Library Collections as Humanities Data

Thomas Padilla and Devin Higgins recently collaborated on an essay on “thinking about library collections as Humanities data.” Padilla (Michigan State University) shared the postprint PDF on his blog. From the paper, “Library Collections as Humanities Data: The Facet Effect”:

Many library collections contain digital text, images, and audio. Materials in these forms and the metadata that describe them are frequently the objects of inquiry that Digital Humanists, inside and outside the library, subject to computational analysis to extend their research and pedagogy. Librarians can further enhance use of their digital collections by considering how thinking of them as Humanities data, and promoting them as such, can encourage uses beyond reading, viewing, and listening. For an indicator of what this thinking looks like in practice it is instructive to consider the Library of Congress’ effort to make digitized newspaper data openly available through an Application Programming Interface (API), allowing algorithmic interaction in addition to reading through an interface that stands as a surrogate for an analog reading experience (Johnston, 2011, 2014). Michigan State University Libraries has also made modest steps in this direction by making select digitized collections available as bulk downloads (Michigan State University Libraries, 2014). Both efforts are ground in an understanding that data afford new opportunities for user interaction with library collections.

The essay can be accessed via the PDF (above) or in Public Services Quarterly:

Padilla, Thomas G., and Devin Higgins. 2014. “Library Collections as Humanities Data: The Facet Effect.”  Public Services Quarterly 10 (4): 324–35. doi:10.1080/15228959.2014.963780