New Book: Digital Scholarship


A interesting new book on Digital Scholarship was released in December called ‘Digital Scholarship’; edited by Marta Mestrovic Deyrup. I haven’t ordered, read, and reviewed  this book as yet (it doesn’t come cheap at 57 pounds).

What I see as one of the grand challenges of digital resources and scholarship is developing an explicit understanding of how they are actually incorporated into humanities research practices (and please, not through counting things!).  This requires an empathy towards humanities researchers so as to understand how they establish meaning from these resources.   Also, the concept of interdisciplinarity really needs to be interrogated socially and politically in the digital scholarship field, as at times, it is applied as a utopian buzz word lacking context and thus meaning and reeks of new-right anti-intellectualism. Here is a blurb from the dust-cover.

Collecting important original essays by librarians and archivists – all of whom are actively engaged in building digital collections – Digital Scholarship details both challenges and proven solutions in establishing, maintaining, and servicing digital scholarship in the humanities. This volume further explores the ways in which the humanities have benefited from the ability to digitize text and page images of historic documents, mine large corpuses of texts and other forms of records, and assemble widely dispersed cultural objects into common repositories for comparison and analysis–making new research questions and methods possible for the first time.

The ten notable scholars included in Digital Scholarship offer a balanced view of the strengths and weaknesses of various approaches to digitization, reporting both progress and problems, examining new business models, new forms of partnerships, and the new technologies and resources that make many more library and archival services available. Librarians and library staff everywhere will find Digital Scholarship an essential text for the modern library and an illuminating resource for anyone looking to understand the changing face of research in the electronic age.

Institutional repositories and data re-use for the humanities

(originally written for

Institutional repositories have become increasing important systems to store the rising amount of data produced by researchers. An institutional repository may be university wide or subject specific. They may serve the needs of a particular institution, a group of institutions, a nation, or an entire region. Examples include the UK’s Archaeological Data Service (ADS) the History Data Service (HDS) , the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) and the Australian Social Science Data Archive (ASSDA), and the European wide Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities (DARIAH) and the Common Language Resources and Technology Infrastructure (CLARIN)

Institutional repositories collect digital data and usually make it available to a global audience. They may contain an assortment of digital objects including pre and post print articles, theses and dissertations, and results from research such as databases, images, surveys, teaching materials, and computing tools.

Once materiel is in a repository; another researcher may download it to be reused in their own research. Most institutional repositories work in this way; although there is a trend towards building systems to re-use this data in sophisticated, distributed ways through ‘Cyberinfrastructures’ and Virtual Research Environments (VREs).

Some of the most interesting academic questions for humanists is how do you incorporate data produced in the context of another research project in your own research? What new insights arise, what new problems arise, and how does this data impact upon the underlying evidence layers of your research? If anyone has experience of this; I would be extraordinarily interested to hear from you as I am developing a series of case studies around this problem.

(Western Union’s Automated Electronic Telegraph)

BUND: The British Universities Newsreel Database

The British Universities Newsreel Database (BUND) is another innovative service offered by the British Universities Film and Video Council (BUFVC). Other important projects include BoB (Box of Broadcasts) and NFO (Newsfilm Online). The later contains more than 3000 hours of news stories available online (partly funded by JISC and available to subscribing Universities).

The BUND project contains 180,000 stories of newsreels covering the period from 1910-1983. It also contextualises many of the newsreels through 1000 biographies of the people who worked on them.  The BUND project started in 1969 and its resources may be searched online.


Digital Humanities Observatory Dublin Lecture

The DHO announces an upcoming presentation by DHO Metadata Manager Dot Porter entitled ‘Reading, Writing, Building: the Old English Illustrated Hexateuch’. The lecture is presented as part of the Culture and Technology Seminar Series organized by Humanities Advanced Technology And Information Institute (HATII) at the University of Glasgow, and will be simultaneously webcast. Ms. Porter holds an MA from the Medieval Institute at Western Michigan University and has worked on several digital editing projects of medieval manuscripts.

Date: 26 January 2009, 15:00-16:00
Venue: Royal Irish Academy, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2
All Welcome


In recent years there has been a growth amongst humanities scholars in the interest in the materiality of objects including manuscripts, printed books, and inscribed stones, as they relate to the text inscribed upon them and contained within them. This interest has shown itself in the digital humanities as well, as scholars explore how computers might be made to express the physical in the digital. This may take many forms, including 2D images, 3D images or scans, or textual descriptions of objects.

This presentation will explore how digital elements describing, expressing, or representing different aspects of a single physical object might be used to study the creation of that object. The focus will be on a manuscript commonly known as the Old English Illustrated Hexateuch (BL Cotton Claudius B.iv.), an Old English translation of the first six books of the Old Testament that includes over 400 color illustrations. In his recent book The Illustrated Old English Hexateuch, Cotton Claudius B.iv: The Frontier of Seeing and Reading in Anglo-Saxon England (British Library Press, 2007), Benjamin Withers describes a theory for how the relationship between the images and text prescribed both the layout of the content and the physical construction of the entire manuscript. How might Withers’ theory be expressed, visualized, or tested in a digital environment? This presentation is intended to be the start of a conversation, rather than the answer to a very complex and wide-ranging question.

Susan Schreibman, PhD
Digital Humanities Observatory
Pembroke House
28-32 Upper Pembroke Street
Dublin 2, Ireland

JISC Digitisation Projects

Five centuries of unique resources for learning, teaching and research

The JISC Digitisation programme is founded upon the need to build significant e-resources from some of the UK’s greatest collections in a wide variety of formats – sound, images, journals, moving pictures, newspapers and much else. Using the latest technology available, the projects provide the education community with the opportunity to engage with a critical mass of previously difficult or impossible to access resources for the first time (link)

Digital Preservation Policies Study Now Available

The JISC are pleased to announce the publication of a study on Digital Preservation Policies which can be downloaded in PDF format from

A major business driver in all universities and colleges over the past decade has been harnessing digital content and electronic services and the undoubted benefits in terms of flexibility and increased productivity they can bring. The priority in recent years has been on developing e-strategies and infrastructure to underpin electronic access and services and to deliver those benefits. However any long-term access and future benefit may be heavily dependent on digital preservation strategies being in place and underpinned by relevant policy and procedures. This should now be an increasing area of focus in our institutions.