DH in the Valley, Part 1 #5CDH

Last fall, there was a RFP for librarians, technologists, and faculty to create learning communities centered around the digital humanities. My team at Hampshire jumped on this immediately and began tracking down like-minded faculty who might be interested in joining our proposal. We had a number of meetings to develop themes, talk about methods, the future, collaboration within campuses and across the Pioneer Valley. They were fun meetings and we emerged with a successful proposal, entitled ‘Reading, Writing, Looking: New Ways of Knowing in the Digital Humanities.’

We received word that Five Colleges accepted our proposal in January. Our program is in three parts-Reading, Writing, Looking-and we developed programming around each of themes to support our Five College learning community in the digital humanities. Earlier this month, Hampshire College hosted the first event around Reading over lunch.

We were lucky enough to bring Barbara Rockenbach, director of the History and Humanities Library at Columbia University to talk about reading habits of users which she did brilliantly around a talk called ‘Users Unbound: Reading, Libraries, and the Digital Humanities.’

Talking, Listening, Eating, all intently

These days, it’s hard to read the Chronicle of Higher Education or The New York Times without finding an article about distracted reading or students with limited attention spans or commentary about the good old days before technology destroyed continuous reading (and civilization as we know it!). For me, and many others, the trope is tired and not a complete picture of what’s happening with our students or scholars for that matter. As Barbara demonstrated in her talk, new technologies and old scholarly traditions can combine to create innovative new models for scholarship and new models for service for libraries. The takeaways:

Digital reading is just another phase in the long dure of reading and book technology. The same crisis of reading happened when civilization moved from manuscript to codex.

Print isn’t dead. According to a user survey in the humanities division at Columbia, students don’t consider ebooks a replacement for print, but rather as a means to facilitate distant/discontinuous reading/ topic modeling to ask new questions in the aggregate. To wit, students want both print AND electronic resources to do humanities work.

Digital Humanities is a new service model for libraries, a great opportunity to facilitate digital scholarship by providing the resources (print & electronic content, special collections) and tools (scanners, software, screens, new types of instruction, and project management support) for our users to participate in digital scholarship.

Copyright fear shouldn’t stand in the way of empowering users to consume content in new ways. No need to be conservative about how much of a book we allow users to scan. The consensus among academic librarians is that nonconsumptive use is fair use. If you haven’t already, check out the librarians’ code immediately. To push further, Rockenbach calls on us to negotiate with vendors and publishers to create a more favorable climate for book scanning and digitization. Finally, she advocates movinge past the age of the monograph into a new age of scholarly communication through open access and institutional repositories: Library as Press & Publisher.

Bring undergraduates into the digital humanities fold through pedagogy. Faculty can engage students through new types of projects, online exhibits, text mining projects, and blogging. Librarians can move past mere information literacy instruction and into teaching with objects and sources to sustain the critical thinking skills necessary to participate in the digital humanities. Collectively, we can build new models for student work that transcend the traditional 10- page research paper to prepare undergraduates to fully participate in the information economy.

It was an energizing event and I for one am excited to get to work on crafting new ways of knowing in the digital humanities in the Five Colleges and beyond. Stay tuned.


They Can Teach, Too: Archivists Take Over

  1. Where is the academic library going? Barbara Rockenbach, Director of the History and Humanities Library at Columbia University suggests that Digital Humanities is a new service model for libraries, providing an opportunity for librarians and archivists to re-imagine how our resources are used in scholarly communication. Of course, that has instructional implications for how we prepare students to do the work of the digital humanities. 
  2. Share
    Rockenbach: let’s move beyond info lit and move towards context and critical thinking skills for students.
  3. Share
    Rockenbach: #DH at the undergraduate level happens w/ pedagogy as opposed to grad level research projects.
  4. Teach students how to read and evaluate their own digital work. Provide students a roadmap about how to code, but above all, empower them to ask new questions and present their work in new contexts beyond the traditional ten page paper. 
  5. So, what is it about archival practice that makes archivists the new ambassadors to more effective library instruction?
  6. Reduced, Relevant, Reliable. Often times, traditional r & i librarians focus on the number of results in a search rather than focusing on the right results. 
  7. In an age where students freely engage in remix culture and automate bibliographies with Zotero and RefWorks, often, the path of where one idea led to another gets obscured. Archivists live for provenance. We can leverage our culture of understanding where ideas, materials, and donors come from in our teaching with both print and born digital sources. We can help promote a culture of forking ideas, acknowledging where our ideas come from as the bedrock of scholarship. 
  8. Metadata, Description. In order to do successful digital projects like exhibits, students need foundational knowledge in how to describe materials, what a controlled vocabulary is, and why access and discovery is important. 
  9. Share
    Digging all the projects @jenterysayers’s students are doing, sound as an artifact, collaborative work among students, description. #NITE
  10. Share
    “Metadata = interpretative tagging-” @triproftri
  11. Finally, our materials themselves act as the best tool for teaching critical thinking skills and inspiring paper topics in our students. 
  12. Share
    Rockenbach: Situate student w/ primary source, gather search terms and then go find secondary sources. I teach the @yalelibrary way.
  13. However, we can’t underestimate the importance of leveraging technology in our practice to reach multiple learning styles and engage our students apart from straight lecture. 
  14. If instructors can’t provide students with the 3 Rs of instruction, rigor, relevance, and relationship, then perhaps make a screencast and call it a day. 
  15. Share
    Digital pedagogy when done well engages so many different competencies for students from critical thinking to visual literacy. #nitle
  16. Tools: Storify, Omeka, Popplet, Concept Mapping, Apps from NYPL and National Archives 
  17. Special Collections needs a seat the table about how to unlock collections for new uses. Rockenbach talks about the need to empower students to repurpose print resources to meet student needs, and providing access to scanned images from the museum world, but special collections needs step up and provide more digital access to materials. If you put materials online, they will come in your doors. 
  18. Share
    Copyright: it’s the #dh dream killer. #nitle
  19. But there is hope! 
  20. Share
    There is a consensus in academic and research libraries that non consumptive use is #fairuse: arl.org/pp/ppcopyright/cod… #bcltorphanworks
  21. Share
    !!!! RT: @briancroxall: .@jenterysayers: Librarians are key to the future of publication and we need to partner with them. #nitle #dayofDH
  22. Build new repositories, not new silos. We need to engage open access publishing. As our institutions create more publishing opportunities for faculty, build institutional repositories to store these materials, and capture digital humanities projects, archivists need to lead on the digital preservation front and support our instruction on discovery and access of these new types of collections. 

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