Digital Humanities is a team sport. As libraries/information technology units develop programs and initiatives to promote and partner with faculty in digital humanities, it’s clear that our community hungers for best practices and inspiration to create and sustain a community of practice. What’s a group of librarians, technologists, and digital humanists to do?
In the Five Colleges, we will explore these issues in a day long event that will include a moderated panel and facilitated discussion that will will help our consortium build and sustain a community of practice around digital humanities. To that end, tomorrow we will welcome speakers from Colgate University, Haverford College, and Washington and Lee University to talk about their work in digital humanities in a moderated panel. During the afternoon, we will work small breakout groups to address the central question – what does it take to become an effective digital humanities community of practice?
The Five College Libraries Committee DEDCC (Digital Environment Development & Coordinating Committee) encourages participants to chronicle on social media using the hashtag: #5CDH13.
See you all tomorrow!
Five College Committee work is one of the highlights of my job at Hampshire College. I am lucky enough to serve on a few committees and task forces including one called DEDCC (Digital Environment Development & Coordinating Committee). One of our goals this year is to raise awareness among librarians of Digital Humanities and how librarians can get involved. To that end, this committee is organizing a program in the Five Colleges later this year. Below is the call for proposals along with a link to submit proposals, as well as some context about who we are in the Five Colleges:
The Five College Consortium is exploring a June program introducing Digital Humanities to an audience of librarians and IT staff at our institutions. The Consortium in western Massachusetts includes Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, four liberal arts colleges and one ARL. We are interested in identifying speakers who can discuss digital humanities vision or digital humanities work in liberal arts settings targeted at undergraduate teaching and research. We are open to a variety of interpretations on/definitions of the phrase “digital humanities”’ and its intersection with other initiatives around teaching with technology in the undergraduate curriculum. We envision a panel followed by breakout sessions during which we will ask our panelists to participate in small group discussion. Possible topics for discussion include:
- What does it mean to do work in this field in liberal arts colleges?
- How to help faculty navigate shifting technologies
- Mapping out new collaborative relationships (inside our institutions and across the Five Colleges)
- Where should conversation around research/teaching/technology be happening?
- Content mashups and the development of new kinds of “collections”
- The library’s role in a supporting digital culture
- What professional skill sets are needed to support digital humanities work?
If you have interest in participating on our panel and in small group discussion, we would like to hear from you! Please submit a brief proposal online at http://bit.ly/dhproposals by March 8th, describing your interest in the areas outlined above and your interest in speaking to our audience. We are looking towards mid-June for the program itself and will confirm dates with the identified speakers. Please direct questions to:
Chair, Five Colleges Consortium, DEDCC; firstname.lastname@example.org; 413.538.2228
For further information on the Five College Consortium., please see: https://www.fivecolleges.edu/
Along with Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, Amherst College, and the University of Massachusetts, Hampshire College is one of five colleges in the Five College Consortium in the Pioneer Valley. Students enrolled in any of the five schools can take courses at the other campuses, and can borrow books from the other colleges. As a Five College graduate, I took advantage of the reciprocal lending agreements frequently during my undergraduate and graduate years in the Valley. Now, as a professional librarian at Hampshire, I work closely with my colleagues across the Valley on a number of different projects, usability questions, and topics in the digital humanities. While these collaborative relationships have nearly a forty year history in the Five Colleges and enjoy institutional support and strength, I want to talk about an informal – and sometimes invisible – consortium of librarians across higher education, a fellowship that exists on Twitter and through relationships forged through programs like Immersion and at national and regional conferences.
As academic librarians tackle difficult the questions of how to support students in online environments, how to promote open access and new forms of scholarly communication, and how to collect for a twenty-first century library, they should not despair; while looking to colleagues at home institutions for support, they should also look towards other librarians across the profession for support, to act as a sounding board, for information, for advice. In the last few months alone, I’ve gone to Twitter for collection development questions, a colleague in New York City about digital directions in science, and joined the Program Committee for ISIS, a decentralized online community of technologists and librarians. Twenty-first century librarians are better together; collectively we can tackle the challenges that lie ahead at our home instituions, during webinars, through crowdsourced conversations on social media, and at conferences. Together, we can.
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.’
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.