Archive for the ‘Digital Humanities’ Category

Call for Book Chapter Proposals

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Digital Humanities in the Library: Challenges and Opportunities for Subject Specialists

Proposal Submission Deadline: December 15th, 2013

Editors: Arianne Hartsell-Gundy (Miami University), Laura Braunstein (Dartmouth College), Liorah Golomb (University of Oklahoma)

Potential Publisher: Association of College & Research Libraries


The ACRL Literatures in English Section is working on a proposal to sponsor an ACRL publication about digital humanities and subject specialists. Our section has sponsored other ACRL publications, including Literature in English: A Guide for Librarians in the Digital Age edited by Betty H. Day and William A. Wortman and Teaching Literary Research: Challenges in a Changing Environment edited by Kathleen A. Johnson and Steven R. Harris. We are looking for approximately 10-15 chapters that examine the role of the librarian subject specialist in digital humanities.


Digital humanities is changing the way that humanities scholars research and teach, and libraries are in a great position to help support these efforts. Subject specialists who work with humanities faculty are in a unique position because they often have good relationships with these faculty and have a strong understanding of their needs, but many subject specialists may lack the training to provide support for digital humanities work. Some subject specialists are lucky enough to work in a library that has a digital scholarship center and has staff that are specially trained to help with metadata and digital projects, but this arrangement can still create challenges for subject specialists as they figure out how to navigate between their faculty and these specialists. This book aims to examine how subject specialists are meeting these challenges and making the most of the opportunities that come their way.


Suggested topics include, but are not limited to the following:


  • Examples of successful digital humanities projects.
  • Examples of less than successful digital humanities projects.
  • How a subject specialist trained to be a traditional bibliographer learns the skills necessary to do work in the digital humanities.
  • Examples of how subject specialists can collaborate with/support faculty, or collaborate with IT professionals, Special Collections librarians, Digital Resources librarians, etc.
  • Using digital humanities projects to answer reference questions.
  • How do librarians identify, evaluate, manage, and promote digital humanities projects?
  • How to teach undergraduates and graduate students to use and/or create digital humanities projects?
  • Thought pieces on the role of subject specialists in digital humanities. For example, should subject specialists be involved with digital humanities, or should that work be done by digital humanities librarians?


Submission Procedure: Proposal Submission Deadline is December 15th, 2013.


Academic library professionals are invited to submit their proposal of not more than 2 pages. Your proposal should include: 1) the names and contact information for all authors (identify a main contact); 2) a clear description of the topic you are proposing for a potential chapter; 3) reason why this topic would be of interest to subject specialists; 4) a brief description of your academic institution; and, 5) information about the author(s) showing his/her qualifications for writing the case study/chapter. Submissions should be in Microsoft Word. Authors of accepted proposals will be notified by January 31st, 2014. If the book proposal is accepted, each chapter will be expected to be about 4,000-5,000 words.


Inquiries and submissions can be sent to:


Arianne Hartsell-Gundy, Humanities Librarian

Miami University

208 King Library

151 S. Campus Ave.

Oxford, OH 45056



ALA Awards in Cutting Edge Library Services 2012

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

About Aaron McCollough

English Literature Librarian, University of Michigan

ALA (OITP & LITA) has announed the winners of this year’s Cutting Edge Technology in Library Services awards. These are pretty cool projects. Even though these are very *techie* (in many senses) projects, they hold promise for all kinds of exciting implementations by our users.

Take a look:


  • Snap & Go, Contra Costa County Library, Calif. 
    Using QR (Quick Response) codes, Snap & Go serves as an innovative delivery mechanism for traditional library services. From local transit ads to posters to newspaper ads, Contra Costa County is delivering instant access to library materials and services to cardholders with mobile phones. By scanning the code with a reader on their phones, users are directed to downloadable e-books and audiobooks, virtual museum passes, interactive reference service, account and catalog search and readers’ advisory tools. QR codes placed on popular titles take readers to “read-alike” lists created by library staff. Usage of the library’s mobile site has increased 16 percent since Contra Costa implemented Snap & Go.
  • Participatory Platforms for Learning, New Canaan High School Library, Conn.
    New Canaan’s Participatory Platforms for Learning program strives to cultivate curiosity throughout the learning community and encourage experimentation with new tools for content creation, publication and participation. The program includes deploying the full complement of Google applications; advocating a culture of intellectual freedom; using Twitter for current events research; and using Facebook groups for students to record their research process and provide feedback to others in the group. The program enmeshes learning and the “real world” to teach students digital citizenship by encouraging them to become responsible information consumers, creators and contributors in the public domain. Their online portal is at:
  • Map Warper Toolkit, New York Public Library, New York
    The Map Warper toolkit allows staff and the public to virtually stretch (or geo-rectify) historical maps onto a digital model of the world à la Google Maps or OpenStreetMap, transforming old atlases into interactive spatial environments. Participants also can go deeper, tracing and transcribing specific map features into a growing public database. The project adds to the historical and scholarly record while engaging library patrons in building digital resources. The service is managed by the NYPL Labs group, developed in collaboration with EntropyFree, an open source geospatial software firm. The tools are in the process of being published to an open code repository for other libraries, scholars and cultural heritage workers to use and build upon.
  • Gimme Engine, Scottsdale Public Library, Ariz.
    The Gimme Engine mobile website helps customers find a great book to read based on a library staffer’s recommendation and review. Gimme combines library catalog MARC data, content enrichment service images and descriptions and library staff book reviews on to create a unique experience. Gimme, which was developed with monies received from an LSTA grant, was created to meet a need stated by both library and non-library users; they wanted book recommendations powered by library staff. The Gimme engine is a creative solution to meet these customer needs. You can use Gimme for yourself by visiting:

(original press release may be found at American Libraries news page).

Evaluating Digital Scholarship [PMLA]

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

About Aaron McCollough

English Literature Librarian, University of Michigan

All of us are faced with new questions about collections in the massively-networked digital age. The Modern Language Association has commissioned a special batch of articles on the subject of “Evaluating Digital Scholarship,” which is freely accessible on the PMLA site.


Susan Schreibman, the editor of the section, has this to say:

The series is introduced by Susan Schreibman, Laura Mandell, and Stephen Olsen, with contributions by  Steve Anderson and Tara McPherson (‘Engaging Digital Scholarship: Thoughts on Evaluating Multimedia Scholarship’), Geoffrey Rockwell  (‘Engaging Digital Scholarship: Thoughts on Evaluating Multimedia Scholarship’), Bethany Nowviskie (‘Where Credit Is Due: Preconditions for the Evaluation of Collaborative Digital Scholarship’), Jerome McGann (‘On Creating a Usable Future’), and Katheleen Fitzpatrick (‘Peer Review, Judgment, and Reading’).

These articles provide an important intervention as digital scholarship and digital scholarly methods and practices are becoming more mainstreamed into traditional academic work

For the most part, these pieces are not directly addressed to the questions and concerns of library collections, but the entire conversation is highly relevant for us, and I hope we might begin some conversation here regarding that relevance.



Facebook for Academic Purposes?

Monday, March 28th, 2011

About Aaron McCollough

English Literature Librarian, University of Michigan

In some recent work reviewing an updated edition of a writing handbook, I questioned whether it might not be time to start thinking seriously about how we should be encouraging students to work with social networking sites as online research sources. Certainly, plenty of people have been thinking for some time about how to use Facebook for pedagogical interactions (leading, among other things, to the so-called “Creepy Tree House Effect”). Not much thought has been put into “citing the site,” however, or into how students might be exploiting/learning from/re-purposing material that circulates in the social network space. It’s easy to be skeptical about students using Facebook and other social media for research, but Creepy Tree Houses notwithstanding, developments like the one mentioned in today’s Chronicle of Higher Education suggest that this kind of skepticism might be as misplaced as was our general indifference to social media a few years back.

Digital Questions, pt. 1

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

About Aaron McCollough

English Literature Librarian, University of Michigan

Although I’m a little hesitant to post my first blog entry while a significant portion of the LES group is immersed in the ALA Midwinter Convention, I’m sure many others like me will be staying put this week and looking on virtually.


It is significant for us all, certainly, that the MLA convention is also taking place just up the road in Los Angeles, and today’s panel session there (3:30-4:45) sponsored by the new Libraries and Research in Languages and Literatures discussion group gives me an excuse to broach a subject many of us are thinking about. The panel is called “Literary Research in/and Digital Humanities” and features six presentations on the potential and problems of collaboration in digital environments between Literature Librarians and Literary Scholars. A nice group of presentation abstracts is available in a LibGuide set up by panel organizer Jim Kelly at:


I wish I could make it to this panel, as I find myself thinking about digital scholarship more every day. In lieu of that though, I’d love to get comments from those who are able to attend. I’m sure other readers would be interested, as well. I’d also like to hear non-presenters (those who were or weren’t able to make it to the MLA panel) about how this panel corresponds to ongoing or anticipated activities at their home institutions.


My questions are several. But most basically I’d like to hear what kinds of digital Library/English department collaborations are happening around the country right now. The panelists at the MLA event give us a glimpse at some, and I’m aware of many others via my work with the EEBO-Text Creation Partnership. Still, it seems to me that a more categorical list of what is happening would be helpful to all English Literature Librarians as they work to develop their sense of the digital services the discipline is starting to demand.


There have been plenty of efforts to pin down a sense of what the elusive “Digital Humanities” are (or can be). As a useful first step, there seem to be many discussions floating around about what Humanists (and by inference Literary specialists) do with the objects of their study. Digital Humanists presumably do those same things but with the help of digital prosthetics. Two brief and rather elegant accounts of what Humanist do may be found, in fact, in a piece by Mary Claire Vandenburg in the most recent issue of our own BiblioNotes.


Mary cites John Unsworth’s short-list of common humanities activities: “discovering, annotating, comparing, referring, sampling, illustrating and representing” (7). She then goes on to suggest that the Humanities is really “a set of skills or ‘ways of doing’ which allows us to make sense of our world” (8). Here again, one infers that the digital addition to this set of practices would be in keeping with our increasing immersion in a world that is digitally mediated — or, that the Digital Humanities is a set of ‘ways of digital doing’ that allows us to make sense of our digital world).


Given all this, I’m very curious to hear more about what these digital “ways of doing” look like or entail in specific cases and how they make use of the skills/resources we have to offer as Literature Librarians.


My sense is that, currently, most digital literary scholarship fits roughly under the rubric of curatorial and/or editorial work. Do others share this sense? I notice, for example, that Unsworth’s list does not include words like “analyze,” “interpret,” or “explain.” Perhaps he covers this territory with his “illustrating or representing,” however.


Of the abstracts for the MLA panel, Manuel M. Martin-Rodriquez’s project strikes me as the most explicitly inquiry-driven use of digital tools insofar as it seeks to capture and manipulate literary information in a way that would be hard to accomplish without computers. It seems to have what we might call a literary research question built into it from the outset and to be using digital methods to “discover” (to use another of Unsworth’s terms) an answer or answers to the question. I don’t mean to say this is a more proper way of proceeding than the curatorial/editorial approaches. Each has its benefits and limitations. I would imagine Martin-Rodriguez’s work would be a less flexible tool for other, future scholars precisely because it is asking a question from inception. Projects like Heather Bowlby’s and Marija Dalbello’s might well have broader applicability because they have fewer built-in assumptions about the kinds of inquiry pertinent to their study.


What do you think? Did elements come to light in the panel that I could never anticipate from reading only the abstracts? And, what’s going in your departments? Are the digital scholars you work with more interested in inquiry or edition-making? If this is a false binary, then how do you see things shaping themselves? What are the objects of digital literary study and what digital tools are required to make sense of them?