Trettien’s Cut/Copy/Paste, which has over 400 resources added to its Manifold edition, gives a sense of how far the platform has come. “The printed version of Cut/Copy/Paste is, unusually, no longer the nimblest or richest form to read for review,” reviewer Georgina Wilson wrote. “Through a spiraling array of content ... this volume practices the very affordances of multimedia publishing that it describes.”

With authoring functionality and a payment authorization gateway coming in its next version, now is a great time for university presses to check out the Manifold website where you can learn a lot more about all the possibilities of the platform and start envisioning your own Manifold instance. Or just spend some time with a Manifold text to see how it looks and feels. For all the growth of the platform and the community around it, Manifold has thrived by keeping the reader at the center of it all.

For more #UPWeek posts showcasing the essential work of university presses, please visit this link.

Eric Lundgren
Outreach and Development Manager
University of Minnesota Press

A Belated Version 7 Update

A belated update on the Version 7 release: We were so thrilled to share Manifold version 7.0 with our community in August. Our developers at Cast Iron Coding have put an incredible amount of time and care into the latest release, one of our biggest yet, which continues to build in new features and capabilities that have been requested by our users.

This version of Manifold was created with significant support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the NEH’s Office of Digital Humanities, which supported the OER and teaching features. We are deeply grateful to both of these organizations.

Some of the highlights of version 7 include:

  • Collections and Reading Group Improvements. Users can now gather content in collections to make it easier to find in the future. This feature will be especially helpful for instructors who can build a collection of content on a Manifold instance and categorize it for their students. New features in Reading Groups make it easier to view, archive, and clone reading groups, as well as to keep track of individual responses to texts.

  • Journals This release adds initial support for publishing a journal on Manifold. We’ve added a new top-level “Journals” model that can be managed in the Manifold backend interface. We hope to build out this feature in future releases in response to user feedback.

  • Accessibility As part of our ongoing work to make Manifold usable by as many readers as possible, this release includes a number of significant accessibility improvements. Most notably, users may now use carat browsing to navigate annotations and can make annotations without using a mouse.

Manifold 7.0 also includes a client refactor (moving from monolithic Sass stylesheets to the more modular CSS-in-JS) and now ships with all client application labels stored in a json localization file, making it possible to translate Manifold’s interface into other languages. We are most grateful to Melusina Press and the University of Luxembourg for supporting this localization feature, and invite Manifold publishers to contribute translations.

You can read more about the latest release and all the relevant documentation for this release here.

We hope you have fun experimenting with version 7—and as always, please get in touch with us to share your experiences with the new release. Thanks so much for being part of our community and for all you have done to support the continuing evolution of Manifold!

Hand-drawn portraits of the Manifold team members who presented.

Manifold Community Meetup Recap

One of the highlights of 2021 was that we held our first quarterly Manifold Community Meetup. Something we love about building Manifold is seeing all of the amazing projects and initiatives that Manifold makes possible across the different groups and institutions who use it. At the same time, we found that publishers using Manifold often asked us for a means through which to discover what other Manifold instances are up to and how they have solved common challenges and obstacles. And so we inaugurated Manifold Community Meetups: a quarterly virtual meetup for Manifold community members to share practices, discuss strategies, ask questions, troubleshoot difficulties, and learn from each other.

Our first meetup was held on November 17 from 3-4 pm and featured short presentations on two wonderful projects: The Greater Chaco Landscape from University Press of Colorado, and Race &/in America at Brown University. Both projects bring together a variety of media in an exciting hybrid publication.

Darrin Pratt, director of UP Colorado, discussed the creation of The Greater Chaco Landscape, a book of essays based on a seminar held at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in August 2017 that addressed the conflict between Native communities and energy development in the Chaco Canyon. The open access version of this work on UP Colorado's Manifold instance hosts video footage of the individual seminars that served as the underpinnings of each chapter as well as interviews with Native elders and scholars that explain the importance of the Chaco Canyon to their culture and society. We also got to hear from two members of the core development team for Race &/in America: Allison Levy, Digital Scholarship Editor for the Brown University Library’s Digital Publications Initiative, and Crystal Busch, Brown Univeersity’s Designer for Online Publications. Similar to The Greater Chaco Landscape, Race &/in America began as a live event - a panel discussion series held by the Centre for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown University that investigated the long legacy of anti-Black racism in America. Race &/in America is an eight-part open access series that contains videos of the original panel discussions alongside expanded content and resources. Darrin, Allison, and Crystal shared their experiences organizing and supporting these amazing projects. We then had time to break into discussion groups for press, teaching, and library users, where we got to talk about what has worked and what has been a challenge in developing Manifold projects, sustaining a Manifold instance, and training users. We also discussed what topics people would like us to cover in future meetups.

We are looking forward to the second Manifold Meetup, which will be held on Tuesday, February 15 at 11 am EST, and will focus on making the best use of reading groups on your Manifold instance.

Manifold Welcomes Six New Publishers

The Manifold Team is delighted to announce the six publishers who will be joining the Manifold community in 2022 with grant-funded support packages, thanks to generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This international group takes Manifold in bold new directions, and includes two renowned art museums; an association for cultural studies and digital collection research; a digital magazine that unites the best of the university with the openness of the internet; a scholarly journal of film, media and digital culture; and a network of open education advocates.

Please join us in welcoming them to the Manifold community:

We hope to introduce some of these new publishers at the next Manifold Community Meetup, which will be held virtually on Tuesday, February 15, 2022 at 11:00 am EST. These quarterly meetups are a chance for Manifold users to make connections and solve common problems, to showcase how they're using Manifold's features, and hear about cutting-edge developments to the platform. Save the date! We will be sending out a formal invitation early in the new year.

In welcoming these new publishers to our platform, we also reflect gratefully on all our friends who have supported this open-source project and brought such wonderful contributions of creativity and knowledge to Manifold in the past year.

Thank you for being part of our community, and warmest holiday wishes from all of us.

— The Manifold Team

Log4j2 Vulnerability

Good afternoon, everyone!

A few people have asked me about Manifold’s susceptibility to critical log4j2 vulnerability (CVE-2021-44228) that was announced last week.

So far, we haven’t seen evidence that Manifold is vulnerable to this exploit. Manifold relies on Elasticsearch for its search functionality, and Elasticsearch in turn uses the vulnerable log4j logging library. The version that ships with Manifold is vulnerable, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the vulnerability can be easily exploited. Manifold does not expose its Elasticsearch service to the public, and all connections to it are mediated through the API. We’ve investigated, and it’s our view that no user input from a public Manifold instance can make its way into log4j logs, which means that Manifold does not appear to be vulnerable. Furthermore, the Elasticsearch team claims that version 7, which is what is in the Manifold package, is not susceptible to remote code execution.

That said, it pays to be especially cautious in these matters, and we’re working on 6.0.1 packages that will include updates to Elasticsearch and log4j. As of earlier this morning, we were still waiting on Elasticsearch 7.16.1 to be released, and it will take us a few days to build and test new packages. I expect we’ll release 6.0.1 on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week, which will be an easy upgrade for everyone already on v6. It should also be easy for people on v5, as we haven’t had any significant reports of upgrade problems.

If you installed Manifold from one of our packages (for Ubuntu or CentOS), you can easily mitigate the problem by adding one line to a file and restarting Elasticsearch. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Shell into your server and edit /var/opt/manifold/elasticsearch/jvm.options as root.
  2. Add this text on a new line at the end of the file and save it: -Dlog4j2.formatMsgNoLookups=true
  3. Restart Elasticsearch to pick up the new configuration: sudo manifold-ctl restart elasticsearch

If you are hosting Manifold through Manifold Digital Services, rest assured that we will be releasing a similar mitigation in the next couple hours to all instances.

We will also publish updated docker images when 6.0.1 is released later this week.


OA Week 2021 Project Spotlight 4

The Mill on The Floss#

As part of Open Access Week, Manifold is featuring interviews with the creators of exemplary projects that use Manifold's capabilities to the fullest. Our fourth installment in this series is an "Anthropocene Edition" of The Mill on The Floss. We interviewed its creators, Megan Butler, Francesca Colonnese, and Mara Minion, about this exciting project.

How did the project come together? Who was involved?#

Our Manifold project around George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss grew out of a suggestion from our professor, Jesse Oak Taylor, for an alternative to the classic quarter-end seminar paper. The project allowed us to flip the script: instead of incorporating the novel into our essays, we incorporated our research into the novel. This also gave us a useful perspective on what is involved in creating a scholarly edition of a text. What and how much should we include? How do we frame our edition as an ecocritical intervention into the novel? How can we bring to the novel a new understanding of the role of nature, including how that fits with modern concerns about the Anthropocene?

Our team included three graduate students and three undergraduate seniors, each with an assigned number of annotations to pair with the text and each with a section of the introduction to write. Two of us handled the coding and internal design of the project. By having a project that bridged many talents and levels of scholarship, we were able to produce something that felt valuable to have live on the internet at the end of single quarter.

What are your favorite aspects of this project?#

It is atypical in our graduate program that literary studies seminars invite experimentation. As a result of breaking free from the research paper, we were able to produce work that extended our skills at writing to a reader who was not known to us, one beyond the classroom. We still imagined our audience was an intelligent reader, which felt freeing and interesting and left us less nervous about taking some risks with our ideas. Particularly since literary studies often avoids collaborative models of producing critique, we enjoyed working together. Our annotations were a lot like weekly discussion board posts but more fun. This was a good reminder that knowledge production can come in bite size chunks rather than article or dissertation length works.

What Manifold features (i.e. reading groups, social media integration, etc.) did you use to achieve your goals for this project?#

We mostly used Manifold’s text digestion and annotation tools for this specific project. The ability to create a robust edition was simplified by the Manifold platform. We found the platform quick and accessible for a group using it for the first time. Although we didn’t use the reading group feature to bunch our annotations, that would have been another option.

What challenges did you encounter and how did you overcome them?#

From time to time, we had some design challenges that left us feeling hemmed in. For example, we wished the annotations had more linking options—instead of jumping to a chapter head, we wanted to link right to a passage. Manifold also offers limited tools for locating the interactions of people with the text outside of reading groups. We can see from the number of comments that this edition has been of use to others, but it is difficult to interact with these comments, even as project authors, and we would love to ask the annotators if our edition helped them.

What sort of impact have you seen from this project being open access?#

We had a great time presenting our project to the class and stepping out of the seminar paper norm—the rest of the class and the professor were surprised at how we enlivened the novel in new ways. Manifold also let our work for the quarter live on, which is so different from the paper that gets dropped in a folder and is rarely seen again. We know that others have been able to enjoy and read our work but look forward to other methods of tracking usage, like Manifold’s new analytics tool.

Megan Butler is a PhD student at the University of Washington whose writing and research seek uses for literature in the ongoing crises of forced migration and refugee care. Outside of school, she is an avid triathlete and yoga practitioner who loves hanging out with her three not-so-young kids.

Francesca Colonnese is a PhD student at the University of Washington. Her research focuses on issues of temporal perception in 19th C poetry. When not working on George Eliot Manifold projects, she reads contemporary fiction at dog-friendly coffeeshops.

Mara Minion is also a substantial contributor on this project, doing much of the technical work.

OA Week 2021 Project Spotlight 3

The Negro and The Nation#

As part of Open Access Week, Manifold is featuring interviews with the creators of exemplary projects that use Manifold's capabilities to the fullest. Our third installment in this series is The Negro and The Nation. We interviewed Justin Rogers-Cooper, a Professor at CUNY LaGuardia and the Graduate Center, about this collaborative project.

How did the project come together? Who was involved?#

This project is partly a story about the network effects of the CUNY Graduate Center, where I got my PhD in English and was later appointed as a faculty member in the Master of Liberal Studies (MALS) program. In Spring 2019, I learned about Manifold from Krystyna (Krysia) Michael through spontaneous social and professional occasions common among Grad Center folks. At the time, Krysia was on the development team for Manifold at the Grad Center working as an open educational technologist. We both knew a mutual colleague of ours, Matt Gold, who was directing the Digital Humanities initiatives at the Grad Center. Through Krysia and fellow technologist Jojo Karlin, I discovered how to adapt Manifold into my upcoming class for the MALS program, “American Culture and Values.” Through their generous time and instruction, I learned more about the platform and its capacities, and was able to design an interactive assignment around the recovery of Hubert Harrison’s out of print book from 1917, The Negro and the Nation.

What are your favorite aspects of this project?#

Manifold lends itself to different forms of collaboration, and that’s one its best aspects. The Manifold team, led by Krysia and Jojo, generously provided my class and me with tips, resources, and support from the planning stage forward. Jojo actually came to my class and started getting the students excited to learn more. Krysia provided tons of technical assistance that was necessary to actually realizing the project on the platform, and provided superb feedback on the assignment as it evolved around the Harrison text.

Of course, another layer of collaboration took place in and out of the class. The project, punningly entitled “The Manifold Harrison,” became a center of gravity for classroom discussion throughout the semester. Since one of the key aspects of our assignment was annotating the text, many of our discussions focused on how to connect passages from the text to other works of American Studies we were reading. As students read each other’s annotations, their comments and feedback led to recurring conversations between them. Many took place before and after class. Having a common, collective assignment on a core project like The Manifold Harrison thus spurred the sparks of collegiality one always hopes to ignite in a class.

What Manifold features (i.e. reading groups, social media integration, etc.) did you use to achieve your goals for this project?#

The main feature of this project is the annotation tool, where students could make formal comments on certain passages and link them to relevant media, and which allowed them to make connections, comments, and citations.

What challenges did you encounter and how did you overcome them?#

As I share in an upcoming conference presentation with Matt, Krysia, and other Manifold scholars in the CUNY system, I encountered one expected challenge and a couple unexpected ones (by the way, check out the awesome work of Christina Katopodis, Jason Neilsen, and Paul Hebert!.

I knew that having CUNY students learn another online platform can sometimes be frustrating for them. I addressed this like most faculty address technology in the classroom: through patience, demonstration, encouragement, and modeling. If you’re not creating and sharing resources about how to use a platform, and not actively modeling how to complete the work in class, it can be difficult to have students meet one’s expectations and deadlines. This required that I use some class time somewhat differently than in prior MALS courses.

What I didn’t expect was the students’ initial intimidation at creating permanent annotations in a published text, which I attribute to the ‘imposter syndrome’ common among graduate students and to their respect for Harrison’s intellect. To address the former, I made clear that their reactions, connections, and comments upon The Negro and the Nation were necessary elements of ‘recovering’ Harrison and his work. They were not only ‘recent voices’ on the text, but some of the only ones, sadly, that were identifying passages of interest to American Studies and to a wider public. In short, their efforts were important, but also, inevitably, novel.

I also asked them to look upon the permanence of their contributions as a kind of meaningful gift to future students, who would learn from their annotations and add to them. Feeling like they were part of an on-going project ended up relaxing them, in part because they imagined they were writing to an audience like themselves.

What sort of impact have you seen from this project being open access?#

For one, it’s compelling to me that I was able to assign chapters from The Negro and the Nation to my students at LaGuardia Community College the semester after the recovery project in my Masters class. They read both Harrison and the annotations made by my MALS students, and that helped them understand the text.

Further, I committed to solely assigning OER texts at LaGuardia several years ago, and I was pleased to offer my two-year students a readable, accessible, and mobile-ready text to complement my traditional menu of PDFs and occasional commercial websites. Manifold is a powerful platform within the ecosystem of open access texts for both undergraduate and graduate students, in part because it models a kind of dynamic, media-rich, and mobile-friendly reading experience that students so often associate with for-profit apps and sites. For me, part of Manifold’s value comes from its ability to socialize the reading process, and to provide tools for collaboration around ‘academic’ reading practices that are competitive with, and more than equal to, the online experiences students naturally couple with platform capitalism.

In this respect, I think publishing Harrison’s book on Manifold as an open access text would make him smile. He was, after all, an avowed socialist. I have no doubt he would be delighted to learn that an advanced platform like Manifold was publishing and distributing his work to CUNY students, but also to readers everywhere. In a small way, I see that impact as part of his legacy, not just ours.

Justin Rogers-Cooper is an English professor at LaGuardia Community College, and a faculty member in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program at the CUNY Graduate Center. He's a scholar of nineteenth century American Studies, and a regular guest on the history-themed podcast Nostalgia Trap.

OA Week 2021 Project Spotlight 2

The Greater Chaco Landscape#

As part of Open Access Week, Manifold is featuring interviews with the creators of exemplary projects that use Manifold's capabilities to the fullest. Our second installment in this series is The Greater Chaco Landscape. We interviewed Darrin Pratt, director of the University Press of Colorado, about this amazing project.

How did the project come together? Who was involved?#

The Greater Chaco Landscape originated with a seminar held at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in August 2017. This seminar brought together academics and Native scholars from the tribal communities who have a vested interest in Chaco Canyon to address "potential conflicts between energy development and Chacoan archaeology across the San Juan Basin.” Individual seminar presentations, which provided the underpinnings for the volume’s written chapters, were filmed, and after the initial seminar, Durango filmmaker Larry Ruiz recorded additional footage—at Chaco Canyon itself—of Acoma (Haaku), Diné (Navajo), Hopi, and A:shiwi (Zuni) tribal elders and scholars talking about the significance of Chaco to their people. The seminar, filmmaking, and book production were funded by the National Park Service and organized by Steve Lekson (University of Colorado Boulder), Ruth Van Dyke (University of Binghamton) and Carrie Heitman (University of Nebraska). Ruth Van Dyke and Carrie Heitman served as the volume editors for both the online and print editions of the book.

What are your favorite aspects of this project?#

My favorite aspect of the project is the integration of the video and book content, particularly the inclusion of video only chapters that are referenced in the print book but can only be viewed by visiting the Manifold edition. This format made possible the inclusion of the perspectives of the Acoma (Haaku), Diné (Navajo), Hopi, and A:shiwi (Zuni) tribal elders and scholars.

What Manifold features (i.e. reading groups, social media integration, etc.) did you use to achieve your goals for this project?#

Following on my last answer, obviously Manifold’s ability to handle multimedia publications was crucial, but we also made use of the site as an informal preprint server, following the example of some early Manifold projects that were posted as works in process. We made the seminar videos available three years before the book was ready and the later videos about six months before publication, along with the table of contents and a brief synopsis of the forthcoming book, making the material publicly available in a far more timely fashion than is typically the case with our scholarly titles.

What challenges did you encounter and how did you overcome them?#

In all honesty, the biggest challenges for us involved integrating the videos—which were quite large files—into the EPUB. This was such a challenge that we initially published the book on Manifold with the same print links via DOI out to the Manifold resources while we continued to try to resolve the issues we were having. Ultimately, thanks to the help of Manifold staff, the problem was resolved and the videos are now fully integrated into the book.

What sort of impact have you seen from this project being open access?#

We have seen two impacts thus far. The first is that the book won the 2021 AAA Engaged Anthropology Award, and the fact that the video chapters were available open access almost certainly factored into the book’s winning the award. In addition, the Field Museum in Chicago is designing a new exhibit around Chaco, and they are going to be featuring clips from some of the films in the book. So one public resource is building on another, which is fantastic and exactly what one hopes for with open access publications.

Darrin Pratt is Director of the University Press of Colorado, a position he has held since 2000, and a past President of the Association of University Presses (2016-2017).

OA Week 2021 Project Spotlight 1

As part of Open Access Week, Manifold is featuring interviews with the creators of exemplary projects that use Manifold's capabilities to the fullest. Our first installment in this series is Race &/ in America. We interviewed Allison Levy from Brown University Library Center for Digital Scholarship about this impressive project.

How did the project come together? Who was involved?#

Over the 2020-21 academic year, the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown University, in partnership with the Office of the Provost, undertook a systematic investigation of the foundational and enduring contemporary effects of anti-Black racism via a pioneering panel discussion series featuring Brown faculty on the role that racism plays in American public health, democracy, punishment, and more.

Recognizing an opportunity to amplify and extend the reach and benefits of these urgent discussions designed to deepen knowledge and awareness in the service of promoting a more just and inclusive community and world, the University Library’s Digital Publications Initiative developed an eight-volume open access series, ‘Race &’ in America. Created in Manifold, the digital series re-presents the compelling original panel discussions with expanded content and resources in an innovative, interactive format, heightening understanding and broadening these critical conversations.

The core development team for the digital series included Brown’s Designer for Online Publications, Crystal Brusch; an advanced graduate student in Africana Studies, N’Kosi Oates; and Special Collections Librarian Holly Snyder.

What Manifold features (i.e. reading groups, social media integration, etc.) did you use to achieve your goals for this project?#

Each of the eight volumes in the digital series includes:

  • A recording of one of the 90-minute panel discussions that took place throughout the 2020-2021 academic year
  • Student Voices podcast episodes in which Brown University students engage the panelists in follow-up discussion
  • Recommendations for entry-point materials on the subject
  • Multimedia resource collections of readings, online exhibitions, podcasts, and other materials referenced during the panel discussions
  • Suggestions for further exploration

Thus, we took full advantage of Manifold’s most innovative features, especially multimedia integration, supplemental Resource Collections, eBooks, reading groups, and annotation tools.

What are your favorite aspects of this project?#

There are so many, but I’d have to say the podcast, Student Voices. The episodes feature student-led interviews of the panelists, an approach that elevates different voices and perspectives, and productively flips the conventional classroom model of conveying knowledge. We paired 17 undergraduate and graduate students with faculty, and asked each group to talk for about 10 minutes. All exceeded the limit, with some engaging in lively, compelling conversation for half an hour, so clearly the podcast provided a welcome forum for both students and faculty to continue critical discussions on key issues of today.

What sort of impact have you seen from this project being open access?#

We’ve had a very strong response to the digital series, both on campus and off. In fact, we designed the series to be inclusive and accessible for all communities. When selecting library resources, for example, we made sure to strike a balance between those available to Brown users and those that are publicly available. We chose Manifold precisely because it provides enduring, barrier-free access to information, and it supports universal design principles for equitable use by all persons, including those with disabilities. Brown’s Digital Publications Initiative creates exciting new conditions for the production and sharing of knowledge, and is committed to disseminating that knowledge to the broadest possible audience for the greatest possible impact. Manifold helps make that possible!

Finally, I’m delighted to announce that the Library will again partner with the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America and the Office of the Provost on the Race & in America series, bringing out five new digital volumes over the course of the 2021-22 academic year.

Allison Levy is Digital Scholarship Editor for the Brown University Library’s Digital Publications Initiative, launched with the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Serving in this role since 2017, Allison brings together key organizational, academic, and technological resources across the University to support new forms of faculty-driven scholarship, namely born-digital, multimodal works intended for publication by a university press. Beyond the Brown campus, she spearheads efforts at the industry level to advance the conversation around the development, evaluation, and publication of digital scholarship in the humanities.

Fall 2021 Accessibility Sprint!

At Manifold, we treat accessibility as a top-tier concern. Our developers at Cast Iron Coding are accessibility experts who design and develop the application with accessible functionality foremost in mind. In addition to the extensive testing they do in-house using screen-readers and browser add-ons, we’ve had the benefit of collaborating with the University of Washington’s library, press, and accessibility office over the past three years. The Washington team has performed an ongoing audit of Manifold over that time, and our two groups meet regularly to discuss new ideas and strategies for making the application even more performant for readers and content creators using assistive technologies.

Born out of this collaboration, we have recently been engaged in an accessibility sprint that has involved the following:

  1. We reworked the user notification preferences interface for better screen reader UX. Dana’s extended commit message on this issue is indicative the care and expertise we bring to accessibility concerns.
  2. We refactored all collapsible content on the site to follow the correct ARIA design pattern. These are commonly used in the backend to add search filters and sorting options, so this was a widespread change. This will resolve issue #2755.
  3. We added missing keyboard interactions to the Reading Group homepage editor. This is an improvement to the OER work, which currently exists in our main branch.
  4. We added missing keyboard interactions to project text sorting. We already had keyboard interactions on our drag and drop lists in the backend in most cases. However, for the specific case where an entity can be dragged and dropped between two distinct lists (such as moving a text from one text category to another rather than within a category), we did not have keyboard controls. These lists, and all drag and drop lists now have full keyboard controls (including the new drag and drop lists for managing content in reading groups). This refactor resolves issue #2678.
  5. We added alt text to project resources, which resolves issue #2428.
  6. We applied accessible modal dialog patterns to all drawers and overlays in Manifold. This change resolved issue #2434. It also resolved issue #2754. Issue #2425 should also be resolved by this revision.
  7. We resolved a header hierarchy issue in the reader. This resolves issue #2757.
  8. We fixed a tab index issue in search results that made it difficult for keyboard users to navigate the content. This will resolve issue #2969
  9. We fixed a bug that had been introduced, which prevented some notifications from being rendered when certain backend forms were submitted. This error led to the problem reported in issue #2559, which was about the lack of screen reader notification when projects are saved.
  10. We added screen reader support to ingestion, which resolves issue #2743.
  11. We refactored the resource card markup with a focus on removing nested interactive buttons. We also improved link and button text for screen readers. This resolves issue #2732.
  12. We're working on supporting annotation with caret browsing. This work is currently in PR #3086. This will resolve issue #2326 when it's finished.

All of this work will eventually be part of the version 7 release. For an up-to-date look at our work on accessibility concerns, we maintain this dashboard on Github.