24/01/2014 § Leave a comment
By Brianna Marshall and Anna-Sophia Zingarelli-Sweet
HASTAC, or the Humanities, Arts, Sciences, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory, was founded in 2002 to serve as a community of “humanists, artists, social scientists, scientists and technologists working together to transform the future of learning for the 21st century.” It’s an incredible online portal that manages to encompass all the odds and ends related to digital scholarship and alt-ac careers. As two current HLS writers who have been involved with HASTAC, today we wanted to share our experiences with the community and tips for getting involved!
I was lucky enough to be selected as a HASTAC Scholar during the 2012-2013 school year. The HASTAC Scholars program focuses on bringing together undergraduate and graduate students working with digital scholarship projects across all disciplines. Scholars must be sponsored by their home institution, which will provide a small honorarium to the Scholar.
I first heard about the program through my boss, who had received an email through a digital humanities group on campus. He forwarded it to me and I applied to a group on campus who sponsored Scholars. Soon I found I wasn’t accepted, but the professor who had agreed to recommend me offered to see if my LIS program would sponsor me. They agreed, and in this roundabout way I became a Scholar.
As a Scholar you are encouraged to be active on the HASTAC website: to contribute content and give feedback to others. I found that I didn’t do this as much as I could have, though there is a lot to benefit from on the site:
Job postings, calls for papers, and other opportunities
LIS-specific groups, like “Authority Control: Information and Library Science”
Blogs! So many posts from smart, interesting people
The main way I ended up participating as a Scholar was through the 2013 conference held in Toronto, Ontario. When the conference was initially advertised, I decided to brainstorm possible proposals. I ended up submitting a panel proposal with two other LIS types as well as a panel focusing on digital publishing with a group of non-LIS Scholars.
As it turned out, both proposals were accepted and I went on to present at HASTAC 2013. You can read a bit more about my experience here. It was unlike any conference I’ve been to before, bringing together people of all disciplines, interests, and levels of experience. This conference more than any other helped me recognize how important it is to break free from the library silo to find innovative ideas and perspectives. The 2014 conference is in Peru, with the 2015 conference slated to return to the US (to my knowledge).
I hope you’ll consider exploring HASTAC. I came to library school preparing to be a librarian and aiming to work in an academic library, but over half the jobs I have applied for don’t have librarian in the title; instead it’s coordinator or curator or specialist, with a lot of the requirements being skills I would never would have even heard mentioned in a classroom. HASTAC is valuable because of the multitude of perspectives it draws together and for the welcoming, open arms toward all of us who aren’t quite sure where we fit. Library students can use it to grow a much-needed non-traditional skill set befitting the needs of modern librarianship – and any of the other alt ac careers we may find ourselves in.
To save the humanities, we need to get out and bust some moves pal.
— Save the Humanities (@SaveHumanities) December 10, 2013
Like many other parody Twitter accounts and bots, the Save the Humanities bot occasionally drops some serious truth bombs.
As our social horizons expand and our economic horizons contract, reinvigorating the academy, traditional scholarly disciplines — and indeed the library and information professions — is going to require busting a big move. Plenty of ink has already been spilled arguing that we (insert academics/ librarians/ humanists/ alt-acs here) are important for society. What we need now are strong, persuasive examples of exactly how we are deploying digital tools to change scholarship, and the world around us, for the better.
Luckily, there are communities of support for incubating and showcasing this kind of work — and HASTAC is a premier example. Like Brianna, I’ve found that the blogs and communities are an extremely important aspect of HASTAC for me, and these are things you can benefit from even if you aren’t a Scholar! The HASTAC website functions almost as a “world-brain”, with the collective knowledge of scores of bright people who are thinking and working around the scholarly use of digital tools. While the site is not easily searchable and the floods of content can be overwhelming, I subscribe to several groups and receive blog posts and comments in digest form. This helps me keep my finger on the pulse of emerging trends, vocabulary, and projects without feeling the need to constantly comb through the whole site. I probably miss a lot of great stuff that way, but this approach keeps it manageable. I haven’t been a very active commenter, but I am writing a book review for the Digital History group and have been interacting with fellow HASTAC scholars quite a bit on Twitter (follow the current HASTAC Scholar Twitter list here!)
One important aspect of the HASTAC community that’s a special perk of being a Scholar is the formation of interdisciplinary Working Groups, or “research nodes”. For example, I am a member of the Archives and Art History working groups; other working groups run the gamut from Critical Code Studies to Post-Colonialism to 19th-c English Literature. Each working group completes a collaborative digital project, which can include an online exhibition, a digital edition, an app, a robot, or anything else the group members can devise! The 2013-2014 Working Groups are just getting started, so I don’t have much to report yet, but I am really looking forward to this opportunity to work with other scholars across the country and develop a different type of project than I might otherwise create for an LIS course or internship.
In his introduction to the outstanding collection Switching Codes: Thinking Through Digital Technology in the Humanities and the Arts (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), Thomas Bartscherer writes that “[t]o understand how digital technology is transforming thought and practice in the humanities and the arts, it is necessary to cultivate cross-cultural communication, to establish points of reference, and to develop a shared vocabulary. Given the globalized and decentralized nature of digital culture, this cannot be mandated from the top down, as it were, but must be cobbled together from the bottom up and on the fly.” At HASTAC, this kind of cross-communication is the name of the game. Sooner or later, what we now call “Digital Scholarship” will simply be the way we do scholarship, and the conversations that will get us there are happening right now among academics, programmers, poets, and students — with or without us. I firmly believe that library and archives professionals have an important role in shaping this critically engaged future, and I would love to see more LISers get involved. If you want to bust a move and save the humanities, pal, consider joining HASTAC, start participating in the site now, and apply to be a Scholar around August-September of 2014!
Are you involved with HASTAC or another DH-related group? What has your experience been?
23/01/2014 § Leave a comment
Image courtesy of the J. Murrey Atkins Library at UNC Charlotte
Open access refers to free and unrestricted online access to publishing, especially scholarly research. Examples range from articles, theses, and dissertations to conference presentations. In some cases, open access work is free of copyright or licensing restrictions, meaning researchers can copy, use, and distribute the work as long as the author is properly credited. Sometimes open access is delayed and journals will provide access to articles after an established embargo period, usually six months to a year. Open access intersects with digital humanities where research in the humanities is concerned.
Open access began as a response and solution to expensive journals and databases. The ever-increasing costs of these subscriptions limit the ability of many universities and libraries to provide access to information and knowledge. Even scholars at institutions that do have large budgets may experience difficulty accessing information. Items may only be available via interlibrary loan from select institutions, which can take time to receive, especially if they are already being used by other researchers. Though it does offer a solution to the information gap, open access can be a controversial subject. Some scholars are hesitant about open access, as they fear having work copied or stolen. Others worry that open access limits the effects of peer review or results in scholars having less control over their work. Those in favor of open access have rebuttals to these concerns. Since open access scholarship is available to anyone, anywhere, for no cost, scholars have the opportunity to have their research read by a much wider and more diverse audience, broadening the scope of academic conversation and debate. The more a work is accessed, the greater the potential for recognizing (and thus, limiting) plagiarism, especially since more readers equals more citations.
Image courtesy of the Australian Open Access Support Group
I’ve had the good fortune to work directly with open access on a project archiving the MFA in Studio Art theses and MAEd in Art Education applied projects at the university where I’m employed, which is one example of the benefit of open access to digital humanities. Our goal is to make the final work of the graduate students publically accessible via the institutional repository (IR). Previously, only print copies of the theses and applied projects were kept in the department. The department will still keep print copies, but the electronic versions allow for instant access on campus and beyond. The benefits of including graduate student work in the IR are huge for students, faculty, and the institution. Graduate student work doesn’t often have the chance to be widely read or referenced beyond committees and peers, but the IR makes student work accessible to a worldwide audience. Archiving scholarly research in the institutional repository increases the visibility of the university’s faculty and and student work. The IR is indexed by Google so it’s easily accessible to researchers outside the institution. Each work in the IR gets a permanent URL that students can put on their website or CV. This helps immensely on the academic job market. A benefit especially useful for art and humanities students is the ability to use different media, such as images and video, which is ideal considering the merging of art, humanities, and technology. Prints are not always able to showcase the vivid color, texture, and depth of images, plus they are not easily available to the public. Digital images can be manipulated at 360 degrees to allow viewers to see entire installations, archaeological sites, and more. The possibilities are endless.
The IR is run by digital archivists who are kept up to date on the latest archival standards for the digital preservation of documents. The electronic theses and dissertations have a much better chance of survival than their print counterparts. The IR itself is searchable by issue dates, authors, titles, subjects, or keyword. Students are expected to add their work to the IR, but are given the chance to embargo the work for six months before it’s available online. The institution does not make any claims over the work; it simply makes the work easily accessible. When the project to archive and make available online art graduate student work was first proposed, we had a favorable response from faculty, but I’ve heard getting approval to make theses and dissertations publicly available can be a real challenge. This is an issue those hoping to work in academic libraries or digital archives will have to face.
ACRL Scholarly Communication Toolkit
Open Access by Peter Suber
What is Open Access – SHERPA/RoMEO
What is Open Access?
Open Access Overview
Right to Research
Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook (OASIS)
Open Access Week
What are your thoughts on open access and its relation to digital humanities?
22/01/2014 § 5 Comments
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Dana Bublitz.
So, you’re interested in digital humanities as a library science student, but your LIS program (and maybe your whole university) doesn’t even have the slightest idea what you mean when you talk about “DH”–or maybe they just give you a funny look, but either way it becomes pretty obvious that there might not be much in the way of coursework focus on digital humanities methods and tools. What do you do then? How do you make a program without offerings in your area of focus work for your interests and gain the necessary experience along the way? It sounds like a daunting task, but a DIY DH+LIS path is a lot less terrifying than it might seem if you can put in the effort for some creative workarounds and take the initiative to do some investigating outside of normal coursework.
I came to digital humanities through my interests in technology and the humanities, as many people working in the field will share. As a teenager, I had built computers with my dad as a hobby and eventually began building my own websites. But in college I decided on a liberal arts degree and eventually went on to pursue a master’s degree in medieval studies. After finishing my first master’s, I decided that an MLIS was the next step. I relocated to Seattle and applied to the University of Washington’s iSchool, though I wasn’t totally sure what I would need to continue my interests in digital humanities work. When I began classes, it became clear to me that digital humanities was not quite yet “a thing” at the university. There were a few digital projects in the works, and a small–but passionate–grassroots community of faculty and graduates students, but there were few course offerings in digital scholarship or even digital libraries with my LIS program.
At first, it was a bit of a shock: here is this field I really want to work in, but my program offers little-to-no direct coursework! How am I supposed to make this work for me? However, I’ve come to realize that not having a larger, more active DH community has been a positive thing: I had to become very proactive in my search for relevant coursework and hands-on experience, and I’ve had to network across campus on my own initiative, meeting a lot of great people that I probably otherwise would not have met. (My colleague, Paige Morgan, gave a great talk on “DH microclimates” earlier this fall, and I highly recommend giving it a quick read!)
Not every LIS program has course offerings in digital scholarship–or specifically digital humanities. But the skills and knowledge to do work in both librarianship and digital scholarship are so similar–especially as librarians begin to gain more skills in working with technology–that I hope more LIS students begin to think of this as a field for which they are skilled. But as a LIS student in a program without a focus on digital topics, you need to be pretty proactive in finding coursework and opportunities that will give you the experience necessary to work with digital humanities projects.
21/01/2014 § Leave a comment
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Grace Thomas
“I am an English major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), with a minor in Computer Science.” After the initial eye-widening or eyebrow-knitting of the questioner, I am asked, “So…what do you, umm, hope to do with that…?” Depending on the person, I either launch into a discussion concerning the critical importance of digital humanities for the future of libraries, or simply smile and state: “Library school next fall.”
My decision to be an English major also came with a personal need to have a “hard skill” job. I needed to quantify my experiences and future career. So with my future set in editing and publishing, I sought out an internship at the Walt Whitman Archive held at the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities. There, I realized I had somehow gotten onto the correct path, with the wrong intentions. My hard skill job was before me: digital archiving and librarianship. That same semester, I added my Computer Science minor and began learning how to program.
When I took into account the skill set I was creating for myself, I needed to decide how to utilize it. I was faced with the choice of a six (plus) year English PhD program where an alt-ac job with digital libraries constantly glimmered just beyond my grasp, or go straight for it by choosing the library science route. In the end, I realized that I want to work with special collections. I want to love books, but not study the content. I want to see a patron’s face light up when they hold an ancient manuscript. I want to improve digital access to collections and information. I want to help people efficiently find what they are looking for. I need to go to library science school for these ambitions to transpire. Beyond that, finances, job placement, and time were practical factors.
At the Digital Humanities 2013 Conference (DH 2013), which happened to take place in Lincoln, I discovered that library and information scholars were just as prevalent as English or History scholars. At first I was nervous because I had considered DH something at UNL and hadn’t realized the full extent of these digital initiatives. With starry eyes, I was humbled by the brilliant scholars surrounding me, but more importantly, inspired. I could see myself speaking at that very conference in the future hoping to contribute my own high-impact research to the growing initiative.
At the perfect library and information science program, I would learn the details of physically preserving rare books and managing special collections, but also learn digital preservation for future access. I began the search for my ideal program by consulting centerNet to find out which schools had ties with significant digital research facilities. Once I narrowed it down from there, I took into account research assistantship opportunities, strong curriculum, and specializations in both digital libraries/data curation and rare books/special collections. I also took the tech out of it and looked at the locations in which I could spend the next three years of my life, asking myself if I would truly be happy there.
My advice for undergraduates is to SEEK OUT an internship or job experience in your interest area. If you think something is interesting DO IT! Email or speak with faculty to see if they are willing to take on an undergraduate intern, even if they don’t have a specified program. These positions will show you a glimpse of your future career, or may lead you to a place you didn’t know existed. For undergraduates interested in digital humanities, LEARN HOW TO CODE, in Ruby, Python, R, (maybe not Java or C/++ unless you are very ambitious). Learn how to mark-up a book that you own in TEI/XML. There are many tutorials online, such as Codecademy, which features Monty Python references in every lesson of Python, and Learn to Code the Hard Way. Also check out Sam Winn’s recent HLS post A Liberal Arts Major’s Guide to Coding for more suggestions. By learning the demands of coding, you will have a more complete understanding of the discipline and will be able to participate in the DH discussion when you can write the programs yourself.
You’ve heard from me, now how about you! Are you a digital humanist heading to library school? If so, what does your ideal program look like and what are your ambitions beyond?
In May, Grace Thomas will receive her BA in English, with a minor in Computer Science, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She looks forward to focusing her education into Digital Libraries through a Library and Information Science masters program beginning in fall 2014. She also enjoys swimming, reading modernist literature, and attending dance performances. Find her on LinkedIn and follow her Twitter @gracehthom.
20/01/2014 § 2 Comments
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Ashley Maynor.
1. There is no universally-accepted definition for Digital Humanities and probably never will be.
Instead, Digital Humanities (DH) is and will continue to be defined by the kinds of collaboration and innovation that occurs at the intersection of liberal arts & sciences, libraries & pedagogy, and computing & digital technology at various organizations and institutions.
Defining the Digital Humanities is slippery territory since even the so-called experts can disagree. Most accept, however, that it’s a “big tent”, not a single movement. One can also say of DH generally, that:
- It’s about developing, using, and interpreting new expressions of scholarly and creative research.
- It’s also about collaboration and sharing.
- It breaks down old and traditional barriers within the academy and between academia and the greater public.
- It can mean anything and everything from collaborative tool-building to open-access app creation to using digital teaching tools to makerspaces in the library to digital collection-building and even crowd-sourced collection building.
- And its definition is constantly shifting, so hang on for the ride!
2. There is nothing to fear about DH except fear itself. (Also, feral librarians do not bite.)
Most of the fears and anxieties about the Digital Humanities, especially in library settings, come from a lack of understanding about what DH can be and how it fits in to a library’s long-standing values or mission. DH is to libraries what so-called hybrarians or feral librarians are to the LIS profession. These “skunks” in the library are sometimes seen as a threat or move away from true librarianship. (To be inspired by how one library is addressing this issue, see here.)
But, if you give them a chance, you’ll find that library DHers are every bit as collaborative, information-wielding, and service-oriented as their more “traditional” counterparts yet they also bring to the table mad technology skills, loads of creativity, and a desire to help libraries transform further into places that produce and make as much as they serve.
In other words, libraries and DH can evolve in common. Just as new breeds of librarians can help libraries to remain not just relevant but to thrive in the Age of Google, #alt-ac and #alt-lis librarians can equally help the Humanities become more visible and valued across our culture at a time when many are proclaiming the “death” of the Humanities.
3. One of the best ways to learn about what DH is, isn’t, or can be for your library or institution, is to see the wide world of practice that’s out there.
In addition to exploring the institutions above, you can begin to build your DH knowledge and tool kit through the following resources:
- ALA/ACRL’s Digital Humanities Discussion Group, a library listserv/discussion group that aims to discuss DH’s role in libraries;
- CUNY Digital Humanities Resource Guide, an online guide to all things DH, including tools, forums, conferences, and more;
- dh+lib, a blog “where the digital humanities and librarianship meet” that grew out of the ACRL group;
- Stanford’s Tooling Up for the Digital Humanities, a good place for students, scholars, and LIS professionals who want to explore the possibilities for digital tools, programs, and methods to empower and enhance their scholarship in the humanities;
- University of Tennessee DH LibGuide, our newly created web-based guide full of DH tools and essential resources (with thanks to Nancy LeMay for sharing her DH LibGuide front page code and inspiration!);
- Zotero Digital Humanities groups, online bibliographies of links and articles via one of the better known DH tools (Zotero) which may help you connect to the open and collaborative DH community.
Our library is just beginning to dip its proverbial toe into the DH waters, so as the Digital Humanities Librarian at the University of Tennessee Libraries I have a number of responsibilities. Among them are:
- Assessing the campus environment and advising on how the Libraries can support DH scholars;
- Participating in planning and implementation of a “digital scholars’ commons”;
- Developing and implementing an outreach plan for engaging faculty and students in DH;
- Advising faculty on the creation of digital objects, assigning metadata, file naming, and preservation;
- Offering training on the use of DH tools and techniques and providing limited technical support for DH research projects;
- Being a generous, collaborative, and engaged colleague to my fellow librarians; and
- Keeping informed about changes in scholarly communication, such as publishing and digital scholarship, copyright, open access, and data management.
Because Digital Humanities is an evolving field, I’m expected to adapt work practices to changes occurring in the discipline. That means, ultimately, my job is about adaption, flexibility, and staying on top of new ideas, technology, and trends. In other words, I am paid to be a nerd—it doesn’t get any cooler than that.
Prior to completing her MS in Information Science in August 2013, Ashley Maynor worked as a feral librarian for Roanoke Public Libraries, as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Cinema Production at Virginia Tech, and as an independent film producer and documentarian. She is the new Digital Humanities Librarian for the University of Tennessee Libraries where she combines her passion for storytelling and digital technology with old school librarian values.