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Back to basics: Supporting digital humanities and community collaboration using the core strength of the academic library

Shannon Lucky (University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada)
Craig Harkema (University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada)

Digital Library Perspectives

ISSN: 2059-5816

Article publication date: 19 September 2018

Issue publication date: 5 November 2018




To describe how academic libraries can support digital humanities (DH) research by leveraging established library values and strengths to provide support for preservation and access and physical and digital spaces for researchers and communities, specifically focused on cultural heritage collections.


The experiences of the authors in collaborating with DH scholars and community organizations is discussed with references to the literature. The paper suggests how research libraries can use existing expertise and infrastructure to support the development of digital cultural heritage collections and DH research.


Developing working collaborations with DH researchers and community organizations is a productive way to engage in impactful cultural heritage digital projects. It can aid resource allocation decisions to support active research, strategic goals, community needs and the development and preservation of unique, locally relevant collections. Libraries do not need to radically transform themselves to do this work, they have established strengths that can be effective in meeting the challenges of DH research.

Practical implications

Academic libraries should strategically direct the work they already excel at to support DH research and work with scholars and communities to build collections and infrastructure to support these initiatives.


The paper recommends practical approaches, supported by literature and local examples, that could be taken when building DH and community-engaged cultural heritage projects.



Lucky, S. and Harkema, C. (2018), "Back to basics: Supporting digital humanities and community collaboration using the core strength of the academic library", Digital Library Perspectives, Vol. 34 No. 3, pp. 188-199.



Emerald Publishing Limited

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