Chicago Digital Humanities Colloquium

On November 21-22nd, I attended the Chicago Digital Humanities Colloquium in Evanston, IL. The colloquium brought together librarians, computer scientists, and humanists from across the region to discuss the latest developments in the digital humanities, including sustainability, “digging into data,” and scholarly annotation. For the purposes of the IRIS Center, the most valuable session was a panel titled “E-science, Digital Humanities, and the Role of the Library.”  This panel discussion with Susan Brown (Guelph, U. Alberta), Patrick Harms (Göttingen), Elli Mylonas (Brown), Claire Stewart (Northwestern), Katherine Walter (Nebraska) addressed the library’s role in the digital humanities. Katherine Walter, the co-director of the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln explained the large-scale university support the Center received from the University, including a $400,00 gift per year for Center development at seed grants. Although the CDRH model wouldn’t work at a master’s comprehensive university like SIUE, Walter’s talk provided a valuable model for partnerships between the library and scholars at the University. In Elli Mylonas talk, she provided a full trajectory of the development of the digital humanities at Brown. According to Mylonas, The Women Writers Project, one of the most influential sites in the development and dispersal of TEI encoding, began as a partnership with the University’s ITS, but the program has been restructured because of the necessary role of sustainability that the library will play in the future of digital humanities resources. Brown has recently been developing a comprehensive institutional repository much like the one SIUE is considering. In an earlier panel, Andrew Ashton discussed how a new model of scholarly annotation is being built into Brown’s repository, which runs on an open-source Fedora platform. This annotation system would allow faculty and students now only to make detailed notes on objects within the repository, but to share those notes with one another, and even to subscribe to the ongoing annotations of a particular member of the faculty, staff, or student body. I left the conference with an even more urgent understanding of the level of partnership and interdisciplinarity that we will have to foster in order to make the IRIS Center a successful part of the university community.

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