[Humanist] 27.99 skills, scholars and scholar-librarians

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Jun 6 22:14:10 CEST 2013


                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 99.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Martin Mueller <martinmueller at northwestern.edu>           (94)
        Subject: Re:  27.97 skills, scholars and scholar-librarians

  [2]   From:    "Dalmau, Michelle Denise" <mdalmau at indiana.edu>           (71)
        Subject: Re:  27.97 skills, scholars and scholar-librarians

  [3]   From:    Katherine Walter <kwalter1 at unl.edu>                       (16)
        Subject: skills, scholars and scholar-librarians


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Wed, 5 Jun 2013 22:57:13 +0000
        From: Martin Mueller <martinmueller at northwestern.edu>
        Subject: Re:  27.97 skills, scholars and scholar-librarians
        In-Reply-To: <20130605215605.724203BA0 at digitalhumanities.org>

The best thing I've ever read on this very important topic is a paragraph
in Jaroslav Pelikan's Idea of the University: a Reexamination (1992). He
didn't have things digital in any particular way, but technological
changes have made his words even more relevant. I talked about this in a
keynote address to the Chicago DHCS last fall
(https://scalablereading.northwestern.edu/2012/12/05/back-to-the-future-or-
wanted-a-decade-of-high-tech-lower-criticism/) where I argued that in the
future the 'tripod of cultural memory' will increasingly rest on
collaborations between scholars, librarians and IT professionals with
divisions of labour so close and overlapping that it will be hard to tell
where one ends and the other begins. That calls for a lot of difficult
readjustment on all sides. But here is Pelikan:

 "Just as the reexamination of the idea of the university implies new
attention to university's definition of itself as a community in its
teaching, so the definition of the university as a community of research
requires significant reconsideration in the light of the "sisterly
disposition" of the sciences toward one another. That applies in the first
instance to those departments, agencies, and personnel of the university
who usually stand outside the classroom but without whom research would
halt. Because of its unique position among these as the heart of the
university, the university library... must be seen as a collegial part of
a total university network of support services for research, and the
network must be seen as a free and responsible community if it is to be
equal to the complexities that are faced by university-based research.
Indeed, even such a term as "providers of support services" is becoming 
far too limited to describe both the skill and the knowledge required of 
those who hold such positions. Scholars and scientists in all fields have 
found that the older configurations of such services, according to which 
the principal investigator has the questions and the staff person provides 
answers, are no longer valid, if they ever were; as both the technological 
expertise and scholarly range necessary for research to grow, it is also for 
the formulation and refinement of the questions themselves that principal 
investigators have to turn to "staff", whom it is increasingly necessary – 
not as a matter of courtesy, much less a matter of condescension, but as a 
matter of justice and of accuracy -- to identify instead as colleagues in the 
research enterprise."

On 6/5/13 3:56 PM, "Humanist Discussion Group"
<willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:

>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 97.
>            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>
>
>
>        Date: Thu, 06 Jun 2013 07:45:47 +1000
>        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>        Subject: skills needed in projects: librarians
>
>Melissa Terras' note on librarians as scholars (Humanist 27.93) draws
>attention to an old problem: their status within universities, which I
>suspect is often in conflict with their scholarly inclinations and
>accomplishments. In some places the post of University or College
>Librarian is given to major scholars -- Robert Darnton at Harvard, David
>McKitterick at Trinity College Cambridge come to mind. In others
>librarians are appointed to academic positions and move into them
>without a ripple. In many others, however, librarian-scholars are not so
>well treated. For a time the situation of librarians at Toronto, where I
>had a non-academic appointment in a non-academic centre, seemed better
>than mine; e.g. sabbaticals were possible for them, not for me. How are
>things now?
>
>Digital humanities has a special and quite close relationship to
>librarianship, library and information science and related
>configurations. I would suppose that the closer digital humanities gets
>to collaborative research in lab-based projects the more like
>librarians' disciplinary practice it becomes. And there's the question
>of how service to others is integrated into an autonomous scholarly
>life. I suspect librarians could teach others quite a bit about that.
>
>Institutions are hard to change but not impossibly so. What would we
>like to aim at? What do librarian-scholars regard as desirable which is
>within the realm of possibility? How would the academic world be improved?
>
>Comments?
>
>Yours,
>WM
>-- 
>Willard McCarty, FRAI / Professor of Humanities Computing & Director of
>the Doctoral Programme, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College
>London; Professor, Research Group in Digital Humanities, University of
>Western Sydney; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
>(www.isr-journal.org); Editor, Humanist (dhhumanist.org);
>www.mccarty.org.uk/


--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 6 Jun 2013 13:38:45 +0000
        From: "Dalmau, Michelle Denise" <mdalmau at indiana.edu>
        Subject: Re:  27.97 skills, scholars and scholar-librarians
        In-Reply-To: <20130605215605.724203BA0 at digitalhumanities.org>


Dear Willard,

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a librarian :-).

I appreciate both Melissa Terras' and your attention to this matter, because it is one
I struggle with as a librarian-scholar, but I also understand that it can be problematic.  Not
all librarians are scholars, and, likewise, not all instructors/professors/lecturers etc. are scholars.
Add to that, especially in the Digital Humanities, that research endeavors extend to all sorts of 
information and information technology professionals who partner and contribute to these 
digital research projects in critical ways, then the distinction of "scholar" becomes blurred.  
I think it is a noteworthy distinction, but I don't think it should be exclusionary.

You end your post with several questions that I attempt to answer in a recent blog post I authored
for the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) newly established and excellent blog, dh + lib, where the digital humanities and librarianship meet:

<http://acrl.ala.org/dh/2013/05/22/digital-humanities-libraries-more-of-that/>.

In that post I explore several themes that emerged from a DH and Libraries THATCamp I co-organized last November, which was held to explore and promote ways in which librarians AND library professionals can be and should be seen as experts, peers and scholars in the context of DH.  I also link to lots of related and super smart posts by several of our DH colleagues (Bethany Nowviskie, Miriam Posner, Trevor Muñoz, etc.) who explore these issues more deeply.  I encourage folks to have a look.

Excelsior!
--Michelle

-----
Michelle Dalmau, Interim Head
Digital Collections Services
-----
Indiana University
Herman B Wells Library
1320 East 10th Street, Rm W501
Bloomington, Indiana 47405
-----
Web:  http://michelledalmau.com
Twitter:  @mdalmau


--[3]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 6 Jun 2013 14:58:10 +0000
        From: Katherine Walter <kwalter1 at unl.edu>
        Subject: skills, scholars and scholar-librarians
        In-Reply-To: <20130605215605.724203BA0 at digitalhumanities.org>

I think the directions to the survey are indicative of certain institutional biases, as opposed to how librarians are viewed in all institutions.  In the United States, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) provides guidelines regarding faculty status for librarians, and librarians in about one third of all Association of Research Libraries (ARL) are appointed as faculty.  In spite of this, there is dissension even among librarians about whether faculty status is meaningful to the profession, as evident in Maureen Sullivan's recent remarks.  My own opinion is similar to Melissa's.  Academic librarians or information scientists know their own field(s) and potentially other fields as well, and should be treated accordingly.

At my own university, librarians have faculty status and are deeply involved in institutional governance through Faculty Senate.  Although we report to a dean of libraries (rather than a director), we do not have a School of Library and Information Science here.  Librarians are expected to go through promotion and tenure as any faculty member would, and engage in research, teaching and serving on academic committees or within professional associations.  Library faculty are eligible for research leaves (sabbaticals) and have the respect of colleagues in other disciplines at the university.  

This is a long way of saying that experiences can be very different depending upon the institution.  

Best,

Kay

Katherine L. Walter
Co-Director, Center for Digital Research in the Humanities
Professor and Chair, Digital Initiatives & Special Collections
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
319 Love Library
Lincoln, NE 68588-4100 USA
kwalter1 at unl.edu
402-472-3939


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