The digital humanities (DH) represent an academic library’s greatest opportunity for strengthening its role in the curriculum and research. DH provides a frame for understanding the creative process of scholarship.
The methods and tools within DH are not unique to disciplines within the humanities. The core activities of DH reflect the fundamental hallmarks of information literacy as expressed in the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy. DH does not exist without information literacy. Yet, a separation exists within the profession of librarianship between DH and information literacy. Our academic libraries are organized so that information literacy is the domain of subject liaisons/instructional librarians and DH emerges from R&D-type efforts. In most libraries these are entirely separate departments. In some universities DH is entirely separated from the library, even when a DH center is physically located within the library building.
DH and information literacy are on a collision path fighting for resources. Yet, DH can be a vehicle for strengthening the reach of information literacy in the curriculum. Opportunities exist for collaborative initiatives bringing the two together rather than siloed within organizational boundaries. Librarians must advocate for integrating these practices instead of competing for resources. Here are some steps for moving forward:
First, increase the dialogue between instruction librarians and DH specialists in order to move beyond the barrier of the term DH and recognize its essence as applicable to all disciplines.
Second, redefine the role of the subject liaison/specialist to incorporate a range of digital practices so that all academic librarians are digital scholarship librarians.
Third, take action and demonstrate through example by jumping in with both feet to figure out what works at a particular institution.
DH has the power to enhance an information literacy program. Within the confluence of DH and information literacy, a university can find the capacity to sustain digital scholarship.