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.
15/01/2014 § 1 Comment
We’re excited to share that next week Hack Library School will feature an entire week of digital humanities-related content – we’re dubbing it “DH week.”
Here’s what you have to look forward to:
1/20 – An introduction to DH for library-dwellers, Ashley Maynor
1/21 – From an undergrad digital humanist, Grace Thomas
1/22 – DIY DH+LIS, Dana Bublitz
1/23 – DH and open access, Courtney Baron
1/24 – What you should know about HASTAC, Brianna Marshall and Anna-Sophia Zingarelli-Sweet
Don’t see a topic you’re curious about? Feel like you have something to add? We know we’ve only scratched the surface of possible DH-related content so we’d love to feature your ideas. Contact us at hacklibschool [at] gmail [dot] com to propose a guest post.
15/01/2014 § 6 Comments
Today’s post was supposed to be a fluffy list of librarian-centric movies you could work into a nice Netflix binge on your last weekend or two before the spring semester starts up. I had actually started to compile a nice little list for you. But then Saturday night I stumbled onto an article in The Guardian about an increase in volunteer-run libraries in Great Britain. The volunteer question is worth discussing (Anna-Sophia addressed it nicely a few months ago), but the thing that made me sit up and foam at the mouth for a few hours was the comment section. We had some defenders, but there were also a whole lot of people saying very blatantly that librarians aren’t real professionals, and not worth our salaries. Some were trolling but others seemed to genuinely believe that being a librarian is a simple job that can be taught with a few hours training.
I get a softer version of this attitude all the time. It’s constant and insidious, and rectifying these misconceptions without pigeonholing your listeners can be really difficult. I’d love to hold forth for an hour or five, but in the social situations where this question often comes up a snappy soundbite is all people really want. Soundbites are difficult to create on the spot, especially if you’re like me and blind fury and/or nerves sometimes make it hard to reply coherently at a moment’s notice. But it can be done. Here are some of my standard fallbacks for fighting off the inevitable vultures: « Read the rest of this entry »
14/01/2014 § 1 Comment
When people discuss the digital divide, they are usually talking about how race and class differences contribute to one’s ability to access and use computers and the Internet. But in my opinion, there is another digital divide among professionals, one that separates those who make their living creating technologies and those who make their living using (and teaching others to use) technologies. And from what I’ve seen online, if you want to make people angry fast, all you have to do is place them on one side of the divide when they (or someone else) believes they belong on the other. In a riveting post by Cecily Walker of the Vancouver Public Library, there’s hard Twitter evidence of just such instances. All you have to do is call a librarian who codes a computer engineer, then wait for the thunder.
But why is this such a hot-button issue? Why can’t we all just get along? « Read the rest of this entry »
27/12/2013 § 7 Comments
I hope each one of you have had a happy holiday season, and warm wishes for a happy and healthy New Year!
Perhaps it’s the end of the year, or the end of the semester, but I’ve been reflecting quite a bit lately on my work over the past few months and trying to get a clearer picture of what lies ahead for me in LIS. Although I’ve met many wonderful, smart, hardworking people in my program and beyond, I’m worried about a certain lack of vision and ambition. We also seem to thrive on anxiety about changing technology and society, and all too often our responses sound like something out of The Desk Set: Big Bad Business wants to replace librarians with machines! They nearly succeed! But machines are flawed, and librarians save the day with their special human touch!
More than fifty-five years later, this storyline clearly continues to resonate with us. Yet I’m concerned that we’re still on the crisis phase, and I think an important task for us right now is to direct as much imagination as possible toward creating new roles for ourselves — what, exactly, do we bring to the table that an algorithm doesn’t?
This semester, I’ve seen that professional anxiety directed especially toward Google. In my core introductory class, we were assigned a final paper on Stephen Levy’s 2011 In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes our Lives, and were asked to discuss the ramifications of Google for librarianship. Although the book has a positive spin, my class focused, almost to a person, on negative aspects of Google: privacy, poor search skills, and more. Google absolutely has its problems, but I believe we cannot continue to use it as a labor-saving device on the back end while decrying it as an evil empire devaluing our work on the front end. I have a lot of ideas about how we can think about our relationship to Google a bit more productively, but this post is really meant as a brainstorm-starter. I want to hear from you about how we, as a profession, can build off Google’s successes and add real value to the services they provide. Please add your thoughts in the comments — I’ll be checking in as often as my work schedule allows to foster the conversation — and please also note that my words, as always, do not necessarily reflect the views of Hack Library School as a whole.
After reading through Sergey Brin and Larry Page’s 1998 article introducing Google (it’s a good read, and surprisingly accessible — I recommend checking it out) I fundamentally believe that Google developed to tackle the exact same problems that librarians are trying to handle right now: information overload, reliability, discoverability, and neutrality. They’ve got exponentially smarter people on it (sorry, but it’s true), and they’ve figured out how to make gobsmacking loads of money from it. Whatever Google’s problems may be, it’s hard not to admire that.
25/12/2013 § 11 Comments
With the holiday season wrapping up (pun intended) and the New Year quickly approaching, do you have your 2014 resolutions list made yet?
I am a huge fan of making lists, so the New Year always gives me the perfect opportunity to make another. Since I will be graduating next May my list includes things I want to accomplish while I am still a library student — also because it is too scary to plan anything post-graduation. Other than applying for jobs and networking, I also want to spend my last semester taking advantage of student discounts and the flexibility of grad life. Below is a broad list of my library student wishes and goals, but feel free to steal and adapt as your own!
23/12/2013 § 4 Comments
There is no better time than graduate school to join a professional organization. Many LIS organizations have special incentives in place to attract library school students. The offerings will vary between organizations, but this post should give you an idea of what to watch for.
TYPES OF ORGANIZATIONS
Professional organizations exist at several levels, including international, national, regional, state, and local. Smaller organizations may give you more opportunities to participate directly, but larger organizations will offer a broader spectrum of roundtables and sections. As a student, I have found national and regional organizations to be the most beneficial because I am still figuring out what I want to do with my career. Some organizations offer joint membership programs for library school students and support staff. This is a great way to make your membership dues go farther. Additionally, student chapters on your campus can be a great way to get involved with your regional and national organizations.
San Jose State University has compiled an extremely comprehensive list of professional organizations for LIS students. The list includes general national groups like the American Library Association and Society of American Archivists, but also specialized entities like the Music Library Association and the Association for Moving Image Archivists.
BENEFITS OF MEMBERSHIP
Membership in a professional organizations has several benefits for LIS students. Some of the tangible ones include scholarships, discounts on textbooks purchased through the organization’s store, access to job boards, continuing education courses, and (in some cases) tuition discounts at partner institutions. Other perks include opportunities to travel to new cities for conferences and learn about the field through scholarly journal articles. One of the greatest long-term benefits to membership is the chance to meet with peers, mentors, and future employers. Membership is also a great addition to your resume or C.V., especially if you make time to serve on a committee.
MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR MEMBERSHIP
Many organizations offer discounts on membership dues and conference registration to students in ALA-accredited programs. While it can still be expensive to attend conferences, this is a great way to try out a few organizations before you have to commit to full dues.
Several organizations offer concurrent membership in specialized roundtables, committees, and divisions. These sub-groups serve as a microcosm of the larger organization, allowing you to engage more deeply in professional conversations and network regularly with seasoned professionals. Each group typically focuses on a specific interest, institution type, or professional status. You might consider joining a roundtable for records management, GIS librarianship, performing arts archives, or library support staff. Many organizations have groups that that cater to students and new professionals.
If you’re still skeptical about joining a professional organization, you can try it out for free first. Check your campus library for print or electronic copies of professional publications. Follow organization and roundtable accounts on social media networks. Join listservs to preview the professional conversation or follow conference hashtags on Twitter. Most importantly, talk with your professors and peers to learn which organizations they recommend.
Have you joined a professional organization in library school? Share your advice and experiences in the comments!