Variations on the theme Boys & Unicorns & Sparkles: What is a librarian to do?

I want to focus on where librarians have placed themselves in the field of Digital Humanities?

What kind of Help guides and Tutorials are available through libraries?

What kind of resources do libraries have online with regard to text files/ program tutorials?

This is an impossible task, it would require a master list of every library. And it would require every librarian publish their work regarding their involvement in DH. Every reference question, every referral, must be counted toward an adequate accounting of the librarians presence in the world of DH.

I began this process with my own Librarian. For about a half an hour we talked about all the institutions she had worked with, or new of, that had Digital Humanities programs. She then directed me to the ARL, American Research Library’s SPEC Kit 326, from November 2011, Regarding Digital Humanities. I went into the book stacks and pulled a soft cover catalog off the shelf to consider a libraries role in DIGITAL Humanities. The Spec Kit is a survey that was sent out by the ARL, to the ARL libraries, regarding Digital Humanities.  “Sixty-four of the 126 ARL members completed this survey for a response rate of 51%” (Bryson, 11).  The survey attempts to record trends, practices, and procedures of ARL Libraries with regard to Digital Humanities scholarship. I laughed out loud as I flipped to the back of the publication. The last half of this catalog was pages of screen shots of library web pages. To study library influence in the Digital Humanities, I was looking through printed pictures of web pages and typing in the url’s of the institutions one by one.

I have been combing through the web pages of every institution that responded to the ARL survey last year. I collected all the mission statements of these Libraries Digital Humanities centers. I decided to preform a vary flawed text analysis with a free online tool .

Wordle: DH: Missions

Wordle is simply counting the words in my text and then increasing the size of the word as the word gets mentioned more frequently.

What I fond from this rather silly exercise is that Librarians are using mostly vague positive language with regard to their Digital Humanities missions. (Not surprising, but why should it be so?)

A preliminary search of the ARL respondents webpages gave a huge variation of institutional commitment to digital scholarship. Some libraries have one page explanations of the computers that are available in their computer labs, listed under their DH web presence. Other institutions have blogs and resource guides about text mining practices. The most interesting part of this search was the realization that all the institutions my librarian had mentioned as DH sources were absent from the ARL Survey respondents. Libraries seem to be interested in the prospects of DH but at the same time disconnected from the very digital world of DH.

I have found some pretty amazing resource guides buried in the ARL respondents web pages. I plan on compiling these helpful resources in an annotated web bibliography, as a way to use the ARL DH survey as a resource list rather than a list of mission statements. I plan on comparing this list of resources to the ones suggested by my librarian as a way of preforming a very qualitative comparison of DH information aggregation.

More Soon:

Julia Pollack

Bryson, Tim. Digital Humanities. SPEC Kit 326. Washington, DC :: Association of Research Libraries,.

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