Catastrophic Success: The Challenges and Opportunities of Supporting Digital Scholarship at Liberal Arts Colleges
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Liberal arts colleges (LACs) are not newcomers to the world of digital scholarship, and we benefit from several strengths: close working relationships among faculty, students, librarians, and technologists; a history of faculty-student collaboration; and fewer administrative layers than larger institutions. In this panel, we will explore models for engaging with digital scholarship in the LAC library context. The panelists come from a range of small undergraduate institutions that have taken different approaches to supporting digital scholarship. Among our panelists’ schools, Digital Scholarship has grown out of special collections, technical services/systems, research & instruction services, and visual resources. But each of our libraries now focuses explicitly on digital scholarship as an area of engagement, staffing and programming. This panel discussion about the interests and challenges of supporting digital scholarship at LACs will provide fresh insight to the DLF community, which has more traditionally been focused on the perspective of large research libraries. While our scale is different, we use many of the same tools and methods as larger research libraries. However, there are also some key differences. For example, digital scholarship at LACs, whether in the classroom or as part of faculty research, typically incorporates the undergraduate student learning experience in ways that R1 institutions may not. The panelists will discuss: approaches to collaborating on faculty research projects; ways that undergraduate students can engage as partners in digital scholarship work, within their coursework, as part of research assistant/internships, or as student workers; staffing for DS at our institutions; and questions of organizational and technical sustainability at both the project and staffing levels. Finally, we’ll talk about ways that LACs are collaborating across institutions, including creating the “Manifesto on Digital Scholarship at Liberal Arts Colleges” and efforts to develop a common open source technological infrastructure.