Methods for Empowering Library Staff through Digital Humanities Skills

workshop / tutorial
  1. 1. Jacqueline Hettel

    Libraries - Stanford University

  2. 2. Purdom Lindblad

    University of Virginia

  3. 3. James Baker

    British Library

  4. 4. Padraic Stack

    Maynooth University (National University of Ireland, Maynooth)

  5. 5. Alex Gil

    Columbia University

  6. 6. Laura Miller

    University of Virginia

  7. 7. Chris Bourg

    Libraries - Stanford University

Work text
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This past summer at DH 2013 in Lincoln, Nebraska, we were all reminded that digital humanities and libraries have quite the longstanding relationship when an ADHO Special Interest Group was dedicated to Digital Humanities and Libraries. This relationship is especially profound as the library community is becoming increasingly more aware and concerned about creating opportunities for librarians to develop more skills and opportunities for training in the technical, prestige-laden skillsets. One of the goals of this group is to encourage and develop training projects in digital scholarship for library staff. Digital Humanities, and more generally digital scholarship, re-skilling and training opportunities provide librarians hands-on experiences with the skills and tools needed to create digital humanities projects, their existing skills are enriched, they are challenged to become fluent in less familiar areas, and most importantly they are empowered to become true partners in this field of scholarship--rather than simply purveyors of content. Furthermore, these efforts of growing sustainable DH initiatives within libraries help to ensure the long-term survival of digital humanities.

This one-day workshop is an opportunity for digital humanists working with/in libraries to come together to learn from one another about current international efforts for training library staff to acquire digital skills relevant to emerging digital research and scholarship practice. The goal of this workshop is that participants will be able to systematically design an approach that works specifically for their home libraries, propose their approach successfully to library leadership, and come together as a community of practice to support future re-skilling initiatives.

In order to achieve these objectives, this workshop will begin with a panel-led discussion of five, international DH training initiatives for library staff. Although each of these initiatives have different foci and implementation methods, librarians with diverse backgrounds and the critical skills necessary to conceptualize, design, and implement digital initiatives are now vital members of teams able to create lasting digital projects both for library and scholarly use. Exposure to first-hand accounts of the development and implementation of these types of initiatives is vital before proceeding with initiative design because it will challenge participants’ notions of re-skilling within libraries and possibly inspire ideas for how to implement such strategies within their own organizations.

The second half of the workshop will focus on leveraging the experiences and best practices shared by the morning panel in order to help each participant create their own strategic plan for a DH training initiative within their own library. This will be performed through an interactive exercise where participants will be walked through the design thinking process and then asked to work together to troubleshoot one another’s plans for clarity and execution. We will then come back together as a group to discuss how to take these plans and successfully pitch them to library leadership for implementation. The day will be concluded with a discussion of how the day’s efforts can be made more successful with the support of community: specifically the creation or integration of these many different and varied library staff education initiatives, that exist within specific institutional contexts, into a singular, sustainable community of practice for supporting efforts for empowering library staff to become more active collaborators in digital humanities.

Target Audience
The target audience consists of digital humanists working with/in libraries who are interested in developing opportunities for re-skilling and training in digital scholarship for library staff.

Participants are asked to prepare the following materials with them to the workshop:

A chart or map of your library’s organizational structure;
A list of the needs of your library regarding digital humanities skills. This could be inspired by upcoming projects, recent initiatives outlined by library leadership, etc.
A list of five people within your own library who are experts in five different areas of digital scholarship. Participants are encouraged to think outside of the box regarding this. For example, is there someone in your metadata department that has experience in leveraging metadata standards? Do you have a phenomenal project manager working on digital library projects?
Workshop Leader Bios
James Baker

Curator, Digital Research

The British Library

James Baker is a Curator in the Digital Research team at the British Library, a group whose responsibilities include the delivery and development of the library's ongoing Digital Scholarship Training Programme. He has a Ph.D. in History from the University of Kent, where he is now an Honorary Research Fellow of Digital History, and retains an active research profile in the field of eighteenth century British comic art. Prior to his current position James held a Postdoctoral Fellowship with the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, was a Project Manager for the City and Region project, and worked on Open Access advocacy at the Templeman Library, University of Kent.

Chris Bourg

Assistant University Librarian for Public Servic

Stanford University

Chris Bourg is the Assistant University Librarian for Public Services at the Stanford University Libraries. Before coming to Stanford, Chris spent 10 years as an active­duty US Army officer, including 3 years as a member of the faculty at the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY. She is a graduate of Duke University, and holds an MA and PhD in Sociology from Stanford University. She has published on issues related to diversity and leadership, and shares her thoughts on academic libraries and higher education on her blog, Feral Librarian and on twitter as @mchris4duke.

Alex Gil

Digital Scholarship Coordinator

Columbia University

Alex Gil is Digital Scholarship Coordinator for the Humanities and History at Columbia. He serves as a consultant to faculty, students and the library on the impact of technology on humanities research, pedagogy and scholarly communications. Current projects include an open repository of syllabi for curricular research, an aggregator for digital humanities projects worldwide and other initiatives at the intersection of technology and the humanities. He is currently vice-chair of global-outlook::digital-humanities (GO::DH) and the organizer of the THATCamp Caribe series. His scholarly heart remains betrothed to Caribbean Literature in the 20th Century.

Jacqueline Hettel

Textual Research Librarian

Stanford University Libraries

Jacqueline Hettel is the Textual Research Librarian at Stanford University Libraries. She received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Georgia, and during her time there was the Chief Research Assistant for the Linguistic Atlas Projects. Many of the projects she currently works on involve the development of sustainable web­based tools and resources for legacy humanities data, as well as sustainable strategies for empowering library staff and patrons to become better collaborators for digital scholarship and research. She is also an active researcher in the field of corpus linguistics and is interested in its application to domains outside of the classroom: i.e. the academic research library or the corporate boardroom. She blogs about many of these things at and on twitter as @jacquehettel.

Purdom Lindblad

Head of Graduate Programs

Scholars’ Lab, University of Virginia

Purdom Lindblad is the Head of Graduate Programs with the Scholars' Lab at the University of Virginia, where she coordinates the Graduate Fellowship in Digital Humanities and the Praxis Program. She is involved with broader graduate initiatives, including the Praxis Network. She has a MA in American Studies from Michigan State University and a MSI from the University of Michigan. Throughout her graduate education, Purdom worked with Matrix: center for digital humanities and social sciences at Michigan State University. The rich combination of disciplinary inquiry, information science, and digital humanities shaped her interest in emerging methodologies and digital practices for humanities graduate education. She is on twitter as @Purdom_L

Laura Miller

Digital Scholarship Services Librarian

Scholars’ Lab, University of Virginia

Laura Miller is the Digital Scholarship Services Librarian in the Scholars' Lab at the University of Virginia. In her role as head of public programs for the Scholars' Lab, she is actively involved in an ongoing initiative to better leverage librarians as expert partners in the research process. With a background in literature and a MLIS from Florida State University, her interests include data management, changing models of scholarly publication, and user-centered design.

Padraic Stack

Digital Humanities Support Officer

NUI Maynooth

Padraic Stack is the Digital Humanities Support Officer for the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. His role is split between the University Library and An Foras Feasa, the Institute for research in Irish Historical and Cultural Traditions. He has an M.A. in Digital Humanities and is an Associate of the Library Association of Ireland. Prior to his current position he has worked in libraries in the private, public and community sectors. He is interested in the representation of history online, in the enrichment of archives through other sources and in the collection and distribution of informal histories.

Workshop Schedule (6 hours--full day)
Morning Session (3 hours) --

Why DH re-skilling/training initiatives are important for libraries. (Jacqueline Hettel)

9:00-9:15 Discussion around this topic and brainstorm as a group what challenges we face in developing re-skilling/training initiatives.
Different approaches to these initiatives: (2 hours)
9:15-9:20 Introduction of Panel/Projects
9:20-9:40 Instructional--Digital Scholarship Training Programme at the British Library (James Baker)
9:40-10:00 Experiential--Developing Librarian at Columbia (Alex Gil)
10:00-10:20 Experiential--DH Training for Library Staff at NUI Maynooth (Padraic Stack)
10:20-10:35 Break
10:40-11:00 Hybrid (Instructional/Experiential)--Library Praxis at UVa (Laura Miller) Hybrid (Instructional/Experiential)--<digiPrep> at Stanford (Jacqueline Hettel)
11:30-12:00 Q&A with the Panel About Their Experiences Developing Training Initiatives
12:00-14:00 Lunch
14:00-15:30 Training Initiative Design Workshop--Creating a Tactical Strategy Leveraging Strengths & Resources Already in Your Library (Jacqueline Hettel)
15:30-15:45 Break
15:50-16:20 Onboarding Library Leadership in Supporting Re-skilling Initiatives (Chris Bourg)
16:30-16:50 Creating a Community to Support These Ongoing Efforts (Purdom Lindblad)
16:50-17:00 Closing Thoughts/Thanks

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2014
"Digital Cultural Empowerment"

Hosted at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Université de Lausanne

Lausanne, Switzerland

July 7, 2014 - July 12, 2014

377 works by 898 authors indexed

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Conference website:

Attendance: 750 delegates according to Nyhan 2016

Series: ADHO (9)

Organizers: ADHO

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None