Digital Humanities, Libraries, and Partnerships: A Critical Examination of Labor, Networks, and Community. Edited by Robin Kear and Kate Joranson. Cambridge, UK: Chandos, 2018. 199 p. Paper $79.95 (ISBN-13: 978-0-0810-2023-4).

As the title suggests, a major theme of this edited volume is partnership. While every digital humanist to some extent defines digital humanities (DH) in subjective ways, there is widespread consensus that DH work requires interdisciplinary collaboration of the sort in which each partner’s disciplinary knowledge and expertise are respected. These conditions of mutual respect should be obtained whether or not the partner is a student, an MLIS- or PhD-credentialed librarian, an archivist, an alt-ac worker, or an academic faculty member (non-tenure track, tenure-track, or tenured). Inevitably, there are frictions within traditional academic hierarchies. For example, the chapter by Risam and Edwards recounts the unequal terms of participation for faculty and librarians in grant-funded work. Problems of credit-sharing are a feature of many chapters.

Even if the ethos of DH work is still foreign to many academics and journalists, the hybridity of the library DH worker is seen, internally at least, as a strength. Taylor et al. describe librarians as “cultural travelers” who, together with their academic partners, can transform humanities education (35). Heftberger, who describes herself as an “archivist/scholar,” reminds us that this mutual respect demands “curiosity and the willingness to learn from other scientific fields” (56, 49). It is a heartening sign that DH practitioners put their beliefs into practice; despite the fact that Chandos is an LIS imprint, several chapters have been co-authored by humanities faculty, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate students, in addition to librarians and archivists.

The chapters span a wide range of topics and resource formats (e.g., film, images, and 3-D objects as well as text), thanks to an open-ended concept of what digital humanities is. One risk of this openness is that the library’s take on digital humanities becomes somewhat vague in scope. Anyone coming to this volume in search of definitions will be disappointed (this was not the point); however, the contributions do embody Élika Ortega’s assertion that “all DH is local DH.”1 The authors are affiliated with several different types of institutions, not only large public and private universities—some also come from non-US contexts, albeit mostly Anglophone. This book will be of interest to anybody in a GLAM context looking beyond technology for models of ethics and care in digital humanities teaching and research.—Francesca Giannetti, Digital Humanities Librarian, Rutgers University–New Brunswick, New Brunswick, New Jersey


  1. As cited in Roopika Risam, “Navigating the Global Digital Humanities: Insights from Black Feminism,” in Debates in the Digital Humanities, ed. Matthew K. Gold and Lauren E. Klein (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016), http://dhdebates.gc.cuny.edu/debates/text/80.


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