Texas Digital Library Conference System, 2015 Texas Conference on Digital Libraries

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Are You Close Enough? Libraries and Embedded Digital Humanities
Sara Outhier

Last modified: 2015-03-19

Abstract


Are You Close Enough?: SMU Libraries as Learning Spaces is a case study of embedded digital humanists in a university classroom. The resulting meta-exhibition captured the ways in which academic libraries are being utilized as interactive learning spaces. This meta-exhibition is a template for partnering with other departments in unique and collaborative ways. It also demonstrates methods for incorporating digital exhibitions into more traditional library uses and how libraries can facilitate the integration of digital humanities in classrooms across campuses.

Through a collaboration between the Hamon Arts Library, special collections, and a member of the art history faculty, project curators juxtaposed a digitally enhanced physical exhibition with a virtual meta-exhibition that explored ways in which library collections and spaces are being leveraged to deepen and broaden the educational experience at Southern Methodist University.  Interested in shedding light on lesser known uses of the library, the project curators focused on the broad angle of how exhibitions are developed, using the exhibition Post Chiaroscuro: Prints in Color after the Renaissance as a living example.

Are You Close Enough? exploited a variety of technologies to enhance the visitor experience.  A monitor displayed a sequence of images and video that captured the installation of the exhibition and the work of the students in preparing their contributions to the exhibition content. A mobile-optimized website hosted digital versions of the artifacts in the physical exhibition, augmented by original textual and multimedia content, allowing visitors to share in the classroom experience as students learned about printing techniques and created label texts for the art objects.

One artifact of the project is a recreation of a student assignment in a digital environment. By accessing the project website, visitors can gain sufficient knowledge about the artworks to determine the answers to the same questions, embedding the users in the learning environment. Project curators developed a series of audio and video clips that capture the students discussing what they learned about printing techniques. In addition, visitors to the gallery and to the website have access to digitized versions of many of the matrices and impressions in the physical exhibition.

The potential impact of this project at academic institutions is multifaceted. By showcasing a more singular use of libraries--as interactive classrooms--the meta-exhibition is a template for partnering with other departments in unique and collaborative ways.  It also demonstrates methods for incorporating digital exhibitions into more traditional library uses, and how libraries can facilitate the integration of digital humanities in classrooms across campuses. These methods enhance our ability to show what a library is all about: bringing people together to learn from the available resources, to help each other grow in their understanding and to create new information.  Libraries become more inviting as active collaborators, and therefore more sustainable, by finding more engaging ways to work with faculty and students.

Keywords


digital humanities; collaboration; teaching and learning