The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) released today a white paper that reports the findings of a two-year project investigating the value SHARE could have for digital humanities scholars. SHARE is an open-source community that develops tools and services to connect related research outputs for new kinds of scholarly discovery.
This project, partly funded by a grant from the US National Endowment for the Humanities, explored how scholars promote discovery of their own digital humanities work, and how they find digital scholarship or its components for their own use. The project involved a mixed-methods approach and four phases of work:
- An online survey of the digital humanist’s workflow
- A design workshop of digital humanities practitioners and librarians to create wireframes of potential discovery solutions
- A series of focus groups at digital humanities centers and libraries to explore attitudes and practices
- Creation of prototypes to test some of the workshop-generated designs
The white paper, by Cynthia Hudson-Vitale, Judy Ruttenberg, Matthew Harp, Rick Johnson, Joanne Paterson, and Jeffrey Spies, describes the project activities and what the team learned. The appendices include detailed reports on the survey and focus groups, as well as a report on a subproject that used web-scraping tools to extract descriptive information from a wide range of digital humanities projects created with the Omeka content management system.
The paper’s authors note, “This project demonstrated that those who work in digital humanities would embrace improvements to help them discover tools and data to use in new projects, but that today the complexity of formats, metadata structures, and discovery channels makes that difficult.”
The authors also observe:
ambiguity exists around which digital projects constitute “data” and which are “collections.” The two types of projects are treated differently for purposes of discovery and long-term stewardship. Many focus group participants called for development of community guidelines to develop this distinction and its criteria. ARL, through its Scholars and Scholarship priority area, is committed to working with disciplinary communities, such as scholarly and learned societies, to craft such guidelines.
About the Association of Research Libraries
The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries in Canada and the US whose mission is to advance research, learning, and scholarly communication. The Association fosters the open exchange of ideas and expertise, promotes equity and diversity, and pursues advocacy and public policy efforts that reflect the values of the library, scholarly, and higher education communities. ARL forges partnerships and catalyzes the collective efforts of research libraries to enable knowledge creation and to achieve enduring and barrier-free access to information. ARL is on the web at ARL.org.
About the National Endowment for the Humanities
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.