Purposes and Challenges of Digitized Collections for the Humanities in Academic Libraries

Farley Wingfield Jenkins


This paper examines the participation of academic libraries in the emerging multi-disciplinary field of digital humanities. Mass digitization efforts involving cultural objects are explored in depth. A comprehensive literature review is undertaken to identify the purposes of these initiatives, the challenges to developing large-scale digitized collections, the challenges to granting users intellectual access to these collections, as well as means for addressing these challenges. Topics covered include, but are not limited to, organizational restructuring, leadership in library administration, metadata assignment, preservation of digital items, user needs assessment, digital collection development, and providing virtual reference services. Recommendations for adjustments to practice in the information professions given the implications of these developments are discussed. Conclusions are drawn based on evidence identified.

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