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Digital Humanities Reference question answered by the Academic Research Libraries association survey.

After speaking with a real live librarian she referred me to the American Research Libraries 2011 survey regarding Digital Humanities. With call number in hand I made my way into the Main Stacks to look at a survey regarding the digital. I plucked the book from the shelf and flipped through the pages. The first third of the publication was familiar survey results, the last two thirds of the pamphlet consisted of snap shots of websites. This printed survey was displaying website pages copied on paper with their institutional url listed at the top of every page. My first reaction was to laugh, this consideration of digital initiatives recorded in a print volume would require the researcher to type in url addresses one by one to continue studying. As I walked to circulation I was struck with a question: In ten years, how will the University of Illinois mission statement regarding the digital will read? But the 2011 mission is recorded in this ARL publication forever stamped in print.

The introduction states, “this survey was conducted between April 11 and May 13, 2011.  Sixty-four of the 126 ARL members completed this survey with a response rate of 51%”(Bryson, 11).

With regard to Digital Humanities, “the purpose of the survey was to provide a snapshot of research library experiences with these centers or services and the benefits and challenges of hosting them” (Bryson, 11).  The findings of this survey were fairly predictable, most research libraries considered that part of their mission was to provide DH  services. Those services varied from citation management software, to actual text mining support. Most of these institutions are looking to expand their presence in the Digital Humanities field. This document explains that 64 of the 126 American Research Libraries will continue to consider DH study important. My goal in studying this publication was to consider how this document could become a useful resource for DH information.

The first section of library screen shots is titled “Mission/Purpose.” I studied every one of these institutions’ websites and collected information regarding:

  • The mission statements of the 17 libraries pictured
  • Technology/equipment provided
  • Digital Humanities projects
  • Institutional blogs regarding Digital Humanities
  • Useful guides and technology tutorials

My goal in this collection was to create a kind of digital bibliography of resources I would personally use as a digital humanities scholar/librarian. This collection is in no way complete, scientific, or repeatable. It is a document of a personal browsing exploration guided by the ARL’s survey results. Ultimately, I will compare the information found through this exploration with the information I gathered speaking to my librarian in person.

After collecting all of the missions listed in the “Mission/Purpose” section of the ARL’s survey I performed a very unscientific word count analysis. I copied them all into a text file and generated a Wordle file.


Wordle: DH: Missions

This  graph is representing every word listed in the mission statement. The size of the word corresponds to the word count in the file of mission statements. Digital/digital is the most used word throughout all of the mission statements. This Wordle is not compelling. The words listed  in this picture are vague and obviously carefully constructed for donor support and Institutional prestige. Performing a deeper more measured text analysis of Library Digital Humanities mission statements could be useful as a consideration of formal language usage. The fact that this language picture was so bland lead me to believe that a more measured text analysis might lead to very similar results. This exercise was merely a counting algorithm, my strengths as a computational researcher lie in my ability to rate usefulness.

The following is a digital bibliography of the resources I found compelling under the 17 institutions listed in the “Mission/Purpose” section of the ARL Survey

University of Alabama: Alabama Digital Humanities Center

Blog: The Blog is Institution specific with some outside more general references to Digital Humanities culture.

Equipment: Four collaboration iMac (27″) workstations, Four instruction iMac (21.5″) workstations (area includes a SmartBoard), One 65″ multi-touch interactive monitor driven by a Dell workstation, Two HD, high lumen video projectors driven by a Mac Pro workstation, Two Egan Wall project and write surfaces, One conference table (seating up to eight people), and Specialized software: Adobe Creative Suite 5, Web Premium, Auto Desk AutoCAD 2011, ESRI ArcGIS, Google SketchUP Pro 7,  xml editor, SPSS.

Comments: The library catalog is searchable from this page, meaning that this DH center is library created. The resources focus on Alabama students.

Boston University: A Cyberinfrastructure for Research and Learning in a Digital Culture

Blog: Feedback-on-the-ipad: Copyright-public-domainESTHR: Evolutionary Subject Tagging in the Humanities: Boston has a series of DH Blogs discussing the larger community of DH with links to outside researchers, and multi media content.

Tools: Wmatrix is a software tool for corpus analysis and comparison. It provides a web interface to the USAS and CLAWS corpus annotation tools, and standard corpus linguistic methodologies such as frequency lists and concordances. It also extends the keywords method to key grammatical categories and key semantic domains.

WordSmith tools: Lexical analysis software for the PC. Published by Oxford University Press since 1996 and now at version 5.0.

Comments: The library catalog is not searchable from this page, meaning that maybe the DH center is separated from the rest of the library services. The content of this cite focuses on DH tools and resources. The links to Wmatrix are open source technical tutorials. This site would be useful to students not studying at Boston.

Case Western Reserve University: Freedman Center

Blog: N/A

Equipment: Equipment available to digitize audio and video from any source: DVD, VHS, Beta, DV Tape, laserdisc, CD, cassette tape, LP, reel-to-reel; Perform optical character recognition (OCR); Input digital images and multimedia files into electronic dissertations; Edit sound and video.

Help Guides: Incredibly in-depth help guides related to audio/visual equipment functionality. For example, Zoom Recorder (a microphone):

Comments: You can search the catalog from this site but it is obviously a specific unit in the larger library system. This site is focussed on multi media production related to Oral History projects. This Institution is considering Digital Humanities as a field of Digital Production and Archiving in the Social Sciences and Humanities. The Help guides are incredibly detailed. The help guides are a great example of librarians creating resources that are difficult to find but freely available on the internet. This is a different kind of DH resource it is a Digital Media tutorial resource.

Columbia University: Digital Humanities Center

Blog: This is an institutionally focused blog, it has Larger DH discussions in a formal review like format, it is text based. Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning: This is a great Blog related to digital technology and teaching it is an interesting combination of DH scholarship and Information Literacy Library Instruction Initiatives.

 Tools/Resources: ETS provides software and consultation support for the closer analysis of text and image.  Programs available on the department’s machines or online resources recommended for use include WordSmith, Crawdad, NVIVO, and TAPor.

Comments: The library catalog/resources cannot be reached from this web page. The resources in this site are more focused towards students and faculty at Columbia. They have an impressive digital collection and project list.

Georgia Tech: Scholarly Communication and Digital Services

Blog: N/A

Tools/ Resources: Repository: Institutional candidates only. Create A Journal: This is a service related to Open access Journals and includes a guide on hosting independent journals.

Comments: The library catalog is not searchable from this site. The information here is mostly for institutional support and This is a text heavy web site. The Create a Journal support could be used by anyone.

University of Illinois Champaign Urbana: Scholarly Commons

Blog: The blog is heavily populated by Institutional news, it is short format and text heavy.

Equipment: Software: Hardware: 2 computers configured with ATLAS software; 3 computers with Adobe Master Collection, GIS, statistics, etc.; An 11×17 flatbed book scanner (Plustek Optibook A-300); An 11×17 automatic sheet fed scanner (Epson GT-20000);Morae computer with video camera; 2 iPads; Centrix Wacom pen sensitive display; Large screen display

Tools: OMEKA: Omeka is a software tool that enables you to create dynamic online exhibits that showcase collections of digital images, text, and other multi-media formats in one seamless site: Data cleaning: This guide consists of tools that are  made to correct and clean up data, typically spreadsheets, and get them ready for further processing.

Comments: The library catalog is not searchable from this site. The information is useful for students and faculty. The Library guides are useful open source information.

Indiana University Bloomington: Institute for digital arts and humanities

Blog: Bibliography of useful Blogs “Centers, Sites and Blogs“: This is a resource similar to the one I am attempting to create with this list.

Tools: Web Bibliographies: These are specifically tailored to DH studies. How to collaborate with IDAH: Information regarding projects and resources at Indiana for people inside and outside of the institutional setting.

Comments: The library catalog is not searchable from this site. This institution is open to cross institutional work, they have a library of digital projects and collections that are freely vailable. The web bibliographies and blog roles, refer to the version of Information Literacy I define as traditional library knowledge concerning information construction. They are making that traditional library knowledge accessible via digital technology.

University of Kansas:  Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities

Blog: Their homepage is their blog. It mostly supports institution research, it has some media integrated pic/videos.

Tools: Help Guides: Library guide with a digital bibliography regarding DH sources and communities. The guide has a bibliography of tools and connections with help sources. Text Mining:This text mining page is an overview of tools and sources.

Comments: The library catalog is connected to the web page with a tool bar at the very top of the page. The information aggregated in this help guide would be useful to outside scholars.

University of Miami: University of Miami Digital Scholarship and Programs

Blog: The blog linked here is “The Cuban Theater Digital Archive” it is separate from the Digital Scholarship program but listed as a related project. Digital Collection:  The Digital Collection site is separate from the main site but it exists on its own as a digital archiving site. It has an online library of searchable documents. Paperless University: This site is also separate from the main site, it is an initiative regarding digital work done digitally. This DH site is specifically speaking to environmentalists.

Comments: The catalog is searchable from the Digital Scholarship website. The three featured sources are not related to DH in terms of text mining but they are interesting digital initiatives. They are more aligned with a re-conception of  publication formatting and the documenting of scholarly work.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Carolina Digital Library and Archives

Blog: N/A

Resources: Digitization Services; Equipment Checkout; Digital Image Library; Training and Media Lab

Comments: This website is almost entirely constructed in the mission statement. It is useful for polices and procedures for students and Faculty at the institution. The catalog is searchable from this web page, from a bar at the top of the page. I am under the impression that University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has more DH contributions then are listed on this site.

Rice University: Center for Digital Scholarship

Blog: This blog consists of alerts for students, for example “Proquest DBs down, overnight 5/5-5/6.”

Projects: Rice Digital Scholarship Archive (RDSA)  for housing several digital collections; TIMEA  (Travelers in the Middle East Archive); Our Americas Archive Partnership (OAAP)The Connexions projectThe Shoah Archive at RiceAdvanced Placement Digital Library (APDL)Learning Science and Technology Repository (LESTER)Rice University Theses and DissertationsThe Rice Institute PamphletsDigital Research Tools (DiRT) wiki

Comments: The library catalog is searchable from this site. This site is sparse but the projects linked are very interesting and visually compelling. Each project is independently digitally published, and available for outsiders to use.

Rutgers University: Scholarly Communications Center

Blog: N/A

Equipment: State-of-the-art conference, teaching, and training facilitiesDigital project research and developmentHumanities and Social Science Data ServicesDigital information servicesHosted Digital Projects

Resources: Data ServicesDigital Projects: An example from the digital projects list is, the alcohol studies database.

Tools: Tutorials: This tutorial is an older web design tutorial.

Comments: The library catalog is not searchable from this site. This site is not designed like a chic DH Blog, but the Data Services library guide has in depth documentation about how to actually use Data software. This is yet another example of rather hidden library documentation that is freely available through library resources.

Rutgers University Libraries: Margery Somers Foster Center of Rutgers University Libraries

Blog: N/A

Comments: The catalog is searchable from the home page. This space has media and technology available, it seems to be a designated study area.

Rutgers University Libraries: Sharon A. Fordham Multimedia Lab

Blog: N/A

Comments: The catalog is searchable from the home page. This space has media and technology available, it seems to be a designated study area.

University of South Carolina: Center for Digital Humanities

Blog: N/A

Resources: A series of lectures on digital humanities issues archived online. DH Projects: This is a list of projects, but not all of these projects are online in a useable way for nonaffiliated students.

Comments: The catalog is not searchable from this site. This site is primarily advertising the departments work and accomplishments. The archived lectures are the most interesting resource for outside users.

University of Virginia: Scholar’s Lab

Blog: This is a co-written blog with good DH content on a wide variety of issues. It has some multimedia connections.

Resources: Texts: This is a bibliography of data. It is a linked site showing both global and local data sets and material. Projects: DH projects that include digital archiving and programing. The Praxis Program is an unbelievable site with tutorials on beginning programming.

Comments: The library catalog is searchable from this site. This site has the most integrated library and Digital Humanities information. The projects listed on this site are not only advertisements for the university but they are useful interactive publications. This project list is a very good example of a new kind of publication format.

Washington University St. Louis: Washington University Digital Gateway

Blog: This blog is a short format, text heavy site with info for both on campus and unaffiliated students. It has some DH content on a large scale and some university specific information.

Resources: This is a list of Digital Humanities publications. It is a good list of resources for a person new to DH looking to get involved. Archival Data: This is a list of Tutorials related to archiving data. This Institution has a huge list of archival projects, and an online database of searchable texts.

Comments: The library catalog is not searchable from this site. This institution has a huge digital archive collection. They are clearly reaching out beyond their institution while building their own collections.


This list of Institutions and their relative relationship with Digital Humanities varies wildly. It makes sense that the American Research Libraries survey would come up with vague findings. Every institution’s relationship with DH changes depending on their goals and resources. From this annotated list I would conclude that Libraries reaching out to a wider Digital Humanities culture have more useful information for me as a DH scholar. I would visit the institutions that made bibliographies and help guides freely available. The Libraries with Blogs related to the greater field of DH had the most interesting resources. This seems to me to say that DH is not located within institutions but around them and between scholars and initiatives rather than departments. The confusion over the definition of Digital Humanities is mirrored in the names of the DH library institutions reviewed.

Alabama Digital Humanities Center

A Cyberinfrastructure for Research and Learning in a Digital Culture

Freedman Center

Digital Humanities Center

Scholarly Communication and Digital Services

Scholarly Commons

Institute for digital arts and humanities

Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities

University of Miami Digital Scholarship and Programs

Carolina Digital Library and Archives

Center for Digital Scholarship

Scholarly Communications Center

Margery Somers Foster Center of Rutgers University Libraries

Sharon A. Fordham Multimedia Lab

Center for Digital Humanities

Scholar’s Lab

Washington University Digital Gateway

The “Cyberinfrastructure” of these institutions consist of everything from listing word pressor tools on PC computer software lists, to open source programing tutorials related to newly invented text mining programs. If the library is confused about how to market or name a field of study, it says something about the confusion within that field. The libraries contributing to Digital Humanities are the libraries that are taking a stab at personally defining DH, and publishing open source material regarding that definition on the internet.


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This entry was posted on May 7, 2012 by .
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