DH2015 – Researchers, librarians and a lot of information

Two weeks ago I just arrived in Sydney, Australia after a quite comfortable, but long flight for DH2015, thé conference on Digital Humanities. We had the good fortune to be able to present our Researcher-in-residence program there, during the poster presentations. But that meant, of course, that we (my colleague Steven Claeyssens and I) could also enjoy the rest of the conference. And enjoy it, we did! Of course, there is too much to capture in one blog post, so I’ll just highlight a few that you might be seeing some more of here or in our Lab.

Harbour bridge, taken on our way to the conference opening at the State Library of NSW

Harbour bridge, taken on our way to the conference opening at the State Library of NSW

My week started of with a workshop about the new version of Voyant, which makes it easier to run a standalone version of the tool. You do have all the nice applications that we’re all familiar with (if not, do check out the tool), but you have it installed on your own computer or server. Which is good for us, because that means we can run one on our lab! And that we can show you how everything works with our stuff! Do you want your own version? Download the package on their Github.

Tuesday was also the day that our current Researcher-in-residence, Martijn Kleppe, heard that the project Polimedia won a prize at the LODLAM Challenge, as we already posted about previously. That evening, we joined him at the State Library of NSW for the conference opening in the beautiful library near the Sydney harbour.

And on Wednesday, we could truly begin with some opening speeches, a keynote and a discussion on Twitter about gender imbalance. My highlight of the day however, was the presentation by @smiljana_a on organisational practices in DH centres. She interviewed a number of researchers and DH centre-employees about their experiences so far and wrote a book about it that will be published shortly. The main points for me from her talk where the role that a library can play in the Digital Humanities. We can help with teaching skills needed for DH or with information about tools and datasets. Luckily, that happens a lot already, but a small change like a ‘DH librarian’ could increase your collaboration with researchers a great deal!

And our newspapers were in the spotlight in the afternoon, when @melvinwevers talked about the work that they are doing in the project Translantis with our newspapers:

Melvin’s slides are available on Slideshare.

And then! Our poster!

Researcher-in-residence poster at DH2015.

Researcher-in-residence poster at DH2015.

We spoke to many great people. And I have to say that, while two years ago at DH2013, I hardly saw any librarians, at DH2015 they were there in abundance! We got to talk about our program and hope to have inspired other to also undertake a similar scheme and work together with those great researchers. We learn so much from them and it is very valuable to understand their processes in order to offer the best services. And we also spoke to other who wanted to know more about our data, which is, of course, free to use for researchers.

Most of the librarians were also present at the presentation of our colleagues from the National Library of Wales, @rhianjames and @sankesolutions who showed us what they’re doing with their digitised material, their solution for multilingualism and how they deal with user additions. They had just launched their new website with 1.1 million newspaper pages, so go check that out!

Finally, we also had the very impressive keynote by @wragge. (Not that the other two were not impressive, but having to choose one, this stood out). Tim Sherrat spoke about his work freeing up data from archives and databases and exposing the contents. Twitter died down for a bit, because many were touched by the subject (such as the White Australia policy), but the Storify is pretty powerful. And the keynote itself even more.

And then there was so much more that I just don’t have the room for to dive into, so look at the abstracts of the conference. They’re available via a handy search interface, look at the Twitter stream (#dh2015) and keep an eye out for any related publications.

Also, if you’re a library and do something in DH, follow @libsdh for more information about a special interest group.

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