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Digital scholarship in libraries

November 22, 2011

flickr - yesyesnono

Here at MPOW, we’re launching a library-based centre for digital scholarship very soon. Having now spent a number of months looking around at various operations both in Canada and the U.S., it’s struck me how little consensus there is on what these centres should be offering. Places such as the Center for History and New Mediaset the technical bar very high with their ability to develop applications with broad appeal. Others are looking to bring everyone in the academy along so offer support for basic digital publishing and online content creation. There’s nothing right or wrong with either approach, of course, if what one is offering meets a need.

What interests me as a librarian is what happens when these centres develop in libraries. What should these centres offer that leverages existing strengths or builds new competencies where they are clearly needed by researchers? I find this question quite hard to answer, and frankly the answer changes depending on the faculty member with whom I’m speaking. Some are very advanced digital humanists, and need high-octane programming and server support; others are still trying to find the door, so to speak, and just need a friendly hand.

With that in mind, I tossed together a little query on All Our Ideas that asks the question “what should these library-based centres offer” and poses some possible answers. Feel free to cast votes, submit new ideas, and generally tinker around. Thanks!

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