What is Digital Humanities?
"Digital humanities" encompasses a wide range of digital research methods, from the inclusion of social media in humanities education to the quantitative analysis of 18th century texts. Quantitative research in the humanities is a rapidly developing subset of humanities research producing some of the most innovative insights in the field.
Digital humanists use both free and commercial data sets analyzing books, documents, and texts in a new way. Scholars use several different methods to find data and analyze materials such as network analysis, topic modeling, and machine classification. Prominent digital humanities scholar, Ted Underwood, provides an excellent overview of how humanists are using technology to understand texts in a new way.
Libraries and Digital Humanities
Librarians will be familiar with some of the challenges facing digital humanities researchers. The metadata within the datasets is often incomplete and inconsistent. Rough OCR and non-standard spelling make analyzing datasets difficult. And, humanists are not traditionally trained in computer programming so they have a lot to learn when undertaking a digital project.
Libraries are taking on the challenge of digital humanities along with scholars. Librarians are filling new roles as data librarians. Libraries are offering a variety of services including storage and preservation of data, tools for creating digital projects, and expertise in analytical research methods. As digital humanities continues to emerge we are sure to see libraries developing more innovative services for students and researchers. This active engagement ensures librarians will have an important role in supporting digital humanities.
Here are just a few examples of libraries that have established services for digital humanities and data mining:
To learn more about digital humanities watch the recording of a recent Choice/ACRL webinar, Text and Data Mining Library Content.