Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
#SB4: Overcoming Challenges and Breaking Down Barriers Roundtable
Wednesday, 24/Jul/2019:
1:45pm - 3:15pm

Session Chair: Rachel Lynne Starry
Location: Marquis B, Marriott City Center
capacity 42

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Overcoming Challenges and Breaking Down Barriers: Digital Scholarship Support Within and Beyond the University

Rachel L. Starry1, Jennifer Isasi2, Heidi Dodson1, Chris J. Young3, Alex Wermer-Colan4, Emma Slayton5

1University at Buffalo; 2University of Texas at Austin; 3University of Toronto; 4Temple University; 5Carnegie Mellon University

This session takes the following questions as its focus: What are the major challenges to building and sustaining digital scholarship (DS) support infrastructures across and beyond universities? How do factors such as institutional hierarchies, multiple campuses, and library/departmental resources impact the needs and effectiveness of DS networks? Are there barriers to supporting digital research and pedagogy that transcend institutional context, and how are we engaging audiences beyond the walls of the university?

The session follows a roundtable format, beginning with brief introductions by six panelists who will share some challenges and opportunities they have witnessed for different types of institutional infrastructures supporting DS in North America, before opening the conversation to the audience. Presenters include early career digital scholars whose perspectives as recent PhDs inform their experiences across a wide range of institutions, from academic libraries to humanities institutes and non-profits. The majority of presenters are currently based at research universities where scaling support for DS poses a major challenge, and all bring a concern for labor equity and social justice to this discussion, as public humanities and contingent labor have become critical issues in this field.

The conversation will draw on the diverse experiences of participants in supporting digital work in different institutional contexts and will be enhanced by the contribution of audience members’ perspectives. The session’s primary goal is to highlight strategies for overcoming the challenges inherent to the work of building networks, communicating with diverse audiences, and fostering interdisciplinary collaboration. We anticipate that issues such as researcher silos, diversity and accessibility, and working across multiple physical and disciplinary spaces arise regardless of institutional context, and we hope this conversation will raise awareness of potential resources for supporting DS across higher education.

The first presenter will address supporting DS in a library with rare, multilingual primary sources that are generally unavailable to the communities whose history they contain; alongside digitization and data curation, the team is developing pedagogical materials to increase collection discoverability and community access. A second panelist will discuss some challenges related to connecting project-based digital work and DS practitioners across multiple campuses, libraries, schools, and departments at a university where individual departments have historically initiated digital humanities (DH) scholarship. The third presenter will address public engagement by comparing DS experiences at a community non-profit and a research library; both institutional contexts share the challenges of leveraging resources, building networks, and communicating the value of DS work. A fourth speaker will describe the politics of running a decentralized DH network across multiple campuses, dozens of departments, and several research libraries while leveraging pre-existing strengths for future scholarship and capacity-building. The fifth panelist will discuss the challenges of building networks between DS centers, special collections, digital initiatives, and subject specialists, focusing on issues of contingent labor and hierarchy in sustaining DS. The final presenter will address building support around digital scholarship within a university where departments and research are siloed, and consider how promoting GIS and data visualization can connect different departments and researchers.

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