In October, Robin Burke (of CDM) and John Shanahan (of English) stopped by the SSRC’s Mess Hall to discuss their venture, Reading Chicago Reading. The project, which was recently funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, is an empirical examination into who reads what kinds of books. The digital humanities project started by examining the One Book, One Chicago (OBOC) program, operated by the Chicago Public Library. Essentially, Burke and Shanahan (as well as their research team, which also includes SSRC Staff Members Nandhini Gulasingam and Jessi Bishop-Royse), are using OBOC data from CPL to examine various aspects of the well-known reading program.
The Reading Chicago Reading project is innovative in that the team is combining data from texts, community demographics, circulation records, and social media to yield book-level predictions on who is interested in a particular item. Combining CPL checkout data with other data, such as Census data, the Reading Chicago Reading research team is hoping to determine how the characteristics of branch libraries influence OBOC participation. Burke and Shanahan are hoping to use these various data sources to predict community interest in various titles CPL might consider for future iterations of OBOC.