Texas Digital Library Conference System, TCDL 2013

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Barn Raising the Digital Humanities
Matthew Christy, Sarah Potvin

Last modified: 2013-04-16


Writing in a recent special issue of Journal of Library Administration dedicated to exploring “Digital Humanities in Libraries: New Models for Scholarly Engagement,” Miriam Posner references libraries and archives as formative to Digital Humanities (DH): “what we now call digital humanities grew out of a set of practices, and a community of practitioners, which themselves arose in libraries and archives.” This foundational relationship continues to shift and grow, some have argued, to the mutual benefit of academic DH and cultural heritage institutions (including galleries, libraries, museums, and archives) alike. Jefferson Bailey, writing for dh+lib, notes that “DH tools, methods, and technologies have the potential to help enhance and evolve a wealth of professional practices beyond academic … It is this ability to reinvigorate the work of non-academics, such as librarians, archivists, and collection managers, that has many of us in cultural heritage excited about DH as an emerging idiom within memory institutions.”

With the increasing popularity and growth of Digital Humanities, however, the question of how universities can and will support this emergent area asserts itself. In 2009, Christine Borgman observed a lack of basic infrastructure for DH and recommended: “Much work remains to build the scholarly infrastructure necessary for digital scholarship to become mainstream in the humanities. Humanities scholars must lead the effort, because only they understand the goals and requirements for what should be built. Librarians, archivists, programmers, and computer scientists will be essential collaborators, each bringing complementary skills.” Four years later, what does this infrastructure look like?

With this background in mind, our panel seeks to meet two objectives:

First, and simply, we aim to introduce TCDL attendees to a range of DH projects and initiatives underway in universities across Texas. To this end, we’ve invited a number of distinguished panelists-- based in academic departments, libraries, archives, and information schools-- engaged with a variety of DH projects and asked them to provide an overview of their work.

Second, we are interested in understanding and examining the structures and supports in place to enable DH collaboration, as well as those being built. In considering this, we’ll pay particular attention to the role of libraries and archives. What has institutional collaboration looked like for those engaged in DH activities from the perspective of libraries, archives, and academic departments? And what has facilitated or impeded this collaboration?


  • Tanya Clement, Assistant Professor, School of Information, University of Texas at Austin
  • Geneva Henry, Executive Director, Center for Digital Scholarship, Rice University
  • J. Lawrence Mitchell, Professor, Department of English, and Director of Cushing Memorial Library & Archives, Texas A&M University
  • Ryan Hoover, Assistant Professor, English Writing and Rhetoric, St. Edwards University


  • Sarah Potvin, Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University Libraries
  • Matthew Christy, Lead Software Applications Developer, Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture, Texas A&M University


interdisciplinarity; research infrastructure; libraries; archives

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