Scalar Summer Institute, 2020

Join the Scalar team this summer for a weeklong workshop at USC Libraries.

This five-day workshop is designed for librarians (and others) who wish to support the use of Scalar for born-digital scholarship and cutting-edge, collections-based digital pedagogy on their campus as well as those who wish to develop their own projects showcasing institutional collections. The workshop will provide attendees with comprehensive training in Scalar, including basic and intermediate sessions in the platform as well as training, not offered anywhere else, on Scalar’s new editorial and copy-editing feature-set. The workshop will also include advanced sessions on collections integration with Scalar; enhanced archiving of Scalar projects; use of Scalar’s API for experimental works; and setting up custom Scalar installations.

Attendees supporting Scalar at their institution will come away from this weeklong workshop with in-depth strategies and a set of robust resources for assisting faculty and students with the technical, structural, editorial, and design decisions vital to Scalar projects. Attendees who wish to use Scalar for their own project should come prepared with material, as they’ll be guided by the Scalar team, with collaborative whiteboarding sessions and one-on-one design meetings, in the development of their project while in residence at the workshop.

Scalar is a free, open source authoring and publishing platform designed for scholars writing media-rich, born-digital scholarship. Scalar allows scholars to assemble media from multiple sources and juxtapose that media with their own writing in a variety of ways and to structure essay- and book-length works in ways that take advantage of the unique capabilities of digital writing, including nested, recursive, and non-linear formats.

The Ahmanson Lab is located in the Libraries at the University of Southern California (USC). USC sits at the center of Los Angeles, a vibrant city with rich resources in arts and culture, including the Getty Museum and Huntington Library. 

See our day-by-day schedule below (some sessions may be subject to change).

Instructors at this workshop will include the following members of the Scalar Team:
Tara McPherson, Scalar Lead PI, Professor, School of Cinematic Arts, USC.
Curtis Fletcher, Scalar Co-PI, Director of the Ahmanson Lab, USC Libraries.
Phil Ethington, Scalar Co-PI, Professor of History, USC Dornsife College, USC.
Erik Loyer, Scalar Co-PI and Creative Director.

Preliminary Schedule

Monday, June 15
10:00-11:15am: Introduction to workshop. Origins and overview of Scalar.
11:15-11:30am: Break
11:30am-12:30pm: Use cases for Scalar in the library, in the classroom, and in scholarship.
12:30-1:30pm: Lunch
1:30-2:45pm: Scalar Basics: Working with text and media.  
2:45-3:00pm: Break
3:00-4:00pm: Lab Time – Playing with Scalar basics. Text and media exercises.

Tuesday, June 16
10:00-11:15am: Scalar Structure: Working with Relationships.
11:15-11:30am: Break
11:30am-12:30pm: Scalar Structure cont.
12:30-1:30pm: Lunch
1:30-2:45pm: Project Spotlight: Illuminated Manuscripts at USC. Danielle Mihram, Ph.D., Acting Head, Science & Engineering Library, USC Libraries; Melissa Miller, Ed.D. Head, James Harmon Hoose Library of Philosophy, USC Libraries; Micaela Rodgers, M.Phil, M.L.I.S, Information Specialist, Illuminated Manuscripts at USC, USC Libraries.
2:45-3:00pm: Break
3:00-4:00pm: Structured lab time + design meetings.

Wednesday, June 17
10:00-11:15am: Lab Time – Playing with Scalar structure. Structure exercises.
11:15-11:30am: Break
11:30am-12:30pm: Intermediate Scalar: Metadata in Scalar. Scalar Layouts, Widgets, and Visualizations.
12:30-1:30pm: Lunch
1:30-2:45pm: Project Spotlight: Mirrors and Mass: Wayne Thom’s Southern California. Curtis Fletcher, Director of the Ahmanson Lab, USC Libraries.
2:45-3:00pm: Break
3:00-4:00pm: Doing more with Scalar - Scalar API Explorer and Experimental uses of the platform.

Thursday, June 18
10:00-11:15am: Intermediate Scalar cont. Styling in Scalar.
11:15-11:30am: Break
11:30am-12:30pm: Lab Time – Playing with layouts, widgets, visualizations, and styling.
12:30-1:30pm: Lunch
1:30-2:45pm: Project Spotlight: Five Books Painted by Raphael from the Library of Julius II. Curtis Fletcher, Director of the Ahmanson Lab, USC Libraries.
2:45-3:00pm: Break
3:00-4:00pm: Structured lab time + design meetings.

Friday, June 19
10:00-11:15am: Editorial workflow in Scalar.
11:15-11:30am: Break
11:30am-12:30pm: Editorial workflow in Scalar cont.
12:30-1:30pm: Lunch
1:30-2:45pm: Project Spotlight: Ghost Metropolis. Phil Ethington, Professor of History, Political Science, and Spatial Sciences, USC.
2:45-3:00pm: Break
3:00-4:00pm: Wrap up, showcase, and next steps.

Submit an Application

Please complete the online application by April 21, 2020.

Workshop Costs

If accepted, you'll be asked to register for the USC Summer Scalar workshop online. Your registration fee will cover your participation in the workshop, lunch each day, and if needed, a one-bedroom apartment housing at USC’s Cardinal Gardens from Sunday, June 14th to Friday, June 19th.

$850 - Workshop only (no housing included).
$1200 - Workshop + single-occupancy room in one-bedroom apartment.

A small number of scholarships may also be available.

USC Excursions

We can arrange tours of USC Libraries’ Special Collections, Digital Library, or the Shoah Foundation for interested parties.


Contact Curtis Fletcher at with any questions about the Scalar Summer Institute at USC Libraries.