#5CDH13: Building a Community of Practice

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!


#5CDH: Walls, Shawls, iPads, Maps & DH

  1. @oleblanc follow #5cdh & @caropinto for live tweets from the “Of Roman Walls” DH Event at Amherst 3/1 ow.ly/hMUhf
  2. A panel featuring Karen Remmler (MHC), Jon Olson, (UM) & Caro Pinto (HC) kicked off the afternoon. 
  3. Olson is talking about ‘hacking the humanities.’ What are the humanities now? #5CDH
  4. The Europe in the 20th c. history site @jonberndtolsen and his students created digital.history.umass.edu/e… built with WordPress #5CDH
  5. Olson described how his humanities classes incorporated technology & the delicate balance between humanities & technology. Of course, this is not a question limited to just the humanities.
  6. Olson: How do we offer technology courses geared towards the humanities? This is an issue for science students too – multidisc problem #5CDH
  7. It is clear faculty cannot tackle content & technology on their own. What are the best practices?
  8. Olson musing on how to teach digital skills in the humanities. He suggests computer scientists embedded, I say, librarians. #5CDH
  9. Olson aslo mused about how mold our students into makers. Jeffrey Schapp from Harvard talks about cultivating a hybrid producer/consumer model called prosumers. 
  10. Olson: Our students are largely digital consumers & not necessarily digital producers. Glad I am trying to mold prosumers. #5CDH
  11. Caro Pinto talked about translating the value of successful and unsuccessful DH projects; how to build effective teams, and how to balance hierarchy and collaboration. 
  12. .@caropinto Librarians embedded in courses can really shape how to teach technology- how do we translate the value of what we’re doing #5CDH
  13. .@caropinto How do we translate the value of failure? Good question! So much value in something traditionally seen as ‘bad.’ #5CDH
  14.  Karen Remmler discussed feminism & DH. 
  15. Karen Remmler is now talking about the symposium she is putting together about feminism in the digital age. #5CDH
  16. Remmler: How do we decide what knowledge is valuable? #5CDH
  17. Remmler’s comments connect the the emergent #transformdh movement led by @adelinekoh & others.
  18. Karen Remmler brings up appropriateness of using the term DH, in LACs and generally. Reminds me of @pannapacker @adelinekoh & others #5CDH
  19. Remmler is talking about the digital divide, the knowledge divide. How those forces shape who is #dh. #transformdh #5CDH
  20. Remmler coming from a feminist perspective, emphasizes importance of theorizing DH & how we use it #HellYes #5CDH
  21. Remmler also talked about upcoming events & projects that explore these issues.
  22. Exciting media & digital-focused projects from the 5Colleges Women’s Studies Rsrch Ctr, which Remmler directs fivecolleges.edu/fcwsrc/pro… #5CDH
  23. The Q & A advanced a discussion of how to balance teaching content w/ teaching technology.
  24. .@caropinto Need to organize low-level classes to introduce students to tech, but higher-level courses have higher tech requirements. #5CDH
  25. And what types of assumptions we make about why our students reject e-books. 
  26. Q: How do we get students excited abt tech? Olson: This is not an eBook or an eArticle generation – students not digitally savvy #5CDH
  27. .@caropinto Barrier to using eBooks – not a format we librarians like to use – can’t pass on excitement if you’re not excited abt it. #5CDH
  28. We need to also think ab the materiality of the text, not just the content – hard copy may be important for some reading #5CDH
  29. What kinds of tools do we want to use? What kind of infrastructure do we want to build? 
  30. .@caropinto What kind of future do we want to build with technology? What do we want it to look like? #5CDH
  31. .@caropinto Educating students about economies behind digital technologies they use – what will happen to Twitter in 5 yrs? Copyright? #5CDH
  32. And then the group asked how do we preserve these projects? 
  33. .@caropinto – “we need to decide whether or not we’re keeping these projects” re: student digital work. A very real question #5CDH
  34. Then we broke for lunch. Attendees and panelists mingled as students gathered to talk about their work and experiences. 
  35. After a lunch break, we are back with a student panel. #5CDH
  36. The panel featured both graduate students & undergraduate students talking about their projects. 
  37. Students processing archival collecting while blogging. Lots of engagement from professionals around the world. #5CDH
  38. Learning abt Early Novels Database: Part digitization, part recording info. Gain access to great collx of text syslsl01.library.upenn.edu/… #5CDH
  39. Discussing the historicdress.org/omeka/ project, powered by Omeka. Different period but thought of you @nervesandveins #5CDH
  40. Looking at the Holyoke self-tour project from the Wistariahurst Museum, can be used on smartphones wistariahurst.org/walk-holy… #5CDH
  41. Students talking about the tools they used to collect data & manage research process w/ @zotero & @evernote #5CDH
  42. Students followed up on the skill building conversation that began during the panel sharing their experiences with short term certificate courses.
  43. Photoshop, Garage Band, Final Cut Pro, DreamWeaver, all skills included in an Intro to Digital Media class. Students get certificate. #5CDH
  44. Big assumption that current generation is tech literate. Not true – some learn on their own, but not a pervasive skill #5CDH
  45. Of course, this is a brave new world for students. DH includes experimentation, it brings trial & error to the humanities. 
  46. “There isn’t a template for doing any project” – necessary learning to experiment, trial & error valuable in and of itself #5CDH
  47. As well as boredom. 
  48. “A lot of the work we did was boring.” Student reflects on some of the work she contributed a #DH project. Not all #DH is sexy. #5CDH
  49. Student admits the “boring” “drudgery” of work behind sexy DH projects – how to balance this with LAC traditions of analysis? #5CDH
  50. Also, students should not be used to just absorb drudgery in #dh. But drudgery is part of building #dh. How to balance? #5CDH
  51. Project managers & faculty need to effectively communicate expectations and DH values to new participants to contextualize their labor. 
  52. There is a lot of delayed gratification in #dh. How to balance getting stuff done & vision. How to effectively communicate impact. #5CDH
  53. Student talks ab importance of prof helping them think through theoretical, academic implications of the “drudgery” work they did #5CDH
  54. Q: How do you deal with the drudgery? A: When you’re done, realize how important & worthwhile it was. Balancing b/t drudgery&fun helps #5CDH
  55. Socializing students into the #dh community as well as skill building. Ethics & community on social media.
    #5CDH
  56. But the proof is in the pudding:
  57. Student describes first uploads to Omeka as “amazing” – like “first discovering google search” #5CDH cc @patrick_mj :)
  58. Students are gratified to see their work online. Really gratified. #5CDH
  59. Important pedagogical implications RT @caropinto Students are gratified to see their work online. Really gratified. #5CDH
  60. Eric Poehler shares Pompeii Project that featured iPads, enthusiastic students & drones. 
  61. Investigating Pompeii without excavation. Digital Magic! #5CDH.
  62. Beautiful non-intrusive, digital archaeology of Pompeii from @Pompeiana79 – including cool drone camerawork #5CDH #MakeScholarshipNotWar
  63. great to watch @Pompeiana79 explain how to use iPad for #archaeology mapping when excavation too costly, intrusive #5CDH #DH #preservation
  64. Poehler’s effectively demonstrated how the technology enabled his team to do more analysis. 
  65. New tech allows archaeologists to spend less time measuring and matching, and more time to extend the interpretation of work. #5CDH
  66. Putting interpretation in the field – real value of efficiency #5CDH
  67. .@Pompeiana79: #digital technology allows us to record data in 1/10 time–which allows us 10x as much time for interpretation. #archaeology
  68. @Pompeiana79: #archaeology #mapping techniques e.g. terrestrial laser scanning, #drones (drink!), cloud-based photogrammetry, GPR #DH
  69. With wonderful offline implications:
  70. .@pompeiana79: once you learn to see time in material, you’ll never look at things the same way again #archaeology #preservation
  71. After Poehler’s talk, we closed out the day with posters & socializing. 
  72. Finishing up the day with a ‘moveable feast’ of poster sessions from current projects in Five Colleges. #5CDH

CFP: Digital Humanities for Liberal Arts Colleges

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?
  • Infrastructure/services/copyright/IP

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:

Erin Stalberg,

Chair, Five Colleges Consortium, DEDCC; estalber@mtholyoke.edu; 413.538.2228

For further information on the Five College Consortium., please see:  https://www.fivecolleges.edu/


Your Library, Container, Concept

Tomorrow is the first EVER Five College Libraries All-Staff Event hosted by the Five College Digital Environment and Coordinating Committee (on which I represent Hampshire) and sponsored by the Five College Librarians’ Council. It will be an eventful half day with coffee, updates, a keynote from Yale University Librarian Susan Gibbons, Lightning Round talks by librarians about cool stuff they are doing, and breakout discussions around themes and topics like E-Books and Student Supervision. I am facilitating a discussion called “Library as Concept, Library as Container.” I threw it out there as a topic because I was inspired by a talk Char Booth gave during the fall called ”Library as Indicator Species: Evolution, or Extinction?” It dovetailed nicely with conversations I had at Yale before heading out the door about library futures, and whether or not this new generation of librarians would be tasked with ‘shutting off the light’ and ‘closing the doors.’

With all the discussions out there about library futures and libraries in crisis, it’s easy to jump on the Armageddon bandwagon and picture libraries where the reference desks are buried in tumbleweeds and books don’t circulate because everything is readily and freely available in digital form. If you buy into the idea of the library as a book warehouse, of the library as container of THINGS, then this nightmare scenario just might become reality. And maybe that’s a good idea for some, for whom libraries work best when one can get what he or she needs and get out with a little human interaction as possible.

Personally, I believe that the library is a concept, an important partnership with academic programs built upon a service orientation to support the development of critical thinking skills, digital fluency, and research education in our students. I believe that we are a neutral place for faculty and students to hash out ideas for projects and vent frustrations when work isn’t going well. We broker relationships between people to accomplish exciting work in the digital humanities. We are not a giant book warehouse, but a buzzing community where we curate collections to meet the demands of our communities with tools like book scanners, software, and troubleshooting know-how to empower our students to do new and exciting work.

Yesterday, a neat hashtag meme both amused and horrified me: #librariandrinkinggame. Some of the tweets really get at why I think we need to move past associating libraries with stuff and start thinking about them in terms of service. Like @LibSkrat’s “Empty the bottle when somebody says, ‘you need a master’s degree to shelve books?” or “Drink every time you hear someone say that they could get hired at a library because they like to read.” Concepts are flexible, wide-open – experimental. Containers – well, they just contain. They have boundaries. For the academic library of yore where access to print materials was essential, this was a good thing. But our patrons can access ‘stuff’ from the internet often without dealing with a human at all. A shushing librarian does not stand between them and the book or journal or long playing record. But the human interaction is essential now. We are Sherpas of data, guides to evaluating the wealth of materials available to our students and faculty that they have not even thought of until talking with one of us.

To me, libraries and librarians are concepts facilitating and mediating the container that is scholarship, data, and information, not shushing gatekeepers.


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. 

I Found it in the Archives!

“The Good Old Days” revived at Bill’s Gay Nineties-ad from ca. 1940 via the Menden Collection, the Mortimer Rare Book Room, Smith College.

The title of this post brazenly repurposed from Smith College’s Archives Concentration’s program flyers seen around their fine campus.


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