Week 2: Luker’s Challenge

At the risk of merely echoing the words of all of my fellow bloggers, I must admit that I find this exorcise prescribed by Luker both entirely useful and very foreboding. It is true that I have always found it helpful to write things down in order to spark new thoughts or aide in organizing the thoughts I already have.

However, this is a daunting exorcise for me since my interests at this time remain general and, as a consequence, rather expansive. It became clear to me when I took up Luker’s challenge that my main task would be narrowing my topics down to specifics. Narrowing my thoughts and interests down to a workable and interesting research question will be my chief concern for some time to come.

My interests are mainly devoted to academic libraries and the digital humanities. My background in the humanities began with my undergraduate majoring in History and minoring in English. I became more interested in the Digital Humanities during my Master’s program in History. These two interests connect very easily since many academic libraries are already involved in the digital humanities in a myriad of ways. Two of the core concepts of the digital humanities are also ideals near and dear to the hearts of those in the library sciences. Both strive to increase accessibility to information to ensure wide access and enhance teaching, learning and scholarship through the effective use of technology.

I’m interested in how the implementation of digital humanities projects impact the way that the humanities are taught to students and how it changes the way that those students engage in the field. What sort of changes come about for these students and professors when they make use of these projects in the academic libraries? For example, how does the implementation of mobile technology within the academic libraries change the way that students interact with sources and use them for research? How does the use of electronic resources effect the research process of these students? Is the lack of browsability of these sources an issue that needs to be examined? What is the impact for these students of digitization project that focus on the accessibility of primary documents?

Another closely related topic that is of interest to me is how academic libraries can effectively use their interactions with the digital humanities to prove their worth to those skeptical about the value of librarians. Since the information sciences and digital humanities have much in common, they can work together to allow both fields to extend their specialities and expand into newer roles, projects and work. Engaging in partnerships with those researching and working in the digital humanities would allow librarians to be involved in the creation of useful resources for a wide range of individuals which could then be used to demonstrate the importance of librarians. I would be interested in researching what sort of partnership librarians and digital humanists could engage in to provide both useful and desirable resources while also providing tangible evidence of the work librarians do.

Hopefully I will be able to create a viable and worthwhile research question from these topics.

I truly enjoyed reading the diverse set of research interests that were displayed by my fellow Twelve Forties and I am really looking forward to how they are all going to develop.

Thanks for reading and let’s create some awesome research!

Jesse Baker


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