What I’m Reading This Summer: Amy Gay

Note: As the dh+lib Review editors work behind the scenes this summer, we have invited a few members of our community to step in as guest editors and share with us what they are reading and why the dh+lib audience might want to read it too. This post is from Amy Gay, Digital Scholarship Librarian at Binghamton University.

As I am still in the early stages of my career as a Digital Scholarship Librarian, and our digital scholarship services are still fairly new to the libraries, I have focused my summer reading on the wisdom of others who are involved with the Digital Scholarship and Digital Humanities communities. I like to mix it up with media formats and, although I love a good podcast, there are some valuable written works out there sharing DS / DH projects, tools, pedagogy, etc.

Mackenzie, A., & Martin, L. (Ed.) (2016). Developing digital scholarship: Emerging practices in academic libraries. Chicago: Neal-Schuman, an imprint of the American Library Association.

I decided to read this book because I have heard and seen it referenced by others frequently, and I am glad I did! The content of the book is broken into four parts: “A Review of the Landscape”; “The Agile Librarian”; “Digital Spaces and Services”; and “Communications and Social Networking”. Parts 1 and 2 shared multiple use cases, a majority of which were from Australia and the United Kingdom. While I enjoyed learning something from each of the sections, I found the last two sections to be the most valuable for the work and stage we are at with our digital scholarship services.

The third section, “Digital Spaces and Services”, offers detailed descriptions of what to think about when planning for a digital scholarship center (something we are currently in the process of doing) and how to build digital scholarship services that are adaptable and sustainable (something we have already started in our libraries but will continue to build upon as we move forward and grow our services).  The two uses cases include the center at the University of Notre Dame and services at the University of Salford.

The fourth section, “Communications and Social Networking”, contained useful advice for the outreach of digital scholarship services, particularly through social media sites. I recommended this chapter to our librarian who manages our social media account, as this is also a semi-newer territory for us. This section also touches on ways of staying connected in the larger digital scholarship community and suggestions for how to handle/respond to both positive and negative feedback received through social media.

Liu, A. (2018). Friending the past: The sense of history in the digital age. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

This book was recommended to me by a professor in Medieval Studies who said it was a “must-read.” Liu discusses humanities’ relationship and sense of history across time, culminating with the thoughts of how society may sustain its own sense of history in the digital age. I found the last few chapters of particular interest, where Liu focuses on an in-depth look of various digital tools, including KnightLab’s TimelineJS, and terminology related to digital humanities.

Wheelan, C. J. (2014). Naked statistics: Stripping the dread from the data. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Ok, so I know this is not technically a “digital scholarship” type of reading. However, some chapters felt like it was. As someone who never took a statistics course, I was able to easily follow along through the content. Wheelan broke statistics down, for the most part, into plain language, and the data sets used as examples made the content more interesting to read. If you are interested in not reading the whole book (although, again, as a whole, it was useful for gaining a basic understanding of statistics), and would like to just check out the chapters that seemed to relate to work within digital scholarship, here are the ones I would recommend reading: Chapter 3 “Deceptive Description”; Chapter 4 “Correlation”; Chapter 5 1/2 “The Monty Hall Problem”; Chapter 7 “The Importance of Data”; Chapter 10 “Polling”; Chapter 13 “Program Evaluation”; and “Appendix: Statistical Software.”

Medium Articles

Since June, I have been down a rabbit hole of reading articles on Medium. Mainly, I have focused on projects with Python and Jupyter Notebooks, but there are many other topics covered that relate to digital scholarship and other topics of interest, such as creating healthy work environments, self-care, mindfulness, and others. I know there is a cap to how many articles you can read for free, but I decided to purchase an annual membership, choosing the topics I am most interested in following and sends me a daily email with articles from these categories.

What’s Next on the Reading List?

The next books on my list to finish this summer include to ARL SPEC Kit’s Supporting Digital Scholarship and Digital Humanities; Planned Obsolescence; and Digital Humanities in the Library

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Amy Gay

Amy Gay is the Digital Scholarship Librarian at Binghamton University and is part of the first cohort of Digital Humanities Research Institute (DHRI) community leaders. Her current research interests include digital humanities and pedagogy, primary source literacy, cultural heritage awareness, and community building through cultural heritage institutions.