Developing Digital Scholarship

Oct 2016 | 208pp

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Developing Digital Scholarship
Emerging practices in academic libraries

Edited by Alison Mackenzie and Lindsey Martin

This book provides strategic insights drawn from librarians who are meeting the challenge of digital scholarship, utilizing the latest technologies and creating new knowledge in partnership with researchers, scholars, colleagues and students.

The impact of digital on libraries has extended far beyond its transformation of content, to the development of services, the extension and enhancement of access to research and to teaching and learning systems. As a result,the fluidity of the digital environment can often be at odds with the more systematic approaches to development traditionally taken by academic libraries, which has also led to a new generation of roles and shifting responsibilities with staff training and development often playing ‘catch-up’. One of the key challenges to emerge is how best to demonstrate expertise in digital scholarship which draws on the specialist technical knowledge of the profession and maintains and grows its relevance for staff, students and researchers.

This edited collection spans a wide range of contrasting perspectives, contexts, insights and case studies, which explore the relationships between digital scholarship, contemporary academic libraries and professional practice.  The book demonstrates that there are opportunities to be bold, remodel, trial new approaches and reposition the library as a key partner in the process of digital scholarship.

Content covered includes:

  • the impact of digital scholarship on organizational strategies
  • an insight into new services and roles, partnerships and collaborations
  • case studies exploring new technologies to support research and development
  • new approaches to service delivery
  • re-visioning of space, physical and virtual.

This is an essential guide for librarians and information professionals involved in digital scholarship and communication, who wish to extend their awareness of emerging practices, as well as library administrators and students studying library and information science.



1. The university library and digital scholarship: a review of the literature – Lindsey Martin

2. Digital scholarship: scanning library services and spaces - Alison Mackenzie


3. Librarian as partner: in and out of the library - Roz Howard and Megan Fitzgibbons

4. Novice to expert: developing digitally capable librarians - Charles Inskip

5. Lean in the Library: building capacity by realigning staff and resources - Jennifer Bremner


6. Digital Scholarship Centres: converging space and expertise - Tracy C. Bergstrom

7. Building scalable and sustainable services for researchers - David Clay


8. Social networking with the scholarly community: a literature review - Suzanne Parfitt

9. Developing Digital Scholars: from the Ivory Tower to the Twittersphere - Alison Hicks

10. Reflections on digital scholarship: so many reasons to be cheerful - Alison Mackenzie and Lindsey Martin


'Along with a definition and review of the existing literature on digital scholarship and librarianship, other chapters and case studies include both theoretical and practical discussions of personnel, spaces, services, and communication tools... this book provides a good framework for conversation for strategic planning purposes.'
- Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University Library, Library Journal

'Coherent, well-edited, referenced and indexed, this collection hangs together, with little or no duplication. It is a very welcome addition to the sparse literature on digital scholarship. It offers a lifeline to librarians struggling to develop a coherent response to the challenges posed by the profound changes in scholarship found in modern academia. Anyone seeking to understand why, how and where libraries enable and enrich modern digital scholarship will find it useful.'
- An Leabharlann

'Developing Digital Scholarship is a critically important read for all members of private, corporate, governmental, community and academic libraries who are charged with developing and/or upgrading digital elements of their library systems for the benefit of their patrons.'
- Library Bookwatch

' . . . a welcome addition to the literature about the on-going changes in academic librarianship . . . I would recommend the book for both teachers and students of library and information science, but also for practitioners who will find interesting projects carried out by their colleagues in different libraries.'
-  Elena Maceviciute, University of Borås, Information Research

'As computer-assisted academic research is often diverse, dynamic and even chaotic in nature, many academic libraries are currently struggling with the increasingly pressing challenge of developing useful and adequate forms of support for scholarship based on digital technologies. Developing Digital Scholarship provides a thorough and systematic overview of the different strategies and best practices that have been developed by leading libraries in the US and in the UK. The case studies that are included in the book offer valuable insights into the various ways in which librarians can manage innovative and experimental projects that often demand new areas of expertise and new models for interacting with academic staff. The book usefully highlights the new roles and the new responsibilities that are needed when librarians aim to facilitate data-intensive, interdisciplinary and collaborative forms of research. As such, it forms essential reading for all librarians engaged in the complicated process of supporting and promoting digital scholarship. At Leiden University Libraries, we are currently setting up a new Centre for Digital Scholarship, and the book has given us much inspiration for the development of new services.'
- Peter Verhaar, Leiden University Library‚Äč

'Developing Digital Scholarship will be of interest primarily to library administrators who already have the context and resources to shape their institutions’ digital scholarship initiatives. It will also be useful for students who are still in the process of choosing a specialty or for practitioners desirous of broadening their skill sets. Most readers will respond to the book’s optimistic mindset, best captured in its final sentence: “The groundwork for success is rooted in the resilient attitudes and behaviours of individuals in relation to the digital environment.'
- Richard Nathan Leigh, ARBA

'Developing Digital Scholarship: Emerging Practices in Academic Libraries...combines literature review, theory, and case studies to advance our understanding of digital scholarship and the library’s role. The articles have an international bent, with authors from the U.K., Australia, and the U.S.The book will be of greatest interest to academic and other research librarians.'
- Gwen M. Gregory,  University of Illinois–Chicago Library, Information Today

'...this collection offers a broad overview of different expressions of digital scholarship and how this developing field impacts current library practice. Given the title and the focus on skills and case studies, this collection seems to be most appropriate for academic libraries in the early stages of implementing digital scholarship services; however, it may also present relevant research and new ideas for libraries in which these services are already well established.'
- Gesina A. Phillips, Catholic Library World

'Developing Digital Scholarship: Emerging Practices in Academic Libraries has much to help the library practitioner in the development of important university library services related to digital publishing. Chapter 6 “Digital Scholarship Centers: Converging Space and Expertise,” by Tracy Bergstrom, in particular, will be essential reading for those interested in taking scholarly communication services on a university campus to the next level.'
- Andrew Weiss, Digital Services Librarian, California State University, Cataloging & Classification Quarterly

Alison Mackenzie is the Dean of Learning Services at Edge Hill University. Prior to taking up this post, Alison held the post of University Librarian at Bangor University, Wales, as well as a variety of roles at Manchester Metropolitan University and, in her early career, worked in art colleges and commercial practice. Alison has been an active contributor in the development of the profession having held roles on the SCONUL Board, and as Chair of the performance Measurement and Quality Strategy group. She is currently a member of the Northern Collaboration steering group. 

Lindsey Martin is the Assistant Head of Learning Services at Edge Hill University and is responsible for the learning technologies managed and supported by Learning Services. She has responsibility for the virtual learning environment and its associated systems, media production, classroom AV, and development of staff digital capability. Lindsey has worked in academic libraries for the past 20+ years in a variety of roles. She has been active on the Heads of eLearning Forum Steering group (HeLF) for a number of years and is currently its Chair. 



Tracy C. Bergstrom, Director of the Specialized Collection Services Program, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame University, USA

Jennifer Bremner, Business Process Improvement Manager, Macquarie University, New South

Wales, Australia

David Clay, Associate University Librarian (Learning and Research Support), University of Salford, UK

Megan Fitzgibbons, Librarian, University of Western Australia

Alison Hicks, PhD candidate, School of Information Studies, Charles Sturt University, Australia

Roz Howard, Assistant Director for Research and Learning Support in Information Services, University of Western Australia, Perth

Charles Inskip, lecturer and programme director on (MA) Library and Information Studies, University College London (UCL), UK

Suzanne Parfitt, researcher, Charles Sturt University, Australia

Introduction – Alison Mackenzie and Lindsey Martin


1. The university library and digital scholarship: a review of the literature – Lindsey Martin

In Chapter 1 Lindsey Martin delivers an extensive review of the literature associated with digital scholarship, examining it from a number of different perspectives. Starting with the question ‘What is scholarship?’ the chapter progresses to explore the nature of digital scholarship and the practices related to it.

2. Digital scholarship: scanning library services and spaces – Alison Mackenzie

In Chapter 2 Alison Mackenzie draws on the results from a small-scale survey to provide insights into the degree to which academic libraries are engaging with and using digital scholarship services and systems.


3. Librarian as partner: in and out of the library – Roz Howard and Megan Fitzgibbons

The opportunities which new services present is a thread that flows throughout the chapters, and in Chapter 3 by Roz Howard and Megan Fitzgibbon its focus is on the potential of partnerships as a catalyst for the emergence of new roles which have the capacity to extend and enrich the profile and position of the profession. At the University of Western Australia the development of a multi-partner initiative to drive innovation in teaching and learning practices provided the Library service with an opportunity to reshape the role of the librarian, to further leverage pre-existing expertise in technology and digital literacy, and to apply and extend these into areas of curriculum development, learning design and learning systems.

4. Novice to expert: developing digitally capable librarians – Charles Inskip

The role of the librarian is further investigated by Charles Inskip in Chapter 4, which examines some of the key strengths and weaknesses of the profession operating within a digital environment. The need to recognize changes in the digital landscape, the emerging practices in support of digital scholarship and attendant digital literacies, require a suite of skills and competencies in which when it is surveyed, many librarians rank their own competency as novice. Inskip identifies projects and strategic approaches which have the potential to upskill librarians, ensuring that they have the confidence and digital capabilities to provide scholars with the advice and guidance required.

5. Lean in the Library: building capacity by realigning staff and resources – Jennifer Bremner

How staff are deployed, the roles they undertake and how one academic library has refashioned its approach to service delivery is discussed in Chapter 5 by Jennifer Bremner. Focusing on Macquarie University Library, Bremner provides the reader with a strategic overview of how it has responded to the impact of digital scholarship on services and processes and examines how time and resources can be released through the use of lean methodologies. The principles of ‘lean’ focus on the customer and the practices which optimize the value and effectiveness of a process or service for the benefit of the customer.


6. Digital Scholarship Centres: converging space and expertise – Tracy C. Bergstrom

In Chapter 6 Tracy Bergstrom examines how the convergence of space and expertise across the USA has led to the formation of digital scholarship centres, many of which are located within a university library. The chapter considers the factors which have led to this and the importance of a library’s reputation as a contributor to teaching and learning in new technology areas. The emergence of digital scholarship centres is also seen by many institutions as a reputational necessity and, as the factors which inform this view span departmental and disciplinary boundaries, the university library presents itself as a ‘neutral’ space.

7. Building scalable and sustainable services for researchers – David Clay

In Chapter 7 David Clay examines the development of new roles and services that enable a library to become a successful partner in digital scholarship. Using the University of Salford as a case study, his focus is less on the development of physical space, but examines how digital and virtual services have been nurtured alongside the University’s changing research agenda.


8. Social networking with the scholarly community: a literature review – Suzanne Parfitt

In Chapter 8 Suzanne Parfitt provides readers with a comprehensive review of the use of social networking sites by libraries and the methodologies used to measure the success or otherwise of their use. She explores in detail the approaches taken to engage users and the ways in which users engage with library services. Given the significance of the potential reach of social media and, in particular how it is being used, often ineffectively, as a communication tool to improve engagement with scholars, this chapter provides an objective assessment, based on the literature, of different approaches libraries could trial to ensure that investment in the use of social media delivers as far as possible an optimal impact.

9. Developing Digital Scholars: from the Ivory Tower to the Twittersphere – Alison Hicks

In Chapter 9 Alison Hicks provides a structured and practical steer, based on her personal experience and informed by research, into the changing role of the librarian. Looking specifically at the concept of networked participation and paying particular attention to how the changing ideas of academic influence, reputation and identity impact on the traditional approaches to academic scholarship, Hicks explores the tensions that arise, and how the use of new technologies to build personal influence and reputation have a potentially disruptive (or emancipatory) impact on the research environment.

10. Reflections on digital scholarship: so many reasons to be cheerful – Alison Mackenzie and Lindsey Martin

The upbeat tone of the final chapter to this book of contributed chapters presents a positive way forward for all librarians engaged in the support of digital scholarship. It is evident that the digital environment and the affordances of new technologies to open up research and new ways of working offer libraries and librarians opportunities to restate their value to their scholarly community and to continue to maintain their role as key contributors to the success of their institution’s mission.


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