Digital Scholarship and Digital Cultural Heritage Collections Working Group

New Poster on Forming Relationships in Digital Humanities

Posted: 04-01-2021 Topics: Digital Humanities

The Building Relationships sub-team of the LIBER Digital Humanities Working Group has published a new poster.

The poster is on the topic of ‘Forming Relationships in Digital Humanities’ and illustrates various building blocks for libraries as well as recommended reading material for each building block.

Below you’ll find the poster and recommended reading material. You can also download the PDF version of the poster.

Forming Relationships in Digital Humanities: Building Blocks for Libraries

Digital Humanities (DH) is a collaborative discipline. Libraries engaging in this field must build connections with DH research communities to be successful. The illustration demonstrates 10 ways in which libraries can build such relationships and points to various useful readings on this topic:

1) MIND YOUR LANGUAGE. Language is key in articulating the library’s role. Expertise such as metadata can and should be reframed for a DH context. Job titles and strategy documents also help position library offerings. Read:

Cox, John. “Communicating New Library Roles to Enable Digital Scholarship: A Review Article.” New Review of Academic Librarianship, vol. 22, no. 2–3, July 2016, pp. 132–47,

2) FIND YOUR LEVEL. Tailor your approach to the stage of DH development your library is at. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Look for incremental steps to progress in a sustainable way. Read:

Kamposiori, Christina, and RLUK. The Role of Research Libraries in the Creation, Archiving, Curation, and Preservation of Tools for the Digital Humanities. RLUK Report, 2017,

Ekstrom, Jeannette, et al. “The Research Librarian of the Future: Data Scientist and Co-Investigator.” LSE Impact Blog, 14 Dec. 2016,

3) BE LOUD, BE BOLD. Overcome “library timidity” and broadcast the library’s expertise as an enabler of digital scholarship and a go-to for digital research projects. Be specific about offerings and expertise. Read:

Vandegrift, Micah, and Stewart Varner. “Evolving in Common: Creating Mutually Supportive Relationships Between Libraries and the Digital Humanities.” Journal of Library Administration, vol. 53, no. 1, Jan. 2013, pp. 67–78,

4) KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. An environmental scan helps identify your local DH landscape and its focus areas. Knowing strengths and gaps can inform library strategy. It also can act as a useful ice-breaker with faculty. Read:

ECAR Working Group. Building Capacity for Digital Humanities: A Framework for Institutional Planning. ECAR Working Group Paper, ECAR, 31 May 2017,

5) BE A TRANSLATOR. Librarians’ work with digital collections requires understanding both intellectual and technical aspects. This in turn equips them to act as DH ‘translators’ between research and technical partners. Read:

Star, Susan Leigh, and James R. Griesemer. “Institutional Ecology, ‘Translations’ and Boundary Objects: Amateurs and Professionals in Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, 1907-39.” Social Studies of Science, vol. 19, no. 3, 1989, pp. 387–420,

6) WIN FRIENDS & INFLUENCE FACULTY. Use any existing links with DH researchers as demonstrator projects or partnerships. This helps momentum and advocacy particularly if broader engagement is an early stumbling block. Read:

Gerber, Kent, et al. Creating Dynamic Undergraduate Learning Laboratories through Collaboration Between Archives, Libraries, and Digital Humanities. no. 15, May 2019,

7) HELP FROM ABOVE. Strategic commitment is vital for long term sustainability. Adequate resourcing for aspects of advocacy, research, skills development along with acknowledgement of new measures of success. Read:

Posner, Miriam. “No Half Measures: Overcoming Common Challenges to Doing Digital Humanities in the Library.” Journal of Library Administration, vol. 53, no. 1, Jan. 2013, pp. 43–52,

8) PLAY WITH STRUCTURES. Different models of structured collaboration – such as DH fellows in the library or ‘embedded’ librarians working on faculty projects – can enable a more formalised approach. Read:

Wilson, Virginia, and Selinda Berg. “The Reciprocal Benefits of Library Researcher-in-Residence Programs.” Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, vol. 11, no. 2, June 2016, pp. 204–08,

9) PARTNERSHIP VS SERVICE. How is this DH collaboration framed? Is the library a partner or service? Local context can inform here. In some cases library collaboration itself is listed as a ‘service’ offered for digital projects. Read:

Munoz, Trevor. Digital Humanities in the Library Isn’t a Service. 19 Aug. 2012,

Dinsman, Melissa, and Bethany Nowviskie. “The Digital in the Humanities: An Interview with Bethany Nowviskie.” Los Angeles Review of Books, May 2016,

10) STRENGTH IN NUMBERS. Find external library colleagues. Working or technical groups (e.g. LIBER WGs, Carpentries) can offer shared expertise and augment teaching. RSE offers an ‘alt-ac’ parallel here. Read:

RSE. Society of Research Software Engineering. Accessed 14 Dec. 2020.