Mar 03 2011
Next week I am attending a BNN Symposium featuring Dr. Greg Crane who will be talking about how the shift to digital space is transforming the humanities, and what role libraries can play in facilitating a new “republic of letters.” Needless to say, I believe that libraries have a fairly significant role here. A good example of how libraries can produce, organize and even facilitate a new cycle of knowledge is The Miscellany Collection at Tisch Library. The website originally grew out of a graduate school project. At the time I was simply trying to create a website that showcased a few XML files using DublinCore/ RDF. It is now being used by Professor Marie-Claire Beaulieu’s Medieval Latin course at Tufts University, and puts her students at the forefront of discovery as they translate the materials. Significantly, their translations will not only enrich our understanding of the material, but will also impact the creation and refinement of the descriptive metadata elements. This is particularly exciting as we know that scholars are starting their research with Google, instead of library catalogs, and the work done by these students will be exposed to a wider academic audience.
The process itself is incredibly collaborative, and points to new roles for librarians. It also highlights that technical services librarians will now need to know metadata best practices along with XML, PHP HTML, CSS and other web-based “languages” if they expect to participate in the digital humanities. I’ll be curious to hear what skills Dr. Crane feels librarians need.