Understanding the value of the librarian in digital scholarship: beyond tools and tutorials

Michigan Academic Library Association (MiALA)
May 13-14, 2019
Saginaw, MI

Abstract:

Digital scholarship projects often include components that aren’t mentioned in tool overviews and introductory workshops, including project management, digital preservation, and web development. Often overlooked as invisible labor, these skills and methods frequently constitute the developmental stages of scholarship. Librarians are ideally situated to take on this work as part of a project team. This talk will focus on communicating the value of librarian digital scholarship work to faculty, administrators, and fellow librarians.

Proposal:

Digital scholarship projects often include components that aren’t mentioned in tool overviews and introductory workshops, including project management, digital preservation, and web development. Often overlooked as invisible labor, these skills and methods frequently constitute the developmental stages of scholarship. In participating in digital scholarship research projects, we argue that librarians provide a unique perspective, bringing value through a culture of instruction and mentoring, as well as domain expertise in cross-functional projects, research scoping, project workflow design, and software wrangling.

A recent topic of conversation in the library digital scholarship community has been communicating the value of librarian digital scholarship work to faculty, administrators, and fellow librarians, as it often differs from both internal library technical work and existing models of public service librarianship.

This presentation will be followed by discussion and will address:

  • A brief overview of digital scholarship methods, as well as what types of library work particularly lend themselves to gaining these skills
  • Framing project management, digital preservation, and website development as crucial to the work of digital scholarship
  • Ways in which librarians engaged in digital scholarship can talk about this work (and its outcomes) with colleagues, administrators, and faculty members, in order to communicate its value. Particular emphasis will be on promotion/tenure language and framing for presentations at conferences and in classrooms, as well as informal conversations with librarian and faculty colleagues.

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