Last week, OCLC Research released the report “Does every research library need a digital humanities center?” Written by Jennifer Schaffner and Ricky Erway, the report is aimed at helping library administrators communicate with their deans and provosts about the library’s roles in digital humanities. Bethany Nowviskie (University of Virginia) offers a response that acknowledges the report’s value for asserting that there is no one-size-fits-all model for digital scholarship, but moves beyond the “click-bait question” posed in the report’s title to examine the constantly evolving role of DH centers in libraries. Nowviskie recounts her experience at the University of Virginia’s IATH (The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities) and now Scholars’ Lab to illustrate that “changing local conditions and the very advancement of scholarship and scholarly methods mean that every center must evolve — evolve, or die.”
Nowviskie details some of the conditions that make for a DH center that can adapt to and, more importantly, anticipate changes in scholarly discourse. For instance,
Given a modest but necessary amount of time for study, experimentation, and contemplation, the staff of a research library can become singularly effective collaborators, not only because they bring certain skills to bear — but because they have observed the humanities from a critical vantage point not enjoyed by people embedded in academic departments, and have had the opportunity to synthesize, in all the meanings of that term.
For more information about the report, along with an updated list of responses, visit our round-up. Additionally, dh+lib will feature responses from the community later this week. If you’re interested in including a 1-2 paragraph response, please email us or fill out our contributor form.