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Digital Humanities projects are somewhat new to many librarians, particularly those who are liaisons to faculty who are venturing into this area. Because of this “newness,” many librarians are unsure of their role in engaging with faculty or other librarian colleagues who are working with digital collections and editions, text mining, or other applications of technology to humanities scholarship. A digital humanities project need not be intimidating. Opportunities are nascent in everyday projects and technologies. Through the example of a digital humanities project integrated into a senior-level writing intensive course for English majors, this session will offer attendees a working definition of digital humanities, provide ideas for collaborating with faculty to introduce digital humanities projects into the curriculum, offer data on student engagement with digital texts, and demonstrate that digital humanities projects can be approachable, manageable and fruitful for student learning.

Creating a sustainable collaboration by looking for complementary skill sets among your colleagues can lead to opportunities growing out of your job responsibilities. This project developed from two collaborations: one between the liaison and the digital publishing librarian and the other from an ongoing instructional collaboration between the liaison and a faculty member. The problem/question for investigation was two-fold and emerged from the digitization of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s publication, “The Yellow Wall-Paper” (1892), for a visiting National Library of Medicine exhibit. The liaison was interested in investigating student perceptions and attitudes towards reading literary texts online, while the digital publishing librarian was looking to improve a library-developed eReader and the experience of reading online. The faculty member, in turn, has been engaged for many years in expanding uses and understandings of new digital technologies and media in a traditional academic discipline.

The approach was to join forces with the faculty member, who was offering a senior seminar in Digital Humanities for English majors. Working collaboratively with the faculty member the librarians developed an instructional unit within the course, which introduced the evolution of digital literary texts. They provided the students with an assignment using a digitized text, and collected blog postings and a survey to examine for evidence of attitudes towards reading digitized literary texts and feedback for improving the eReader and Python-based TextAnalysis tool. Attendees will hear the perspectives of the faculty member, liaison librarian and digital publishing librarian on the collaboration process and the value of this course-integrated digital humanities project for student learning. Survey results and analysis of blogs will offer insight into student attitudes towards reading online literary texts, which will contribute to a growing body of research on college students and their perspectives on reading electronic texts (Keller 2012; Rose 2011; Hernon et al. 2007). The presentation will engage the audience through interactive polling via mobile devices, using survey questions related to digital humanities and online reading. Attendees will take away ideas for collaborating with faculty through a practical and useful example of a digital humanities project that will demonstrate the benefits of collaboration, illustrating that simple analysis tools can yield meaningful results.


Digital Humanities | Library and Information Science


This presentation was delivered at the annual conference of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) in Portland, Oregon, March 27th, 2015.