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  • Digital Humanities in the Library: Challenges and Opportunities for Subject Specialists ed. by Arianne Hartsell-Gundy et al.
  • Harriett E. Green
Digital Humanities in the Library: Challenges and Opportunities for Subject Specialists, ed. Arianne Hartsell-Gundy, Laura Braunstein, and Liorah Golomb. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), 2015. 291 pages. $68.00 (ISBN 978-0-8389-8767-4)

From early on, academic libraries and library and information science programs have pioneered digital humanities (DH) projects and initiatives. These have included the Valley of the Shadow Project, a digital history project depicting the experiences of Confederate soldiers in the Civil War; the Text Creation Partnership, which produces digital editions of early print books; Documenting the American South, a collection of full-text digital sources on Southern history and culture; and the Walt Whitman Archive, which has writings and other materials about the American poet. Yet only in recent years has the role of librarians noticeably shifted from facilitating access to content to taking a more actively engaged role by collaborating with faculty and initiating DH projects. And this shift is necessary. As Tyler Walters and Katherine Skinner observe in New Roles for New Times: Digital Curation for Preservation (Chicago: ACRL, 2011, p. 72), “Libraries must also be concerned about losing ground within their campus environment by not meeting the digital needs of the scholarly community. If we do not seek to engage with the digital humanities, other entities will.” Featuring firsthand case studies of academic librarians engaging in DH research and teaching, Digital Humanities in the Library: Challenges and Opportunities for Subject Specialists explores the strategies necessary for taking a more active role in DH projects.

This volume is divided into four sections: “Reasons for Subject Specialists to Acquire DH Skills”; “Getting Involved in Digital Humanities”; “Collaboration, Spaces, and Instruction”; and “Projects in Focus: From Conception to Completion and Beyond.” Chapters in each section describe in detail diverse projects, collaborations, and initiatives undertaken by librarians over the past decade. Practical in perspective and scope, the book pays particular attention to teaching and learning, providing case studies of collaborations between librarians and faculty in small and large colleges and universities. Other chapters cover strategies for outreach and engagement with stakeholders, researchers, and organizations. Still others offer insightful “how-to” approaches for building infrastructure to support DH scholarship, including digital scholarship centers and learning spaces, and for outreach and sustainability of library-centered digital [End Page 207] projects. The most impactful contributions in Digital Humanities in the Library cast a critical eye on the theory and practice of digital humanities and the role of libraries therein. These include Caro Pinto’s chapter “Construction and Disruption: Building Communities of Practice, Queering Subject Liaisons,” in which Pinto exhorts librarians to “disrupt toward solidarity and innovate toward communities of practice in digital humanities.” Another stimulating chapter is Liorah Golomb’s account of her own text mining project, “Dipping a Toe into the DH Waters: A Librarian’s Experience,” which illustrates the ways in which some librarians are already digital scholars. (p. 49)

Many of the lessons in Digital Humanities in the Library could also apply to digital scholarship in the social sciences and sciences. In addition to providing a good overview of current library activity in digital humanities, this volume will be beneficial to librarians looking to become involved in DH and unsure about where to begin. Addressing a wide range of institutions, skills, and projects, Digital Humanities in the Library will help librarians explore the dynamic world of the digital humanities.

Harriett E. Green
University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign


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pp. 207-208
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