Scalar Hands On Workshop Dec 1st Room 149

The final digital humanities study group is set to meet on December 1st from 12-1pm. This group began over the summer to discuss readings and decided to continue to develop librarian and library staff skills through additional discussion and hands on experiences.
On December 1st, join us as Sarah Falls leads a hands-on training of the tool SCALAR:
We will meet in room 149 from 12-1pm on December 1st.
Hope to see you there!

August 11th Study Group reading links

Just a quick reminder that we will be discussing these readings at tomorrow’s meeting.


August: What is the role of libraries in digital humanities?

Dueling perspectives
Jennifer Vinopal and Monica McCormick, “Supporting digital humanities in the library: Creative sustainable and scalable services,” 2012.
The authors have done great work setting up DH support services at NYU, and I think there are some lessons there for us.

Trevor Munoz, “Digital humanities in the library isn’t a service,” 2012.

This is a more philosophical take on what the role of librarians should be in digital scholarship projects – i.e. we should be full collaborators – or even instigators – rather than service providers.


Bonus readings:
Miriam Posner, “No half measures: Overcoming common challenges to doing digital humanities in the library,” 2013.
“This laundry list of challenges may seem disheartening, but it is (believe it or not) not my intention to discourage DH aspirants. It is true that there are very real hurdles to getting a functional DH center up and running in the library. But thinking through these challenges can provide an occasion to grapple with some of the most fundamental questions libraries are faced with today.” (p. 8)

The challenges the author lists are likely to look familiar. We might as well talk about them!
“Are the Digital Humanities and Library and Information Science the Same Thing?” City University of London blogs.

DH in the UK

An interesting article in the Guardian that looks as how the digital Arts and Humanities in the UK.

Hacking the Humanities

Interesting and recent article about the notion of time, learning and the digital. It describes some of the thought process that those engaging in DH in the classroom go through as they are working with students.

Notes from the 2nd meeting

Readings coming out of grant-funded projects geared towards teaching graduate students at their institutions about DH.

These two structures can serve as a template. As these projects become more common and librarians get more involved, we can inform people about what DH work is happening here and how it’s being done. If working with someone on a mapping project, for example, can ask them to write up a brief ‘How this was done’ thing afterwards to inform other people.

Liked the approach of ‘if you want to do this kind of project, these are the tools to look at, and here are the skills you will need.’ But wanted a flow chart starting from either inputs or outputs – that would make it more manageable.

Can we use this template for outreach or to help users? Can see building a suite of tools. Might be interesting to start a Google Doc with a list of projects on campus and we each go in and populate it. It’s a natural fit for the Libraries – we are a clearinghouse for information. It would drive conversations. Using templates like this allows us to situate ourselves as consultants, which is a critical role on campus.

What kinds of projects are coming to us? All kinds! GIS, data mining, creating timelines, storytelling, digital editions.

Emerging themes from the conversation:

  • Communicating what people are already doing,
  • what tools should I know about and how do I use them,
  • what now becomes possible to do using these tools to extend traditional research programs or do something entirely new.

How do we reach out to people who are already doing this stuff? Ask them to present! It is increased visibility for them, and can help people identify collaborative opportunities.

Artstor blog post: Challenging us to think about access and discoverability of these types of projects. It’s a call-to-action to us to identify what is happening on our campus.

It’s a tough problem because people often have good reasons for not wanting to use the standards. Rather than making everybody use the same tools, we can leverage linked open data to build relationships across terms.

There is an educational role for librarians to make sure that they are at least making informed decisions, and not just doing their own thing because they don’t know that there are standards or what are the benefits of using them.

Is it OK for the Libraries to just let it be and let people come to things as they will, or do we have a mandate to provide deeper access?

Role for libraries as an authorizing agent? Create authorizing streams for content. [Sounds like he is talking about the kind of aggregating and filtering that PressForward was created to help with.]

How would we respond to this post? We are challenging the idea that there aren’t community-generated controlled vocabularies – it’s more that people aren’t using them. What you need is a community of shared disciplinary practice.

The ‘digital’ side of DH is intimidating if you don’t have the programming skills, or know how to acquire them or find someone who has them. As a librarian, how technical to get? It can be helpful just to have an idea of what kinds of skills will be required for projects, even if we don’t have them, because it informs our consultant role. It’s like peeling an onion!

Next steps/ possible deliverables:

  • Create a document using Paige Morgan’s list as a template where we can add examples of projects we know about on campus.
  • Can also gather tutorials, etc, that will give people places to go to learn the necessary skills.
  • Can have small groups of people learn to use specific tools and then share with the rest of us.
  • Can compile a list of the skills that are needed for DH – based on what researchers are asking us for – to see what we might step in and provide.
  • A list of questions to ask if someone comes to us with a DH project.


2nd meetings of the Reading Group tomorrow

Hi there: We will meet tomorrow, July 14 from 1-2 pm to discuss the following two readings:

What does digital humanities work look like?

o   Paige Morgan, “What digital humanists do,” 2013.

o   Miriam Posner, “How did they make that?” 2013.

Additionally, if you have time, we could discuss and possibly tweet responses to this post’s author , in that it’s a call to action in some ways–from last week about the relationship of librarians and discovery of digital humanities projects:


Digital Scholarship Centers: a report from the field

At the recently-concluded ALA summer conference I attended the inaugural meeting of the Digital Scholarship Centers Interest Group. Joan Lippincott from the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) was the keynote speaker. Her remarks centered not on digital scholarship per se but on digital scholarship centers (DSC). The DSCs are spaces and services, the latter more ubiquitous than the former, designed to encourage faculty and students to combined, analyze, and represent information using the myriad possibilities generated by emerging digital technologies.
In her remarks Lippincott analyzed a 2014 survey conducted by CNI in to assess the state of digital scholarship centers. The sample consisted of 24 centers. Each center volunteered data about staffing, services, funding, organization, and expertise. Not surprisingly, each center tells a different story. Some digital scholarship centers provide physical spaces for instruction and collaboration in the digital humanities. Others focused solely on services such as publishing, GIS, copyright consultation, website hosting or data management.
This “services model” was the topic of April Hathcock’s and Zach Cobble’s presentation. They spoke about their experiences at New York University Libraries’ Digital Scholarship Center. Their approach links faculty and students to diverse services without providing a discrete physical space for experimentation. They build awareness of digital scholarship services through word of mouth, “in-reach meetings” and workshops provided by librarians in-house. Listservs , faculty meetings, and presentations are also used for promote these services. Although their efforts have shown successes, they identified sustainability and scalability as key challenges.
In the Q&A session the speakers identified the need for digital scholarship centers to incorporate not only digital humanities but also a range of disciplines across the university curriculum. Lippincott described concerns surrounding staffing, expertise, administrative buy-in, prioritization of goals, and the inclusion of digital scholarship in the tenure review. To learn more about these issues see the Digital Scholarship Centers Interest Group listserv at
Jose Diaz

DH LibGuide from the University of Tennessee Knoxville

As we head into the holiday weekend, I wanted to pass along an excellent resource from the University of Tennessee Libraries: a Digital Humanities LibGuide.  (Thanks to Jessica Chan of the Copyright Resources Center for the link.) The guide contains an enormous amount of information and will be useful for us and the DH-curious folks we work with around campus. Enjoy!

Digital Humanities LibGuide from the U of Tennessee

Fair Use in text and data mining (link)

From our colleagues at the Copyright Resources Center, here is a new issue brief from ARL on Fair Use in Text and Data Mining. New research techniques in the humanities raise a lot of copyright questions that have yet to be directly addressed by the law or the courts – one of them is the legality of data mining copyrighted content. Fortunately, from the issue brief, the news seems to be good…

Thoughts on the first meeting

We spent much of Tuesday’s meeting discussing the definition of digital humanities included in the readings and talking at a high level about how its emergence affects us as librarians. Rather than try to summarize everything we talked about, I thought I’d share a few points that struck me as being particularly helpful.

The many uses of buckets

One attendee stressed that we shouldn’t need to (and can’t!) know everything. Instead, we can learn enough about the work happening under the digital humanities label to identify some ‘buckets.’ Mapping, for example, or text encoding. The specifics of a project will always be unique and often complex, but if we use our tried-and-true reference interview skills to  figure out what category of work we’re dealing with, we should be able to provide some resources and/or bring in the appropriate person to help. Of course, that means knowing who has the expertise on a particular ‘bucket,’ but maybe that’s something we can tackle in another meeting.

What would you do if…

Another attendee shared what I thought was an excellent question to ask researchers who are seeking help with digital scholarship projects: “What would you do if you had the technology/expertise available?” It’s another nod to the reference interview – getting at what people really want or need. The perfect tool for their project may already exist, and even if it doesn’t, it’s helpful for us to know what types of research are coming down the pike so we can develop the services and infrastructure to support them.

You can’t take the humanities out of digital humanities

There is a lot of fear and skepticism around digital scholarship. One way to make it less scary and show that it’s not out to destroy traditional research methods is to focus on the things they have in common. Digital humanities research starts with a research question just as print scholarship does, and its methods (text mining, for example) are often more powerful, more efficient versions of the methods humanists have used for decades (like compiling or consulting a concordance). Moving the focus from of the technology to the intellectual work is also a way to make DH more accessible for librarians. Many of our skills – like the reference interview I keep harping on, and organization of information – are crucial for supporting the digital humanities. We just need to find the right ways to think about and talk about our work in this context.

Thanks to everyone who attended yesterday. We are looking forward to next month’s discussion!

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