RLUK has published a report on The role of Research Libraries in the creation, archiving, curation, and preservation of tools for the Digital Humanities.
It is widely accepted that research libraries play an important role in facilitating academic research and teaching. However, given the technological advances of the last few decades, this role has been continuously transforming; the fundamental changes that information technology has brought to various academic fields, such as the Arts & Humanities, can be regarded as one of the reasons.
The emergence of Digital Humanities, in particular, raises new challenges for libraries. Yet, previous research has mostly focused on the role of libraries in supporting scholarship rather than in their role as collaborators in its creation. Also, as most of these studies have been conducted with US libraries as their main focus, the UK academic library landscape has remained largely unexplored.
For this purpose, RLUK issued the ‘Research Libraries and Digital Humanities Tools’ project which aimed to explore the role that member institutions play in the creation, archiving, curation, and preservation of tools for Digital Humanities research, along with the models of involvement they employ in this type of scholarship.
Based on the results, we argue that there is a role for libraries in the creation, archiving, curation and preservation of tools for Digital Humanities research, mainly as a collaborative activity between library professionals and researchers in the field.
Some of the main issues raised in the project report are:
- Research libraries were found to actively collaborate with scholars in the building of various tools for research and teaching; yet, their maintenance and long-term preservation remains challenging for most institutions.
- Through examining different cases of support of/ involvement in Digital Humanities research, it became apparent that there was not one single model to fit every need. Libraries usually tended to utilise existing resources in creative ways that allowed them to engage with scholars in the field but complied with their strategic goals.
- The role, responsibilities and skill set of librarians have been expanded to effectively respond to the challenges posed.
- As research libraries increasingly become active partners in Digital Humanities research and teaching, the sharing of knowledge and best practice will ensure that these partnerships remain beneficial for institutions.
04 July 2017
RLUK is a consortium of 37 of the most significant research libraries in the UK and Ireland, whose purpose is to shape the research library agenda, and contribute to the wider knowledge economy through innovative projects and services that add value and impact to the process of research and researcher-training. RLUK’s mission is to work with its members and partners, nationally and internationally, to shape and to realise the vision of the modern research library.
Top image courtesy of Tim Pestridge, University of Exeter