Historic 1910 map of Rochester that was used for the GIS portion of the Digital Scholarship Institute.ARL DSI

The past few years, members of the Digital Scholarship Lab have helped teach classes at the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Digital Scholarship Institute. The institute aims to introduce library professionals to digital scholarship methods and tools in order to broaden their knowledge base and help them understand the demands of supporting these new modes of research and teaching. University of Rochester was one of the founding members of the DSI. RCL’s Head of Outreach, Kim Hoffman, has been central to the development of ARL’s DSI, working with instructors to develop workshops and leading sessions on research consultations for digital scholarship. Further, Kristen Totleben and Eileen Daly-Boas, two of RCL’s outreach librarians, have attended ARL’s DSI as participants.

Expanding Capacity for Digital Scholarship

As demand for digital scholarship support increases, so must the library’s ability to understand how digital tools and methods impact research and teaching. While ARL’s DSI is an excellent and important program, it’s not possible to send everyone to a week-long institute. Kim Hoffman came up with another solution. In order to expand the digital scholarship knowledge base at RCL, Kristen, Eileen, and Kim, along with Adrienne Canino (our new Data Science librarian) collaborated with the DSL’s Joe Easterly and Blair Tinker to host a mini-DSI for our colleagues. In this “learn it, do it, teach it” model, Kristen and Eileen solidified the skills they learned at ARL’s DSI by sharing that knowledge with their peers. This peer-to-peer training model also increased the library’s return on investment in Kristen’s and Eileen’s professional development since many people benefited from their experience at ARL’s DSI.

Over two days, members of RCL participated in four sessions where they learned about TEI, Data, Mapping, and Digital Publishing. The workshops were introductory in nature. They aren’t intended to create digital scholarship experts, though we hope that the introductions may spark a desire to learn more. Regardless, in building capacity for Digital Scholarship, we all need a baseline understanding of terminology, approaches, methods, and tools available. This general knowledge is crucial when conducting research consultations. If we cultivate an understanding of what digital scholarship can do, it helps us help our faculty and students. For example, as we listen to their research challenge, we might realize that there is a spatial question at the heart of it. In that instance, GIS might provide an interesting opportunity.

Collaborative Learning

While there is more work to do, the mini-DSI provided an important first step towards developing our own digital literacies. As library professionals, often we are kept busy with day-to-day tasks and priorities. The mini-DSI gave us the opportunity to take a break from those obligations in order to learn from one another, puzzle through activities together, and explore new modes of representation and publication. It was an engaging two days.  Many thanks to Kim, Kristen, Eileen, Adrienne, Blair, and Joe for putting together an excellent workshop.


The DSI started with a discussion of two introductory readings about Digital Scholarship: