Digital Humanities in European Research Libraries - a Survey

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Lotte Wilms

    Koninklijke Bibliotheek - Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB National Library of the Netherlands), Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences - Maastricht University

  2. 2. Andreas Degkwitz

    University Library Humboldt University Berlin

  3. 3. Caleb Derven

    Glucksman Library - University of Limerick

  4. 4. Marian Lefferts

    Consortium of European Research Libraries

  5. 5. Kirsty Lingstadt

    Library - University of Edinburgh

  6. 6. Liam O'Dwyer

    Library - Dublin City University

  7. 7. Demmy Verbeke

    Libraries - Katholieke Universiteit (KU) Leuven (Catholic University of Louvain)

Work text
This plain text was ingested for the purpose of full-text search, not to preserve original formatting or readability. For the most complete copy, refer to the original conference program.

The European Association for Research Libraries (LIBER) has more than 400 members – national, university and other libraries. Since 2018 digital humanities is part of the official strategy plan of the organisation and former LIBER president Kristiina Hormia-Poutanen mentioned it in the Foreword as a “priority are[a..] where libraries are positioned as a hub around which researchers, collections and service development come together” (2017). However, it is unclear how and if the LIBER libraries are engaging with the digital humanities. They might be positioned as a hub, but are they also using this position? This poster will present the outcomes of a survey amongst 57 LIBER members about their engagement with digital humanities.

Library and DH surveys
Other surveys have been conducted outside of Europe, such as the reports
Digital Humanities (Bryson et al, 2011) and
Supporting Digital Scholarship (Mulligan, 2016) of the Association of Research Libraries, and the Australasian survey by McKenzie and Ross (2018). In Europe, digital humanities activities have seen a similar growth in academic libraries as in other continents, but no special attention has been given to the libraries as a whole. Only in the summer of 2017 has LIBER launched a digital humanities working group (Wilms, 2017), even though the topic of DH has been part of their annual conference call for proposals since 2014 (LIBER, 2014). In Europe only the UK and Ireland have conducted similar surveys, also partly based on those done in the US. The Research libraries UK published their report -
The role of Research Libraries in the creation, archiving, curation, and preservation of tools for the Digital Humanities by Christina Kamposiori – in July 2017, which investigated the activities of 27 UK-based libraries (Kamposiori, 2017). The CONUL Research Group survey on Digital Scholarship surveyed their 11 member libraries of the Consortium of National and University Libraries of Ireland (Joy et al, 2019).

Most other European publications of libraries and digital humanities are anecdotal and focused on Western Europe, such as blog posts from the Digital Scholarship Unit of the British Library on projects they run using their digital collections (British Library, n.d.), the blog posts of the Dutch KB Lab on their researcher-in-residence projects (KB, n.d.), or the report of the CORPUS project of the Bibliotheque National de France (Moiraghi, 2018). However, other parts of Europe are also embracing digital humanities in libraries, which can be seen for example by the involvement of national libraries in Estonia and Spain in local DH initiatives on which no publications have been written so far (, n.d.), (BNELab, n.d.). These Europe-wide activities have not yet been researched in connection to each other, but are, when described, solely published about as individual case studies. This project will change this and examine the DH activities in European research libraries on a larger scale and place them in context with the global library community.

Content of the survey
To ensure a complete overview of issues related to digital humanities and libraries, the survey has been designed around the following themes:

General information about the library
Organisation of DH in library
Spaces (physical and digital)

Selection of themes and questions
The themes have been selected by gathering input from participants at the Digital Humanities and Digital Cultural Heritage workshop at the LIBER conference in July 2018. Participants were invited to share the questions they wanted to ask their colleagues. Their suggestions were subsequently arranged into topics and placed alongside other DH in library-surveys conducted earlier to ensure all themes were sufficiently covered. This survey specifically adds a theme on collections as that was underrepresented in surveys done on digital humanities and libraries, even though it is a crucial aspect of working in this field. Attention is given to copyright issues, physical opposed to digital collections and accessibility of the digital collections.
A shorter exploratory survey was conducted in a smaller group of participants to test a number of questions and answer models, resulting in a general overview of DH activities amongst members of the LIBER working group (Wilms, 2018). Next to that, several questions were added into the survey to facilitate further research into the topics discussed. The survey was subsequently coded into SurveyMonkey and tested by a group of ten people - librarians and social scientists – after which the final changes resulted in a list of 83 questions.

All 400 member libraries of LIBER have been invited to partake in the survey from 1 February to 15 March 2019. Even those that do not have a Humanities faculty were asked to contribute, given that their collections might be of interest to those outside of their local (STEM) research community. In these cases the survey also served to create awareness of other potential users of their (digital) collections. After six weeks, 57 participants completed the 83-question survey.

Future research
This poster will present the outcomes of the survey and will therefore present an overview of the activities of European research libraries in the digital humanities. The full landscape analysis will be shared in an open access report, and is part of a PhD-project on the role of digital humanities in European research libraries with the research question: "What are the new roles and responsibilities of the European academic library since the computational turn in humanities research and how do these organisations deal with this change?". This survey marks the beginning of this research and subsequent case studies will follow from the survey results. The presenter of this poster welcomes input on themes to be addressed in the cases selected for more in-depth research.


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