When you admit that you do research on information and communication in the humanities disciplines, a common response is ‘Why on earth do you do that? Surely there is nothing worth knowing that isn't already obvious.’ What the sceptical listener is telling you is that he believes humanist research and scholarship are still firmly wedded to methods, sources and subject matter that have not changed in the centuries since the Middle Ages ended and the Age of Humanism began. The people who tell you this are not fools; they are just as likely to be distinguished librarians or researchers as they are to be outsiders forgivably ignorant of what actually happens in the humanities. The idea that you really need to do very little to help humanist scholarship achieve its ends, and that you certainly don't need to do anything much which is new, follows only too logically from this initial scepticism. Fortunately, it has not been necessary for researchers in Britain to overcome such scepticism to obtain support for investigations in the humanities because the British Library Research and Development Department (BLRDD), the nation's chief information research funding body, has been a committed promoter of such research. Indeed, it has often been ahead of the information research community in its concern for humanities issues.
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