Last week the CPD25 group, resposible for providing training for library staff in association with the M25 Consortium of Academic Libraries, organised a very estimulating workshop at the British Library focussing on various aspects of Digital Scholarship. Dr. Ernesto Priego from City University London opened the event with a presentation on the principles underlying the growing field of Digital Scholarship. According to Dr. Priego, Digital Scholarship cannot be defined as a specific research subject carried out by an identifiable group of academics using pre-established research methods, but emerges exactly by the rich confluence of various research areas and through the interaction between professionals from various fields ranging from content experts to information professionals to software developers. By applying existing IT tools to extract, compare and analyse information from large and different datasets, Digital Scholars are now able to pose new research questions and draw innovative conclusions to traditional academic hypothesis. What is more, by relying on the sharing and integration of digital content, Digital Scholarship enables wider collaboration and contribution between researchers, fostering a more open environment that moves beyond geographic and institutional boundaries.
In the second session Stella Wisdom and myself talked about some projects lead or supported by the BL Digital Research and Curator Team. Stella offered an overview of the Non-Print Legal Deposit (NPLD) legislation discussing the challenges and impact that this new law will have on the BL and other UK deposit libraries services and collections. Stella also spoke about the BL Labs competition which was officially launched this week as one of the main activities supported by the BL to promote Digital Scholarship: the goal of this project is to find new ways of exploring the Library’s vast digital resources through engagement with researchers and software developers. My own presentation was focussed on other activities and programmes lead by the our team, especially our successful Digital Scholarship Training Programme aimed to bring BL curatorial staff up to speed with emerging digital technologies and to inform how the electronic environment is transforming the way users conduct research using library collections.
In the third session, Peter Webster gave an overview of the activities carried out by the UK Web Archive team, explaining the importance of the NLPD legislation in support of the UK Web Archive mission to harvest, archive and preserve websites published in the UK, ensuring that our national digital heritage is captured and made accessible for future generations.
The last session was led by Jessica Mezei who gave a presentation on Mendeley showing how the platform differs from other reference management tools by offering new ways of connecting researchers and supporting collaborative work between them.
In sum, the main message conveyed across the different presentations was that Digital Scholarship goes beyond the mere adoption of electronic resources and tools by researchers. The most important (and essential, I would say) aspect of Digital Scholarship is to foster effective collaboration between researchers and developers for discovering, sharing and promoting the adoption of new ideas.