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Matt Herbison

on 17 January 2014

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Transcript of PhillyDH

The Greater Philadelphia Digital Humanities Group
As individuals, we each boast different digital media competencies and interests and are united by an irrational exuberance of the willing – willing to
, to teach, to
, to create, to

As a group, we represent a friendly peer network of novices and experts alike, dedicated to the exploration of
new ideas
, tools, and
best practices
in the world of digital humanities via
, workshops,
, happy hours and
whatever else suits our fancy
Raising awareness of what's going on in very broad field of Digital Humanities in the greater Philly area.
Started with the
Examples of conversations
we've been involved in

THATCamp Philly
Incubator event
Smaller things like:
Students and DH internships
Grad students and DH panel members
A big role of PhillyDH is:
Disseminating info about useful things for people
across institutions and fields

PhillyDH Seal of Approval:
Others outside your institutions and fields might find these things useful -- you should invite others.

Info dissemination examples

Digital Humanities 101 textbook/course.
Reminder about the monthly GLAM Cafe Philly DH meetup.
Upcoming OpenAccessPhilly meeting.
Announcement for a Data Hack event using Library, Archive, and Museum data.
New Ithaka S+R report on sustaining digital collections.
Announcement about a GIS series at Drexel
Invitation to talk by John Voss of HistoryPin and get in on the Linked Open Data scene, held at CHF.
Invitation to series of DH workshops at Penn.
Meeting on DH & Libraries hosted at Penn last June by Karrie Peterson and Mitch Fraas.
Section on Larry, Matt, and Dot
What can you do to support PhillyDH?
What can you do to build more connections
across institutions and allied fields?
As Institutions - Get Involved
Do what you're already doing but more of it!
Post what you're doing to the PhillyDH list and
Redistribute stuff that comes across the PhillyDH list to your campus lists.
Administrators and supervisors actively supporting this sort of professional community service.
Wide invitations -- Ask yourself two questions...
Get Involved - As Individuals
If you want to hear about DH-related things going on in the region...
Most basic & simple, sign up for the mailing list on
Attend the monthly GLAM Cafe meetings at Chemical Heritage Foundation
2nd Tuesday of each month, 5-9pm
Work with others on their projects, get help with your own projects (for job or not), or just to talk with other like-minded folks.
Setting up a meeting, event, workshop, etc.?
Would this be of interest to those outside my university?
Would this benefit by having ideas from those outside my university?

This should be second nature.
It doesn't
to be "a thing."

PhillyDH will help you spread the word.
This morning is a case study.
with collisions among people and ideas.

But these collaborations actually turn into something when people have the time, support, and desire to keep working together.
More opportunities to work together
More regular and irregular meetings
Wide-reaching invitations to things DH related -- and beyond
GLAM = galleries, libraries, archives, and museums
Gosh, this is such a great topic. I think Matt Shoemaker's reply is great - stressing the vastness of DH, and how it's really not possible to know *everything*. I expect that for a librarian coming in fresh, not knowing anything about DH, it could be overwhelming. Alternatively, one could learn a little about one corner of DH, and use that corner as the hammer for all nails. I have some personal experience with that, having spent the first few years of my professional career focused on TEI, and really thinking it was the answer to everything. It was only when I started working on some different projects and learning about (not necessarily *learning*, but *learning about*) some different technologies and approaches that I think I really started to understand DH more broadly.

There is that distinction between *learning* something and *learning about* something (or knowing/knowing about) that is important to stress for an audience of library staff, and
Larry and Matt
both point to this too. For liaison librarians, it's important for them to be able to speak competently with faculty and students about their project ideas and to put together a team of experts that will best suit the project.
The liaison librarian doesn't necessarily need to have any technical expertise his or herself - but he or she does need to know enough about what everyone else does to know how to build that team, or just to direct that faculty or student to someone else.
On the other hand, a cataloger or metadata librarian doesn't need that same knowledge - they just need to know who the liaison librarian is!

How to improve DH services to faculty and students? I think clarity and availability are important.
We are just about (on January 22nd) to launch our new Vitale II lab, a digital humanities lab with a cultural heritage focus on the sixth floor of Van Pelt. It's being modeled on the Studio@Butler (https://studio.cul.columbia.edu/) - basically, it's a space for DH research collaboration to happen. We are hosting both Open Labs (anyone can come and work on anything) and Focused Labs (starting with labs to support people working through Codecademy.com's web fundamentals and Python courses, and an Omeka users lab), and we're hoping other people will use the space to host hacks, workshops, etc. once we get going. Our audience includes library staff, although our staff is interested in DH there is a lot of education that has to happen. We are hoping that faculty and students will be the main users of the space, but we'll just see what happens. The library is also holding a series of workshops (started last semester, continuing this semester) aimed at librarians, faculty, and students, on some various DH subjects. These are more basic and formal than what the lab is designed for. But library staff will be present and available at all of these events, and we'll be working hard to get the word out. After that, it's really up to people whether they attend or not.

My own opinion is that for a library to be able to support 21st century research, including DH, all of the staff need to be involved, not just a few "digital librarians". A few people spread thin can't provide good support, and then (as Matt says) the people who need help won't come back. You might look at what Indiana University Bloomington is doing with cross-training their librarians (https://blogs.libraries.iub.edu/iulrn/).

Big issues for DH and libraries: I think there is a lot of work to be done in closing the gap between faculty and library DH. What I mean is that librarians have a way of doing things, and humanities faculty have a way of doing things, and those two ways don't always line up. For example, catalogers specialize in describing things (books), in particular ways, using particular controlled vocabularies. Scholars also describe things (books, and other things too), but they will almost have a focus, something that they are interested in, and *that* is what they want, and nothing else matters. Taking library methods and trying to lay them on top of scholarly work is likely to result in frustration on both sides. The focus needs to be on mutual understanding, and finding a way to take the best of library methods and incorporate those into scholarly work - and vice versa. I'm actually living this right now - my Medieval Electronic Scholarly Alliance (http://www.mesa-medieval.org) ingests simple RDF from digital collections and projects, which use a variety of different formats and systems for their data. I'm working with the cataloging librarians at Penn to get them involved in doing the intellectual mapping (deciding which fields from the incoming data map to our RDF schema) - and it is *hard*. They want to find a way to map everything, but everything doesn't map, and not every incoming field is important to our project (which is focused on simple cross-search). At the same time, I am realizing that we really could improve and clean up our schema to make it more usable. It's a great education for all of us and I think we are all excited to see the collaboration grow this year.

Librarians should also know that at the same time a lot of faculty and students are starting new in DH, there is also a long history of scholarly DH without librarians, and some faculty in DH (just as some faculty in traditional humanities) value their independence. You may not be involved in every DH project and that is okay!

SORRY THIS IS SO LONG. Sometimes I have trouble shutting up. Anyway, I hope this helps and I look forward to the session!


Milliken,Lawrence <lpm27@drexel.edu>

As for what would matter for the librarian audience, I think one of the key pluses for libraries with DH is that it is a "research" area that allows, and sometimes even depends on, a fuller collaboration between librarians and faculty researchers in order to complete a project.
The library is an active part, not just the collector and cataloger
of the raw materials needed by a researcher. It also is
interesting in the breadth of collaboration possible
such that a team from a library could have a subject specialist like me, a developer, special collections librarians, metadata specialists, etc all working with the faculty member. That step into direct knowledge creation could be a pretty big deal to librarians.

The fact that DH projects also have, more often than not, a public-facing component is another aspect that might be worth exploring.

Anyway, just some quick thoughts.



Larry Milliken,
Interim Head, Learning Engagement
Liaison Librarian, Humanities/Social Sciences

Drexel University Libraries
Drexel University
3300 Market Street
W. W. Hagerty Library
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Tel: 215.895.2765 | Fax: 215.895.2070

From: Matt Herbison [mailto:herbison@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, December 02, 2013 1:33 PM
To: Matt Shoemaker; Milliken,Lawrence; Mitch Fraas
Subject: DH event at Drexel-Penn-Temple - Input please

Matt Shoemaker <tuf24531@temple.edu>

to Lawrence, me, Mitch
Hi all,

I agree with all
said. To add to it, at least with graduate students since I have not done much with undergrads, the work seems to be somewhat similar with them as it is with faculty.
Very consultative, they are looking for advice as those who come to you often have a great idea but are not sure how to implement it. DH is vast, and you can't know it all.
It seems to be about scalability not just for library technical services and staff time but also focusing on what you can assist with as one person cannot do it all. This is a good reason to make sure the liaison librarians are involved but they will run into the same problem at some point. How can you connect people with DH needs to the tools or those with knowledge that can help them.
It might be someone or a service in the library or it could be outside, but librarians can at least assist get them started
on a lower level before jumping into more full fledged project support and possibly even assistance in project management.

I am not sure if anyone has an answer on how to improve DH services. Even the libraries that have been doing it for a while seem to be trying to work that out still with nothing conclusive. I suppose the best thing I could say in that vein is if you are going to offer DH services you need to commit to them. If you only go half way and people come to you and you can't help them good luck getting them to come back.


Not the Long View, the Wide View: PhillyDH and Casual & Formal Collaborations & Sharing
Matt Herbison
Public Services Archivist, Drexel Med School Legacy Center
One of many PhillyDH organizers
Joint Drexel-Penn-Temple Libraries staff development meeting
January 15, 2014
Full transcript