From service provision to research partnership
When researchers approached the Library with their digital scholarship projects we used to ask them “What services can we provide you?” Now we ask them “What’s your research question?” and work actively as research partners to develop or broker methods, technologies and infrastructure to help them to answer it. Many core library activities now have a research aspect – imaging of collections, for example, has moved from simply trying to get the best reproduction of an item to an investigative, research-driven activity to create research datasets. Metadata support has moved beyond cataloguing to the production of textual corpora for study and analysis. IT has moved from systems management and desktop support to the development of innovative tools, platforms and methodologies in support of research. In Cambridge, this process has been facilitated by the embedding of the new Cambridge Digital Humanities programme within the library, giving us a direct interface to researchers, and a remit to actively participate in research and to engage in the teaching of digital scholarship skills and methods in the academic community. We will talk about the challenges of this new role, and in particular how the library might fit into the broader digital scholarship landscape in the University and beyond through collaborative partnerships, interdisciplinary projects and specialisation.