DHN Labs – Workshop @ DHN2019

Digital Humanities and the National and University Libraries and Archives (in the Nordic and Baltic Countries)


Stig Roar Svenningsen, Mads Linnet Perner, Ditte Laursen, Lars Kjær (1), Annika Rockenberger (2), Olga Holownia (3)

(1) Royal Danish Library, (2) National Library of Norway, (3) British Library/International Internet Preservation Consortium

Time & Place

Wednesday, March 6, 2019


The Royal Library, Copenhagen/Denmark

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Workshop description

Recent years have seen an increased focus on digital humanities at national and university libraries, driven by a strategic desire to develop key digital services for university faculty and students, as well as a means to explore the libraries’ vast collections of heritage data. Through their services, libraries often have direct access to scholars and students. Meanwhile, after years of digitization, they now hold large repositories of digital heritage data, ready to be explored. The focus on digital humanities has resulted in a number of developments, ranging from improved access to digital repositories to organizing datasprints at the university libraries. The work has, however, not always been straightforward, as various organizational, theoretical and technological problems arose in the process. Those issues range from the curation of library materials, through selection biases of the process of digitization to access. One of the key objectives of this workshop is to start a discussion on these and other issues, that rise in connection to national libraries’ engagement with the digital humanities.

Although policies and services offered at national and university libraries are the main focus of the workshop, we encourage participation of other institutions, including national archives and museums, that offer or plan to offer access to their digital collections for research purposes.

The workshop will be organised around four themes:

1. Collections as Data

Libraries have invested resources in digital access to the digital repositories. This includes dedicated websites for access, crowdsourcing portals, API and data repositories. This section will focus on best practices regarding accessibility and usability of the digital heritage data at the national libraries.

2. Utilizing the Full Potential of the Collections

Text holds a primacy in current digital humanities scholarship. This does not, however, fairly reflect the material diversity in the collections of the library, which include both images, artwork, computer games, apps as well as audiovisual material. Thus, a key question from the perspective of the library is how to encourage the inclusion of such types of material in DH scholarship. Key questions include:

3. Curating Digital Collections and Learning Resources for Faculty and Students

Despite the recent expansion of digital repositories and learning facilities, such as Labs and dedicated DH librarians, the share of students and faculty using data and DH infrastructure in their work is still rather low. This theme will address issues such as:

4. Selection Bias of Digital Collections

The current digital repositories reflects the digitization and collection efforts by libraries. Although vast and important collection of digitized and digital collected data has become available for research, there is a significant bias, as the selection of material for digitization has been driven by other concerns than potential for research. This theme will reflect upon the potential bias from the digitization and collection practice of the library and take on questions like:


The workshop is expected to facilitate the dialog between research and GLAM-institutions as well as sharing the lessons learned by libraries and archives. We also propose that we present the workshop outcomes at the conference as a first stepping stone to reaching a wider audience and contributing to the proposal for the establishment of a Nordic/Baltic DHN working group in digital humanities in national libraries and archives.

Draft Programme (TBC)

Slot Session Presenter Topic
09:00-09:05 INTRODUCTION Stig Svenningsen  
09:05-09:20 I. Access to collections as data Annika Rockenberger, NL Norway & Olga Holownia, British Library/IIPC Mapping the Nordic digital collections – registry
    Sally Chambers, DARIAH.BE / Ghent Centre for Digital Humanities Moving beyond the hard-drive: facilitating web-based access to collections as data
09:20-09:35 II. Utilizing the full potential of the collections Ditte Laursen Working across collections
    Martijn Kleppe, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, National Library of the Netherlands / KB Labs We solved text. The next step in DH & libraries is imagery
09:35-10:50 III. Curating digital collections and learning resources for students and faculty Lars Kjær, Royal Danish Library Educational activities at university libraries around digital collections
    Mahendra Mahey, British Library GLAM Labs for researchers
09:50-10:05 IV. Selection bias of digital collections Stig Roar Svenningsen & Mads Linnet Perner, Royal Danish Library Types of bias in digitized collections
    Rossitza Atanassova, British Library It ain’t what you do but the way that you do it: Learning the lessons of how we capture the digital
10:05-10:20 COFFEE BREAK    
10:20-11:40 BREAKOUT SESSIONS    
10:20-11:00 1 session (select one group)    
11:00-11:40 1 session (select another group)    
11:40-12:00 SUMMARY (4 x 5min)