September 28, 2016

What Humanities Researchers (and everyone else) Want

The Research Information Network recently issued a report that summarized the findings of a study about the information searching practices and expectations of humanities scholars. Their findings will likely surprise no one, but it’s worth repeating, as we must remind ourselves about user needs or live at peril of descending into irrelevance.

So, the findings as summarized by the Europeana Libraries blog:

  1. Make it easy to use.
  2. Make it easy to cite.
  3. Put it in their workflow.
  4. Provide clarity on objects and processes.
  5. Build a community.
  6. Provide ressearch support.
  7. Make the information easily reusable.
  8. Offer ways to visualize collections.
  9. Think about linked data.
  10. Provide a critical mass of content.

Most of these points are like “duh,” but one I found surprising: “Think about linked data.” I didn’t realize humanities scholars knew linked data from a hole in the ground. Clearly I’m wrong, but happily so.

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On October 14, 2015 Library Journal, School Library Journal, and thousands of library professionals from around the world gathered for the 6th annual Digital Shift virtual conference to focus on the challenges and opportunities presented by the digital transition’s impact on libraries, their communities, and partners. Now available on-demand, this year’s program provides actionable answers to some of the biggest questions our profession faces for and from libraries of all types – school, academic, and public and features thought-provoking keynotes from John Palfrey, author of BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google, and Denise Jacobs, tech leader, author, and creativity evangelist.
Roy Tennant About Roy Tennant

Roy Tennant is a Senior Program Officer for OCLC Research. He is the owner of the Web4Lib and XML4Lib electronic discussions, and the creator and editor of Current Cites, a current awareness newsletter published every month since 1990. His books include "Technology in Libraries: Essays in Honor of Anne Grodzins Lipow" (2008), "Managing the Digital Library" (2004), "XML in Libraries" (2002), "Practical HTML: A Self-Paced Tutorial" (1996), and "Crossing the Internet Threshold: An Instructional Handbook" (1993). Roy wrote a monthly column on digital libraries for Library Journal for a decade and has written numerous articles in other professional journals. In 2003, he received the American Library Association's LITA/Library Hi Tech Award for Excellence in Communication for Continuing Education. Follow him on Twitter @rtennant.


  1. Dean C. Rowan says:

    At least one prominent humanities scholar has cared about linked data for quite some time, well before it became trendy. I’m thinking of Jerome McGann at Virginia. He has worked for years on incorporating digital technology into humanities work. For example, see his Rossetti hypermedia archive:

  2. “Provide clarity on objects and processes.” … that sounds easy … NOT!


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