ARL Digital Scholarship Institute

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Sarah Melton

    Boston College

  2. 2. Michelle Dalmau

    Libraries - Indiana University, Bloomington

  3. 3. Nora Dimmock

    University of Rochester

  4. 4. Dan Tracy

    University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

  5. 5. Erin Glass

    University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Work text
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This poster will reflect on the Association of Research Libraries' (ARL) upcoming inaugural weeklong Digital Scholarship Institute for library professionals. Scheduled for June 2017 at Boston College, the Institute will introduce librarians and staff who are not currently involved in digital scholarship to the methodologies and considerations of such work. This poster will detail successes and lessons learned for future Institutes.

Following two large-scale workshops hosted by the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) on planning and supporting digital scholarship centers in 2014 and 2016, staffing and training emerged as fundamental components to successful initiatives. In 2014, workshop participants agreed that:

“ is more important to have the proper mix of abilities overall across personnel than it is to have any one particular type of staff member. The ability to learn new skills, adaptability, and agility are qualities in personnel that can be even more important than the expertise that they initially bring to the position.” (Lippincott and Goldenberg-Hart, 2014:7)

In 2016, CNI hosted a follow-up workshop in partnership with ARL with over 100 participants. The resulting report from that meeting made it clear that people are core to the success of digital scholarship initiatives. Several points of consensus emerged from the 2016 workshop, two of which ARL has adopted for the Digital Scholarship Institute:

• Staff need time including time for research, space, recognition, and funding for intensive professional development, and the freedom and ability to develop library digital projects

• Skill-building goes beyond workshops and collaborations, and is often rooted in culture change and support from administration (Goldenberg-Hart, 2016.)

In response to these discussions, the ARL Digital Scholarship Institute Advisory Group identified several core principles that underpin digital scholarship initiatives with an emphasis on cultural change: collaboration, critical thinking, and disciplinary contexts. Rather than starting with tools or technologies, the Institute emphasizes these concepts as building blocks of digital scholarship.

By providing a five day, face-to-face immersive environment, the Institute will cultivate collaboration and create cohorts of digital scholarship practitioners. These cohorts will learn together, share experiences, and work on future endeavors through followup online meetings that will ensure participants have opportunities to put core principles into practice. Participants will learn core principles related to metadata and data curation, copyright and fair use, and project management. They will also learn how to apply these concepts in the context of digital pedagogy and collaboration with researchers. These applications build on existing librarian skillsets related to instruction and to work with researchers needing to clarify and refine research ideas. The framework of the Digital Scholarship Institute thus bridges existing library capacities with new knowledge and skills that will transform their work as they increasingly partner with researchers on digital scholarship using diverse digital methods and tools.

The ARL Digital Scholarship Institute also builds on the University of Rochester's pilot Institute for Mid-Career Librarians in Digital Humanities funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The program invited twenty librarians from across the US and Canada to take part in a three-day intensive residential institute followed by monthly online meet-ups from

July 2015-June 2016.

The pilot successfully built a strong cohort among the attendees, who were assigned to one of four curriculum tracks based on their interests: text encoding, analysis and visualization; digital pedagogy and digital media literacy; digital mapping and archeology; and metadata, data curation, and data modeling. A core curriculum included workshops on project management, data modeling, and copy-right/fair use. Objectives of the pilot institute included strengthening librarian practice to support digital humanities, creating a structure to support sustained skills development, and integrating with future ARL initiatives.

Attendees participated in assessment activities throughout the year-long pilot, providing data to inform the creation of sustainable programs. In October 2016 teams from five institutions, University of Rochester, Indiana University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, San Diego State University, and Boston College, met to workshop the creation of a program that would be foundational to creating these new communities of practice. This multi-institutional initiative will provide an opportunity for broader transformation in the academic library ecosystem at the level necessary to create a strong community of practice around digital scholarship work.


Goldenberg-Hart, D. (2016). “Planning a Digital Scholarship Center 2016.” Coalition for Networked Information,


Lipponcott, J. K. and Goldenberg-Hart, D. (2014) “Digital Scholarship Centers: Trends and Good Practices.” Coalition for Networked Information. Available online at

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2017

Hosted at McGill University, Université de Montréal

Montréal, Canada

Aug. 8, 2017 - Aug. 11, 2017

438 works by 962 authors indexed

Series: ADHO (12)

Organizers: ADHO