3 SPEC Kit 350: Supporting Digital Scholarship
presented and shared, and how scholarship is integrated into teaching and the ongoing scholarly
discourse in what historian Ed Ayers calls generative scholarship.4
This survey sought to gather data on how the librarians, faculty, and professional staff in research
libraries support a great variety of multimodal research as collaborative scholarship, as collaborators,
services, and in partnership with other units within and beyond the library. The earlier SPEC Kit found
support for DH to be primarily ad hoc in nature, many institutions were waiting to determine researcher
interest, faculty demand, and the need to integrate DH in teaching and learning before committing more
resources. Today more ARL institutions have dedicated units if not also DS or DH centers or hubs in
their libraries many concentrate DS-oriented tasks in specific groups while also partnering with other
campus units to increase their range and capacity. Even those libraries that do not have formal centers are
creating virtual teams within the library, and often with faculty drawn from a variety of departments and
disciplines, to advise and participate in this work. Some institutions also host postdocs who spearhead
these efforts, including digital curation fellows supported by the Council on Library and Information
Resources (CLIR) or the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. As the research, tools, and methods to produce
digital scholarship rapidly evolve and transform, research libraries strive to meet and anticipate the
demand for support and collaboration.
The purpose of this survey was to explore how library roles are evolving in this research
landscape and how the emergence of these newly identified roles influence the work of library staff.
It asked about the types of support libraries offer researchers, how the individuals involved in digital
scholarship activities are positioned within the library organization, their range of responsibilities,
collaboration with partners inside and outside the library, how support for digital scholarship activities
is funded, and how it is assessed, among other questions. The survey was distributed to the 124 ARL
member libraries in January 2016 and 73 (59%) responded by the February 1 deadline.
Where can a researcher find digital scholarship support?
The survey identified 19 categories of digital scholarship activities and asked whether faculty, students,
or other researchers affiliated with a project can find support for each activity in the library, elsewhere
across campus, or beyond the institution. (See question 1 in the following Survey Questions &Responses
section for details.) Support for all nineteen of these activities can be found within the libraries to one
degree or another, although many that involve technical administration roles—including database
administration, software platform support, and technical upkeep—remain more available beyond the
library. Since a great deal of digital humanities activities began in the 1990s as text-mining and analysis,
and projects to digitize special collections of medieval, early modern, and other cultural heritage
materials, it is not surprising to see that digitization and imaging support have grown from several grant-
funded projects to become one of the more prevalent forms of support available in libraries (71 responses
or 97%), followed closely by digital preservation (95%), metadata creation and digital collections (94%),
and digital exhibits (92%). More interesting is the strong rise in providing GIS and digital mapping, and
data curation and management support (89%), as well as accommodations for digital publishing (85%)
and project planning (84%) within the libraries. Yet even software development, once the province
of computer science departments or staff, has become a task based within almost half of the survey
respondents’ libraries (48%).
Support for the full range of DS activities is also available elsewhere in these institutions,
sometimes in cooperation or collaboration with the libraries, although in particular instances it is
limited to faculty and students within a specific department, program, or college. Support for database
development, visualization, and technical upkeep for digital research occurs almost as often outside the
library as inside, typically from a campus-wide information technology or research computing unit or
support department. 3-D modeling and printing, and statistical analysis are slightly more often available
Previous Page Next Page