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About the Derrida Archive project

In March 2015, Princeton University acquired the personal library of Algerian-born French philosopher Jacques Derrida (1930-2004). Of the roughly 16,000 published books and other items in the library, a significant number have been heavily annotated, and many bear personal dedications to Derrida from other philosophers and theorists. Princeton is creating linked data descriptions for a set of these items, which involves participating in the development of a Rare Materials Ontology Extension with an emphasis on modeling annotations, evaluating linked data creation tools, and making the resulting RDF data set available to scholars who are interested in studying Derrida’s social and intellectual networks. 

Princeton Project Proposal

  • Linked data descriptions of a set of annotated items from the Derrida Archive
  • BIBFRAME extension ontology for original resource description of special collections materials
Current Activities

Transcribing dedications as a first step toward linked data creation


Tool Exploration / Requirements Definition


Community Engagement


Joyce Bell (Director, Cataloging and Metadata Services)
Jennifer Baxmeyer (Leader, Electronic Resources Team)
Peter Green (Cataloging and Metadata Technology Specialist)
Timothy Thompson (Metadata Librarian)
Don Thornbury (Head, Technical Services for Special Collections)
Regine Heberlein (Principal Cataloger and Metadata Analyst)

Link to working documents (for partners only)

Completed Work

Last updated Dec. 2016, to be updated again Mar. 2017

Phase 2 (Oct. 2016-Mar. 2017)


  • Attended second LD4P All-Hands meeting in Washington D.C.

  • Met with the Princeton Digital Humanities Center’s Derrida project management team (regarding their separate but potentially related project)

Data creation

  • Digitization

    • Arranged for digitization of the sample set of 500 objects

  • Transcription

    • Created MS Access data entry form

    • Hired student workers for double-blind data entry

    • Began transcription of dedications

    • Began comparison and reconciliation of transcriptions


  • Participated in ongoing Rare Materials Ontology Extension work 

  • Followed developments in  LD4All Ontology Alignment Calls



  • Presentations

    • Presented LD4P project update to Princeton’s professional catalogers

    • Presented to Princeton Library Management Group (LMG) on Limitless possibilities: the promise of linked data

  • Articles

    • Timothy A. Thompson, et al. (2016). From Notes to Annotations: Deconstructing Dedications in the Library of Jacques Derrida at Princeton University, Journal of Library Metadata, 16(3-4), 146-165. doi:

Phase 1 (Apr.-Sept. 2016)

Logistics and Planning

  • Created private GitHub wiki for Princeton internal documentation

  • Scheduled bi-weekly LD4P workshops for the core group

  • Outlined plans for Oct.-Dec. 2016, the first half of Phase 2


  • Expanded core group to include local Rare Books staff

  • Consulted with library IT staff

  • Consulted with faculty stakeholder in French and Italian Dept.

    • Explored the possibility of coordination with related CDH Derrida project

  • Met with the LD4P Project Manager during on-site visit

Data creation

  • Created proposal for imaging relevant pages from a sample of ~500 annotated books

  • Selected 525 objects from Derrida's library for digitization

  • Initiated process of hiring student help for the transcription of annotations in Phase 2


  • Participated in collaborative LD4P Rare Materials ontology calls

    • Contributed to the creation, categorization, and prioritization of use cases

  • Participated in LD4All Ontology Alignment Calls

  • Worked on modelling of annotations, seeking input from members of the Web Annotation Working Group



  • Discussed idea of training a select group of staff in linked data concepts

Pre-project activities (prior to Apr. 2016)

  • Formed core group within Library Technical Services Dept. and scheduled weekly meetings
  • Did initial modelling for annotations, investigate applicability of World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Annotation Data Model  
  • Manually created 45 sample annotations in turtle format
    • Prototyped an annotation creation tool
  • Consulted with Princeton University Center for Digital Humanities (CDH)
  • Presentation:


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