Humanities Data Curation in the Library: The Preservation of Digital Humanities Research Now and To Come

Session Type: Research Update

Session Description
Academic libraries have been critical partners on a number of early digital humanities research projects, and several pioneering digital humanities archives still endure today. This paper examines four case studies of digital humanities projects that are being maintained in libraries, and how the infrastructures developed by the academic libraries for these projects shed light on the academic library’s role in curation of digital humanities projects.

The author conducted in-depth interviews with scholars, librarians, and project managers who oversee four pioneering and long-maintained digital humanities research initiatives: the Victorian Women Writers Project, William Blake Archive, Walt Whitman Archive, and the MONK Project. For each of these cases, the paper considers the curation workflows developed by the project staff, the digital preservation infrastructure that currently exists, the personnel and financial support that sustains the project work, and the steps being taken by project managers to improve the data curation infrastructure and workflow for data curation in the project.

The paper analyzes the current data curation workflows of the case studies, as mapped against the Digital Curation Centre Lifecycle, in order to propose a needs assessment of how humanities data curation can be realistically sustained by libraries.

The paper ultimately argues that if the preservation and curation of digital humanities projects is to critically involve libraries, it necessitates a transformation in the ways in libraries conceptualize collection development and they must develop a strategic integration of humanities data into library content management processes.

Session Leader
Harriett Green, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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