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Webbs on the Web: libraries, digital humanities and collaboration

Ed Fay (LSE Library, London School of Economics, London, UK, AND, OpenPlanets Foundation, Wetherby, UK)
Julianne Nyhan (Department of Information Studies, University College London, London, UK)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 2 February 2015

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to make a contribution to the ongoing debates about the nature, value and potential of closer collaboration between digital humanities (DH) and the library sector by identifying and contextualising the types of new knowledge that were created through such a collaboration on the London School of Economics’s Webbs on the Web project.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative approach comprising a literature review, a case study of Webbs on the Web, a summary and analysis of the results of user testing and a critical analysis of the collaboration itself.

Findings

A deeper understanding of the complementary skills of library professionals and DH researchers and how they may best be utilised in digital library development will lead, ceteris paribus, to richer and more fit-for-purpose digital scholarly resources. This is exemplified by Webbs on the Web, where the unique but complementary perspectives that such groups brought to user testing enhanced the usability of the resource for a wide range of audiences. Furthermore, the kinds of collaborations that characterised this project reflect broader changes in academic communities and digital library development, and a host of mutually beneficial outcomes can be pursued as a result of such changes.

Originality/value

We demonstrate the benefits that can flow from breaking down boundaries and hierarchies between the academic library professional and DH researcher. We advance the current literature by providing concrete examples of practice; much of the current literature tends to be more abstract in nature.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The Webbs on the Web project was funded by the Webb memorial trust.

Citation

Fay, E. and Nyhan, J. (2015), "Webbs on the Web: libraries, digital humanities and collaboration", Library Review, Vol. 64 No. 1/2, pp. 118-134. https://doi.org/10.1108/LR-08-2014-0089

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited