November 25, 2018 by Amanda Visconti

Notes: DH initiative working with existing IT expertise (Purdue version)

Part of my meta-DH series documenting DH/DS infrastructure: the hows & whys of treating a project team, lab, department, or campus as itself a DH project.

Caveat: This post consists of notes taken during my former DH Librarian role at Purdue (2015-2017), rather than my latest thinking at Scholars’ Lab. I’ll be sharing that updated thinking here soon!

This post thinks through the DH initiative’s relation to the existing Libraries IT team.

Libraries IT partnership

We want to recognize and support the Libraries IT team’s expertise, while also recognizing that digital humanists are peculiarly, intimately involved with technical decisions at all levels of a digital project, from hardware building and calibration through long-term digital maintenance and preservation. Autonomy in technical decisions, implementation, publicity, and maintenance is an important piece of digital scholarship’s success, and we should design workflows that allow the DH Center to lead decisions about its own technical setup within the campus and departments frameworks IT oversees.

As part of designing the DH Center, we would explore with IT service-level contracts, routine consultations and notice to IT early in new technical projects, regular invitations to IT for involvement, and support for Libraries IT’s experts (including GAs) to attend DH events and cross-training workshops in DH tools. At each digital project’s outset, we will decide who is responsible for creation, hosting, preservation, and maintenance among the DH Center, ASC, Libraries IT, Press and Purdue repositories, another campus unit (e.g. CLA IT), or the personal hosting of a project team member.

DH Center virtual space (DH @ Purdue resource website)

I’ve created an initial Digital Humanities @ Purdue resource website at dh.lib.purdue.edu (not yet finished with design, so hasn’t gone through final marketing and admin oversight or publication yet, although I’ve done an initial site feedback round with Paul, Libraries IT, and marketing).

The site’s initial goal was to provide an umbrella resource for anyone searching for DH activity at Purdue, and to show the Libraries is pursuing a DH initiative. The current basic site includes:

  • A nascent directory of campus DHers (not yet widely advertised to other departments, but containing faculty and staff from the Libraries as well as several other departments)
  • Ways to get involved with DH at Purdue (joining the DH directory or a campus DH listserv, consulting with the DH Specialist, reading about DH events on Twitter using the #PurdueDH hashtag)
  • During Fall 2016, I will convert the site to Drupal and match the look of the Libraries website. I will add the following resources:
  • An automated way for DH staff to add new resources (links to DH projects, tools, and writing) from their smartphones
  • A section curating the resources shared at DH consultations on popular topics (e.g. designing a DH dissertation, using Omeka in the classroom, humanities visualization)
  • Replacing the “DH Directory” and listserv option with a simpler page that will not need regular updating. This page will highlight how various Libraries staff, units, and resources can support DH, and also list people at Purdue working on DH under a few headings (e.g. teaching DH, DH grant proposal experience, DH students; name/role and department/email address).
  • Information about the Libraries’ DH initiative, plans, and goals
  • Calendar for past and future DH campus events, workshops, and opportunities
  • Slides and video from past DH events (e.g. SHORE Symposium, Rikk Mulligan visit)
  • Regional opportunities such as the HILT training workshop in Indianapolis and Indiana THATCamp
  • Institutional memory for campus DH projects, classes and their syllabi, etc.
  • Guides to getting started in various DH methodologies (e.g. visualization of humanities data; links, blog posts, example projects, Libraries units and services)
  • Short video presentations on various DH topics suitable for use during a classroom session
  • Blog posts documenting in-progress Libraries DH work (e.g. 3D setup installation)

I am hosting this site (and all other websites that the DH Center contracts to host and maintain) on a separate dedicated DH Center server space. Libraries IT set up dh.lib.purdue.edu and dhdev.lib.purdue.edu for public and development sites; the main DH @ Purdue site will live at dh.lib.purdue.edu, while future projects will live at URLs such as dh.lib.purdue.edu/newproject.