As a metadata librarian, I’m always interested in learning new ways to not only attract new digital repository content but to increase efficiency in adding descriptive metadata to that content. Collaborations between digital repository librarians and digital humanities scholars can support both of these aims as well as provide benefits for scholars. By storing the products of digital humanities projects (ex., digitized primary sources, born-digital media) in the repository, librarians can make this content accessible to broader audiences and can tap into scholars’ subject domain expertise to provide valuable descriptive metadata at little cost to cash-strapped libraries. In return, scholars get free, permanent storage for the digital assets that support their projects and guidance from librarians on digital project planning and using standards and best practices to manage their metadata.
Often, the metadata that scholars care about extends beyond the bibliographic metadata traditionally collected in library catalogs and digital library collections. To attract scholars to digital humanities collaborations, libraries need to be able to store and make accessible this domain-specific metadata. As we move towards storing and publishing metadata in RDF, we will soon have the flexibility to accomodate these new metadata demands.
Preparing librarians to work with this new data structure is one major obstacle we’ll have to overcome, but I’m interested in having a conversation about what skills will be valuable to librarian-scholar collaborations as we enter the semantic age? How do we start incorporating ontology into our project designs? (Is ontology even on humanities scholars’ radar? It certainly isn’t much more that a blip yet in the library world) How do humanities scholars currently map their knowledge domains? Are there any shared data models or standards in the digital humanities that would help guide development of new best practices? What roles should librarians play in helping scholars apply ontology to digital projects? (And should librarians even play a role in this? Do we even have the chops to become knowledge management consultants?) What tools would be helpful in facilitating these collaborations? Are there existing tools we could build on?
I share cartera’s “big digital pile” view in that I have little sense of how scholars use our digital resources and what more they want out of them beyond simple search and discovery. I don’t have any strong opinions or answers yet to this big pile of questions–I’m hoping to gauge interest and experience within both library and humanities communities so I can learn how to better frame the issue.