Digital Scholarship and Digital Cultural Heritage Collections Working Group

Reading List: Researcher Needs in Digital Humanities

Posted: 28-10-2020 Topics: Digital Humanities

This summer the ‘Building Relationships’ strand of the LIBER Digital Humanities Working Group has been exploring the theme of ‘researcher needs in digital humanities’, asking how libraries know what these needs are, and how we can meet them.

This has involved considering area such as potential engagement activities for digital humanities services; how libraries work with and collaborate with researchers; skills training required by the research community; and the challenges of meeting these needs.


This resource list brings together some of the articles recommended by members of the Building Relationships subgroup, which help to navigate these questions. All submissions are saved in a Zotero reading list, with some featured below.


1) Partnering up with researchers in a national library, Kleppe, M., Claeyssens, S., Veldhoen, S., and Wilms, L. (2019)

The KB provide a brilliant example of how to work with researchers in this presentation, which begins with an understanding of who their users are. The slides describe five routes to collaboration with the KB, all of which are mutually beneficially – enabling the Library to improve their services in response.

2) Open a GLAM Lab, Mahey, M., Al-Abdulla, A., Ames, S., Bray, P., Candela, G., Chambers, S., Derven, C., Dobreva-McPherson, M., Gasser, K., Karner, S., Kokegei, K., Laursen, D., Potter, A., Straube, A., Wagner, S-C. and Wilms, L. with forewords by: Al-Emadi, T. A., Broady-Preston, J., Landry, P. and Papaioannou, G. (2019)

This book, written in a ‘sprint’ format over the course of one week by GLAM professionals and researchers, is a toolkit for setting up a ‘lab’ in a cultural heritage organisation. The ‘User Communities’ chapter discusses the need to identify and understand different users – yet doesn’t expand on different approaches for doing this. There are also a number of examples throughout the book of successful collaborations between academics and digital humanities services, providing a useful, user-focused toolkit for designing a lab.

3) Supporting the Changing Research Practices of Historians, Rutner, J. and Schonfeld R. C. (2012)

This paper is a study of history academics and students, exploring how libraries and other services can support their needs as they begin to use new technologies and methodologies in their work. The paper concludes with a series of recommendations for service providers, including around digitisation, discovery and the importance of non-textual materials such as video games and film. This article aligns with a related study, ‘Supporting the Changing Research Practices of Asian Studies Scholars’.


4) What Ever Happened to Project Bamboo?, Dombrowski, Q. (2014)

This is a great article of ‘worst practice’ examples of building relationships between humanities researchers and IT infrastructure services. It explores communication difficulties, funding challenges and problems of vision and scope of the collaborative ‘Project Bamboo’, a ‘humanities cyberinfrastructure’ project.

5) Digital Collaborations: A Survey Analysis of Digital Humanities Partnerships Between Librarians and Other Academics Wagner Webster, J. (2019)

This article sets out the perceptions of information professionals about their role supporting humanities scholars, as well as the perceptions of digital humanities scholars on the role of information professionals in their research. Based on survey responses, it explores how much the two groups collaborate on projects, barriers to collaboration such as funding, resource and time, and how these collaborations are instigated – with information professionals initiating collaborations far less than researchers.

If you would like to suggest further materials to be added to the Zotero reading list, please contact or


This list post was written by Sarah Ames, Digital Scholarship Librarian at the National Library of Scotland, with responsibility for the Digital Scholarship Service.