RLUK announced the launch of a Digital Scholarship Network at its Members’ Meeting on Friday 9 November 2018.

Research libraries are increasingly engaged with a wide variety of initiatives in support of Digital Scholarship. Used as an umbrella term for multiple disciplines and activities, Digital Scholarship has been described, in its broadest terms, as the increasingly diverse application of digital technology to scholarly activity, with a particular emphasis on openness, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and challenging traditional and established methodological norms.

Although the definition of Digital Scholarship has remained fluid, and sometimes contested, many of the activities it is seen to encompass are familiar to research libraries. These include the creation and management of digital repositories, the acquisition and preservation of digital collections (both born digital and digitised), the curation of digital exhibitions, and digital publishing. In addition to these, research libraries are leading the development of new discovery platforms, creating highly accurate and comprehensive metadata, enabling text and data mining, and managing increasingly diverse collections of research data. The continued growth and diversification of activities associated with Digital Scholarship, which extend beyond those listed here, offer many opportunities for libraries to work and collaborate in new ways, both within and beyond their own institution. Yet they also pose a series of infrastructural, skills, and cultural challenges, in a continually shifting landscape.

The Digital Scholarship Network will deliver on a key strand of RLUK’s strategy, Reshaping Scholarship, and will be led by its first convenors, Beth Clark (Head of Digital Scholarship and Innovation, LSE Library) and Stuart Lewis (Associate Director of Digital, National Libraries of Scotland).

In its first year, the Digital Scholarship Network will:

  • Provide a forum for knowledge exchange between colleagues working on activities or services in support of Digital Scholarship from across RLUK’s membership, through face-to-face events and a dedicated Jiscmail list;

  • Establish the nature and extent of current Digital Scholarship activities, and the infrastructure and skills required to support these in the future, through a “state of the landscape” survey of RLUK members, and through reference to existing and ongoing research being undertaken elsewhere;

  • Identify potential future opportunities for research libraries to support digital scholarship and researchers, drawing inspiration from international leading-edge initiatives;

  • Produce a Digital Scholarship report based on the results of the survey for discussion and validation amongst the membership;

  • Create an action plan of collective activity, to be delivered through the network, based on the findings and recommendations of the report.


Coming alongside the Associate Directors Network and the Special Collections Leadership Network, the Digital Scholarship Network will be a significant means through which to harness the collective experience and expertise of RLUK members in order to address some of the diverse challenges associated with the development and delivery of Digital Scholarship services and initiatives.